Sunday, April 12, 2015

Things that go Bump in the Night

Why is it that you can sit on a mooring ball or the anchor all day, in gusty, bumpy conditions but it is 3 a.m. when things go wonky?

There we were, securely tied up to a mooring ball in Lameshur Bay and for some reason at the appointed hour I awoke - something just wasn't right. I knew I wouldn't go back to sleep without checking things out so up I got.

Here's what a park mooring looks like, we tie up to the painter at the top end of the mooring with two lines.

The wind had been gusting through the anchorage but now was mysteriously quiet. There had been a different noise but it was now gone, but I knew just what it was. The wind had been rattling some clips on our helm seat and this can only happen if the wind is coming from behind the boat.

How could this be? We're on a mooring which means the bow of the boat swings around the mooring and always points to wind. As I ventured out into the cockpit, the now whispering wind sailed in across he boat and straight in the aft-facing door I had just opened. Another clue, the darkened hills around us were locked in position relative to the boat, normally there's some type of movement. Something was definitely wrong!

The half-moon lit my way as I started my tour round the boat. Good things I noted: we were still in the middle of the bay and not close to shore, the boat was still rocking gently so we were not aground, we were still in the same position we had been in for the last couple of days so we must still be attached to the mooring. Then I realized I couldn't see the mooring in front of us and our mooring lines immediately disappeared off the bow, under the middle of the boat and slightly over to the starboard side of the boat. Finally, looking over the starboard side I found the mooring ball, solidly locked against our hull.

The odd thing was that although we often will circle or ride up on a mooring, it usually resolves itself after loudly announcing the situation with a series of bangs on the hulls, by swinging away with wind or current. I have never seen it locked so solidly, or quietly, against the hull. Similarly, we can usually help the situation along by giving a tug on the mooring lines, but this time our lines were not budging.

Ok, this situation needed two brains to sort it out so I woke up Henry.

We went through it all again and came to the conclusion the Mowzer had somehow passed over the painter line with the starboard hull and the line was now locked in behind our keel. We are a catamaran so we have a little keel that only goes 3'10" under the water and for some reason the park uses moorings with quite a long painter.

Once we figured out the problem we quickly realized that no amount of manipulation on the lines was going to release enough tension to get the painter released. Adding to the concern was the fact that our keels are "sacrificial", meaning that they're designed to fall off the boat in the case of a hard grounding. With the painter line flexing hard sideways around the keel we certainly didn't want to risk it pulling away if the wind came back up in the next three hours before daylight.

Time to break out the mega-candle spotlight and with the half-moon helping by providing moonshine on the water from the perfect angle, with some trepidation we released our mooring lines in the dark. Careful not to lose sight of our target we swung back around to head into wind, Henry motored up and we did a perfect mooring pickup in the dark - it's hard to hold a large flashlight, a boat hook and two mooring lines all at once. Phew!

Now properly settled once more on our mooring we could return to our slumbers, once the adrenaline had cleared of course.

This morning, our mooring is still sitting just exactly where it should be, looking oh so innocent. What plots and schemes is it coming up with now?


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