Follow this eight-point checklist to successfully complete a stern to med mooring procedure when using a mooring ball. Watch the video and follow the checklist. When you go out to practice the procedure yourself you’ll be more prepared to do it successfully.
Stern-to mooring is referred to as Med mooring or Mediterranean mooring.
The key component of this procedure is that you back the boat in having the stern of the boat secured with lines to the dock. The front of the boat is secured by:
- dropping an anchor,
- pulling up slime lines (lines that are fastened to the seafloor acting like an anchor); or
- you tie the bow onto a mooring ball.
The reason this procedure is referred to as Med Mooring is that it’s a very common way to moor your boat in the Mediterranean. For the most part, you’ll pull up slime lines or drop your anchor. Mooring balls are not very common. In the Caribbean, however, mooring balls are common.
Whether you’re going to sail in the Mediterranian or the Caribbean, this procedure will be required. It’s important to understand how to set up the lines, what the basic principles are, and when possible to go out and practice.
How To Stern To Med Mooring Video – 8 Easy Steps
How To Stern To Med Mooring Checklist – 8 Easy Steps
Step 1: Know Before You Go
Review your cruiser pilot book, ask cruiser friends, and/or check out the marina website to get an idea of the marina layout and berthing offerings. If possible, ask the marina before arriving as to what type of mooring you’ll most likely be performing. Will you be going side-to a finger pontoon or stern to Med mooring. If you are going to be going stern to will you need to anchor, grab slime lines, or tie onto a mooring ball?
It also is worth asking if there are any strong tides you’re going to have to deal with. Tides are not very common in the Med or Caribbean but along the east coast of America, there are definitely certain times to dock and certain times to wait for the tide to slacken!
Marina attendants might not know the exact answer but if you know the various options you can prepare, in your mind, how you want to set up the boat upon approach to the marina. In this checklist, we’re going to assume that you’re going stern to using a mooring ball to secure the bow.
Step 2: Prepare The Boat For Stern To Med Mooring with a Mooring Ball
- Lines – Prepare two lines off your back cleats ensuring they run from the cleat out through the fairlead and then are put back on the boat coiled and ready to throw to a dock attendant. If you have a variety of line lengths you can use shorter lines for this set up as they don’t have to go very far.
- Fenders – Ensure your fenders are spread out evenly around the widest part of the boat on both sides. Tie them up so they’re resting along the toe rail rather than hanging down below it. This will ensure you’re providing the biggest buffer between you and any boats on either side.
- Dinghy – Tie the dinghy to the midship cleat so it stays out of the way at the back and front of the boat. By doing this the dinghy won’t get jammed into the wall upon approach nor will you get it fouled up with the bowlines. Ensure, of course, that there is enough room for your dinghy to fit. In the Med, they sometimes squeeze boats into very tiny spaces, and having the dinghy at midship won’t work. Also – if your dinghy is on davits and you won’t need to use it, you just have to determine if you can leave the dinghy attached AND be able to get off the back of the boat. Sometimes you can lower the dinghy and put a passerelle over the top.
- Crew – Ensure that you instruct your crew as to where you want them and what you want them to do. The key concept is to get your crew to handle the lines that will secure the boat the quickest. You’ll want the lines that prevent the boat from blowing into another boat to be fastened first.
Step 3: Scope Out The Stern To Med Mooring Area
Do a drive-by before you even think of reversing back into the spot. Make sure the fenders, lines, and dinghy all make sense. If things need to be adjusted, do it now. Make a note of any hazards. Do other boats have lines going from the bow into the water? Will you be able to easily clear them?
Step 4: Line Up The Boat And Prepare to Reverse Backwards
Give yourself plenty of space to get a clear run. You’re going to have to mitigate your prop-walk, the wind, and the tide if any. The boat has to go quick enough to clear the prop-walk and get control over steerage but slow enough to be able to stop quickly if required. This is where many new captains go wrong. They go far too quickly and that’s when accidents happen.
Step 5: Reverse To Within X Feet Of The Dock And Throw The Windward Line
I say X feet as it depends on how close you want to be to the dock. We have a 6′ passerelle so we want to be at least 6′ from the dock. When starting out it’s normal to leave quite a bit of space between you and the dock. The aim is to get close enough for your crew to easily throw the lines to someone on the dock but not so close that you could hit the dock!
Note: If a line falls in the water, instruct the Captain needs to be notified immediately. He or she can then put the engine in neutral until the line is retrieved. The risk for fouling the prop is high and this is not a place where you want that to happen.
The windward line is the line that will hold the boat best considering the direction of the wind. Typically one line will prevent the boat from drifting into the boat next to it and the other line will help it to drift. It’s key to understand what line to throw first. Never assume the dock attendants know the right line! If they tell you to throw the wrong one just act confident and send over the correct one.
Step 6: Keep Control Over The Boat
As with all mooring instructions, there are variations. If there are only two of you onboard, you have to figure out what makes the most sense. It also depends on where the dockhand is. You can have your crew either throw both lines to the dock and then have them head up to the bow. Or, as you’re backing in a dockhand will make arrangements with one of the bowlines. Again, with the bowline, you need to fix the one that will best secure the boat under the current tide and wind conditions.
Sometimes a dockhand will take the entire bow line from the boat, attach it to the mooring ball and then hand it back to you. Other times, they’ll run the line out from the cleat, attach it to the mooring ball with a bowline and you pull in the slack or they’ll bring you back the other end of the line to fix to the cleat. Stern to Med mooring is one of those procedures where the crew has to work very fast and be prepared for variations.
To keep control of the boat, the Captain can put the boat in forwarding motion once the back lines are on and/or use thrusters.
Step 7: Secure The Lines
Depending on your number of crew and dockhands, take time to make sure every line is secure. We often put the boat in a forward motion to help pull in the bow lines as tight as possible. And once the lines are cleated off, put the engines in neutral. It’s good practice to leave the engine on for a few minutes just in case the lines stretch or were not tied tight enough.
Never turn the engine off too soon. You need to be able to quickly throw the engine into forward if you start getting too close to the dock.
Step 8: Let The Boat Settle And Then Turn Off The Engine
Check all the lines to ensure they’re tight. Scope out the fenders to make sure that they’re lining up in the best way next to nearby boats. Determine what you need to do with the dinghy. Once the boat is secure, turn off the engine and go grab a cold beer!
The good news about stern to Med mooring in the Caribbean is that there’s almost always a dockhand to help you get this procedure completed. In the Mediterranean, however, your often on your own! I’ve had to drop the anchor, run to the back of the boat, scale a wall with one line, and quickly tie us onto a town wall. It’s not always easy, but if you measure all the variables out and quickly take your time it’s amazing how well it usually goes 🙂
Any Questions Or Comments?
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Other Mooring Related How-To Articles, Videos & Checklists
- Picking Up A Mooring Ball
- How To Anchor In A Storm
- Leaving A Dock The Easy Way – Video & Checklist
- How To Make A VHF Call
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