How to Attach Double Mooring Pennants

Mooring Buoy
BrettCharlton / Getty Images

On many sailboat moorings, double pennants -- also called a mooring bridle -- are becoming more popular because of the added strength and security of the mooring attachment.

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Use a Swivel for Double Pennants

Mooring Pennants Shackle
Tom Lochhaas

Two pennants of equal size and type are affixed by shackles to a single shackle attached to the mooring chain. Double pennants can also be purchased already affixed to a single circular or triangular steel loop, as shown in this photo. The pennants are then brought up to boat cleats on both sides of the bow. Be sure also to use to use anti-chafing tape or hose where the pennants pass through the chocks.

The one problem that can occur with double pennants is that they may wrap around each other near the mooring chain attachment point. This can happen when the pennants are brought up to the boat after it has been away from the mooring, but even if you are careful to prevent wrap at that time, if the boat drifts or is blown in circles around the mooring ball, they can wrap.

If the pennants wrap, chafe may occur between the metal thimble of one (inside the “eye” of the pennant) and the line material of the other, such as what can happen during a long stormy period when the boat’s movement caused a constant rubbing of one line against the thimble. When this happens, there’s risk of the boat breaking free.

To prevent wrapping of the pennants, install a mooring swivel between the bridle attachment and the mooring chain, as shown in this photo. (Note that the pin of every shackle should also be seized with a loop of wire through the hole in the pin and around the shackle, to prevent the pin working its way out -- not yet present in this photo.)

This photo also shows flotation provided to the pennants by splitting a swimming pool “noodle” toy and affixing it to the lower section of the pennants.

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Example of Pennant Chafing

Tom Lochhaas

Here’s an example of pennant chafing caused by the metal thimble of one pennant rubbing against the line of the other. The chafing is not yet serious but can rapidly become so after the outer layer of the double-braid line wears through.

See the previous example for how to install a swivel to prevent chafing with a double pennant bridle. If you prevent all chafing, the pennants should last for many years. Otherwise, they may last as little as a year or two. 

Note: the boat owner in this example has painted the thimbles of his mooring pennant eyes in an effort to slow the rusting process. This is actually unnecessary and of little benefit, as the steel is thick enough to last through the life of the pennant even with superficial rusting.

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Another Example of Pennant Chafing

Chafed Mooring Pennant 2
Tom Lochhaas

Here’s another example of chafing that could have been prevented.

A double pennant like this one can cost up to $200 or more for a midsize boat. Make sure your mooring gear will protect your boat, and save you money at the same time, by protecting it with a swivel.

Reminder: shackles and the swivel should both be at least one size larger than the mooring chain size to equal its breaking strength. Be sure to check your mooring gear at the start of every season.