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Making it easy to depart from a berth with slip-lines


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What is the issue?
Departing a berth or pier can be difficult short handed or solo. The shore lines have to be manually released from the wall or pontoon resulting in a last moment dash by the releasing crewmember to jump aboard the departing vessel. This can be challenging with an offshore wind as the vessel may drift out as the knots are undone.

Why address this?
This can be a challenging operation shorthanded. When slipping the vessel you are most likely to be in a confined and or busy area where maximum vessel control is required. Anything that makes un-tethering the vessel efficient will remove risk. In areas with high piers the final dash by the releasing crewmember can result in an injury as they jump aboard or have them in the water between the vessel and the pier.

How to address this?
Use slip lines. A slip-line is a looped shore line that goes around the pier fixings and back into the vessel so both ends are belayed within the vessel. As they may be undone from within the vessel they make it very easy to slip when departing. Most people rig a pair of slip-lines just before departing, and then untie all the other lines such as springs etc and leaving these as the final step. However you can set these in place from the outset, if not rig all the lines as slip-lines from the outset (see tip: Preventing mischievous youngsters untying your vessel at town piers). There are two things to be mindful of when using slip-lines. If you deploy slip-lines on a permanent basis place a rubber hose around the line if looped into a cleat with a hard edge, or on a rough wall in a surge, to prevent chafe. Also be aware that you have double the amount of line to get in and you need to pull it in very fast once released. Otherwise it could easily get around the propeller. Wherever possible, idle the engine until all the rear stern slip-lines are in.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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