Leaving a leeward berth: ‘spronging’ off the bow
This is a very effective method suggested to us by YM reader Colm Cleary, who calls it ‘spronging’, which, we have since learned, is also popular in Holland. It works best with the current against you but it’s still effective with a slight current with you and it works so well that you can get the boat perpendicular to the pontoon if you so wish. Rig a doubled line from the outside quarter to a pontoon cleat, one that can be slipped from the cockpit, and double the bow line back to the deck. Next, take off the springs and the stern line and fender the nearside quarter well. Once happy with the setup, the skipper instructs the crew to slip the bow line and when that’s done, engage forward.
On boats with narrow transoms, it works best with the rudder over to drive the stern away from the pontoon but on our beamy Bavaria you’re better off with opposite lock. You could leave the rudder midships and it would still work, it just takes a little longer. Keep an eye on the fenders as they could roll out as the boat's aft quarter moves along the pontoon.
It’s simple physics. The power of the engine driving along the centreline and the line at the outside quarter create a turning moment that gracefully sweeps the bow out into the stream almost regardless of the wind strength.
Once the bow is far enough off the pontoon to comfortably clear the boat ahead, ease off the throttle and get the crew to slip the line, or do it yourself if sailing alone, then engage forward, quickly haul in the line and away you go.
With all lines removed except a doubled outside stern line and a doubled bow line, and the quarter well fendered, the skipper gives the signal to drop the bow line
With the wheel driving the stern into the pontoon, the skipper eases on the power gently, until the quarter is resting securely on the fenders. Then the skipper builds the revs
With the engine power on the centreline and the stern line outboard, a turning moment drives the bow into the wind. Now clear ahead, we can slip the stern line
With the stern line slipped, the skipper centres the wheel as the crew hauls in the stern line. As the boat is never out of forward gear, the skipper always has steerage