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March tip for the month - Casting off

When casting off, always use a short end of rope.

Between about 5 and 10% of the time, when a rope is cast off from a pontoon, it snags on the cleat instead of sliding cleanly off.


If this happens on a windy day, the results could be disastrous! The yacht is often trapped against other boats or the end of the pontoon, causing considerable damage.

To reduce the risk, the crew should be briefed, to have a very short end of rope to be pulled through, preferably one without any splices. This may take a little bit of juggling to arrange-but it will eventually be worth it.

Other causes of ropes jamming are:


  • Trying to flick the rope off the cleat, sometimes it jams on!
  • Throwing the end of the rope on the pontoon to keep it dry.
  • Eye or back splices in the end of the rope.

As an extra safety measure, the end of the rope made fast to the boat, must be easily released under load. If is tied to the cleat with a Bowline or attached incorrectly on the cleat, and the shore end jams, there is no way to release the boat end without cutting the rope.

Source: http://www.sailtrain.co.uk

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