Friday, 2 September 2016
I've spent the last few months looking for one of these: a self hammering mooring stake. Because when we're mooring along the bank and Mr J wants me to secure the bow rope as quickly as possible, the stake and mallet option sometimes takes too long. Plus it's hard work. So when some friends showed me their self hammering stakes, I decided to get one. But first I had to find them. My friends couldn't remember where they'd got theirs from and our local chandleries had never heard of them. So it was over to google. After hours searching the internet and cross referencing different key words, I came across a few forums that mentioned automatic mooring stakes. The good news was that the descriptions matched what I had in mind. The bad news was that apparently they didn't exist any more. Undeterred I kept looking and discovered that Viking Marine in Goole used to stock them. So I picked up the phone and spoke to a lovely lady called Sue. There was more good news and bad news. The bad news was that the posts on the forums were right: the automatic mooring stakes had stopped being made quite a few years ago. But the good news ... drum roll .... was that Sue had one left. So without stopping for breath, I handed over my credit card details and am now the proud owner of the UK's last self hammering mooring stake. Hurrah! And I have some more good news. If you're as desperate as I was for one of these, when I was doing my searches I came something similar in the States. It's called the Slide Anchor Shore Spike and it works in exactly the same way.
A very tight mooring. But believe it or not, we got in without touching the other boats, shouting or gesticulating wildly (and ineffectively) at each other. Oh how things have changed! When we started boating on the Thames in 2009 we thought we had it sussed because Mr J had sailed yachts in Greece, I’d done a bit of sailing in Brazil and we’d spent a week on the Canal du Midi together. And we did have it sussed to a certain extent. But we didn’t have it completely sussed, which meant that when our mooring attempts didn’t quite go to plan - in the lock lay-by, in the locks themselves, along the river and in the marina – our blood pressure went up, followed swiftly by our voices. So when we upgraded from a 3 ton plastic cruiser to a 27 ton steel barge, the first thing we did was sign up for the Bisham Abbey Sailing School’s practical boat handling course. Because if you get things wrong in a 27 ton steel barge, you can do a lot of damage. And I have to say it was the best thing we did. The stream, the wind and some nifty bow and stern springs do most of the work now. And because we do things properly, discuss what we’re going to do in advance and understand what we’re doing – and why we’re doing it – we barely raise an eyebrow these days, let alone our voices. It’s bliss. As a lock-keeper said to us recently, if you’re going to spend thousands of pounds on a boat (of any size), you should spend a few hundred pounds learning how to use it properly. Because you’ll enjoy it so much more. He was right. And we do.