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Questions (many) re: Setting up a private mooring

Jan 19, 2010
8,276
Hunter 26 Charleston
I need some fact based info on something I have no knowledge about.

I'm moving to Charleston and this past weekend I was checking out the local sailing scene. I came upon this public boat launch near Folly Beach (bottom right corner). All of those stationary dots in the water are sailboats on mooring balls. I hung out at the dock for a while and see a guy with a stiletto catamaran untie from one of the moorings and bring it over to the floating dock ... so, I run out and offer a to take a line as a pretext to pump him for some local knowledge. Here is what he tells me ... (and it seems strange to me).
1593484511090.png


He said he dropped his own mooring anchor... a 400lb diamond anchor, set up his mooring ball and has been using this as his personal launch for the past 9 years. RENT FREE!!!! He did not ask permission nor did he register his mooring with the USCG. He also claims that all of the other boats in this canal are doing the same.

So... I did a little digging and found a few threads on the Cruising World forum where they make similar claims for boats moored in the Ashley River. I also saw those boats when I was in Charleston so I know they exist but don't know if they are private moorings.

First Question. Can this be right! Do local authorities really "look the other way" on private unregistered mooring balls?

I read this very good article on the basics of mooring


And it gave me a few more things to think about.

2) Anyone here tie up their H26 or similarly sized trailer sailor to a mooring ball?
3) Can you clip onto the pendant using the bow eye or should you come up to the cleat on the bow? I'm thinking the cleat is more secure but I worry about chafe since the H26 does not have chocks. On the other hand, if the bow eye is strong enough, that makes sense to me but I assume the bow eye was only intended for the trailer winch.

Okay... I suspect that as I investigate this more, I'll have even more questions. If you think of things I should have asked but didn't please pipe in.:thumbup:
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,062
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
At one time in Beaufort SC the mooring field near the town was all privately placed mooring balls. About 5 years ago, the city ordered all private mooring balls removed and all boats on those balls to vacate. They have since placed a mooring field and charge an fee for the use of the moorings. Some are leased on an annual basis and some are held in reserve for transiting boats on the ICW which goes right by the mooring field.

I don't know the legality of ordering those who had mooring balls of their own to leave but it must have been legal or no one felt the need to sue the city. One thing about private mooring balls. I know in some places placing private moorings is "regulated" and a fee to place the ball is levied as well as inspection requirements etc. Even if its "free" now it might not be in the future. Also, an adquate mooring setup is not cheap if you want it done right.

If the field you are thinking about in Charleston is not regulated how do you know that the yahoo just upwind from you has an adequate setup to protect your boat in the event the wind pipes up. How big is his anchor or is it even an anchor at all or just an old engine block. How stout are the chains to the anchor from the ball? Are they inspected by a diver periodically? The safety of your boat depends on the actions of everyone around you and while you may have a perfectly sound mooring setup you probably have no idea of what the rest of the boats have down there and how their equipment is maintained. I would have no problem placing a mooring ball in an area where I didn't have a bunch of unknown people with unknown equipment but I'd think long and hard about mooring in amonst a fleet of unknowns. Be aware that you will have to display an all around white light as required by COLREGS when on a mooring since you will not be anchored in a "Designated Anchorage". The SC DNR has indicated that they will be enforcing this.

Please feel free to private message me and we can discuss. I just went through the "mooring field" discussion with our private yacht club and did some research on the subject.
 
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Oct 26, 2010
1,062
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
I need some fact based info on something I have no knowledge about.

3) Can you clip onto the pendant using the bow eye or should you come up to the cleat on the bow? I'm thinking the cleat is more secure but I worry about chafe since the H26 does not have chocks. On the other hand, if the bow eye is strong enough, that makes sense to me but I assume the bow eye was only intended for the trailer winch.

Okay... I suspect that as I investigate this more, I'll have even more questions. If you think of things I should have asked but didn't please pipe in.:thumbup:
I wouldn't clip to the bow eye I don't think its designed for that. You can take care of the chafing issue with chafe guards. I'd want two mooring pendants to the attachment point on the ball, not one to the eye. Besides that, it would be a PITA to figure out how to connect securely to the bow eye from the deck of the boat when your go to pick up your pendant. How will you get to and from the mooring?

I am assuming you plan on pulling the boat from the water in the event of a hurricane, but we can get some pretty nasty storms here along the coast and I know of at least one storm (not a named storm or hurricane) that actually ripped the bow cleats off of a 32 foot boat :yikes:, All those guys on the moorings that are nothing more than an engine block that haven't been inspected since Moses was a baby are just waiting to come crashing into your baby. Just saying.
 
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Oct 26, 2010
1,062
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
By the way, our mooring anchors at our yacht club in Beaufort are 10,000 lb concrete anchors for the big boats and 4,000 lb anchors for the small boat. They are not going anywhere. You will need to know what type of bottom is there to adequately select the mooring anchor design and size. If the bottom is mud you can generally get by with a slightly lower weight or a mushroom anchor since it will sink into the mud over time. If its hard bottom you are relying on weight only and some of the bottoms in the Beaufort are hard, not mud. (Our's is hard, hence the heavy concrete anchors). Charleston may have the same issues. (Soft somewhere, hard others0
 
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Jan 11, 2014
5,606
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Here's another take on installing a mooring from Wayne Hamilton of Hamilton Marine.


In a harbor I used to sail out of, the mooring field was unregulated. People put down all kinds of junk to moor boats, from engine blocks to mushroom anchors. Sometimes they worked, sometimes not. The mooring balls were steel bands wrapped around empty beer kegs. My mooring was a 4' section of 8" I Beam with a large 1" thick plate bolted to it. It worked for a couple of years until I was able to get a slip.

That was back in the day when we all thought we knew everything and didn't know how much we didn't know. Today, I wouldn't moor in an unregulated mooring field for some of the reasons @smokey73 mentions. From a boat owner's perspective I want to know the boats moored around me have solid appropriately sized moorings and are spaced appropriately. In the absence of regulation and inspection there is no way to know how other boats are moored.
 
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capta

.
Jun 4, 2009
3,742
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
The Charleston City Marina is relatively inexpensive and has great services. I lived there for a number of years and would suggest that for the money your boat would be safer, less likely to be broken into and you'd have more peace of mind if she was kept there.
The Ashley can get pretty rough when the wind is against the current and the summer thunderstorms can have winds in excess of 60 knots quite regularly.
 
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Jan 19, 2010
8,276
Hunter 26 Charleston
What keeps anyone from using "your" mooring ball?
That is a good question. I have heard of people putting their boats registration number on the ball... a mariner's version of pissing on a tree I guess... but that seems to me to have problems of its own. What if the city wants to charge you ten years later for dredging up the anchor... if your registration number is on the ball, they have no problem finding you and sending you a bill.

The whole things seems strange to me but people do it...:facepalm: ...If I were an anthropologist, I'm sure I'd have a deeper understanding but I just find it strange....:thumbup:
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,062
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
Once you cast off from the mooring ball unless its in a "controlled" setting like a private field or a city managed field, then it just a matter of courtesy for someone not to tie up to an unattended buoy. You don't own the bottom of the river and just because you put in the buoy probably doesn't grant you "exclusive" right to be the only person to tie up to it. Now if its regulated and a fee paid then maybe you do. It would probably be a good "master's thesis" topic to study and maybe even set up an experiment to see how people treat a mooring spot

As for me, I would never tie up to someone else's buoy, especially here in the deep south, where there are plenty of people around with guns and an ocassional nut case or two. You might just find your boat the next day floating down the river with the pendant cut or released. I woultdn't do that but I am sure there are at least a few that might. Just saying. Also, do you know what is on the other end of the chain at the bottom? A 10,000 lb hunk of concrete with good chain or an engine block with cheap, old chain on its last leg. Not with my boat!

At the risk of sterotyping (I'm from the south so I am in the group I am speaking about) - remember the last word of us deep south drivers before the accident - "Here Bubba, hold my beer and watch this."
 
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Oct 26, 2010
1,062
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
Another thought, if you come back to your ball and someone is tied up to it what are you going to do? If they are there are you going to politely ask them to leave and if they don't get threatening? Road-Rage isn't confined to cars. If they are not there, where are you going to tie up until they are gone? Are you going to untie them from the ball and then watch as they drift down the river?

As far as I know there are no privately administered (like a club) or public administered (like city marina or city manager) mooring fields in Charleston.
 
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dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,123
Hunter 30 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
As I learned a new one on this forum, I"m going to use it here. Above is a lot of FUD....

I spent a good decade on two different private mooring balls, both I made. No monthly fees, to me, monthly fees are really weird, rather than the other way around. I have more confidence in my knowledge and abilities than I do on some ying-ying that's supposed to be inspecting my mooring. Did I review that persons credentials? Not likely. Did I have a say in how the inspection would be done? Again, not likely. Worried about your neighbor? If you aren't checked out in scuba, go hire a diver. Look at the moorings around you and see for yourself. You are going to either dive or use that diver in subsequent years anyway as making sure your mooring is in good shape is your full responsibility.

I've fixed moorings on other boats that worried me, but that is rare actually, at least in my personal experience.

I've not done this down in the southern US...

In other parts of the world where the litigiousness of the US is not the forefront of society, this set-up is quite normal. Just another perspective.

dj
 
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Oct 26, 2010
1,062
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
@dLj - I wouldn't characterize it as FUD.

I don't doubt that it is quite safe to set up you own mooring. I considered doing it myself when I first got here. There are a lot of variables here that may or may not be in play where you were. I see you identify your location as "Lake Champlain". Not sure if that is where your moorings were but I'd say the conditons here in Beaufort and Charleston SC are certainly different than there. You say dive on your neighbors moorings. Okay, you dive on them and they are "not up to your standards" What are you going to do? Pay to upgrade them? "Make" them upgrade them. (Good luck with that) As you said with today's litiguous society you'd be sure to get sued if something happened to their boat and you hand changed anything (even if it was an upgrade) to their mooring. Will you pull your's up and move to another location, only to find some comes along a few week or months later and puts in the mooring anchor that is an engine block. Add in that Charleston (and Beaufort for that matter) sit right on the top of a phospate rich deposit and the chain degrades very rapidly. 3 -4 years is considered a reasonable life for a mooring chain in this area. I don't doubt that decades ago you could generally count on your boating neighbors to maintain their equipment and moorings but do you think that is the case now? Look at all the "semi abandoned" boats at slips and mooring and ask yourself if they moorings are in the same shape as the boat, do you want to be nearby when the winds pipe up in a blow? If I could find a "legal" place to put my own mooring where I wasn't near other boats I'd jump on that but its just not possible here in Beaufort and probably not in Charleston too. The one place here in Beaufort where there are private moorings, after a good blow (not even an hurricane) you can drive by almost always see a boat washed up on the bank. Its okay with me but I wouldn't want it to get there after crashing into me on the way to the bank. I think I have a pretty good understanding of mooring here in southeastern SC where the OP was considering putting his own mooring ball.
 
Jan 19, 2010
8,276
Hunter 26 Charleston
This all very helpful. I have not made up my mind yet and if I can find a marina (that I can afford) ill prob go that route BUT one thing I am factoring into my decision is the fact that the hunter 26 is a water ballasted TRAILER sailboat. I have no intention of leaving her in the water if a hurricane is coming. A mooring might still be a nice way to catch an hour of sailing after work when things are just right
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,229
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Another thought, if you come back to your ball and someone is tied up to it what are you going to do? .
This actually happened to us one day. We came back from sailing and there was a very derelict looking sailboat on our properly permitted private mooring. The mooring is also part of our actual legal riparian property deed (deeded mooring right) from back when this was done in Maine). We politely asked that he vacate and pointed him to a vacant rental mooring. He then verbally berated us and told me to; "F&ck off, you don't own the ocean buddy." No sense in arguing with a miscreant..

With one quick call to the Harbor Master, the guy actually spent a night in jail as he refused to move and then resisted arrest by the Harbor Master, who is also a police officer. The Harbor Master put the boat on the rental mooring $$$, charged him for the tow $$$$$$$$ and the rental mooring fees plus any fines imposed by the judge. Every mooring in town has a town assigned mooring ball # and mooring inspection sticker, yet this guy thought he had a God given right to use one at his whim. He probably camps on peoples front lawns too.
 
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Oct 26, 2010
1,062
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
This actually happened to us one day. We came back from sailing and there was a very derelict looking sailboat on our properly permitted private mooring.

With one quick call to the Harbor Master,
Thanks @Maine Sail - at least you have a semi-controlled environment with "permitted" moorings with specs on the mooring and a "requirement" to inspect the moorings each year. No Harbor Master here to enforce anything. When I called up to Rockport ME doing some research on a buoy failure we had down here I found out (if I recall correctly) that they use a huge "chunk" of granite as the mooring anchor and they pull the moorings (including the granite block) from the water every year before winter and put them back in the early spring so at least some chance to check things out each year. No such thing here (cheap granite) and moorings stay in all year so they can get pretty degraded over time.

PS: I'm old and have a senior moment now and then so its just my recollection that they pull the granite block every year. This is of course on the mooring balls maintained by the Harbor Master's office - may not be the case for the private mooring.
 
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Apr 1, 2012
133
Pearson 424 Charleston, SC
So you don’t necessarily need a “mooring”. You could use a large anchor on all chain and attach your boat to that. When you want to go sail, attach your dinghy to your anchor chain. No one’s gonna hook up to your dinghy while you’re gone. You don’t need any kind of permit to drop an anchor around here, and people anchor derelict boats out all the time in the Charleston area. I’m not suggesting that you’re a derelict just making a point. Your real issues are, 1. a place to keep your dinghy nearby with auto parking, 2. A method for keeping your bottom clean. With the water temps being above 80 for about 1/2 the year your bottom will need to be cleaned about every 3 weeks even with a fresh quality bottom paint.