Mediterranean Mooring - stern to the dock
22/04/09 06:14 Filed in: Anchoring
Hello from the French island of Guadeloupe. After the tiny islands we have been exploring this is a change with a big port and lots of people. The marina here is good place to get things done with chandleries and service people for almost anything. In fact the marina is quite full and we got put on the big boat dock where you drop your anchor and back up to the quay.
We got the chance to put our Lewmar Auto-Anchor to the test and try our first stern to the quay mooring using the system. From our years spent in the Med we are quite comfortable mooring stern-to and I thought I would describe the procedure for those who haven't tried it before.
Many marinas provide a straight dock without finger piers or pilings to tie the boat to. There are just cleats or bollards along the dock. Boats drop their main anchor away from the dock and back in, throwing stern lines ashore to secure the boat to the quay. The anchor will hold the boat away from the quay. Besides being cheaper to build marinas, the dock can accommodate any or width of boats this way. This system is quite common in the eastern Med.
Step 1 - choose the spot to drop your anchor. The marina pointed us to our place between two large catamarans. Looking at the boats you can guess where their anchors are as you will be looking down their anchor chains. Try to divide that distance so the boat will be centred in the slip. You will need good scope for your anchor so calculate a distance from the dock that will result in minimum 5-6 to 1 scope. More is better if there is room but remember you must have enough chain to allow you to reach the dock :-)
Step 2 – line the boat stern up so you point stern to the quay and drop the anchor. It depends on how your boat handles but if there is a crosswind I position the boat slightly upwind before dropping the anchor in the chosen spot. Now drop the anchor.
Step 3 – Back up towards the quay dropping chain out as you go. Initially you will need to keep it slack but once some chain is out you can tug it gently to set the anchor. When you have enough scope out, you can set the anchor by giving it a stronger pull. This is why its better to have a bit more scope out so you can set the anchor and know its holding before you get all the way stern to the quay.
HINT: Our old boat Two-Step was a long-keeled boat and was terrible to control in reverse. But Med-mooring was easy because we had the anchor out as an extra control. As we backed up the wind would blow the bow around but we could then put a little tension on the anchor chain and use this to straighten the bow out again. Sheryl stayed up at the bow and worked the old manual anchor windlass letting the chain out slowly until we got near enough to the dock to throw a line ashore. When we got turned she would stop the chain and the bow would pull around back into line.
Step 4 – Come in between the boats on either side and tie up. We have all our fenders out with one reserved as a “roving” fender in case we jostle our new neighbours. Once you get in between the other boats you have done the hard part. Now toss a line ashore if there is someone waiting. If not then you can come in close and lassoo a piling. This is one time where having control of the windlass from the helm really pays off. As we backed up to the quay here in Guadaloupe I was able to see the amount of chain we had out, and let it out myself as we backed in. This left Sheryl free to manage the roving fender when we got close to the other boats.
Step 5 – Tie up. With lines ashore now is the time to tighten up on the anchor chain to make sure your anchor is well set and will hold you off the dock. There can be quite a strain on this in a stiff crosswind so you need to be certain it isn't dragging. I use the engine in reverse to pull the boat in, tie the lines as tightly as we need to keep the boat in to the quay. Tighten up on the anchor chain as needed and make sure you are not dragging. If it is slipping you might be able to set it by pulling or you may need to go out and try again!!
Step 6 – Tidy up. I put an anchor snubber on to take the strain off the windlass. This is a chain hook on a length of line. I put it on the chain just off the bow, pull it tight on a cleat and then let tension off the windlass. Voila – anchored stern to the quay.
- know the length of your chain. Nothing is more embarrassing than backing in perfectly and finding you are still 6 meters away from the dock and you have reached the end of the chain!! Many boats that moor this way often have 80 or 100 meters of chain or more.
- try not to cross the next boat's anchor chain. If all the chains are lined up parallel then there will be no problems. But if you cross over their chain and they leave first, they will pull out your anchor.
- the chain counter and control at the helm is a great asset when Med Mooring. I have watched our Greek friend Thanos in Rhodes, bring a 50-footer in to the dock all alone and do a perfect stern-to mooring.
- a passarelle is useful since it is not always easy to get off the stern. Many boats have fancy custom affairs that get quite elaborate. The best are motorized and extend out of a hatch at the stern, sensors maintaining their height above the dock as the tide changes! On Two-Step we carried a simple 2X10 plank about 7 feet long (a gift from Thanos!)