Taking the lines
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.