Med-Mooring (Part 1 – In Port)

Life’s pretty easy for us American’s when it comes to anchoring or docking relative to our European brethren. Our floating, finger docks allow us to tie-up side-to and most anchoring allows for free swinging for max holding if anchor and rode are deployed properly. This is not typically the case in Europe and a good portion of the exotic places you might bareboat charter.

When you bareboat charter in the Mediterranean you will need to med-moor stern-to in marinas and onto stone-hard town quays. Often, for overnight anchorages, you’ll find crowded, narrow bays that make free swinging virtually impossible, requiring a stern line be taken to a sturdy, fixed object on shore. In these two articles I’ll point you to some sites that explain the Med-mooring technique and provide some additional insights from my experiences. This article address what to do in town.

Med-Mooring in Town

Just about every bareboating charter I’ve done in the Mediterranean as well as the Seychelles and Baja, required stern-to access to a marina dock or town quay. Though you should always be prepared to drop anchor, you often find an already laid mooring line to secure the bow of the boat. When this is the case, normally, there’s a port official, restaurant employee, or dock attendant available to pass this fixed mooring line (colorfully called “corpo morto”, dead body in Italian).

Here are some websites that explain the general med-mooring technique using your anchor in a port.

Cruise world article – very detailed, thorough explanation

Sailing issues – high level explanation listing the key points

Stern-to with a Fixed Mooring Line

The major benefit – no fouled anchor chains. You also will probably be more secure in port. The boat handling technique is similar to that explained in the noted web sites above. The major difference will be the foredeck crew must fetch the mooring line from a port official/dock attendant and secure it to the bow cleats. Also, the helmsmen must control the boat without having the security of properly dug-in anchor.

Best done with a team of two crew, the first to collect the lead line from the shore attendant with the boat hook and pull the mooring line out of the water. Then walk it or pass it to another crew member to secure it to a bow cleat. Securing the mooring line to the bow is of utmost importance when not dropping anchor, particularly, in any cross current or cross wind. Usually, once the line is fetched, the windward stern line can be passed to the port attendant to secure to a cringle or bollard.

Highlights and Insights

  • Identify whether a mooring line is available to secure the bow and the locations of cringle or bollard to secure the stern lines,
  • Prepare fenders, particularly for the stern, and stern dock lines properly run through their chocks, clear of obstruction, and able to run freely,
  • Move the dingy to the front quarter of the boat secured such that the bow cleats are not obstructed,
  • Identify crew roles, fore and aft, explain expectations. MAKE IT EASY for the stern crew to step off to secure the dock lines.
  • If taking a mooring line, remember the boat hook, clear the passage way to the bow, and be ready for the slime,
  • Helmsman should determine the direction of prop walk before starting. Turning to the bow side of the wheel and facing the stern may prove easier to control the boat while backing towards the dock.

Med-Mooring (Part 2 – Bay Anchorages)

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