Title:
Mooring system with line connection & release device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mooring system for watercraft, which includes a connection/release device. The mooring system will release a mooring line off a stationary mooring member. The connection/release device is activated and the mooring line is then released off the dock facility. The connection/release device can be either manually or remotely activated to release the mooring line off the stationary mooring member. The mooring system can be reversed so the connection/release device releases the mooring line off the watercraft. The mooring system can utilize a retraction device in the mooring line is coiled into a housing for storage to be use at a later time. This connection/release device can be utilized for any situation in which a line needs to be connected and then released off a member.



Inventors:
Alan, Brad (Rose Ville, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/898545
Publication Date:
04/21/2005
Filing Date:
07/23/2004
Assignee:
ALAN BRAD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B21/04; (IPC1-7): B63B21/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SOTELO, JESUS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Brad Alan (9278 Eliana CT., Las Vegas, NV, 89147, US)
Claims:
1. A mooring system for mooring a watercraft to at least one stationary mooring member, said mooring system comprising: at least one mooring unit connected with the watercraft, each mooring unit of said at least one mooring unit including: a mooring line having a near end and a distal end; a connection device at distal end of said mooring line for providing securement of said mooring line to stationary mooring member, a retraction device connected with said watercraft at near end of said mooring line for providing reelable storage of said mooring line.

2. The mooring system of claim 1, a connection device comprising: a clasp including; a base member located toward the distal end of the said mooring line, said base member having a upper half and a lower half; a first end and a second end of each of the upper half and the lower half; the first end of the upper half having a hinge being pivotally connected with the lower half; a clip device for snappily connecting upper half with lower half; a hinge device for separating/pivoting upper half and lower half.

3. The mooring system of claim 2, wherein the connection device further comprises; a clasp including; a base member located toward the distal end of the said mooring line, said base member having an upper half and a lower half; a first end and a second end of each of the upper half and lower half, the first end of the upper half having a hinge being pivotally connected with the first end of the lower half; a clip device for snappily connecting upper half with lower half; a transmitter for providing emission of at least one predetermined wireless signal; a control mechanism for providing selective control over actuation of said separating/pivoting responsive to emission of said at least one predetermined wireless signal; wherein said at least one predetermined signal emitted from said transmitter means actuates said control mechanism so as to cause said separating/pivoting of said upper half and lower half, and substantially simultaneously actuates said connection member so as to release said distal end of mooring line from connection with the stationary mooring member.

4. The remote connection device of claim 3, further comprises; a pawl slidably mounted for selectively engaging said upper half; a pawl bias for biasing said pawl into engagement with said upper half; a solenoid for selectively extending said pawl with upper half; a receiver for actuating said solenoid means responsive to emission of said at least one predetermined signal from said transmitter; an electrical power source for electrically powering said solenoid and said receiver.

5. The remote connection device of claim 4, wherein each receiver of said at least one mooring unit uniquely responds to a respective first predetermined signal emitted by said transmitter, wherein each receiver of said at least one predetermined signal responds to a predetermined signal of said at least one predetermined signal from said transmitter.

6. The remote connection device of claim 5, wherein each receiver of said one or more mooring units uniquely responds to a respective predetermined signal of said at least one predetermined signal emitted by said transmitter, wherein each receiver of said one or more mooring line units uniquely responds to a second predetermined signal of said at least one predetermined signal emitted from said transmitter.

7. The mooring unit of claim 2, wherein said mooring line has a stop at the distal end to prevent mooring line from fully entering into said connection device.

8. The mooring unit of claim 1, wherein said retraction device further comprises a wind-up spring or motor device.

9. The mooring unit of claim 8, wherein said retraction means comprises an axle rotating within housing of retraction device; said mooring line secured to said axle.

10. The mooring unit of claim 8, wherein the watercraft has a hull, the hull having a gunwale; said watercraft further containing a hull portal connected with said housing for providing an exit portal of said mooring line through the hull of the watercraft substantially at the gunwale.

11. The mooring unit of claim 8, wherein the watercraft has a deck, the retraction device being securing to the deck.

12. The mooring line unit of claim 1, wherein the watercraft has a starboard side, a port side, a bow and aft; wherein said at least one mooring line unit comprises at least four said mooring line units, a first mooring line unit being provided at the starboard side aft of the watercraft; a second mooring fine unit being provided at the starboard side bow of the watercraft; a third mooring line unit being provided at the port side bow of the watercraft; and a fourth mooring line unit being provided at the port side aft of the watercraft.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Provisional Patent Application No. 60/498,418 submitted Sep. 28, 2003 Confirmation No. 6491 Provisional Patent Application No. 60/498,517 submitted Sep. 23, 2003 Confirmation No. 6887

A mooring system for watercraft including a connection/release device to release the mooring line off the stationary mooring member from a distance. The connection/release device is activated and the mooring line is released off the dock facility and is retracted into a device located on or within the hull of the watercraft for convenient storage on the watercraft for later use. The connection/release device can be either manually or remotely actuated to release the mooring line off the stationary mooring member. The mooring system can be reversed so the connection/release device releases the mooring line off the watercraft and then is retracted to the dock facility. The mooring line is released off the watercraft cleat and is retracted into a coiling device located on dock for convenient storage on the dock for later use. The connection/release device can be either manually or remotely actuated to release the mooring line off the watercraft mooring member.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to mooring lines used for mooring watercraft to dock facilities, and more particularly to a connection/release device to release the mooring line off the stationary mooring member located on the dock facility. A retractable coiling device can be used as a receptacle located on the watercraft for storing the mooring line in a ready to use coiled configuration when the mooring line is not in use.

Watercraft, such as motor and sailboats, utilize fore and aft mooring lines at each of the port and starboard sides thereof to secure the watercraft to a dock facility. In this regard the watercraft generally has a number of cleats or other structures, to which the mooring lines may be connected. The connection of each mooring line to the vessel usually involves a loop or knotted attachment to a respective cleat on the vessel, and connection to the respective stationary mooring member accomplished by hand tying. These connections are time consuming, sometimes dangerous, and rather onerous, especially for pleasure craft operators.

Typically, a watercraft will have a mooring line for being connected with cleats on the watercraft in anticipation of future and present docking needs. Cleats are usually provided fore and aft at each of the starboard and port sides of the watercraft, whereupon usually four mooring lines would be needed to be connected to these four cleats

Problematically, when a skipper leaves dock, the mooring lines may be loosely placed on the watercraft, where after they may slide off and then dangle into the water. Dangling mooring lines are, of course, unsightly, unsafe, and pose other problems on the watercraft. On the other hand, if the mooring lines are secured to some component of the watercraft to prevent potential dangling, then when the mooring lines need to be made ready for docking considerable time and effort can be saved to free the lines. This lost time could be critical if a skipper is in need of a fast securement to the dock in the event of an untoward docking situation, such as when other boats may limit free navigation or high seas or winds make docking particularly tricky. Generally, the stern mooring lines are easily accessible by the passengers, as they are located at the ingress/egress area of the watercraft. But, the bow mooring lines are remotely located, and frequently require someone to walk the deck to the front of the watercraft, which can involve some danger, and may also involve delay in deploying the bow mooring line or lines.

In partial response to these problems, a retractable mooring line for watercraft is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,697,537 to Smith, dated Oct. 6, 1987. In this device a spring loaded reel is provided in which a spring loaded reel is provided in which a motoring line centrally exits from the watercrafts deck and is thereupon unreeled so as to be secured to a stationary mooring member. When released from the stationary member, the mooring line retracts via the spring action of the spring loaded reel. While Smith provides a retractable mooring line, there still remains the dangers and problems associated with its release from the stationary mooring member. And, this situation is aggravated by the location of the mooring line exit at the center of the deck of the vessel.

Another partial response to these problems, a mooring line is wound about a payoff reel and dispensed as needed is described and illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 4,856,090 issued Jul. 11, 1989 to Palmquist, which is incorporated herein by reference. This patent teaches a spring loaded reel biased in the take-up direction and provided with a ratchet type lock which is selectively engaged to ratchet teeth provided along the edges of the reel guide walls, to prevent rotation in the payoff direction when the boat is moored.

Accordingly, what is needed is a mooring line system which provides one or a plurality of mooring lines, located at the port and starboard sides of the bow and stern of the watercraft so as to provide excellent moorage relative to stationary mooring members, with minimal effort by the boater by simply retracting the mooring line out of the watercraft and securing it to the stationary mooring member. The mooring line system provides a manual or remote release of each or all of the mooring lines and retraction thereof thereafter into a coiling reel. It is further advantageous to have the mooring line is secured to the central axle of the coiling reel, so it can withstand the stresses imposed by the moored watercraft, relative to the stationary mooring members.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention provides a connection/release device contained on the mooring line in which to form a loop at the distal end of the mooring line, to enable easy securement of the mooring line to the stationary mooring member. The connection/release device also enables easy unsecurement of the mooring line off the stationary mooring member. The connection/release device can be operated manually or remotely. This connection/release device can contain a receiver to receive a predetermined signal from a remote which will activate a device to open the connection/release device from a distance. Upon activation, the connection/release device is opened and the mooring line is released off the stationary mooring member and then can be retracted in the watercraft. The mooring line is secured to the stationary mooring member, and any excess mooring line will remain at the stationary mooring member. A coiling reel can be mounted on the exterior hull of the watercraft (on the deck) or within the interior hull of the watercraft (within the hull, transom or gunnel), and also provides an effective, simple and easy to use way to hold mooring lines in a stored state, yet the mooring lines are instantly available when docking is imminent. The mooring line is secured to the central axis of the coiling reel, such that when docking the mooring line is retracted into the watercraft.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a mooring system which provides a connection/release device contained on the mooring line in which to form a loop at the distal end of the mooring line, to enable easy securement of the mooring line to the stationary mooring member.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a mooring system which provides a connection/release device at the distal end of the mooring line, to enable easy release off the stationary mooring member.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a mooring system which provides a retractable mooring system for a watercraft, to provide storage of the mooring lines, and which provides convenient grabbing of mooring lines for rapid deployment during dockage of the watercraft.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a mooring system to provide simple and attractive storage of mooring lines without any possibility for the mooring lines to become tangled accompanied by quick ability to access the mooring lines when needed.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a mooring system which provides a retractable mooring system for a watercraft, and wherein at least one mooring line is provided at each of the starboard and port sides of the bow and stern of the watercraft.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a mooring system which provides the mooring lines emanating from the gunwale of the watercraft.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a mooring system which is structured for being fitted into new watercraft or retrofitted into old watercraft.

It is an additional object of the present invention a mooring system which provides a manually operated connection/release device located at the distal end of the mooring line to free each or all of the mooring lines from the stationary mooring member.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a remotely operated connection/release device located at the distal end of the mooring line to free each or all of the mooring lines from the stationary mooring member.

It is an additional object of the present invention a mooring system which provides a manually operated connection/release device located at the distal end of the mooring line to free each or all of the mooring lines from the stationary mooring member, and then being retracted into the coiling reel located on the watercraft.

It is an additional object of the present invention a mooring system which provides a remotely operated connection/release device located at the distal end of the mooring line to free each or all of the mooring lines from the stationary mooring member, and then being retracted into the coiling reel located on the watercraft.

It is an additional object of the present invention a mooring system which provides a manually or remotely operated connection/release device located at the distal end of the mooring line to free each or all of the mooring lines from the watercraft mooring member, and then being retracted into the coiling reel located on the dock facility.

These and additional objects, advantages, features and benefits of the present invention will become apparent from the following specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1 through 16

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a watercraft equipped with a mooring unit in 4 locations according to the present invention being docked.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a watercraft equipped with a mooring unit in 4 locations according to the present invention in the docked position.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a of the manual or remote connector device in open position at the dockcleat.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a of the manual or remote connection device in the open position at the dockcleat.

FIG. 5 is a plan view of a of the manual or remote connection device in the closed position at the dockcleat.

FIG. 6 is a section view of a manual connection device.

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a of the remote connection device in the closed position at the dockcleat.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of a of the remote connection device in the open position at the dockcleat.

FIG. 9 is a section view of a remote connection device in the open position.

FIG. 10 is a section view of a remote connection device at the dockcleat.

FIG. 11 is a diagram view of the circuitry of the remote connection device.

FIG. 12 is a plan view of the retraction coiling reel, line being coiled into housing.

FIG. 13 is a plan view of the retraction coiling reel device with the mooring line fully retracted into the retraction coiling device.

FIG. 14 is a section view through the retraction coiling device within watercraft hull.

FIG. 15 is a section view through the retraction coiling device secured to the watercraft hull.

FIG. 16 is a plan view of an alternate method of the watercraft equipped with a retraction coiling reel device in 4 locations located on the dock being docked.

FIG. 17 is a plan view of an alternate method of the watercraft equipped with a retraction coiling reel device in 4 locations located on the dock in the docked position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As shown by FIG. 1 the mooring unit (3) according to the present invention connected with the watercraft (1) and being utilized to the moor the watercraft (1), with respect to stationary mooring member (2a), wherein the stationary mooring members (2a) are, by way of example, shown in the form of cleats (2a) supported by the dock (2). It will be discerned from FIG. 1 that there are four mooring line units (3). The location of the mooring units (3) is predetermined to render a safe and secure moorage with respect to the stationary mooring members (2a). In the example shown, there are two mooring units (3) at each of the starboard-bow (1a) & port-bow (1b) and the starboard-aft (1c) & port-aft (1d) of the watercraft (1). Such a balanced distribution of the mooring units (3) as shown in FIG. 1 provides a secure moorage for most watercrafts (1), such as pleasure craft. However, more or less than four mooring units (3) may be provided as needed per the mooring requirements of a particular watercraft. It will further be seen from FIG. 1 that each of the mooring units (3) emanates from the watercraft (1) at the gunwale (1e) thereof, thereby providing a more-or-less horizontal directionality for of the mooring lines (4) as between the watercraft (1) and the cleats (2a) of the stationary mooring members (2).

It will be further discerned from FIGS. 1 & 2 that each mooring unit (3) generally includes a coiling unit (6) which is connected with the hull (1f) of the watercraft (1) (such as bolting it to the bulkhead, not shown), a mooring line (4), the near end (4a), of which being connected with the coiling unit (6), a stop (5) connected to the distal end (4b) of the mooring line (4). The coiling unit (6) can either be an integral part of the hull (1f), be within the hull (1f), or be secured to the exterior of the hull (1f).

The mooring line (4) is composed of any flexible, sturdy and weather resistant line utilized in the nautical arts, such is for example, but not limitation, nylon rope. The length thereof between it distal end (4b) and its near end (4a) is predetermined to amply provide connection between the hull (1f) of the watercraft (1) and the stationary mooring member (2a). Because mooring circumstance may vary from one tie-up to the next, it is presumed a generous length of mooring line (4) would be provided.

As shown in FIG. 3, a connection device (12 or 20) is used to form a loop on the mooring line (4). The mooring line (4) is composed of any flexible, sturdy and weather resistant line utilized in the nautical arts, such as for example, but not limitation, nylon rope which can be bent to form a loop within the mooring line (4) to be used for securing the mooring line (4) to the stationary mooring member (2a) on the dock (2). Any excess mooring line (4c) will remain on the dock (1).

As shown in FIG. 3, a stop (5) is located at the distal end of the mooring line (4). The mooring line (4) is looped over the dockcleat (2a) in a conventional manner.

As shown in FIG. 4, the line (4) is wrapped around the dockcleat (2a).

As shown in FIG. 5, a manual or remote connection device (12 or 20) is used to form a loop on the mooring line (4). The line (4) is placed into the manual or remote connection device (12 or 20) and snapped shut to the closed position to form a loop around the dockcleat (2a). The manual or remote connection device (12 or 20) can be slide along the line (4) to allow the size of the loop to adjustably larger or smaller around the dockcleat (2a). Any excess mooring line (4c) will remain on the dock (1).

As shown in FIG. 6, a manual connection device (12) is described. The manual connection device (12) can be composed of two halves forming a clasp (15). The clasp (15) has a hinge (13) at one end. Said clasp (15) can be opened and closed via a hinge (13). The are two grooves structured in the interior of each half of the clasp (15). The diameter of each groove (15c) and (15d) is the same or slightly smaller than the diameter of the mooring line (4). There can be small ridges or teeth embossed into the outer diameter of the grooves (15c) and (15d) to compress into the mooring line (4). A portion of the mooring line (4) is stored within these grooves. A loop is formed within the mooring line (4) with one side of the loop stored in one groove (15c) and the other side of the loop in the other groove (15d). The hinge (13) at the other end of the clasp (13) will hold that end (15a) together. The clip (14) in the top half of the clasp (15e) will snap into the clip receptacle (14a) in the lower half of the clasp (15f). This closes the gap between the upper half and lower half of the clasp (15) compressing a portion of the mooring line (4) snuggly enclosed in the grooves (15c) and (15d) within the two halves (15e) and (15f) of the clasp (15).

As shown in FIG. 6, the clasp (15) can be pried open with some force to create a gap between the two halves (15e) and (15f) at one end (15b) of the clasp (15). This size of the groove (15d) will be larger than the diameter of the mooring line (4). Thus the mooring line (4) is free to come out of the groove (15d) and fall free of the gap (15g) in the clasp (15) to dissolve the loop in the mooring line (4). The diameter of the groove (15c) will also be larger than the diameter of the mooring line (4), but not large enough for the mooring line (4) to come free of the groove (15c). The manual connection device (12) can slide along the mooring line (4), but not come off the mooring line (4). This will serve as a handle for pulling on to pull the mooring line (4) out of the retraction coiling unit (6) during the next docking operation.

When the skipper wishes to dock, he or she gets out of the watercraft (1) and grabs the manual connection device (12). Pulls it out of the housing (11) until the mooring line (4) cannot be pulled any more. Then slides the manual connection device (12) to a desired location on the mooring line (4) so as to form a loop around the dockcleat (2a). Then squeezes the upper half (12e) and the lower half (12f) of the clasp (12) until the two halves are connected and snapped together. This operation compresses the mooring line (4) within the grooves (12c) and (12d). A loop is formed and the mooring line (4) is secured to the dockcleat (2a).

Since other configurations can be devised for providing the aforesaid control over the manual connection device, the foregoing description is to be understood as being by way of preferred example only.

As shown in FIGS. 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, a remote connection device is described herein.

As shown in FIG. 7, a remote connection device (20) is used to form a loop on the mooring line (4). The line (4) is placed into the remote connection device (20) and snapped shut to the closed position to form a loop around the dockcleat (2a). The remote connection device (2) can be slide along the line (4) to allow the size of the loop to adjustably larger or smaller around the dockcleat (2a). Any excess mooring line (4c) will remain on the dock (1).

As shown in FIG. 8, the remote connection device (20) is opened to allow the mooring line (4) to fall free of the remote connection device (20). This operation dissolves the loop in the mooring line (4) and is unsecured from the dockcleat (2a). The mooring line (4) can then be retracted into the coiling unit (6).

As shown in FIG. 9, the remote connection device (20) can be composed of two halves forming a clasp (21). The clasp (21) has a hinge (22) at one end. Said clasp (21) can be opened and closed via a hinge (22). There are two grooves structured in the interior of each half (21c) and (21d) of the clasp (21). The diameter of each groove (21c) and (21d) is the same or slightly smaller then the diameter of the mooring line (4). There can be small ridges or teeth embossed into the outer diameter of the grooves (21c) and (21d) to compress into the mooring line (4). A portion of the mooring line (4) is stored within these grooves (21c) and (21d). The clip (14) in the top half of the clasp (21e) will snap into the clip receptacle (21a) in the lower half of the calsp (21f). This closes the gap between the upper half and lower half of the clasp (21) compressing a portion of the mooring line (4) snuggle enclosed in the grooves (21c) and (21d) within the two halves (21e) and (21f) of the clasp (21). A loop is formed within the mooring line (4) with one side of the loop stored in one groove (21c) and the other side of the loop in the other groove (21d). The hinge (22) at the other end of the clasp (21) will h old that end (21a) together. The solenoid rod (24) will retract into the solenoid (23) located in the lower half of the clasp (21f).

As shown in FIG. 9, when the stripper wishes to undock, the clasp (21) will open upon activation of the solenoid (23) force to create a gap (21g) between the two halves (21e) and (21f) at one end (21b) of the clasp (21). The solenoid rod (24) will extend out of the solenoid (23). The solenoid (23) is actuated when the receiver (26) receives a predetermined signal (31) from the wireless transmitter (30). Electrical power for the solenoid (23) is supplied from the battery pack (25) located in the clasp (21), and is provided with an access port (not shown) for periodic battery replacement. Electrical power for the wireless transmitter (30) would be preferably supplied from the watercraft's (1) electrical system (29). The wireless transmitter (30) utilizes any conventional type transmitter (24) which provides emission of one or more predetermined signals (31). The preferred media is the radio frequency band, but transmission can also be in the infrared, optical and microwave bands, electro-magnetic band or another wireless media, such as sound. The wireless transmitter (30) is preferably a portable hand-held unit with a self-contained transmitter (30), switch (28), and battery pack (25), but alternatively, the transmitter (30) may be connected with the watercraft (1) and/or be powered by the electrical system (29) of the watercraft (1). The wireless transmitter (30) transmits a predetermined signal (31) which is uniquely tuned with respect to the receiver (26). Accordingly, when the skipper presses the switch (28), the receiver (26) will respond, but not (within the