Falmouth Harbour trials eco moorings

Falmouth Harbour has begun boat trials on a unique eco-mooring system designed to protect sensitive areas of seabed from the scouring caused by traditional mooring chains. 

The advanced mooring system (AMS) in place off Flushing Beach has been designed by Falmouth-based naval architect and engineering firm Morek, working with Falmouth Harbour’s marine operations team. The AMS has floats along the length of the mooring chain to lift it off the seabed, thus protecting the delicate habitats and seagrasses on the seabed. 

Falmouth Harbour is monitoring how a yacht attached to the AMS sits in the water – in all weathers and tides – to gauge how safe and practical the system is for wider use in a commercial and leisure harbour environment. 

Environment manager Vicki Spooner says: “We’ve put the trial AMS within one of the scour patches left by a traditional chain mooring – one of 11 removed by us in 2021 to allow the seagrass bed below to recover.

“Ongoing monitoring of the scour patches by the University of Exeter shows the seagrass is regenerating itself, which is fantastic – and if the AMS functions as well as we hope with a yacht attached, we potentially foresee using them in environmentally sensitive areas, or on the fringes of these areas.” 

Falmouth Harbour’s AMS eco-mooring trial will be monitored off Flushing Beach for the next two months.

Falmouth Harbour, which sits within the Fal and Helford special area of conservation, was successful in gaining £3,000 backing for the trial in 2021 from the EU-funded Tevi (Cornish for ‘grow’) – a venture set up to create economic and environmental growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 

Morek has been collaborating with the harbour for the AMS project. Morek has taken skills it more regularly applies to design and construction of marine renewables to provide the technical rigour required to develop the design of the new moorings.

It has used Orcaflex software to model the likely performance of AMS within Cornish Harbours for Tevi and Natural England. For this project Morek’s engineers took the existing Stirling design and optimised it, focusing on reducing strain on the vessel’s cleats and its movement around the mooring. According to Morek, the result is an AMS that has minimal environmental impact while performing better than a block and chain equivalent.

Images courtesy of Falmouth Harbour.