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Old 10-02-2014, 08:01 PM   #1
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Mooring or Anchor

The thread about the Florida anchorage situation got me wondering what you folks prefer while cruising. When you are either cruising or making a quick run to a destination do you typically try to anchor with your own tackle or do you prefer to pay for a mooring? If I am in "delivery" mode I love a reasonably priced mooring that I can grab with the boathook, put on the cleat and forget about tidal shifts, poor holding, different scope resulting in boats swinging into each other on a tide shift, etc. And then in the early morning it's cast off and underway with no muddy rode coming aboard! When I get to my destination if I plan on staying put for a few days I'm happy to take the time to set my tackle and hang. But in some anchorages like St, Augustine where the tidal current is fast and there are lots of other boats on the hook I get a little spooked if I leave the boat. In these situations I love a mooring if I have confidence that it is well set and maintained. In secluded, uncrowded areas I'm happy to throw the pick and relax! How about you?
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Old 10-02-2014, 08:10 PM   #2
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As a newbie, I like the mooring fields in crowded downtown areas. Whole lot less anxiety.
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Old 10-02-2014, 08:17 PM   #3
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As a newbie, I like the mooring fields in crowded downtown areas. Whole lot less anxiety.
....plus on many deliveries...most just choose a dock for even less anxiety and the ability to wash the boat if necessary, ease of meals...etc....
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Old 10-02-2014, 08:22 PM   #4
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It depends. Sometimes there is no option. (Anchoring is easier.) As pictured, anchoring was not an option in the cove.

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Old 10-02-2014, 09:04 PM   #5
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We use the park buoys in the marine parks in the San Juan Islands (WA) and Gulf Islands (BC) if we're going to a park.

Part of the reason is to help reduce damage to the eelgrass beds in water 30 feet deep or less. Anchoring means the anchor chain gets dragged around on the bottom as the boat moves, and this tears up the eelgrass. The park buoys in Washington (don't know about BC) were all re-anchored a number of years ago with screw anchors that keep the buoy gound tackle off the bottom.

But if we aren't going to a park then we anchor. There are some private mooring buoys we could use at the island where we have property, but we have no idea of the condition of their ground tackle or mooring lines/chains. We do know the condition of our own anchor and rode, so we tend to trust it a lot more than the private buoys.

The park buoys are inspected on a regular basis, plus they and their tackle are sized for boats larger than ours, so we have pretty good faith in them.

We are not fans of marinas/harbors although we do go to them from time to time. Fortunately, the places we tend to frequent that require anchoring are never so crowded (in our experience) that other boats present a problem. Our most favored destination in the islands is a bit out of the way and is surrounded by private land so the public rarely anchors there because they cannot go to shore.

The more popular anchorages and parks we simply avoid during the boating season (July-August), and save our visits for the fall, winter, and early spring.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:14 PM   #6
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Our favourite cruising area is the Hawkesbury/Broken Bay system 20 miles up the coast from Sydney. National Parks & Wildlife Service provides some free 24 hour limit moorings we like to use, in beautiful places. You can anchor, but the depth can be 20 meters plus, and the moorings are well maintained and secure. Here`s 2 pics of Doriana on one of 3 moorings in Snapper Rock Bay, Smiths Creek.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:22 PM   #7
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Dozens of pages on the best anchor and scanty attention paid to security of moorings - hummmm.

Plus according to the guys setting up the moorings I've talked with once the vessel climbs above 30,000 lbs there may not be the security you'd assume once the wind comes up.

But they sure are popular for those who prefer populated areas, no anchoring anxiety and marine parks.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:58 PM   #8
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Plus according to the guys setting up the moorings I've talked with once the vessel climbs above 30,000 lbs there may not be the security you'd assume once the wind comes up.
.
The mooring buoys in the San Juan Island marine parks are limited to boats 45' or less. Rafting is permitted but the boat size limits for rafting are (or used to be) posted on the buoys.

Rafting is not permitted at all on the marine park buoys in the Gulf Islands in BC.

We've had a (private) buoy mooring chain break when we were on the buoy and friends rafted to us and the wind came up. So we've learned the hard way that mooring buoys, while they carry the promise of a secure stay regardless of the weather, can not always be relied upon. Particularly if they are infrequently inspected, or in the case of the one we broke, not designed for two 36' boats (we did not know this and simply assumed it was strong enough).
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Old 10-02-2014, 10:32 PM   #9
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Two different comments

Anchoring with my already existing ground tackle is essentially free. Mooring 120+ nights a year could be expensive.

Do not consider mooring in the Eastern Caribbean unless you have local knowledge that the "anchor" on the mooring is secure and the line is checked regularly. As a general rule this is not the case and many boats drift away at night. Typical "anchor" on a mooring is an old car engine, in many many case the line is not checked until it breaks.
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Old 10-02-2014, 10:37 PM   #10
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The mooring buoys in the San Juan Island marine parks are limited to boats 45' or less.
It used to be certain moorings were designated for larger boats than that. Has that changed recently?

In general we too prefer moorings; we lived on them full time in both Marathon for several weeks and Westport MA for an entire summer (at least as home base, but our destinations were also moorings).

On a boat the size of the Hatteras, we made a point of always calling the harbormaster and validating if and where adequate moorings were available. I did make an exception once, at Oyster Bay NY, as moorings were $1.50 a foot a day, and an excellent anchoring spot was just to the side of the field. Also did so at Vineyard Haven once, but that was because there was not a mooring our size open at the time. We had to anchor outside Boot Key Harbor for several days waiting for a 60' mooring to open up. I don't know if the Fernandina moorings are big enough; we preferred anchoring in Bells River anyway.

As for integrity, even of a supposed kosher mooring, I once had the painter break off in my hand while trying to hook up at Vero Beach. Sure glad it did then. Put your own lines on the eye if you can.

It is also important IMO to find out how the moorings are rigged for attachment and expected to be used before hand. There are about 6 different set ups I can think of off hand.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:21 PM   #11
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The Hawkesbury/Broken Bay moorings the NPWS provide free are in great demand. They are well serviced. We carry a strop to extend the line if necessary, the IG has a high bow. Max boat length 15M, NO rafting up.
There are 3 fields of privately owned moorings in the area. Owners use them only occasionally so there is temptation to "borrow" one. Those owned by Clubs are safest, less likely to get booted off, more likely to be maintained. I was on one in 40+ knots at night, desperately hoping it was well serviced, buoy/ball right out of and pulled parallel to the water. It held.
In "The Basin" field(AndyG knows this one), itinerant boats have greatly abused other peoples moorings. Multiple raft ups, up to 5!, dragged blocks,you name it, bad stuff happened. You are not supposed to pick up other peoples moorings, but the unwritten understanding is you can, you stay on board and vacate if asked, and do the right thing. Other boats have used mine where we keep the boat.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:24 PM   #12
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It used to be certain moorings were designated for larger boats than that. Has that changed recently?
We've never seen any moorings other than the one size. The buoys in the parks we use-- primarily Sucia, Patos, and Prevost Harbor on Stewart-- have all had a 45' maximum in the 16 years we've been doing this kind of boating.

A good friend of ours used to be in charge of all the maintenance in the marine parks in the northern half of the San Juans, including inspecting/repairing the mooring buoys. So far as I recall him telling me, all the buoys are the same size with the same ground tackle. This used to be a pair of concrete blocks but these have all been replaced with screw anchors.

I had thought the maximum boat length for the buoys was 46' but was corrected the other month by one of the new owners of a GB46 in our marina who was bemoaning the fact that their boat was one foot too long for the marine park buoy limitations.

I don't remember what the maximum size for the buoys in the Gulf Island parks is, but I believe it's about the same plus the stipulation that no rafting is allowed.

We've not used every one of the marine parks in the islands, so it may be that there are oversize moorings in some of them. But we've not come across any yet.

Now, a number of years ago the Park Service installed linear moorings in a few of the more popular bays. The ones we've seen are in Echo Bay on Sucia and Prevost Harbor on Stewart. These consist of three or four large buoys anchored in a line with a set of heavy lines runing between them. Large plastic (?) rings are woven into the lines and boats can side-tie to the lines using the rings as cleats.

I have no idea what the boat size limitations are for the linear moorings.

From what we hear, they are wildly unpopular, and the only people we know who've tried using one found them very user-unfriendly. We've been in these bays when every individual mooring buoy has been taken but new arrivals were choosing to anchor rather than use the linear moorings.

We've never used one ouselves so I can't provide any firsthand info on their pros and cons.
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Old 10-04-2014, 02:43 PM   #13
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Hmmm... we used to moor a GB 49 classic pretty much everywhere up there with no issues or commentary from the various gov entities passing by. Admittedly it's been 7 years or so. Maybe it was just something we were able to get away with..
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Old 10-04-2014, 02:51 PM   #14
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Hmmm... we used to moor a GB 49 classic pretty much everywhere up there with no issues or commentary from the various gov entities passing by. Admittedly it's been 7 years or so. Maybe it was just something we were able to get away with..
You just got away with it. I don't think the park rangers get all that anal about what's on a buoy unless it's obviously too big. But the length limit on all the park buoys we see has been 45' for the last 16 years. I had thought it was 46' but was corrected on this recently.
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Old 10-04-2014, 03:54 PM   #15
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Our preferences are a free guest slip at a recip yacht club, a free mooring ball at a recip yacht club, a pay for mooring ball, with anchoring as the last option. On this year's Catalina trip, we got 3 free slip days at Oceanside Y C, four days on a mooring ball at Avalon with three free days, two free slip days at Long Beach Y C, and one free day on a mooring ball at Balboa Y C, at Newport each. We find anchoring, except for raft-ups, a PIA.
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Old 10-04-2014, 04:47 PM   #16
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We anchor or take a slip at a marina. We dpn't see a lot of moorings in our area.
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:24 AM   #17
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I have a DeFever 46 and was asked to leave a Blake Island park buoy that had a limit of 45 feet. He didn't buy the argument that my LOA was 42 feet. I found out later he has a reputation for being anal. I anchored nearby instead.
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:50 AM   #18
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I have a DeFever 46 and was asked to leave a Blake Island park buoy that had a limit of 45 feet. He didn't buy the argument that my LOA was 42 feet. I found out later he has a reputation for being anal. I anchored nearby instead.
A 46 DeFever may be twice the weight of the typical 45 foot length limit the anal guy hollered about. Maybe he knows something about that mooring and did you a favor. For swinging room safety in strong winds the mooring field length limit is a good idea if not a necessity.

Every winter a few boats in the mooring field adjacent to our harbor get beached in the storms. Not necessarily big boats, just rotten mooring gear finally letting go, especially the private moorings that are ill attended.
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