Simple Swing Mooring Success

Navigating through a tightly packed mooring field and picking up a mooring buoy can be a bit daunting at first.  These simple guidelines should ensure success.


  • Before picking up any mooring ensure you have the right to use it and it is suitable for your yacht.
  • Have agreed on hand signals between the crew and helmsperson, so that the crew can communicate with the helmsperson the location of the mooring.
  • Choose the angle of approach.  Look at how the other vessels are lying and try to line up with them into the wind or tide.  Have a plan on how to bail out if your approach or pick-up doesn’t go as planned.
  • Have the boat hook ready.  Ensure the cleat is free.  You may also need ropes.


  • Consider other boats in the mooring area.  Watch for other vessels underway or about to cast off.
  • Ensure you have shortened the dinghy painter to keep it clear of the propeller.
  • Approach the mooring into the wind or tide (whichever is the strongest) and on a course with the mooring upwind or up-current from you.
  • Use enough speed to keep control of the yacht, err on progressing more slowly.  You don’t want to run over the mooring or make it too hard for the crew to pick up the buoy.  If the crew misses the buoy, bailout.  Ensure the crew communicates to the helmsperson where the buoy is so you don’t run over it, go back downwind (or down current) and plan your approach again.


  • The crew on the bow should be able to easily hook the mooring buoy with the boat hook, retrieve the mooring rode and attach it to the boat’s cleat without pulling and straining against the weight of the boat, mooring, wind or tide. The helmsperson will need to watch the crew and if necessary use the motor and go ahead slowly to take the weight.
  • The crew brings the mooring buoy and mooring line under the pulpit with the line running through the fairlead/bow roller.
  • Ensure you have the heavy mooring line around the cleat and are not using the buoy rope.  Tuck the buoy into the anchor locker or secure it to the pushpit so it doesn’t bang on the hull.
  • Double-check the mooring line is securely attached to the boat and that there are no mooring lines in the water.


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