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Need your help. I have no experience with moorings

Jul 7, 2004
6,993
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Around here the downside of using a mooring ball instead of a slip is the seagulls and terns. If the flock decides your boat is a fine offshore nesting site you are in big trouble. You will come aboard with guests someday and discover a horrible mess with no running water source to start cleaning. A few episodes of that will have you back in a slip. Another joy, if you are dependent on a launch boy to bring you in from your mooring, and he has gone home; what now? We once came home from our annual three week Maine trip on a lousy weather day. We packed up all of our travel gear onto the deck and radioed for the launch. No answer. Kid decided who would be out sailing on a lousy day like this? Might as well go home. Charging your batteries may not be your biggest problem.
It's interesting to read about the varied worlds we all live in. We just sail a big pond, aka reservoir, and never experience real sailing. The fundamentals are the same though
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,046
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
I'm not versant about the COLREGS for lake Michigan but here along the east coast, by COLREGs, if you are on a mooring your are "anchored" and most display the appropriate light (all around white light) when anchored. The only exception is in a "designated anchorage" which will be shown on charts. Just because there is a mooring field set up by a yacht club or even a municipality does not make it a "designated anchorage." That means you wil need to budget for the electrical load of an anchor light too. You can get an LED anchor light with a dusk to dawn feature built in to reduce the drain.
When you refer to “designated anchorage” in the context you mention, you are actually referring to “Special “Anchorage” as opposed to “General Anchorage” of Inland Waters. In Special Anchorages vessels moored or lying at anchor do not have to display the all round white anchor. In General Anchorages they do. You will NOT find “designated anchorage” enclosed by boundary lines on a chart. Special and General are both features of Inland Waters. Waters inside, i.e., shoreward of, the COLREGS demarcation line. As far as I know, there are no such places seaward of demarcation.
 
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ToddS

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Sep 11, 2017
245
Beneteau 373 Cape Cod
I've never kept a boat at a dock (other than temporary tie ups)... only moorings. The obvious obstacles are water and electric... and it seems like lots of folks have chimed in on that. I'll restrain myself from repeating the same things others have said, or debating those points that are personal-preference issues as to how you keep your batteries charged. Many good suggestions already though... start with the easy ones (replace all bulbs with modern LEDs) and build up only as necessary to the more elaborate/expensive ones (upgrading alternator, etc.).
What I can say, is that I LOVE being at a mooring. Some perks include:
  • Quiet and solitude. Sitting in the cockpit I don't have to worry nearly as much about loud, obnoxious neighbors, or nearby engine exhaust, or privacy related to people peering into my cabin, etc.
  • FACING INTO THE WIND. No matter how windy it is, I can sit under my dodger and read a book out of the wind. Additionally, I can leave the companionway OPEN under the dodger for fresh air, even in the hardest of rain. The hatches ALWAYS face into the wind to catch a breeze sucking fresh air in as needed. A dinghy tied to the stern always hangs back from my transom rather than fouling/rubbing elsewhere or obstructing someone's nearby slip.
  • Security. While this is FAR from foolproof, I am more confident (in my particular harbor at least) that nobody is going to swipe something out of my cockpit, or break in... At a dock, ANYONE can steal stuff, at a mooring it requires that someone has a boat, and a little more of a "plan" to break in, rather than just walking by and quickly swiping things.
  • FACING INTO THE WIND (Part 2). Assuming you have proper mooring tackle, and chafing gear, etc. etc... I'd RATHER be at a mooring for a big named storm, than tied to a dock. Wind is always coming predictably from the bow (minimum possible windage exposure)... the boat isn't rubbing against docks or pilings... other nearby boats are less likely to pile up against mine if they do break free.
  • Pulling up to a mooring (into the wind) is way easier than pulling into a tight slip once you're used to it. And if you overshoot by a few feet... just circle around and try again... rather than plowing into a dock or neighbor's boat.
  • Cheap(er): at least where I'm located I save a fortune at a mooring compared to paying for a slip.
Enjoy!
 

ToddS

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Sep 11, 2017
245
Beneteau 373 Cape Cod
Ask whoever sets up your mooring for you to put a mast stick on your pendant. Beats fishing for it with a boat hook.
absolutely this... Where I sail we call them "tall buoys"... or "tall boys"... or "pick-up buoys". When done properly, even with my high-freeboard Beneteau 373, I can easily pluck it out of the water by hand (no boat hook needed) while the wife at the helm approaches from downwind... a word to the wise though... either wear gloves, or be extra careful not to slide your palm along the fiberglass rod... fiberglass splinters are no fun.
 
Mar 2, 2019
150
Oday 25 Milwaukee
Been on a mooring on the south side of Milwaukee for 15 plus years . Lot's of advantages . Peaceful and I've never worried about theft . None of the three mooring fields require any type of lights at nighttime . If you own your own mooring ,please have it checked at least every other year . The link closest to the anchor wears faster than the rest .
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
When you refer to “designated anchorage” in the context you mention, you are actually referring to “Special “Anchorage” as opposed to “General Anchorage” of Inland Waters.
Thanks @Kings Gambit - I posted without directly referring to the COLREGs so used an incorrect term. The point I wanted to make is that you will most likely have to have an all around white light (anchor light) if you are on a mooring, whether you set it up yourself or you are at a municipal or club mooring field. Being in a mooring field doesn not negate the requirement. A mooring is nothing more than a "fixed anchor point" as far as the COLREGs are concerned.

We got into this when the SC DNR came by and notified our club that they would start writing citations for not having all around white lights at night. We investigaged and sure enough he was correct. As a secondary issue, we are immediatly adjacent to the ICW and if there were a collision at night I"m not sure the moored boat would not be cited and deemed at least partially responsible for the collsion.
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
None of the three mooring fields require any type of lights at nighttime . If you own your own mooring ,please have it checked at least every other year .
If you are on inland waters covered by the COLREGS. It is not a matter of what the mooring fields require, it is a matter of what the regulations require and whether the locals or the USCG enforces the regulations where you are located. It is no different than running lights when underway at night or any other lighting requirement.
 
Mar 2, 2019
150
Oday 25 Milwaukee
Let me rephrase this . After 15 plus years of owning a mooring right next to the U.S.Coast Guard Station, I've never seen the Coast Guard ever issue a summons to any of the hundreds of moored boats at either The South ShoreMooring Field or the McKinley mooring field in Milwaukee's harbors.
 
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Jul 27, 2011
4,046
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
Let me rephrase this . After 15 plus years of owning a mooring right next to the U.S.Coast Guard Station, I've never seen the Coast Guard ever issue a summons to any of the hundreds of moored boats at either The South ShoreMooring Field or the McKinley mooring field in Milwaukee's harbors.
Maybe it’s a Special Anchorage. Why not check the chart? The fact that no one that you know of has been cited doesn’t mean there is not a regulation that’s being ignored. I‘ve seen dozens of motorists passing in and out of the interstate diamond lanes, across double-double yellow lines, each time I drive it, but I’ve yet to see one pulled over and be cited. Doesn’t indicate there is no rule against it, etc. Same thing with unleashed dogs, bicyclists running stop signs, and etc. Nearly every car on the interstate in Southern California travels in excess of the posted speed limit, usually at 80 mph or greater. I rarely see some one pulled over.

The mooring harbors around Santa Catalina Island are not Special Anchorages, but among the thousands of boaters that use them yearly you see only a few at a time showing anchor lights. There is no one patrolling. A waste of time for the USCG. When is the last time you saw a recreational boater hoist a day shape at anchor?
 
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Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
@Timm R Oday25 I think @Kings Gambit hit the nail on the head. If you'll read my earlier post quoted here for your ease of reading I said "it is a matter of what the regulations require and whether the locals or the USCG enforces the regulations where you are located." From the look of your chart it is not a Special Anchorage so not exempt from the lighting requirements. Even if its on the charts as a mooring field, that does not make it a Special Anchorage and exempt from the lighting requirements.

It is possible that the Coasties just consider it a waste of time to cite for this or possibly don't really know the requirements themselves. Many people do not consider being on a mooring "at anchor" but it is, none-the-less. Heck, you're supposed to display a black ball too at least above a certain size boat, but NOBODY does that (including me). If you can't see the boat in broad daylight then the black ball isn't going to do any good either. I wouldn't open the can-o-worms by formally asking the Coast Guard. (We did by the way) I guess you figure its better to plead ignorance of the law.

However, the rub comes when there is an accident and somebody runs into your anchored (moored) boat at night when you don't have a anchor light rigged. "But judge, it was dark and there wasn't a single light on that boat, what was he doing there?" Don't you think any lawyer worth his salt would latch on to that and put the moored boat at least partially at fault? Maybe I'm a little sensitive to that aspect since our mooring field is right on the ICW and my boat is the furthest out from the shore. I've displayed an anchor light since the day I put it on the mooring in 2013.
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
By the way, I display the regular anchor light at the top of the mast and a second all around light at just above the boom level. The one on the mast looks a lot like a bright star and I don't want some yahoo saying "Wow honey - look at that bright star BOOM"
 
Mar 2, 2019
150
Oday 25 Milwaukee
My intent wasn't so much to disagree with anyone . My intention was to learn from each of you . The 2 mooring fields here in Milwaukee are very differant from each other . The field on the south side has almost no governing body . You are to have a mooring contractor install it and then the contractor applies for the permit after the fact .
Once it's installed and registered ,no follow up maintenance is sought . The other mooring field ,McKinley is run more like a coop. . There is an annual maintenance fee applied . The coop maintains the mooring and installs the winter and summer buoys
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
@Timm R Oday25 I certainly don't intend to disagree with you. We went through this exercise about what was required about a year ago. What you observed in regard to "enforcement" is what it is. They either choose to enforce it or not, but the lawyers won't care if push comes to shove. You buy your ticket and take your chances. The permit simply allows the mooring to exist and be used (and probably generate revenue) . Its a location issue, not a COLREGS issue except that there are probably regulations about impeding navigation by the placement of moorings or anchoring for that matter. COLREGS do not mandate inspection or maintenance requirements. Some places you can drop a mooring anywhere you choose that doesn't impede navigation, no permit required. You're in fresh water so maybe the chain rusting isn't much of a problem but I wouldn't think of mooring in a field where there were no maintenance required. Even then, you buy your ticket and take your chances. I just hope on the McKinley field that they are actually using the fees to perform inspections and maintenance, not build the playground. We supposedly had inspection and maintenance requirements but read this story:

 
Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
@Timm R Oday25 Correct, mooring fields are seldom shown on charts (I won't say never, but seldom) since for the most part they are either privately placed moorings or locally controlled and permitted. Moorings (big ones) in Anchorages where the big boys tie up waiting for their time to enter a port are sometimes shown as "Anchor Berth" (since a mooring is just a fixed anchor). Sometimes there are chart notes for "Naval Anchorage" or a specific name like "Annapolis Harbor MD, South Anchorage Area. I don't know if these are General Anchorages or Special Anchorages for sure.

I am not sure that even the big and "well known" mooring field in Annapolis adjacent to the Naval Academy and downtown are even shown on NOAA charts as mooring fields. My electronic chart does not show that mooring field. There are Annapolis Harbor Anchorages on the charts but they are not in the location of the mooring field administered by the Annapolis Harbor Master.
 
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Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
I guess the bigger question is, why would you put a boat that you value in the water at night in an area where other boats move about (ie not at a slip) and not want a light displayed, quite apart from whether one is required by the regulations or not?
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,207
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
Doing some more research, it looks like the Naval Anchorage, Annapolis Harbor Anchorages, and Anchor Berth ARE NOT SPECIAL ANCHORAGES. Here is a chart that shows how a Special Anchorage is shown on the charts and it looks like these are set up for "pleasure boaters" in some popular areas (shown here Martha's Vineyard). You'll have to zoom in on the 41-23N 78-30min W and you'll see it. Also is a link to a Coast Guard presentation on Anchorages.

Chart 13238

https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/fi...nt/Docs/ADV_WorkGroup/USCG_Fed_Anchorages.pdf

The only exception to displaying an all around white light when at anchor (which includes moored) is in a Special Anchorage for boats under 65 feet (20 meters).

Do what you think is right but the regulations, although a little confusing, say display an all around white light. (they never call it an anchor light by the way)
 

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