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Old 01-06-2016, 06:52 AM   #1
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I took a beating on a mooring ball

Hard to believe. We were in St. Augustine on a mooring ball in the north field for 3 nights. After a couple of days of cloudy weather Monday broke clear and slightly cooler. We got out and did some sight seeing and as we returned to the boat in the afternoon waves were breaking over the dinghy bow and I had to slow down. Didn't think much of it. That evening I grilled fish for dinner and stowed the dinghy since we planned on leaving early the next morning. After dinner we were inside and noticed the waves seemed to be getting larger and the boat was getting a bit uncomfortable to be on. I went out side and couldn't believe the wind, I estimated it to be a steady 25-30 kts with the sea looking like boiling water. It only got worse. By 21:00 we were bouncing around like a cork. I went outside to check our mooring bridle and it was flat out dangerous to be on deck.

When we pick up a mooring and because of the configuration of the boats bow pulpit and the anchors location on the bow roller, I pull the anchor and set it on deck because the mooring bridle chafes against the anchor. As I usually do I placed the delta anchor on a small piece of carpet on deck without securing it. The wide delta anchor is pretty secure under normal conditions. It had now become too rough to secure it so it remained as is. I worried about this all night. The conditons never let up and neither of us got much sleep. We were lucky in that the high wind was effecting the boat greater than the current which is usually significant here and the boat stayed pointed into the wind so the boat did not roll much, just bounced up and down. Because the boat didn't roll much and because of the way I placed the anchor on deck it didn't move. We were very lucky and a lesson learned.

I spent a good part of the night thinking about how I was going to secure the anchor when we left in the morning. To leave the mooring field and in order to navigate around the other boats in the field we would become beam to the seas putting the anchor at risk of rolling around on deck. I also gave some thought about how I was going to release the mooring bridle. It had to be brought back on board because it was long enough to fowl the props.

At day break when I had a good chance to view the situation I decided that I could throw the anchor back in the water and retreive it and the chain back into the windlass and into it's normal configuration.

The bow was rising and falling a good 5-7 ft so Debbie and I spent some time discussing how we would be disengaging from the mooring ball. I placed life jackets on both sides of the sundeck that Debbie could throw me if I fell in. I also had on my inflatable life jacket as did Debbie. We had them on all night.

My biggest concern after releasing from the ball was being blown back into the boats behind us. There were 2 boats only about 150' away. Debbie is just not comfortable operating the boat so I was hoping that I could release the mooring bridle and get back to the helm before we hit a boat. We decided when she saw me release the bridle she would put the engines in idle fwd and that would keep us fwd of the other boats.

We were both tied and a little sea sick but ready to leave. So after discussing every thing I thought could happen including using the emer button on the VHF, we were ready. The wind was blowing so hard communication was not possible.

I worked by way out to the fwd part of the deck and once I sat down it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The boat was not rolling much, just up and down. I timed the location of the boat in relation to the bridle and when there was enough space for the anchor to fall between the bridle I threw it in. Initially it hung up on the biddle but I was able to work it loose. It didn't fall but about 5 feet and then using the windlass I retieved it back into it's stowed position. I looked back at the helm and
Debbie signaled she was ready. I released the starboard side of the bridle from it's cleat and as quick as I could pulled the rope in and carried it back with me to the sundeck. The rope was till connected to the port bow cleat but I didn't want to take the time to release it. I draped the rope over the deck as I carried the bitter end back as far as it would reach. I noticed as soon as I released the bridle the boat turned beam to the wind and seas. Although the boat started to roll more I was back inside the sundeck (and safe) before the rolling got bad. The boat turning beam to the seas also slowed it's backward movement which gave me more time to avoid the boats behind me. With Debbie putting the engines in idle fwd the boat hardly moved aft of the ball by the time I got to the helm. When we got about 200 yards south of the Bridge of Lions (3 minutes after releasing the bridel) conditions were back to normal with calm water.

Several lessons learned: First I had no idea with high winds out of the NE conditions could be so bad on the north mooring field. It makes sense though, the field faces the St. Augustine inlet only about a mile away. The south mooring field we noticed as we passed was calm.
Second, I alway tie the anchor down when it sits on deck.
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:04 AM   #2
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Winter winds are frequently from the N and NE and affect not only the municipal marina but the Conch House marina as well. South mooring area is shallower with more chance to drag. Docks dance uncomfortably in the winter at the Conch House.
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Old 01-06-2016, 08:30 AM   #3
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I am currently anchored in windly bay islamorada in the keys. we have been experiencing similar winds as you have. This morning the winds are sustained in the high 20's. I am surprised how flat it is here, there are even some boats anchored offshore. I guess the reef here really does break up the waves. Amazing how much difference there can be given the same conditions
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Old 01-06-2016, 08:48 AM   #4
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Before the city of St Augustine installed the moorings it was not an un-common sight to see boats that had dragged anchor and where up against the Bridge of Lions. The North moorings should be used as you found out only if weather conditions are favorable such as no Noreasters forecasted, that location best used when West winds prevail.
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Old 01-06-2016, 09:23 AM   #5
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My sister and her husband are on on their Mainship (Harmony) in St. Augustine, having come down from Wilmington, NC. She sent me a note this morning, which I will share part of, just in case anyone is interested. She said the wind was about 30 knots.

Wow, what a night! During the night, this sailboat was torn away from it's mooring ball (outside the marina) and was swept into the Bridge of Lions right behind where we are docked. David was awakened by the hit and went over onto the bridge. The mast was broken off but the couple on board was not injured. Sea Tow came and towed it over to the marina. I can get a photo later of that. You can Google the story on the local Channel 4 News website.

Sounds as if you and your wife did a really professional job in a dicey situation, Tim. I'm not sure that I could have done anywhere near that well!
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:11 AM   #6
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What a night you guys had!

Here's what the Jacksonville paper said about the sailboat.

The Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine was reopened after a sailboat went adrift and hit the bridge Wednesday morning, authorities told Times-Union news partner First Coast News.

The two sailors aboard were not injured, according to the St. Augustine Police Department. About 4:15 a.m., the sailboat broke loose from its anchor before getting stuck underneath the north side of the bridge, police said.

The bridge was closed down to road and water traffic just before 5:30 a.m., police said, but was back open less than 30 minutes later.
According to police, a sea tow pulled the sailboat back underneath the bridge to be anchored on the other side. The Florida Department of Transportation retrieved the mass that broke off the boat.
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:15 AM   #7
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Greetings,
A bit of a distinction in the reports...Mooring ball or anchor or is the PD referring to a mooring ball AS an anchor? IF one has to pay for a mooring ball I'm guessing the blow boat was anchored "for free".
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:25 AM   #8
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Nothing is free in St Augustine !
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:30 AM   #9
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Greetings,
A bit of a distinction in the reports...Mooring ball or anchor or is the PD referring to a mooring ball AS an anchor? IF one has to pay for a mooring ball I'm guessing the blow boat was anchored "for free".
My sister says it was a mooring ball.
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:31 AM   #10
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If the winds were still howling when you undid the boat, then thinking the preservers could be thrown to someone was a mistake.

Next time you both should wear it (and the inflatable as a backup if you want) and tie a 100' of rope to you and the boat. Even in 5 mph winds a boat can quickly outpace you if you arent tethered to it.
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:15 AM   #11
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Why not stay safe and ride it out rather then risk dangerous deck work?
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:26 AM   #12
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The sailboat which broke loose. (Sorry about the rotation. I do not understand everything that I know about getting it correct).
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:03 PM   #13
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What a story. Thankfully everyone made it through and the boat was not damaged.


It's easy for us to second guess what you did but I'm sure you did what you felt was best at the time, given the conditions you were under.
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:15 PM   #14
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If the winds were still howling when you undid the boat, then thinking the preservers could be thrown to someone was a mistake.

Next time you both should wear it (and the inflatable as a backup if you want) and tie a 100' of rope to you and the boat. Even in 5 mph winds a boat can quickly outpace you if you arent tethered to it.
Do trawler people not fit jack lines? I noticed a total lack of padeyes for harness clipping points when I bought ours. I have a bunch in the parts bin, they're just way down the to-do list.
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:25 PM   #15
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Good job Tim! Great team work between you the Admiral................
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:30 PM   #16
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Great story. Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear nothing broke or malfunctioned. It goes to show, that typically, our boats can handle more than the crew.
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Old 01-06-2016, 02:36 PM   #17
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Seems like you thought it through and communicated your plan well with Debbie. Clear and effective real time communication is always challenging under conditions like those. Sounds to me like you did well.

Would it be too risky to hang the anchor into the water by 10-15 ft while on the mooring to get it out of the way, but not have it setting on the deck? My pulpit overhangs far enough that I seriously doubt the chain or anchor could slap the hull...but I could be wrong.
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Old 01-06-2016, 03:03 PM   #18
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Do trawler people not fit jack lines? I noticed a total lack of padeyes for harness clipping points when I bought ours. I have a bunch in the parts bin, they're just way down the to-do list.
There may be 1 out there that has them on purpose, but probably not. It's odd how power boaters in general dont seem to recognize the need and obvious advantage to be secured to the boat gives. Blow boaters have definitely got that one right.

I see a few apologetic posts after I made my first one. Dont misread my post as a criticism. It was blunt because it needs to be. No harm or insult was intended.
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Old 01-06-2016, 03:07 PM   #19
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Echo the rest, good job.

How many were anchored in the basin vs mooring balls?
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Old 01-06-2016, 05:49 PM   #20
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I love to hear about a plan coming together. Way to go; anything else will be a piece of cake!
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