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Posts: 144
December 1969
Destination moorings Tue, 12 November 2002 23:09 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
Fri, 20 September 2002 10:51

I always see the mooring issue as having two parts. There are moorings in a vessel's homeport, and then there are moorings set as destinations.

The first type of mooring is completely legitimate. Any boat left unattended for any period of time should be on a well-found mooring that is current in its inspection and maintanence. The space this mooring takes up, whether vacant or not, is an acceptable use of any given harbor.

Destination moorings, on the other hand, are a selfish reservation of public waterways. They are placed to reserve space in prime anchorages for the owner of the mooring, and they take up that space whether the owner happens to be there or not. They force other boaters to either hang on questionable tackle if they pick up an "unknown" mooring, or to anchor in more exposed locations.

This issue came up a year or two ago, when a sailor form Salem, MA decided that he could make a decent living by placing commercial destination moorings in the prime cruising anchorages of Penobscot Bay and the Merchants Row. It (rightly) provoked an outpouring of opposition, and the Army Corps of Engineers denied his permit application.

The issue was revisied again in Casco Bay, at the Goslings, where the anchorage was--and still mostly is--filled with destination moorings for weekend boaters from Portland, Yarmouth, and Freeport. One of the higher-ups in the Army Corps happened to cruise there and couldn't believe he was forced to anchor outside the harbor. Now, all unregistered moorings have been removed, no more mooring permits are being issued for that location by the town of Harpswell, and any exisiting, permited mooring whose permit lapses will not be renewed.

But this is an issue that is not going away. Destination moorings nearly fill Perry Creek and most of the vast Pulpit Harbor, for instance.

Now, should you pick up a vacant mooring or not? The easy answer, the one we give in A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast, is no (see http://www.coastguides.com/intro/moorings.html). Not unless you have permission from the owner or assurances from someone else that it is OK to be on that mooring. However, there are often instances when hanging on someone else's mooring seems fine.

First, try to determine if it is a destination mooring or not. Often the arguements FOR destination moorings stress that, well, the moorings are there for anyone to use when the owner is not there, and that because moorings require less swinging room than anchors, they, in fact, maximize the use of the anchorage. With that in mind, you might pick one up. You still don't know what's on the bottom or the condition of the chain, and since the owner of the mooring knows he always has "his" spot, he may come in late and tell you to move, at which point there might not be anchoring room at all.

Even worse, are the owners of destination moorings who tell you to move AND THEN DON'T USE THE MOORING! There is a bevy of destination moorings placed in the Mount Desert Island region and Penobscot Bay area by the mysterious "Mount Desert Island Yacht Club." These are unpermitted moorings, intimidatingly marked that they are for the use of members only. I have had several reports, though, of these members telling a non-member boat to get off the mooring and then steaming away, leaving the mooring vacant for the night.

If the mooring seems to be a homeport mooring, you have a different set of parameters to consider. First, homeport moorings tend to be in harbors where you will get off the boat for some time. How long are you going to leave the boat unattended. Second, is the mooring slimy from not being used that season (or many) or because the boat has been out on an extended cruise or fishing trip and may return at anytime. Third, if it is slimy, there may be another reason it is not used. Is it unsafe? Fourth, do you want to seem presumptuous to all the localsw watching from shore when you slide in and grab someone else's mooring.

I feel comfortable in picking up a vacant homeport mooring first when the weather is settled and then when a) somebody local has told me it is OK, b) I'm not leaving the boat, or c) I am leaving the boat, but only for a very brief period and I plan to make myself obvious (by landing at the public float, for instance, or rowing to the lobster co-op) and ask about the mooring ashore.

I met one couple who took great pride in finding vacant moorings. "The slimier, the cheaper" was their motto. But if the boat breaks free or if you offend those around you, the price may be higher than you think.


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Read Message   Vacant moorings adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:02
Read Message   Re: Vacant moorings adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:04
Read Message   mooringexchange.com adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:05
Read Message   vacant moorings or anchor? adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:08
Read Message   Destination moorings  adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:09
Read Message   Re: Destination moorings adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:11
Read Message   Destination moorings follow-up adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:16
Read Message   Goslings adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:12
Read Message   Re: Goslings adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:13
Read Message   How many? adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:14
Read Message   Vacant moorings may not be vacant adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:17
Read Message   More on moorings adminTue, 12 November 2002 23:21
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