Tak­ing the lines

Yachting Monthly - - EXPERT ON BOARD -

This is a tricky one. It’s a nice touch on see­ing a boat ap­proach­ing a nearby ma­rina fin­ger to hop across and help out. The trou­ble is, skip­pers have vary­ing ideas about run­ning out their lines. Don’t as­sume your way is go­ing to be theirs. If a Dutchman hands you a bight of rope, you can bet your weekly wage packet he’ll ex­pect you to pass it around a cleat and back to him. They all use this sys­tem, but it may not be what you do. My crew gen­er­ally pass a bow­line ashore to drop over a post or cleat, then tend the line from on board like a ship or a big yacht. We use one rope for each job and never put more than a sin­gle rope on a moor­ing cleat. Oth­ers wrap the whole shoot­ing match up with a sin­gle line. It gives me the willies, but it’s what they like. Peo­ple are not clair­voy­ant. No­body knows what you want done with the line you toss them, so tell them po­litely. ‘Shall I take your line?’ ‘Thanks. I’ll pass you a loop. Just drop it over that cleat there and I will do the rest.’

Or al­ter­na­tively: ‘Thanks. If you could lead it around that cleat and chuck it back to me, that’ll be great.’

Or what­ever else you want them to do.

If you only an­swer, ‘Yes please,’ the First Law of Hu­man Na­ture as­serts it­self. This states that when you pass some­one a rope, they will pull it. If you are well or­gan­ised, this is prob­a­bly the last thing you want. The ul­ti­mate hor­rors ac­crue when some well-mean­ing soul con­verts your bow line into a bow spring, proudly snubs the bow in and stuffs any chance you ever had of ex­e­cut­ing a tidy ma­noeu­vre. He doesn’t mean any harm, but you have to be ready for him. If you see him shap­ing up, tell him po­litely, ‘No!’

The other side of this po­ten­tial can of worms is when you are the on­shore helper. You are mutely tossed a line. What with room for two, the only options are to raft up along­side him or wake him up to move along the berth. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to fill his cock­pit with dead fish. It works both ways. Al­ways moor at the ex­treme end of an empty pon­toon or wall to leave space for some­one else. that any­one in the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity gets a swift in­vite. With luck they’ll say ‘Yes’, bring a use­ful bot­tle and a banjo too. Should they say ‘No’, at least they’re on the back foot later on.

If things are get­ting rau­cous, go be­low af­ter dark and carry on with the hatches shut. Do this ear­lier in higher lat­i­tudes, where those of a qui­eter dis­po­si­tion may wish to turn in af­ter colours at 2100.

Look out for kids on nearby boats. Keep the lan­guage clean and, if in any doubt, ask the par­ents what time the tots will turn in. Then go be­low and carry on as per Rule 2.

How­ever good an idea it may seem at the time, never, ever al­low drunken mid­night choirs any­where near your boat. nice new frap­ping lines. In­stead, on one night of storm and tem­pest I pulled on my oil­skins and frapped each noisy hal­yard us­ing the tails of the yacht’s dock­lines. It looked aw­ful but it worked and the mes­sage was clear. One by one, the warps were mys­te­ri­ously re­placed with proper ar­range­ments. Re­sult! I’ve done it since too, so frap up early, lest you be un­lucky enough to end up in the same ma­rina as me.

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