From The Boatshop
by Ron Magen

‘The Moor of the Delaware’
[with apologies to W. Shakespeare]

One thing can be said for the ‘Dragon . . . they are THOROUGH !!

A couple of weekends ago, we had the annual ‘Mooring Meeting’ for all members who will be putting a boat in the water. It is for BOTH new members who don’t yet have any ground tackle, and for the ‘old salts’ to review & ‘overhaul’ what they already have. For some people, this means the last time they will see this stuff for some time - the Club is initiating a new policy of a three-year ‘cycle’. That is, 1/3 of the field will be pulled at the end of the sailing season. It will be placed ‘on the hard’ for inspection prior to being ‘re-set’ the following spring. The remaining 2/3rds will remain in place for that winter, and so on.

While there are plenty of ‘old salts’ at the Club {one gentleman will shortly be 100 years old, and a member for over 60 years . . . and still sails !!}, there are a few ‘youngsters’ like me, too. When Joanne & I got our ASA Certification, maybe 10 years ago, one of the ‘permanent mooring’ options discussed was the simple expedient of dropping an old engine block over the side with an appropriate length of chain looped through it. Did I get a surprise when I said that last year !! And my idea to use a cement-filled car wheel to ‘simulate’ a mushroom also got, ‘blown out of the water’. Fortunately, I did get a ‘pass’ on requiring a 250 pound minimum for my 19-foot, 1200 pound boat. Oddly enough, now, between the two anchors, and the ½ inch ‘bottom chain’, I do have 250 pounds, plus, ‘on the bottom’. One of the things I pointed out {they are using ‘Chapman’s ‘ as their ‘bible’} was that the criteria was for a Long Island, NY yacht club and 60 mph winds. A lot more ‘fetch’ and ‘unprotected’ compared to here in the Delaware River. {Just to see if I had put my foot in it, I checked my copy at home . . . Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, Port Washington, L.I. and 75 mph winds}. My copy was from 1959 {when I got my 15-foot fiberglass ‘runabout’ with the 35 Evinrude !!} and I think the Harbormaster’s was maybe 10 years ‘younger’. Also, we have maybe 33 ‘spots’ as opposed to the 200 in the example.

Anyway, while last year the requirement was for ½ inch ‘bottom chain’, now it was for no more than 3/8 inch. Nobody was saying anything about getting older, but that the floating ‘A’- Frame hoist was having trouble handling the weight !! Being on the crew that built the new and ‘rebuilt’ the old docks, they looked pretty sturdy to me !! {Turned out each ‘dock’ section weighed 2,000 pounds, and the ‘A’-Frame weighed 4,000!}

It’s really something to see - all that ‘steel’ up on the hard, along the seawall . . . and so many different kinds. Yesterday we ‘launched’ and assembled the ‘Floating Docks’ for the season. The rented crane had the capability of weighing the lift. He moved one of the ‘railroad car wheel’ moorings . . . 900 pounds !! With the 3/4inch bottom chain, etc - there was about 1200 pounds holding that one boat !! It’s going to be a lot of fun, moving that load with ‘human power’, next week when we set the moorings for the season.

Reading this far, especially the last paragraph, you can see there has been some ‘decline’ in mass, and ‘upgrade’ in technology. While the physical weight has decreased, the ‘holding power’ has either stayed the same, or actually increased. That ‘super-heavy’ train-car wheel can actually be LIFTED off the bottom by the boat it is supposed to hold !! The Club is on a river with a tidal stream . . . is back & forth on one plane. Anchors have been ‘wrapped’ by their chain, and the ‘tide swing’ has lifted the boat - AND ANCHOR - up to 7 feet . It is then moved at the whim of the tide and wind. So much for ‘dead weight’.

Without getting into some really specialized anchors {like the ‘Helix’ or ‘Pyramid’ - which require a diver to burry them, and annual dives to inspect & maintain the guarantee}, there are some techniques & modifications to the classic ‘Mushroom’ that do very nicely. To the ‘non-sailor’ {non-boater ? } it may seem to go against logic, bit the idea/concept is to ‘set’ the mushroom anchor, ‘on edge’. This lets the circular edge, with help from gravity, tide, and currents, bury itself in the bottom. This will give maximum hold. A ‘double-set’ with anchors at both ends of a proper length of ‘bottom chain’ are even more ‘set’ and stable. The ‘riding chain’ is attached to the middle and any pull actually helps to set them deeper.

What is ‘needed’ to make this work is that the shaft be as flat as possible along the bottom. This stops the anchor from ‘popping up’, where it can be wrapped & ‘hoisted’. It also helps to prevent the bottom chain {from a ‘single set’} getting caught. The upraised, rounded, circular bottom allows the chain to slide over from the other direction. The main trick is helping that shaft to lie down. Granted, you have attached about twice the water depth with bottom chain {with safety wired shackles & ‘eye to eye’ swivels}. However, a little ‘insurance’ is nice. ‘Modern’ mushrooms have a cast-or-welded in extra weight

Note also the hole that serves as a balance & lifting point - so the anchor is dropped ‘on edge’. {the ‘old style’ are now required to have a shackle attached to the ‘lip’}

Another way is to attach a weight to the end of the shaft

Another way, if your cheap and have access to a welder, is to add weight to the shaft. This is the heavier of my dual anchor set

Also note the ½ in shackle I attached. There is a smaller shackle on the ‘lighter’ anchor at the other end of 66 feet of bottom chain.

The ‘other end’ of the rig also deserves a LOT of attention . . . some even recommend ANNUAL replacement. This is the end that is exposed to sunlight and the sudden strains & jerks of boat movement. The Club recommends ‘doubling up’ the pennant that attaches the boat to the mooring. {The size of the Buoy depends on the length of ‘riding chain’ which attaches to the ‘bottom chain’ with shackles & eye swivels at BOTH ends, and a shackle & ring to the buoy}. A very good thought. Us Nylon line {or some other material with stretch}. While my ‘primary’ is 3/8th Nylon, the ‘back-up’ is ½ Polypropylene - bright yellow and it floats. It is also about 6 inches longer than the primary. While they can be bought, ‘ready made’ it’s a good idea to learn how to make your own. I’m trying Nylon ‘thimbles’ because there has been some discussion about the galvanized ones chafing the line. This is where YOUR boat is attached . . . While it is also the weakest link, it is the easiest to continually inspect.

The Coast Guard requires a ‘White float, with a Blue band’ for use on a mooring, other than that it’s the owner’s choice. Some guys let the line just float, others tie the two together, and some use brightly colored ‘Swim Noodles’. For us, a ‘pick-up’ buoy with a 4-foot ‘mast’ looks real ‘Yacht Club’.

Ron Magen
Backyard Boatshop
PS - ‘Comments & Discussion Welcomed’