tried and tested

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Mara Buoy – the de­vice that’s rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing moor­ing

WHAT IS IT?

Boat hook in hand, neatly coiled line at the ready, you’re all set up on a per­fect ap­proach. Yet with a slimy rope in the wa­ter and a cum­ber­some boat hook over the pul­pit, you still don’t man­age to nail the pickup. What should be a sim­ple ex­er­cise can turn into a dis­as­ter. Scot­tish en­gi­neer Ge­orge Smith de­cided the hum­ble moor­ing buoy needed a re­think. The re­sult is two prod­ucts: the Mara Buoy Static (£720) and the Mara Buoy Dy­namic (£1,080). Un­like con­ven­tional moor­ing buoys, Mara Buoys in­clude a cen­tral gal­vanised col­umn that ex­tends ver­ti­cally above the wa­ter­line up to deck level. In­side this, the bot­tom of the moor­ing line is shack­led di­rectly to the riser chain and the other end is fed through the top aper­ture, which is rub­berised to pro­tect against scuffs. The static ver­sion has a set length of rope that hangs above wa­ter level; the dy­namic buoy in­cludes a small weight on the moor­ing line so that it re­tracts in­side the col­umn, leav­ing just the moor­ing eye on the end of the rope ready to pick up. With both mod­els, the work­ing end of the line re­mains well above the wa­ter and slime free, while also mak­ing the boat hook re­dun­dant. The moor­ing line is free to swivel in­side the steel col­umn and a win­dow in the col­umn al­lows in­spec­tion of the moor­ing line. Be­cause the work­ing parts of the buoy are kept above the wa­ter, main­te­nance of them is greatly re­duced, it is claimed.

HOW WE TESTED

We tested the two de­signs of Mara Buoy in Portsmouth Har­bour with the Royal Naval Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, who are adopt­ing the buoy on all their moor­ings. We used a West­erly with a high free­board and a Sigma with a lower free­board. The wind was light but there was some tide run­ning, and we tested in both wind with and wind over tide. We made text­book ap­proaches as well as some that were, re­al­is­ti­cally, less so.

VER­DICT

The buoy was in­her­ently much eas­ier to see from the helm on fi­nal ap­proach, right up to the last mo­ment, so wild hand ges­tures weren’t needed. It was also eas­ier to pick up with­out the need of a boat hook. The Dy­namic model’s built-in line in­er­tia makes at­tach­ing on to the cleat smoother while a builtin swivel above the wa­ter­line re­duces main­te­nance. This is a fun­da­men­tal revo­lu­tion of an old de­sign that makes life eas­ier at ev­ery stage of the moor­ing process. We think it will be pop­u­lar, de­spite a rel­a­tively high price at the time of go­ing to press.

The moor­ing line is kept out of the wa­ter by the raised col­umn and in­ter­nal weight The line is more ac­ces­si­ble and the buoy eas­ier to see on fi­nal ap­proach than con­ven­tional buoys

An in­ter­nal win­dow al­lows for in­spec­tion of the moor­ing line The static ver­sion keeps the moor­ing line above the wa­ter

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