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How to spring on & off a pontoon?

how to: spring on off a pontoon & turn on a warp?


Using lines to get on and off pontoons can change a challenging looking pontoon to an easy one.. when the wind / tide is pushing you on to or off a dock using spring lines to get you on / off can be one of the easiest and safest methods. 

Our Principal and RYA Powerboat Trainer, Candi Abbott, takes you through some of the methods of springing off a pontoon and turning on a warp below: 

What is a spring line?

A line that goes from the bow of the vessel to a cleat adjacent to the stern on the pontoon OR from the stern of the vessel to a cleat on the pontoon adjacent to the bow.  

How long should a spring line be?

The length of your boat + approximately 1 metre. 

What is a slip line?

A line which is tied to your boat, looped around a cleat on the pontoon (not secured to it), brought back onboard the boat and secured to a cleat or D-ring onboard so it can be released quickly and easily. Never ask a crew to just 'hold' a line without at least having a turn around a cleat or D-ring on the boat, that is exactly how rope injuries can occur!

Top Tips:

  • Never approach a pontoon faster than you want to hit it, "Slow is Pro"
  • Both you and your crew should stay 'on and in' the boat ! This will reduce the chance of injury ...make this clear to your crew in your briefing and people generally have a desperate need to 'help' so will be inclined to leap off the boat to get a line on, reach between the boat & pontoon or 'push off' the pontoon rather than wait for the engine to do the work...
  • Use your fenders!
  • Make sure you have good crew communication

 

Springing Off a Pontoon?

How to Spring the stern away from the pontoon

Illustration: ©Mirto Art Studio
Illustration: ©Mirto Art Studio

WHEN & WHY? If the wind &/or tide is pushing you onto the pontoon, or if there are vessels moored close to your bow or stern. 

HOW:

1) Ensure your fenders are out and positioned correctly in order to protect the stern, set up a bow spring on a slip line. 

2) Release all the lines & secure them onboard with the exception of the bow spring. In light wind/current: Engage forward gear If its the wind/current is very strong you can enhance the pivot by turning your engine towards the dock (in this diagram 'to port') & gently engage forward gear which will pull the bow towards the pontoon pivoting the stern away from the pontoon.

ENSURE there is a fender between the dock and the bow. 

3) When the stern is clear of any obstructions, straighten up and engage forward gear gently, when the spring line goes slack crew pulls the bow spring slip line in and secures it. 

How to Spring the bow away from the pontoon?

This is personally my 'least favoured' method particularly when using a boat with an outboard as you are choosing to willingly put the most expensive part of the boat (the engine) close to the pontoon which puts it at higher risk of damage.. in addition the stern of most boats is 'squared off' meaning that you will generally always have a corner to 'bash' or a sponson to get nudged (sometimes even stuck) under the pontoon which can scratch or damage it..  

Illustration: ©Mirto Art Studio
Illustration: ©Mirto Art Studio

WHEN & WHY? If the wind &/or tide is pushing you onto the pontoon, or if there are vessels moored close to your bow or stern.

HOW:

1) Ensure your fenders are out and positioned correctly in order to protect the stern, set up a stern spring on a slip line. 

2) Release all the lines & secure them onboard with the exception of the stern spring. Turn your engine towards the pontoon (in this diagram 'to port') gently reverse which will pull the stern towards the dock which will pivot the bow away from the pontoon. ENSURE there is a fender between the dock and the stern! 

3) When the bow is clear of any obstructions, straighten up and engage forward gear gently, when the spring line goes slack crew pulls the stern spring slip line in and secures it. 

How to turn on a warp to leave a pontoon?

Image ©www.rya.org.uk
Image ©www.rya.org.uk

WHEN & WHY? If the wind &/or tide is pushing you onto the pontoon, or if there are vessels moored close to your bow or stern. 

HOW:

1) Ensure your fenders are out and positioned corrected in order to protect the bow, set up the bow line on a slip line. 

2) Release all the lines & secure them onboard with the exception of the bow line. Turn your engine away from the dock (in this diagram to starboard) gently reverse which will put the bow line under load. This will pivot the stern of the boat out and away from the dock. 

3) Once the boat is clear of obstructions, engage Neutral (be cautious of the 'elastic' properties of most ropes which will pull you unwillingly back towards the pontoon), ask your crew to release the bow slip line and pull it onboard

4) Steer in the direction you wish to travel and drive away

 

How to turn on a warp to get onto a pontoon?

Turning on a warp
Image ©www.marine-education.co.uk

WHEN & WHY?: If the wind &/or tide is pushing you away from the pontoon you want to get to..

HOW:

1) Put out your fenders and ask your crew to prepare the bow line

2) Approach and appropriate cleat on the  pontoon at a very slow speed, aiming to be stopped at 90 degrees approximately 0.5m away

3) Ask your crew to loop the bow line around the cleat and secure it back onto the boat

4) Hard steer in the direction of the dock (in this diagram steer to port)

5) Engage Reverse which will first cause the boat to move back until the tension is on the line, then it will pivot the stern of your boat towards the pontoon

6) Once alongside secure the stern line onto the pontoon, then adjust and secure the bow line and if you're staying a while then add spring lines too

Contact us:

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