Any cruiser contemplating visiting this area has thought about Med mooring: coming in bows or stern-to and either picking up laid lines or using your own anchor
to hold you off the dock. But once you've done that, how do you get off the boat?
The answer is - walk the plank!
These gangplanks are called passarelles in the fancy jargon, and they come in all shapes and sizes. The picture is of Roaring Girl in Ostia. (Note our fancy new netting and tightened guard rails while we're at it!) Our passarelle was made with help of Dave from Englander in Barcelona, who whisked Pip off for a plank and ladder, and helped the development of this sturdy tool. In Ostia we have also improved the system for raising the passarelle up - by the two lines leading up to a metal yoke which in turn is attached to the spinnaker halyard. We experimented with bits of wood and what have you, but in the end got the purpose made bit of kit, which has worked much better.
It is equally important to stop it waving from side to side, and that's where the red lines back to the pulpit come in. Lots of boats have pulley systems to help with this job, but we haven't achieved that refinement yet.
A key challenge for us is how the passarelle is attached to the boat. We have made a hole in the plank and that fits over the fitting to which we attach the foot of the cruising chute, a raised wedge of steel with a hole in attached to the bow roller. (One disadvantage of the Rocna anchor is that it has to be dropped as the shank is too big for the plank to sit smoothly over it.) This provides, essentially, a pivot point. Flashier boats, like Roysterer in the gallery) often have a purpose built fitting which attaches to their passarelle by a hinge arrangement. Other boats, particularly those with sugar scoop sterns, can just have a plank, like Morgana) which sits on the steps and across to the dock.
We found in Ostia that the water level rose and fell more than anywhere else we have been in the Med. We're not sure why but southerly and westerly winds depressed the water level significantly, even if they brought rain with them. This means that being able to adjust the passarelle is more important than usual. For some, like Aquila, the American flagged boat in the gallery, there's the added frisson of making sure the end will actually sit on the dock if the wind is blowing the boat away!
The most scary, we think, is Malaika's, the steep one which goes across their dinghy and has few hand holds, but Benji and Heather (who took their pic) are happy with it. Motorboats often have nifty electric extenders, and some classic boats have beautiful gridded teak passarelles that fully deserve the name. We like ours for being light, practical and cheap, but it needs care to cross, just the same.