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post #8 of Old 04-01-2002
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Mooring verces Dock

As a reasonably new sailor myself (6 years experience owning boats), I can add one BIG plus to being on a mooring when you have your first boat. It''s much kinder to your boat.

Unless you are adept at maneuvering a truck in very close quarters with no brakes, very little acceleration, next to no steering and a tendency to slip sideways your pay the price of your learning until you get a handle on it.

It takes a while to learn the intricacies of maneuvering in tight places - you''ve got current & wind to contend with, as well as prop walk. Also what I call "helmsman''s dyslexia" which is trying to remember which way the damned boat will turn when you are going backwards. I didn''t learn about Prop Walk until my second season with my first boat - changed my life.

Anyway, while you are learning these skills, it is way easier to catch a mooring than to get into a slip. While on a mooring you can build these skills at your own pace, practice coming in to a slip or tight space when you don''t actually have to (no pressure!). Once you figure the techniques out you can look into a mooring, but you don''t want the scars on your hull if you can avoid it.

I suppose being in a slip will force you to learn the handling skills faster, but at the cost of scratches and dings to your finish.

Unless you are in a poorly maintained mooring field your boat should be safe. In normal conditions there is plenty of room for the boats to swing around. Generally you have either current or wind keeping the boats all facing the same way.

It is better to look for a more protected mooring field if possible. A couple of years before I kept my boat there, a hurricane took out most of the boats in the mooring field I first kept my boat in. During the same storm, just a few hundred yards away at the yacht club where I keep my boat now no serious damage was done. The major difference is that our club''s moorings are protected from SE&E winds, the other mooring place offered next to no protection from those directions.

Anyway, I plan on keeping my boat on a mooring for a few years more, particularly as I just purchased a fairly new boat that I have to learn how to handle. Sure, it''s a minor inconvenience being on the mooring sometimes, but overall I''ll be happier there until I can back my boat into a slip with the tide coming in my face and a 15 kt crosswind without sweating it.
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