Mooring Technique


We all have seen boats arriving at an anchorage with the intent of grabbing a moorings ball for the night. We also have seen some steaming at full speed straight to the ball when it is the last one available, at the risk of demolishing other boats in the neighborhood. Now try to grab a mooring ball when the boat is doing 5kts.!

Anyway, seriously, here are some pointers about properly using a mooring ball safely.

  1. Make sure you arrive early, especially in the high season. And more specifically if the anchorage is not too safe to drop an anchor in, like, for example, Cooper's Island in the BVI. If you're late, and no mooring ball is available any more, you will have no more time to go somewhere else before nightfall, and you might be forced to anchor (see our anchoring refresher course) in a place you don't feel comfortable to do so. Not a good idea.

  2. Before arriving at the anchorage, and after you have dropped your sails, grab your binoculars and spot a couple of balls you'd like to settle on.

  3. Shorten you dinghy painter a lot so that the dinghy is right behind your stern and the painter is not trailing in the water in case you have to maneuver.

  4. Prepare a bridle to put through the eye of the mooring line, and fasten it to one of the bow cleats. It is very important to use a bridle since, very often, the moorings ball line is kind of short. Thus, without a bridle, your boat would pull hard on the ball as she will "sail" on the mooring.

  5. A crew has to grab the hook and stand on the bow. He/she will guide you with hand signals toward the ball (arm extended in the direction of the ball.)

  6. Approach upwind and reduce speed early enough that you won't pass the ball. Try to calculate in a way that you will arrive at 0kts. just letting the boat die on the ball.

  7. The crewman grabs the mooring line, passes the bridle line through the eye of the mooring line and secures the other end of the bridle to the other bow cleat.
    That's it. You're done.

  8. Additionally, in some cases and especially if the weather is rough, it is recommended you tie a second line directly between your boat and the mooring ball itself, as a safety precaution. Although not too usual, it happens that some mooring lines are not very well maintained. As a result, they may break, leaving your boat drifting. I have personally seen it happen. So, at the very least, check the mooring line to make sure it is not too chafed and is still in good condition.