How to moor your boat

Boat mooring in 4 simple steps

Knowing how to safely moor your boat is a crucial skill when taking a boat on any waterway. But, if you are new to boating it can also be one of the most intimidating parts of boating.

How do you avoid damaging your boat? And, how do you make sure your boat is securely fastened? After all, no one wants an expensive repair bill, or to return from lunch to find their transportation slowly drifting out of sight!

So here is our easy guide to moor a boat safely and securely. 

1. Choose your spot carefully

1. Choose your spot carefully

Carefully choose your mooring place in a safe spot, try to avoid being too close to locks and bridges for example.

When approaching your chosen spot be extra careful to ensure your chosen mooring spot doesn’t conceal any hidden dangers - like a tree stump or submerged rock that could damage the hull.

Make sure you allow for the fact that on some waterways the water level may rise or fall by several feet. This is especially important when mooring overnight.

On a river, always moor into the current, with the bow (or front of the boat) facing upstream, even if it means turning around.

2. Prepare yourself and your crew for mooring

Mooring a boat - teaser

Prepare you and your crew well in advance and ensure that every crewmember knows what their jobs will be.  Have a crew member prepared to step off at the front of the boat and work quickly to fasten the bow line to a mooring ring.

3. The perfect manoeuvre

3. The perfect manoeuvre

Slow your boat down almost to a stop while you approach close to where you want to moor. All your manoeuvres should be carried out as slowly as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to make adjustments to your approach.

Mooring parallel to the quay/bank

Mooring parallel to the quay/bank

To moor parallel alongside the quay or bank, place a crew member at mooring lines at the front and the back of the boat.

Approach your chosen mooring spot slowly and keep the bow into the wind or the current; the boat should form an angle of around 45° with the bank.

When the boat is around two or three metres from the bank or quay put the boat into reverse to slow down. And, as the bow touches, let a crew member jump ashore to and make fast the bow (be careful here as jumping off two enthusiastically can push the boat back away from the bank or quay!).

 The stern (or rear of the boat) can then be pulled in by hand.

Mooring parallel to the quay/bank

Be careful, as this manoeuvre can be difficult if there is a strong wind or current.

Come forward as close as possible to the place where you wish to moor. Before turning to line yourself parallel with the mooring spot (taking into account any drift that may occur from the wind or current).

Then reverse straight into the spot of your choosing. 

It is often helpful to let a crew member off to assist with this manoeuvre. 

4. The knot

4. The knot

When securing your boat there are several easy to use knots that will allow you to secure your boat safely in most conditions.

The round turn and two half hitches 

The round turn and two half hitches


This is a useful and popular boating knot that is ideal for mooring a boat and is easy to untie. It’s made of two steps:

First step: 'Round Turn', two passes of the tail around a dock post or mooring ring will take the initial strain while you complete the knot. You can also add one or two extra ‘turns’ if you have a large boat or if a strong wind is blowing. These turns allow you to control the boat.

Second step: Add two ‘Half hitches’ to form a clove hitch around the section of rope taking the tension. If you want to, you can also add more half hitches too make your knot more secure or to use up any excess line.


The cleat knot




All you need to do for this knot is simply pass the line in a figure of eight around the cleat. The last loop can be reversed in order to block the rope.


The clove hitch

 The clove hitch


This knot is particularly useful if you want to moor to a tree or a post. It is two reversed half hitches, with an extremely strong hold.

Alternative: Mooring hooks

You can also use mooring hooks to moor your boat, but be careful: The ropes will need to be relatively tight so that any change of the water level will not cause excessive slack in the rope.



Ready to practice mooring your own boat?