Med-Mooring Technique


As its name indicates, the Med Mooring Technique is a maneuver you will have to master if you charter in the Med because you will have to spend a lot of harbor nights. Sorry, no choice! Here are the steps and checklists.

  1. As in the anchoring maneuvers, make everyone know that you are the boss. Avoid screaming at your crew.

  2. Before you enter the harbor, you might want to call the Harbor Master on your VHF and ask if there are some specific instructions you might need. He might also assign you to a particular transient area (like dock B, south of the harbor.)

  3. You also want to know which way your boat backs up, if you have never tried this before. Sailboats, when backed up, have a strong tendency to veer to one side or the other, depending on the propeller rotation.

    Gear and things to have on the ready:

    • Stern lines coiled and ready to deploy freely.
    • The anchor person has to make sure the anchor chain is going to deploy freely, without snags. Not a good time to have one of those!
    • All fenders tied to the side and 1 or 2 at the stern. Also a good idea to have a crew with a free fender ready to fend off anywhere necessary.
    • Binoculars.
    • Hand-held VHF if the harbor Master will communicate with you.
  4. When you enter the harbor, if it is large, use your binoculars to locate whatever spot the harbor Master has assigned to your boat, or, if not, which part of the dock you feel comfortable with. Take as much time as you need.
  5. Bring the dinghy to the front side of your boat. I personally like to have one of the crews just get in the dinghy, cast it off the boat during the maneuver, and simply hang out until I am done, so I do not have to worry about it.
  6. As much as possible, you want to choose a spot lying in the same direction as the wind, since it is much trickier to do this with the wind on your beam. The harbor Master in Gustavia, St Barts, FWI, for example, does not allow bareboat charterers to med-moor in the harbor when it is too windy, as the main wall is perpendicular to the wind.
  7. If room allows it, make a pass in front of the spot. This will give you a better idea of the space and show some potential obstacles you might not have seen from farther away.
  8. Now round up the boat. When you do this, beware of other boats' anchor rodes, as some can lie pretty far up their bow. Start backing up in the direction of the spot. You will need to get some steerage speed when doing this. Drop your anchor when you stern is roughly at the bow of the neighbor boat. If there is enough room in the harbor, I like to drop my anchor even further than that. The anchor crew lets the chain run.
  9. About 5 feet from the wall, instruct the anchor crew to snub the anchor, usually by braking the windlass. Hopefully, the anchor will dig at this point. Keep backing up hard until you are about 2 feet off the dock. Usually, at this point, you can throw your lines to one of the spectators on the dock — you know, those guys watching and waiting for you to screw up. If nobody is ashore, a crewmember will have to climb up the dock somewhat, to tie the lines through dock cleats or bollards. One of the techniques I like is to pass the lines around the cleats ashore and return them to the boat. This allows adjusting the lines from the boat and a fast release when casting off, without help from someone on the dock.
  10. Once the stern lines are properly secure, take up on the anchor rode and adjust your position to the dock so that your transom is not going to bump into it but is yet close enough to allow your crew to board and leave the boat.
  11. Leaving your spot is simple. Release your stern lines first and bring them on board. The anchor crew hauls up the anchor while the helmsman slowly moves the boat forward. Now, when I was cruising in Turkey, because the harbors were very small, invariably, some cruisers casting off at 0600 would bring up a couple of other anchors when weighing theirs. Then the screaming and insults concert started... So, if this happens to you, make sure you are not leaving other boats without telling them about it...