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Lassoing a Mooring Buoy

Being a short handed crew (there’s normally just the two of us) sometimes picking up a mooring buoy can be a little challenging. Even if the mooring buoy has a pick up line you don’t always know what you may pull up!

One method we have adopted is the lassoing method. Of course if there is a pick up line we always opt for that first. But many a times we’ve approached a buoy to find that it doesn’t have a line. Previously we’ve tried hooking the buoy with a boat hook but found this to be rather dangerous; one could easily get pulled over as the hook catches but the boat continues moving. Even when we’ve managed to successfully hook the buoy with the boat hook getting a line down to it poses another challenge in itself!

This is why we’ve started lassoing, a method which we feel makes life much easier for the single-handed/short-handed sailor. But interestingly this method is divided in opinions – a quick look on the YBW forums and you will see rather heated discussions on ‘to lasso or not too lasso’ 😀 The against argument comes about from people having their own private buoys damaged.

Now we must point out that we only use the lasso line to get us attached. As soon as the boat is settled we attach our normal lines and remove the lasso line. We only use this method on buoys that we’ve paid for and/or have permission to use. As the lasso line is only attached for a very, very short time, we do not see how this could cause any damage. In fact the RYA statessometimes a lasso is the easiest temporary option…as soon as you are attached by the lasso, attach the second line to the ring or loop on the buoy and remove the lasso. Don’t stay on the lasso as it damages the buoy...’

Below you will see a short video on how we lasso a mooring buoy. As we approach the buoy we have our ‘lasso’ ready. We also bought ourselves a clever little gadget known as the Moor Fast This telescopic boat hook allows you to thread a rope through a buoy ring or cleat up to 2 metres away from the safety of your deck and bring the rope back on board. We use this to secure our main lines to the mooring buoy.

Now you may ask ‘why don’t you just use the Moor Fast to pick up the buoy?’ Well we’ve tried and more often than not we’ve failed! We’ve found that the Moor Fast works best in fairly stable conditions, when there is hardly any motion from the boat. Sometimes the hooks on top are relatively small and getting the line through can take a few attempts. If you’re trying to do this whilst the boat is moving it can be challenging. So we now just use it once we’re on the buoy and we have time to deploy it.

You’ll probably also question the ‘knot’ we use in the video to tie the line to the Moor Fast! The recommended knot is a Sheet Bend but we’ve found that the ‘doubling back’ of the main rope made it too thick to pass through many of the hooks on top of the buoy. Our mooring lines are 16mm so perhaps if we had a smaller diameter line this would work a bit better. As mentioned earlier some of the hooks on top of the buoys are quite small and we found that this just wasn’t working for us. So we’ve manufactured our own technique, and so far our ‘knot’ hasn’t let us down! 😀


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