Damage done to Niue Yacht Club mooring #10
by visiting cruiser 4/10/13
More bad press via the cruiser’s grapevine, of SV “Alioth” being placed in danger by the poor seamanship of a recent occupant on this deep mooring in Alofi Bay, Niue. During some manoeuvre either on arriving, or during the release process from the mooring on departure, a yacht was powered over the top of our polyester mooring line and the integrity of the mooring badly damaged. The photos taken of this mooring when I retrieved the remnants attached to the buoy, indicate the blue anti-fouling paint started 1 metre away from the pick up buoy itself and is evident down to the badly severed 3 strand structure of the rope.
Our professional mooring provider’s opinion was that there was sufficient entanglement to certainly make a yacht lurch and possibly stall the engine because of this obstruction. There would have at least been an engine noise to indicate that there was a problem.
It is reprehensible that a captain either didn’t check to see what had caused the problem or even worse, knowing there was substantial damage to the structure and then leave the mooring hanging by a few strands for the next arriving and unsuspecting captain to moor his vessel to.
The underwater visibility here allows crew to still be able to see the mooring block 30 metres below them, as was the case on #10. The damage was done to the line less than 4 metres below the surface, and certainly above the seine floats that support all of our mooring lines away from seabed obstructions.
Fortunately for the captain and crew of this beautiful yacht the Trade Wind pattern drifted the vessel seaward where it was noticed by a nearby yacht on a mooring who notified the crew on board. I went out to the yacht the following day, to see what the cause was, as I was certain that something untoward had occurred. Those moorings were all checked after the “Blue Marble” stranding and all were safe, with no visible damage whatsoever. The owner, captain and crew didn’t blame the NYC for this incident, but again highlighted the need by the instigator to accept responsibility and alert us to the possible danger. It would have been a different scenario 5 days later when a Westerly change affected the mooring field.
As part of the briefing during the signing in process at Yacht Club headquarters, all captains are asked if they have had a visual check of the mooring lines when they tie to a buoy. Many crew dive on their mooring for peace of mind. While the onus is on the Niue Yacht Club to provide safe moorings, a task that we have taken seriously since 1992, it is a very frustrating to have such an incident occur that puts yet another vessel and crew in danger.
While it wouldn’t have been done deliberately, it was the captain’s responsibility to alert us to a possible problem so we could get out on the mooring field. and carry out a thorough check.
At the end of October, all moorings will be taken out of the Bay, cleaned, carefully inspected and in the case of #10, completely replaced for the beginning of the 2014 sailing season.
Such an incident does nothing for the morale of our small group of volunteers who strive to provide a worthwhile service to cruisers in this isolated corner of the South Pacific. What is of greater importance however, is that such an incident closely following from the Blue Marble loss, will create a complete loss of confidence in our ability to keep our potential visitors safe.
Once I can post the photographic proof of the damage done and then unreported, hopefully fair minded cruisers will still have confidence in our mooring field, and not cross Niue off as one of their destinations in the 2014 cruising season.
Niue Yacht Club