Mooring maneuver: when crosswinds are the boater’s bogeyman

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mooring knotsThe mooring maneuver of a sailboat in crosswinds is certainly one of the boater’s type bogeymen. A fear that is certainly justified, as the maneuverability of motor sailboats, at low speed, and in confined spaces becomes more limited. Let’s see then in these technical pills what to keep in mind and how to move if we are performing a mooring maneuver in windy conditions.

When the boat “makes sail”

The sailboat compared to a motor boat maneuvers worse in the mooring stages, since the engines are small compared to the displacement of the boat. The reason is not only related to the power of the engine, but also to the important surface area that the sailboat offers to the wind. The mast, the boom with the lazy bag, the cylinder of the forestay with the jib furled, the sides of the boat, any canopies or awnings, are all surfaces that the wind will affect, reducing the boat’s maneuverability and causing it to drift sideways. A phenomenon that we can limit to some extent by, for example, deciding to moor with the awning and canopy strictly closed.

Knowing the evolutionary effect of the propeller

Another important information to know before performing the mooring maneuver is the so-called evolutionary effect of the propeller. This is the lateral displacement of the stern caused by the friction of the blades with the fluid . If the blade moves clockwise relative to us looking at it, the stern moves to the right. Conversely, if it moves counterclockwise, it moves to the left. A detail to be aware of, especially if we have a charter boat, because if, for example, we engage the reverse gear in a confined space, before the boat starts to move properly it will make a lateral shift of a few meters, which we will have to calculate to avoid finding ourselves on another moored boat or on its lines.

Mooring maneuver – Performing it with wind

Many boats today have a bow thruster, which helps a lot in the mooring stages even in crosswinds. However, there is at least one general rule to be followed to facilitate maneuvering in windy conditions. The principle is very simple: we should avoid, as much as possible according to the space we have, exposing the boat’s side bulwarks to the wind. This means, for example, that if the wind is blowing sideways relative to our berth, the maneuver should be performed like this: we put the boat with the bow to the wind making sure we have enough room to engage the reverse gear and absorb the evolutionary effect. We will head toward the berth in reverse, trying if space permits to keep the bow to the wind at all times, and only when approaching the berth will we give angle to the rudder to turn the boat and enter.

Where space does not permit this sequence, it will be important, in crosswinds, to keep sufficiently upwind of any obstacles, and to perform the maneuver at a speed that is not too slow: the slower the boat, the more its maneuverability will be reduced and the drift greater.

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