Change this Title

Hit Counter


I first laid a mooring in the creek at Tollesbury, Essex, in 1973.  That mooring is still in use.  I inspect the top, rising chain every time I pick up the buoy, and every couple of years have a paddle in the mud to inspect the ground chain.

The mooring was beefed up in about 1995, to enable a larger vessel to lay on it for a while.  It is now man enough for a 35ft boat.

I have been informed by the 'Fairways committee' that only two people have their authority to lay moorings, the local boat yard and me!  Apparently that's because our moorings stay put!


Over the years I have seen some horrors, bits of wood buried in the mud in the form of a cross, with chain attached. Silly little concrete blocks, that weigh a lot less in water!  But the best had to be a very, very long rope onto which someone had put figure of eight knots every foot, and between each, a clay 5" flowerpot! about a dozen of them!   Wonder of wonders, it held a 20 ft boat of Leigh on Sea for years!



This is what will you need, for a good mooring, for an Eventide 26, or a WW:-


 2 lumps of cast iron scrap, each weighing 56lb plus and consisting of slabs of iron with holes cast in them to shackle the end of my heavy ground chain round.  Heavier the better, could be several lumps looped onto chain together, makes them easier to transport!

2 large car or lorry rims, approx 15 inch diameter.  Hole in centre big enough to pass the chain through.

1 length really heavy ground chain. Mine was 3/4 inch thick, worn to about 1/2 inch in places.  30ft at least, max about 45ft.  (More than that and you will never move it!)  You could have two shorter lengths and join them with a truly massive shackle in the middle.

1 length riser chain, twice the height of HW at highest Springs.  In my case 22ft.  I used 3/8th chain.  It is normal to use one size larger than your anchor chain.

Swivel.  I now use one of those nice Yellow inflatable buoys with a steel rod and swivel through the middle.  Do make sure it swivels!  Also be very careful to check annually for corrosion on the steel rod!!! I lost one a year or two back, I had asked the borrower using my mooring to check it and perhaps put a chain twixt top and bottom as a temp measure, till I could change it, sadly they didn't and some poor unsuspecting soul must have got a shock when it came off in their hand!

Or. Pick up buoy and  a swivel in the chain, and if you do, fix a buoy to it with the right length of rope, strong stuff, at least 15mm, so that the chain stays in the mud when the boat is not on the buoy, the buoy just holding the rope up.  This way the chain will be preserved in the mud when you are not on the mooring.

Electrical ties.  these are better to work with than seizing wire, do not make holes in hands when you are using them! 

A rough dinghy!  Preferably a hard one, that you can load the kit into and either moor on the spot or push to the mooring spot.  Pushing whilst leaning on the transom is the easiest way of getting about on soft mud.  Either that or you run! stand still for a second and you are bogged down!

A couple of small strong but small spades or large trowels.  Waterlogged mud is very sticky and heavy.

Waders. Wellies get lost!

Bits of scrap board to lay out on the mud, otherwise things disappear!

Parent boat on mud nearby, with buckets of  seawater to wash off in when done.  Even better if you have a 'Killaspray' type shower with hot water too!

Someone on parent boat watching out for you!  Able to put kettle on or pass tools you might need, hacksaw, stilsons etc This is a very important safety point.  In 2005 a man nearly drowned, stuck in the Blackwater mud in one of the creeks


Method.  After establishing the spot, and verifying it with the local moorings man!  Be sure you will have enough room to swing, and that nearby craft are the same sort as you and will lift to the tide at the same time.  Nothing worse than to find another mooring laid too close with a boat that swings at a different time to yours and ends up crashing transoms or worse, every tide!  The damage if there is any weight in boat tide or weather, is terrible.


Hopefully moor the parent craft, on her anchor just a few feet down tide and wait for the tide to sit her on the mud. you will have transferred the weights, and chain etc to the dinghy already, if you did not tow it there in the dinghy.  Beware sinking dinghy! 

Mark out you centre spot, then drag the chain out equally to each side, across the creek.

Figure out where to dig the holes, the tide is falling nicely now, you will have 6 hours to get it all sorted, so there is no tearing rush.  Remember you only want to do this once!

The holes need to be about 2' 6" deep.  So allow that much chain and sufficient to attach iron weights as well.

The hole needs to be as wide as the wheel, plus a bit, as you will find the hole subsides slowly as you go down.  Try not to lose the wellies and the shovel.  After 20 minutes you will see why I suggested a trowel!  I often ended up using my hands!  BEWARE OYSTER SHELLS!!  They are razor sharp!  This is also why a hard dinghy is better, as the shells in Essex mud tend to cut the bottoms out of rubber dinghies.

The car wheel needs to be threaded onto the chain, dished side up, it then will act like a parachute in the mud!  attach the weight and 'mouse' the shackle with either wire, or more often today, an electrical tie.  They do the job, last forever under the mud, and can be undone with a sharp knife in seconds. Seizing wire is OK, but can cut you to blazes, hidden in the mud, when you go back to check later.

Back fill the hole, use the heaviest mud first, back in the bottom, and try not to trap air pockets.

Having got one end in, normally the uphill one, as you can start on that first, letting the tide fall away from you, move over to the lower clump and repeat.

Now move to the middle of the ground chain.  Using a very heavy shackle, fasten the rising chain, the 'Riser' to the 'Ground Chain'.  As I have said, allow twice the depth between bottom and highest Springs.  In Tollesbury it is about 11 ft, so about 22 ft of chain, in my case 3/8th thick links.  Mouse the bottom shackle.

Fasten either a buoy with a swivel, again mouse the pin on the shackle to ensure it cannot work loose.

If you are fixing a rope to the chain, try to splice a line up in advance, with a heavy galvanised thimble, so it can be easily and securely shackled to the end of the chain.  Again mouse the shackle!


I used this system for many years, it worked well.  The rising chain was arranged so it ended just above the water, where a substantial swivel was fitted. This way the swivel did not corrode and seize up, causing chain to shorten and bow to be held down!

Above that and onto the deck was another length of chain with a loop in the end to drop onto the Samson post. 

I have always preferred chain to rope if the boat is left for any time, i.e. more than a day or two.  I spent many years salvaging craft that had been left on rope moorings, broken free and ended up in all sorts of pickles.  

I had a length of 15mm rope, Nylon, so it sank, about 10ft long with a pick up buoy on top.  On picking up the mooring the rope was pulled in till the chain is reached, the chain then dropping onto the post.  The buoy and rope was hung on the pulpit out of the way.

We have finished the Job.

(The only thing I did extra, was to add an another leg on the ground chain, directly up tide and sink an extra wheel and weight in the mud some years later.  As in the diagram above.  This was in case a 35ft boat used the mooring. Just made it all stronger!)

Now you can go and get the anchor from your boat and your crew can haul it back aboard, washing it off with one of the buckets full of water as he does so.  Take a long rope and attach it to your new buoy!  That feels better!

Don't forget to pick up all the tools, the boards etc, and any stray wellies!  The boards will be difficult to remove, I can tell you, the suction of a good bit of Essex mud has to be felt to be believed!

Push yourself back to parent ship and try and clean up. I do not allow myself to step back aboard muddy, even stripping off in the dinghy sometimes, placing the muddy clothes in a bag for later disposal or cleaning!

This is where you find out how good your ladder is and if climbing it in bare feet is to be recommended.  CAREFUL. MUD IS AN EXCELLENT LUBRICANT!!  Many a slip twixt dinghy and muddy ladder!

Hopefully the sun stayed out, not too much, and you can now relax with a clean water shower and a beer, good job done!

As a footnote, I used a light line from the outboard end of the bowsprit down to the chain near the W.L., use a rolling hitch to fasten it.  I used 5mm parachute cord.  This ensured the chain was kept off the topsides if the boat lay awkwardly with the wind against the tide.  If the strain got too much it would break, it never did.  I never scratched my topsides either!

2006, the mooring is still there and still lent to friends.  I use it occasionally, when I want to escape from the world.  Dried out on the Essex mud, (with my new holding tank!),  I can drift back in time and read the 'Magic' to the accompaniment  of just the birds and the breeze..