What is the issue?In busy town piers that are open to the public you may get mischievous youngsters who see a vessels belayed shore lines on the dock cleats as just too much temptation. There is a strange nature that drives them to untie the lines and scarper.
Why address this?Once set adrift in the harbour the vessel could do untold damage to itself and other vessels.
How to address this?A wise precaution if you are in area of doubt is to loop your shore lines through the pier fixings and back into the vessel so they cannot be undone from the quayside. Once tethered this way untying the vessel moves from the spontaneous piece of mischief to a concerted and determined effort. They either have to come down onto the vessel and release the lines at deck level or spend some time cutting through the heavy mooring lines on the dock. Either way this is far more than the spontaneous devilment that normally resides behind this type of problem. Looping the lines has the added benefit of making the vessel very easy to slip when departing. Do be careful to put a rubber hose around the line if looped into a cleat with a hard edge or on a rough wall with a surge.
If you are in an area where this is endemic and you will be leaving the vessel for a period, you can consider padlocking a light chain on a bollard. If the boat has to be moved in an emergency most boatmen will have tools to cut through a light chain. Do contact the harbourmaster in advance for advice.
With thanks to:George Mahon, Courtown Harbour sailing Club.
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