Getting onto a windward berth: using a stern line
We were aware of this method, which, like ‘spronging’ off, is the most glorious combination of simplicity and efficiency, but thanks to YM readers Peter Styles and Stuart Tanner for formally submitting it.
With a strong wind blowing off the pontoon, the control problem facing the skipper is that, if you’re manoeuvring relatively slowly at close quarters in a breeze, the bow wants to blow off until it is pointing downwind where it will stop because the wind is the same on both sides of the bow. To neutralise the problem – and this is the genius bit – approach the pontoon stern to the wind and the bow will behave itself. It has to toe the line. After that, we use the same turning moment we use when ‘spronging’ off. Having scouted the berth and worked out which pontoon cleat you’re aiming for, one just aft of where the transom will end up ideally, rig fenders along the nearside, set up bow and stern lines and approach your cleat with your stern into the wind.
Once within throwing distance, and you can get very close, put the bight over the cleat, haul in the stern line and secure.
As the crew goes forward to man the bow line, all the skipper needs to do is engage forward with the rudder midships and let the magic happen. She will turn obediently into the wind. Adjust the revs in proportion to the wind speed and wait until you’re alongside, when the crew will either step off to secure the bow line or, as we did, throw another bight and haul it in.
With bow and stern lines secured, drop off the revs and rig your springs.
With bow and stern lines rigged, approach the pontoon stern into the wind so the bow can’t be blown off. When within range, drop the stern line over your intended cleat
Nip up the stern line as short as you can and secure it wth a figure-of-eight. That's the hard work done, the rest of the job is simply a matter of horsepower and basic physics
While the crew ambles forward to prepare the bow line, the skipper simply motors ahead with the rudder amidships and watches as she obediently comes alongside
The crew secures the bow line and that's you alongside. If the stern line is too long, just engage astern and nip it up until she's the right distance off. Add springs and that's it