Fore-and-aft trot moorings are cheaper than marinas and have many advantages - but they can be tricky to pick up. Here's how...
Despite the ever-increasing growth and availability of marinas around our coasts, you can still find reasonably-priced moorings in most places – whether you’re looking for an annual berth or are a short-term visitor.
In many of the rivers around our coastline, these take the form of fore-and-aft, or trot moorings.
Trot moorings have the advantage over a traditional swinging mooring in that they keep your boat moored in one place, with no risk of swinging into other vessels, and no risk of damage from the mooring buoy and its tackle in wind-over-tide conditions. However, for a first-timer they can be tricky to pick up – and in a breeze can be tricky for even the most experienced boat-handler.
There are two main types of fore-and-aft mooring. Most permanent moorings are simply connected to a line of weights on the seabed and have a single pickup buoy in the centre. Visitors’ trot moorings, on the other hand, especially in busy places like Lymington, are more often seen between pairs of buoys with mooring rings on top. You’ll need to thread your own mooring lines through the rings, and you’ll often have to raft alongside other boats.
We borrowed Cevema, a Gib’Sea 26 belonging to Warsash sailor Tim Powell, for the day. Tim’s sailing club mooring is located outside the busy main channel halfway up the Hamble River. Here, in an oasis of tranquillity, he has a typical trot mooring, with a single pickup buoy attached to two pairs of fore-and-aft lines which snake into the murky depths.
On the day, we had a light 10 knots of breeze blowing upriver, accompanied by a sharp spring flood tide. This made placing the boat in the right place and picking the buoy up relatively easy but, as you’ll see, it’s not always this simple.
Picking up a trot mooring in ahead
Picking up a trot mooring in astern
Picking up a mooring in astern can be easier, especially in lots of wind. If you are stern-to-wind, you avoid the bow being blown off, and the boat will weathercock around the stern. Be mindful of the possibility of getting lines around the propeller.
In a breeze
Picking up a mooring in a breeze, especially a side-wind, it’s important to get the upwind line – be it bow or stern – on first. Here, David and Ben put the bow line on before working on the stern line. With one line on you’re securely moored and can attach the remaining line in less of a hurry.
Picking up a visitors’ trot mooring
Many visitors’ fore-and-aft moorings don’t have pickups – instead, you are expected to moor between two buoys. Often these buoys will have good-sized rings on top, but sometimes – as here – you’ll be faced with small rings low to the water.
This was a particularly difficult mooring to pick up, owing to the small rings on the buoys. A snap-hook on the end of a long line would have made it much easier, allowing us to moor up quickly and safely. You can always haul the boat forwards or aft to exchange lines later.
Mooring in a crosswind
Picking up a mooring in a crosswind can be tricky, but all you need to do differently is approach diagonally. Keep enough way on that the bow doesn’t get blown off before it can arrive upwind of the forward mooring buoy. With forward line secured, you can manoeuvre to grab the stern buoy.
Mooring head to wind
If the trot is head to wind, motor slowly up to the upwind buoy and thread your bowline through it. Then it’s just a case of easing off the bowline so you drop back to the stern buoy.