Med Mooring Manners

The following is from Steve Miller on s/y Ithaca and addresses the delicate art of Med mooring and the finer points of etiquette.This is Steve’s take on the subject

Mediterranean Mooring Manners

I’ve been sailing for fifty years and for the last nine years have kept my 30 foot yacht in Greece during which time I’ve witnessed many chaotic scenes relating to bows-to and stern-to mooring in harbours particularly in the height of the season. However, much of this could be avoided by choosing a mooring spot on the quay with some thought – not only for ones own boat but with some regard to those who will undoubtedly follow later in the day.

Except in early or late season, there is virtually a total certainty that during the course of the day the harbour will fill up to capacity and often, far beyond. There is also a probability that at least half of the boats coming into harbour are likely to be bareboat charter or flotilla yachts with crews who have boat-handling skills ranging from incompetent to quite able; unfortunately, the bias is towards the lower end and this should be a major factor in deciding your mooring spot to make it easier for later arrivals to moor comfortably without causing damage to your boat.

Aside from considerations of depth at the quay and the draft of the yacht, observation indicates most yachtsmen choose a mooring spot based on a desire to a) have privacy themselves and b) give other people the same privacy. They therefore usually select somewhere on the quay distant from any other yachts there. A laudable attitude if space permitted but inevitably, as the day progresses the harbour gets full and privacy goes out the window as new neighbours arrive and fill in the gaps. A series of yachts moored to the quay with “privacy” gaps in between creates a nightmare – not only for late arrivals but actually, for the boats already there since inevitably the gaps will be filled at some point and possibly by a yacht helmed by someone who shouldn’t be let out on a duck pond in a pedalo! Even worse, yachts will sometimes use sheer brute force of engine power to squeeze into a restricted space squashing fenders and damaging topsides to the boats to port and starboard on the way – who needs this?

Fig 1: Yachts mooring in random positions illustrates the normal scenario and although simplified, shows exactly what actually DOES happen. With this many gaps, newcomers WILL force there way in and sometimes, quite aggressively.

If you are the first boat into harbour then the choice is yours. However, if you are not, subject to depth / draft, you should always aim to go “alongside” a yacht already moored. This optimises use of the quayside and in any event, whether going bows-to or stern-to it is always easier to lay alongside another boat (whether to windward or leeward) for the few moments it takes to sort out the shore lines and anchor rode tension.


Mooring adjacently like this actually does both yachts a favour – once in position, each yacht only has one flank “exposed” for subsequent arrivals with a corresponding 50% reduction of risk of damage. I try to encourage other boats to come alongside me since once moored both flanks are covered and by being on board when it happens does at least give me some modicum of control over the ensuing events.


Fig 2: By way of example, sequentially mooring adjacent to a yacht already on the quay the moorings are optimised and as illustrated, four more yachts are on the quay than when moored “randomly”.

My Golden rule: I NEVER leave my boat unattended until I have yachts moored adjacent on both sides.

© Steve Miller

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