Mooring to a Dock

Moor your Sailboat

Mooring your sailboat using bow and stern breast lines and fore and aft spring lines provides a secure hold and limits boat movement.

 The bow and stern breast lines act to stop the boat from moving away from the dock.

The fore spring line, which runs from a point on the boat near the stern to a forward point on the dock, stops the boat from moving backwards.

The aft spring line, which runs from a point on the boat near the bow to a point aft on the dock, stops forward movement of the boat.

Mooring to a Dock
Mooring to a Dock

Fenders are hung from the stanchions on the dock side of the boat to prevent both boat and dock damage from the boat rocking. You will need to use at least three fenders to provide adequate protection. (Our diagram shows two fenders – the third fender would be placed at the beam of the boat. We show only two fenders for the sake of diagram clarity.)

Where there are tides it is important to know what phase the tide is in before mooring. If mooring at high tide with lines tightly secured, when the tide drops, your boat will literally get ‘hung up’ on the dock. This could lead to broken lines, torn out boat or dock cleats plus possible hull damage. When docking at high tide you will want to leave a little slack in your mooring lines. Be careful that you do not leave too much slack otherwise your boat could drift out, forward or back into another boat.

When mooring at low tide you will want your mooring lines tight. As the tide rises there will be more slack in your lines allowing for more movement of your boat which could result in boat or dock damage.

A good sailor always keeps note of the tide and the tension on the mooring lines and makes adjustments accordingly.

The diagram below shows the use of bow and stern breast lines, fore and aft spring lines. Always make sure that your lines are clear of any on deck obstructions. Your spring lines should run straight (not around a stanchion) to the dock cleat or through a fairlead on the boat and then to the dock cleat.