Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Graboid

French island mooring ball

Where mooring balls have been installed in the French islands they do not use pennants from the top of the balls like you see in most other mooring ball installations.  The absence of a pennant probably makes maintenance less expensive, but it can make attaching your boat to the mooring more of a challenge.

The idea for this blog posting originated from watching the couple on this boat attempt to snare their mooring.  It took two passes at the ball and two near misses with our boat.  There was a lot of yelling in French.  Mainly we heard the use of the French word “merde!”

The French couple on the aluminum boat has it easier than the crew of Motivator.  DeFever’s are noted for having a high bow shear that keeps the boat dry, but makes for grabbing a mooring ball a real challenge. 

Motivator’s crew had been struggling with the pennant-less mooring balls throughout the French islands.  The crew of the Izzy R, also on a DeFever 49 CPMY, said their solution was to grab the ball from the swim platform and walk it forward.  We tried that in St. Martin, but discovered with Motivator’s aft deck enclosure that method was also a struggle.

Marco & Rachel

In Grand Anse d’Arlet, our friends Marco and Rachel on Habibi deployed their dinghy and helped us secure a ball.  Latter, over cocktails, Marco presented Motivator’s crew with The Grabber.

The Grabber, renamed by Motivator’s crew the Graboid from the movie Tremors

The Graboid consists of a temporary mooring line attached to a stainless steel hook with a hinged capturing lock.  Originally, the Graboid was equipped with a stainless steel slide attachment that connected to the boat hook via a hose clamp.  Motivator’s line handler quickly lost that part during a fight with a mooring ball.  I fabricated a slide mechanism out of a piece of PVC tubing securely attached by screws to the boathook.

 The Captain’s view of Motivator’s line handler in action

In operation, Motivator’s line handler attaches one end of the temporary mooring line to a boat cleat and slides the Graboid into the PVC pipe.  As Motivator's captain skillfully maneuvers the boat alongside the mooring ball, the line handler clips the Graboid onto the mooring ball’s ring and then slides the boathook free.  This provides the crew with a temporary attachment as mooring lines are fished through the ring to form a bridle.  The Graboid can then be disengaged from the mooring ring via the small loop at the back of the hook.

Thank you Marco and Rachel, the Graboid has become an essential piece of Motivator’s gear.

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