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Mooring tips and advice

When it comes to finding a mooring and attaching your boat, there are a number of things that are worth bearing in mind. You may have moored your boat many times and be completely comfortable with the process. However, others may have rarely experienced this, and it can seem like a daunting process without the correct advice. 
 
So, for those of you who are new to mooring, or those of you who simply want to brush up on some tips and advice, here's our guide to moorings. Read this article carefully and hopefully you'll be able to approach your next mooring confidently. 
 
Which moorings are you allowed to use?
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For a lot of people, it's tricky to know whether or not the mooring you're looking at is one that you're allowed to use. Many harbours will have visitors’ moorings which are provided for boats that are only stopping for a few hours or a few days. You can find out where these moorings lie on detailed navigation charts, pilot guides and almanacs, plus the harbour’s own website. 
 
Some areas still abide by the older convention that if a mooring was going spare, then you were allowed to use it, so long as it was of a suitable size for your boat. Another factor included in this rule, is that, if you’re using someone else’s mooring, the crew has to stay on board. This means that they're able to leave immediately if the holder of the berth returns. It's worth remembering, however, that this ruling is not that common any more, so check the rules at your location before you start mooring up to someone else’s berth. 


 
Approaching the mooring
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There are a number of easy mistakes to make when it comes to approaching your mooring. One misconception is that you should do so facing the same direction that all the other boats are facing. Well, this is the case in non-tidal areas, however, if you're mooring in a tidal area, then you should approach the mooring facing directly into the tidal stream. This will make it much easier for you to retain stability and control of the boat when you're moving at lower speeds. 
 
People also make the mistake of pointing the bow directly at the buoy. This isn't a good idea, as you'll end up losing sight of the mooring before you're close enough to grab it. What you should do, when approaching the buoy, is aim the bow of your boat to a point that's roughly two metres to one side of the mooring. Then you need to stop when you're a few feet back from the bow. Your crew should then be able to reach the buoy with ease. 


 
Attaching
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When it comes to actually attaching your boat to the buoy, there are a number of things to bear in mind. You should always aim to firstly attach your boat quickly to the mooring. This is just an initial attachment, and it allows you to then make the proper, permanent attachment, without worrying about drifting away. 
 
Making the initial attachment can be a tricky process, so you should always prepare a mooring line that can easily be threaded through the eye in the strop, or through the loop in the top of the buoy, and then brought back on board so both ends can be cleated off. You may not want to stay attached like this for long, but it does allow you to then make the more permanent attachment with more ease. 


 
Should I use an anchor?
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A lot of people believe that mooring your boat is much safer than using an anchor. This isn't true. You'll often have no way of knowing whether a mooring is the correct size for your boat. And, you’ll also have no knowledge of when the ground tackle was last checked. 
 
This is why a lot of people would rather use their own ground tackle. So long as it is the right size and has been dug in well, it can be a safer option than a mooring. This is definitely the case if you've a relatively large or heavy vessel. 
 
When using a mooring that's located in a tidal area, you should always be sure that it has sufficient depth of water at low tide to accommodate your boat. You can do this by checking the depth when you arrive and then calculate how much the water level will fall. There are a number of smartphone apps that can help you do this with confidence. Or, you can always take a look at a detailed chart, which will be able to help you with this too. 
 
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