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The Manoeuvres

Picking up a Mooring

To pick up a mooring under sail the boat must be stopped by sailing directly into wind with the sails spilling. The correct judgement of the stopping distance for boats of different weight and for different wind conditions is gained by experience. Difficulties may be encountered if the distance is underestimated when luffing up towards a quay with a boat too heavy to be stopped by brute force.

On a reach, sail to a point about 3 boat lengths directly to leeward of the buoy. On the command ‘let fly the sheets’ luff directly into wind, so that the boat loses way and stops within reach of the buoy.

Returning to a shore

One performs a similar manoeuvre when returning to shallow water. A member of the crew jumps into the water to grab the boat forward and hold her facing into wind, while the helmsman lowers the sails. The centre board and rudder should have been taken in at the last moment and before they could touch bottom. In stronger winds it is advisable to have two crew members in the water to hold the boat.
With a wind blowing in the direction of the shore, it is preferable to lower the main sail beforehand (with the boat into wind) and to come in with the wind dead aft with only the jib raised. This reduces speed considerably and one can even come directly onto a beach of sand or mud.

Picking up a berth on a landing stage or quay

If the wind is blowing parallel (or almost parallel) to the quay (A) the helmsman luffs into wind alongside the quay and as soon as conditions allow, a crew member will jump onto the quay with a line with which to moor the boat forward, and if necessary aft. The sails are lowered if it is not intended to leave again immediately.

With the wind either blowing from the quay or towards it, berthing becomes difficult. A more or less fool-proof solution is to lower main and jib before arriving, and then to berth before all way is lost. It needs practice to do this gracefully.

Mistakes when picking up a mooring is the most common cause of damage to boats. It cannot be overstressed that the safest way to berth a boat is to pick up a buoy, lower the sails and complete the manoeuvre using a paddle.

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