How To Moor A Boat


Sailboat mooring is an important skill that every boating enthusiast should have. While the skill may not appear to be a big deal, a bad sailboat mooring job can cause major damages to both the surrounding boats and your boat.

Irrespective of whether you own an inflatable boat or you are planning on buying a pontoon boat, taking your time to learn how to moor a boat is always worth it. By showing you how to moor a boat, we hope to save you from expensive headaches that could result from poorly done mooring jobs.

Sailboat Mooring Gear

Before we show you how to moor a boat, it crucial that you understand the gear you will need to moor your boat securely. Irrespective of the type of boat you own, you will need the following gear:


There are several lines you may have to use when mooring your boat. The lines include:

  • Bowlines: These keep your boat’s bow from moving side to side. The lines also keep your boat from drifting away once you tie it alongside, for example, when tied off the pier or the bulkhead.
  • Breast lines: These keep the boat from moving away from the pier. Alternatively, they can be used to make things easier for you when you are pulling the boat close to make boarding easier.
  • Spring lines: These keep the boat from moving aft or forward. In most instances, you will need only 2 lines. However, you can use up to 4 spring lines, depending on the situation.
  • Stern lines: These keep the stern from moving side to side. The lines are responsible for ensuring that the boat does not drift away from the dock when tied alongside the pier or bulkhead.


These are generally designed to cushion the boat when tied alongside a bulkhead or a pier. They are also used in other situations where keeping the vessel from making contact with another boat, a piling, pier, or a dock is impossible. Boat fenders are generally flat pieces of foam or large inflatable rubber buoys.


This is generally T-shaped hardware often on the dock and in some instances, on the boat. Its purpose is to secure the lines.


This is usually a long piece of metal or timber generally driven into the bottom. It is not uncommon to find pilings that stand on their own. Others feature structures such as piers, docks, and bulkheads on them. In situations where cleats are lacking, they can be used to secure the dock line.

How to Moor A Boat – the Steps to Follow


1. Choose the Sailboat Mooring Spot

If you feel you are tired of cruising and using your marine binoculars, you will need to carefully choose an ideal mooring place. Make sure that your preferred spot is safe, for example, try and avoid being too close to bridges and locks.

When using your boat steering wheel to maneuver the boat towards the selected mooring spot, be cautious. Make sure that the spot does not feature any hidden dangers, including submerged rocks and tree stumps, which could wreck the boat’s hull.

Confirm that the chosen spot will still be ideal even if the water were to rise or fall by a couple of feet. When sailboat mooring overnight, this is crucial.

If you are mooring on the river, moor into the river’s current. Make sure that the boat’s bow (front) is facing upstream.

2. Prepare for Sailboat Mooring

Prepare yourself and the crew. Let everyone aboard the boat know his or her job. You should have a crew member, preferably someone who is not just getting started with sailing, ready to step off the boat’s front and work swiftly to fasten the bowline to the mooring spot.

3. Maneuvering the Boat

Reduce the boat propeller speed to slow down the vessel to almost a stop while you approach the mooring spot. You should make sure your maneuvers are carried out as slowly as you possibly can. Making sure that your boat speedometer is reading the lowest possible speed when maneuvering your boat will give you adequate time to make the needed adjustments to the approach.

4. How to Moor A Boat Parallel to the Bank or Quay

You will need to place one crew member at the front mooring line and one at the stern mooring line. Approach the selected sailboat mooring spot at the lowest possible speed while keeping the bow into the current or the wind. Your boat is supposed to make approximately 45 degrees with the bank.

When the boat is approximately 2 to 3 meters from the quay or bank, put the boat in reverse to slow down. As the bow touches, instruct a crew member to jump ashore off the bow and tie off the bowline. When jumping, the crew member should be careful. Jumping off too enthusiastically could push the boat away from the quay or bank. The stern can be pulled by hand later.

If you are just settling in from a rough water boating session, you need to be cautious. The maneuver can be tough if there is a strong current or wind.

Come forward as close as possible to the place where you would like to moor and then turn to line yourself parallel to your selected mooring spot. Take into account the drift that could occur from the current and the wind. Next, reverse straight into the spot. You can let a crew member help you with the maneuver.

5. Tying the Knots

Part of understanding how to moor a boat involves knowing the knots which allow you to secure the boat in a wide range of conditions. The knots you can use when mooring your boat include:

Round Turn and 2 Half Hitches

This knot is not just popular, it is also easy to tie and strong enough. To implement the knot, you need to follow the 2 steps below:

Step 1: Create the Round Turn by passing the tail of the line around the mooring ring or dock post. You can use additional turns depending on how big your boat is.

Step 2: Add 2 Half Hitches. These should form a clove around the rope section taking tension. To use up the excess line and also make the knot more secure, you can add more half hitches.

Cleat Hitch Knot

This knot ties and unties pretty easily and quickly. We have the steps you need to follow below:

Step 1: You will need to take a turn around the cleat base. Next, bring the line over the cleat’s top.

Step 2: Wrap the line back under the cleat arm, opposite the initial turn, and then back over the cleat’s top.

Step 3: Wrap under the initial arm for a second time and then back over the cleat’s top. By now, you should have made the figure 8 over and around the cleat. Form an underhand loop and then slip the formed loop over the cleat’s arm, which pins the free end under your last wrap.

Step 4: After pulling the free end tight, you should have a secure cleat hitch.

Globo Surf Overview

If you would like to avoid paying for damages caused by your boat simply because you did not moor it properly, you should not just learn how to moor a boat, you should also practice. After mooring your boat, you should test your lines by tugging on them aggressively. This will guarantee you that the boat won’t hit anything if it swings.

More Sail Reviews:


  1. Mooring and Docking,
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!