Practical advice for all sailors. Tom Cunliffe has sailed tens of thousands of miles all over the world and has been a Yachtmaster Examiner since 1978

Earlier this summer I was obliged to leave my boat in a Plymouth marina for a week. Hurricane Bertha was powering along and locked-in Sutton Harbour was full.

Despite paying top dollar, the berth that fell to my lot was clearly subject to surge, so the yacht was going to grind away at her fenders day after day. Bad news. The opposite berth was free so I was given dispensation to heave her clear of the pontoon with a couple of haul-off lines. Success.

A week later, the fenders still hadn’t touched the woodwork. If you find yourself making similar arrangements, be sure to dangle a rag off the outer line. An unwary nocturnal arrival might not see the rope, but he won’t miss the pensioned-off underpants.

Heave her clear