One of the most important and easiest skills for boating basics to learn is how to moor a boat. Here are three tips on how to moor a boat to a dock, a buoy or the bottom.
How to dock a boat: Necessary Gear
Bow line: Connects the bow cleat to the dock to keep your boat from moving side-to-side.
Stern line: Connects the stern cleat to the dock to keep your boat from moving side-to-side.
Fenders: Cushions that protect your hull from damage caused by impact against the dock.
Cleats: A horn-shaped hardware on your boat and on the dock used for securing lines.
Mooring a Boat to a Dock: The Cleat Hitch
- Attach your fenders to the bow and stern cleats with a Cleat Hitch. Take one turn of the line around the base of the cleat. Tie a Figure 8 knot followed by one half hitch. Toss them overboard.
- Use the same Cleat Hitch to attach your bow and stern lines. The bow line goes to the bow cleat and the stern line goes to the stern cleat.
- Pull your boat along side the dock.
- Take one full turn around the base of the dock cleat with the bow line. Tie a Figure 8 knot follow by two half hitches. Repeat with the stern line.
Another boat mooring system is a spring line which is used with big boats to keep them from moving forward or aft. The lines are far longer than the bow and stern lines and are a few feet longer than the total length of your boat. The spring line connects the bow cleat with a dock cleat that is midship and continues to connect with the boat’s stern cleat. Spring lines are helpful when docking in tight areas.
How to moor a boat to a buoy
Steer the boat so you can see the mooring buoy for pick up. Approach the mooring buoy slowly and from a down wind or down current direction. Put your engine in neutral and retrieve the mooring buoy’s pick-up line with a boat hook. Run your bow line through the loop of the pick up line. Cleat the bow line to both bow cleats meaning the cleats on both the port and starboard sides. Leave enough line so that the buoy is not pulled underwater.
Use the correct type of anchor as well as the appropriate length of anchor line. Claw or fluke anchors are great in muddy or sandy bottoms while plough and Navy anchors are best for rocky or coral bottoms. Use between 7 and 9 feet of anchor line per foot of water depth.