“Yachts that moor stern to the dock often put up an anchor ball. Do yachts need to put one up? According to the COLREGS they don't. Most yachts do, why?” The Crew Report received this question from a first officer who raises a valid point: why are we self-regulating and using anchor balls when moored up, stern to the dock, when it is not legally required?
“Anchor balls, by day, and anchor lights, by night, should only be displayed by vessels anchored in a seaway or other navigable waters and should not be used while berthed in a port or marina,” asserts Sean Purdy, marketing director at Camper & Nicholsons Marinas. “If a bower anchor is used in a marina, then the berth should be designed so that the use of the anchor does not impede any navigable fairways,” Purdy adds.
Yet while the COLREGs (Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea) only require anchor balls when a vessel is at anchor (as their name would suggest), the position of the anchor when a vessel is moored stern-to does pose hazards.“Vessels moored stern-to usually have anchors ranged out leading ahead and present a hazard to tenders and small craft passing close ahead, so it seems a sensible idea,” Adrian McCourt, managing director of Watkins Superyachts, explains.
"In my early days of managing large yachts, this practice incensed me, but I have come around to the idea of this as being rational in intent and have accepted it as risk mitigation, recognisable to all, to protect small craft.” - Adrian McCourt, Watkins Superyachts
“I am of the old school that believes the COLREGs should be complied with to the letter and, as such, moored vessels are not by definition at anchor. In my early days of managing large yachts, this practice incensed me, but I have come around to the idea of this as being rational in intent and have accepted it as risk mitigation, recognisable to all, to protect small craft.”
The discussion does raise the question of whether more scrutiny is needed when it comes to the safety surrounding superyachts moored up. If captains and crew are self-regulating, is this a paradoxical cry for more regulations in an industry that so often bemoans a growing regulatory mountain?
We would love to know what you think; please share your thoughts in the comments section below.