Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: St Thomas USVI
Thanked 38 Times in 36 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Would you have helped?
Sorry for the long story---------------------
So what, if anything, would you have done in the following situation?
My wife and I were sitting in the cockpit enjoying some cold beverages while connected to a public mooring ball. The location is in a bay that is very well protected from waves but because of the surrounding geography can be gusty and shifty when the wind is blowing hard. It was blowing hard on this day.
A beautiful black hulled 55’+ sloop is motoring into the leeward edge of the public mooring field towards a ball at what appeared to be hull speed! Of course they went by too quickly for any chance to grab the painter let alone actually secure it to a bridle!
From the black smoke bellowing out of the stern it would appear the captain has placed the boat into full astern. The mooring ball is near the stern on the port side when the forward momentum is stopped and I truly believed the prop was fouled. About that time a gust hit the boat and swung the bow greatly to port forcing the boat to float over the bouy. A deckhand tried to grab the painter on the starboard side when it popped up and thankfully missed since the boat was fully abeam to 25kt gusts.
Capt tries to back towards the ball but in those conditions the boat turns into a large stern too Windex that doesn’t get any closer than 15’ away and parallel to the ball. This goes on for a few more minutes. Time for another cocktail!!!
By now it is clear the majority of the boats in the anchorage are watching the spectacle with the same interest that we are. Captain decides that forward is a better option and does a very large 360 turn coming into the same ball at about a 45 degree angle into the wind. No doubt how this will end. He takes off too much headway too early and is blown off 10’ shy of the painter.
At this point I’ve broken out the binoculars and can see a male and a female on the bow who appear to be in their late teens and a very white haired elderly man who is and has been at the helm. Captain tries another loop and comes up nearer to straight upwind but once again loses headway and steerage too soon but does get just close enough that the young man on the bow makes a stab for the thimble in the painter and catches it with the boat hook. Unfortunately he has stretched to his limit, the boat is going backwards and there is not enough slack left to get the boat hook out of the inside of the thimble. PLOP!! One boat hook in the water.
Another loop, another approach. All looks well but the captain apparently isn’t aware that his docking crew have no means to reach the painter now.
Another loop, another approach. This time to a different ball. Crew has another boat hook. Captain makes a decent approach but the spare boat hook is too short to reach to the water!!!! After missing again, foredeck kids figure out how to extend the boat hook.
I discuss taking the dink over to see if I can help. Grab fins and mask to retrieve their boat hook in case it has sunken and become detached from the painter. I decide to finish my beverage and give them two more tries. Another loop and approach with the extended boathook but once again they fail to get the bow to the mooring ball painter before the wind blows them off
This time they loop around and decide to try a DDW approach. Thankfully they miss because they are at wake board speed as they pass by the ball.
Off I go in the dink to do my good deed for the year. I get along side this beautiful black vessel and offer to assist. The captain immediately says “we got it this time”. He proceeds to make two mistakes, not carry enough speed and not going dead upwind.
I renew my offer and this time it is accepted. I ask for the longest dockline they have so that I can loop it thru the thimble and motor it over to them should the get within a boat length of the mooring ball. They hand me about a 20’ piece of line despite my requests for something longer. I gently suggest making a very large downwind loop and coming straight upwind to the buoy. I rig the line and wait….Here they come, looking good, but once again too slow. I can’t even get the end of the dock line to the boat. It doesn’t help that this boat must have nearly 7’ of freeboard at the bow.
This time I am less “friendly” and suggest that they either give me a longer line or give me two more lines that I can tie together. A 50’ line is tossed down to me. I add the first line on and loop it thru the painter and wait for the next attempt. This time he actually came up and stopped the bow pretty close to the ball. I handed the lines up to the kids and watched in astonishment as they took the docklines over the lifelines to the bow cleats. HOLY CRAP!!!! I was able to convince them to run them under the lifelines and thru the chocks to the cleats just as they ran out of line!!! With some suggestions I was able to instruct the captain how to slowly motor forward to bring the bridle in so it is less then a mile from the buoy. SUCCESS!!!! I offered to look for the boat hook but the captain said it floated quite far away before sinking. He and the kids thanked me and I motored back to my boat wondering what in the world this group was doing on this boat. At least they were downwind of everybody and there was lots of room around them.
Had the boat not been so large I would have used my dink as a bow thruster but my 4hp was no match for the winds. I also contemplated suggesting I come aboard as it appeared the captain was not very good at controlling the vessel. This would have been the easiest but I decided I did not want to incur any liability should something beyond my control happen.
Would you have helped or would you have let this group struggle indefinitely?
Last edited by FarCry; 04-29-2010 at 03:50 PM.