How to moor a boat

Mooring with the motorboat

Every skipper knows how a beginner feels before mooring. After all, everyone started once. But even for experienced boaters, port maneuvers regularly cause uncertainty - after all, the list of unpredictable surprises is long and ranges from embarrassing linen salad to sudden gusts. This article explains the basics of successful harbor maneuvers and gives you examples of mooring with a motorboat.

Practice creates masters

Most sailing days could actually be so beautiful - if they didn't start and end so stressful. Because unfortunately it doesn't work without berthing and berthing, and every port maneuver always presents a new challenge for the skipper and crew.

Anyone who is new to it and expects the practical training for a sports boat license to prepare them for every situation will be amazed so quickly. Because, of course, this brief training can only convey the most important basic knowledge, combined with the urgent recommendation to practice as much as possible. Because only with the practice comes the experience, with the experience the routine and with the routine finally the certainty of being able to react appropriately even in unfamiliar and surprising cases.


It is important to master all of the maneuvers, but you should especially concentrate on berthing - unlike casting off, you cannot postpone this in unfavorable weather conditions!


5 basics for successful maneuvers:

  • Familiarity with the boat: Familiarize yourself with your boat. Where are cleats and bollards on board? Where are the endangered parts of the trunk that are most likely to be infected?
  • Familiarity with the ports on your trip: What is the water depth of the port? How big are the berths? Is there a guest jetty or do you have to tie up at another jetty to register? You can ask the harbor master about such information in advance.
  • Briefing the crew: who does what during the maneuver? This should be discussed with the crew prior to arrival
  • Searching for berths in the port: Where are the guest places and how do I get there? When driving between the jetties, you should stay on the windward side so as not to be pushed onto the leeward side and the boats lying there.
  • Make a second attempt: if a maneuver fails, return your boat to the starting position and just try again.

Mooring with the motorboat

Overview: Preparation of the crew and the boat for mooring

The bigger the crew, the better for the mooring maneuver, because it is easiest if two people can be assigned to the corresponding lines on the fore and aft as shown in the illustration. However, so that there is no confusion, the crew must be well-rehearsed or at least be instructed in the respective task. A person on the forecastle also displays the distance to the jetty. In addition, the following equipment should always be prepared and ready for use on deck or already deployed:


Depending on the length of the boat, at least three normal fenders and one spherical fender should be deployed per side, as long as it is not clear which side is being moored with. They are attached to the railing with loom hooks and should not touch the water. The amount depends on the berth. There may also be rear fenders.


It is important for all lines that they are led from the cleat on board under the railing first outwards and only then around the top back on deck, where they are laid out ready in bays. In any case, two front lines on the corresponding cleats are prepared (Figure: A) and two stern lines (Figure: C). Lines can also be deposited amidships (Figure: B). If necessary, they can be used either as a temporary short central line or as a jump at any location. At an easily accessible point - if available - another long reserve line is added (Figure: D) in case another line breaks, goes overboard or has to be left behind.


In addition, there should be another fender to hold off and the boat hook at hand to be able to line up lines (Figure: E). At the control station (Figure: F), the skipper ensures a clear all-round view, switches off the outside music to enable good communication, and switches on the bow and stern thrusters if the boat is equipped with them.

Lay alongside with a shaft drive

A longitudinal berth has the main advantage that you do not have to squeeze yourself into a box. You put it on quickly and - if you want - you can leave again quickly. So perfect for a short stop, to take someone on board, for shopping, dining or bunkering.


If you are not yet fully familiar with the boat, the length of the berth should be at least twice the length of the boat

Step 1

The fenders are deployed, fore and stern lines prepared, plus a transverse line amidships. Slowly at an angle of about 45 degrees on the back third of the
To keep the gap. Alternately engaging and disengaging the rudder amidships ahead to keep the boat maneuverable. If the jetty can no longer be seen from the control stand, the skipper must display the distance in meters or have it called out.

Overview: Creation with double shaft drive

step 2

Take the rudder off land at a distance of one to two meters from the jetty
put away (in this case fully turned to port) and shortly ahead
engage. Due to the pivot point far aft, the stern is turned towards the starboard to the jetty.

step 3

As soon as the fuselage is parallel to the bridge, push astern with a short thrust
stop. Especially with a small crew (and lack of help on the jetty) it can be helpful to first secure the boat with a short cross line, as this is the quickest way to "catch" it and hold it on the jetty. Next, lay the windward luff line to prevent the boat from drifting aft. Then fasten the stern line, followed by jumping fore and aft. Do not switch off the machine until all lines are tight. The cross line has now served its purpose and will be removed again; If it swells, it could transfer uncomfortable jerks to the trunk.

Creation with double shaft drive

Overview: Creation with double shaft drive

Step 1

At an angle of 35 to 45 degrees and with the rudder amidships, slowly approach the front third of the desired berth in a straight line. Ideally, you should already be facing the bollard or the cleat for the leash. To keep the speed low, alternately engage and disengage both machines ahead. The bow should be moved so close to the jetty that the person on the forecastle can either throw the bow line over the bollard himself or put it on land.

step 2

When the line is pulled tight and occupied, couple the outboard engine (port here) briefly astern. The stern is now pulled to the jetty around the pivot point of the bow line. If the boat is parallel, the stern line and springs also follow.

Text: Christian Tiedt / Lars Bolle
Photo above: Christian Tiedt