Prepare your boat for a storm in harbour

Each winter we receive a number of storm-related claims where vessels have broken free from their moorings and either run aground or have rubbed up against neighbouring vessels.  These storm-related incidents make up one in twelve of all our claims and we see extensive damage to the hull, toe rails and stanchions with an average cost of £11,000 per claim.

Safety precautions

However, you can reduce the risk of your vessel breaking free if you follow some basic safety precautions.

If you are on a swing or a trot mooring, it is a condition on your policy that the mooring must be professionally laid and inspected annually to ensure that the chains, swivels, shackles and strops are in a good condition and the moorings anchored firmly to the sea bed.

If you are in a marina, then you should ensure that you moor in the correct manner, using bow and stern lines, springs and, in particularly windy marinas, breast lines.  We have found that some owners will use the same line for the bow or stern line as well as one or both of the springs.  The old adage “one line for one job” will not only make adjusting your mooring easier, but it also ensures that if one of the lines breaks, the other lines will remain secure.  We would also recommend you invest in some shorter lines to use when in your permanent berth rather than the longer lines you would use for temporary mooring when visiting other marinas.

When securing the lines to the cleats, we would recommend that you use bowlines or pre-spliced loops on the pontoon cleats so that others can use the same cleat and make fast the lines on your deck cleats using the “OXO” method, hanging the excess mooring line to your guardrail.

You should also ensure that you deploy suitable sized fenders, at least four on the pontoon side and two on the outside, to prevent neighbouring vessels rubbing up against your own.

Mooring lines

When it comes to mooring lines, you should ensure they are in good condition and not worn, and that they are a suitable size for your vessel. As a general rule of thumb, the diameter should be at least 2mm for each 5ft in length, so for smaller vessels up to 35ft, we would recommend a minimum diameter of 14mm and for vessels up to 40ft, 16mm and up to 45ft, 18mm.  For larger vessels a minimum of 20mm.  However if you have a heavier vessel or it has greater windage (high sided or large wheelhouse/coach roof), then we would recommend moving to the next size up.

Most mooring lines are made from nylon and there is a choice between either braided or twisted lines.  Braided lines are generally stronger than twisted lines but have less stretch, meaning it is essential to use some form of compensating device such as snubbers or coiled springs to allow the lines to stretch and absorb the effects of waves.  It is equally important to protect the mooring lines from chafing on the cleats and fairleads as the vast majority of mooring lines break as a result of chafing.  You can buy specific chafe protectors or make your own out of PVC flexible tubing.

Contact us

If you are getting back out on the water, don’t forget to check that your yacht or boat insurance is up to date and correct. If you would like an alternative quotation at renewal you can complete our online quote form here.   Or alternatively get in touch with the Admiral Marine team on +44 (0)1722 416106 for any advice you may need relating to your boat insurance.