Mooring in a marina

Boat handing - information from the RYA, mooring in a marina, Powerboat handling skills.

Coming into a marina berth requires extra care because there are moored boats and vessels moving around in close quarters.


Firstly, you will need to assess the effects of wind and stream on the berth you are going to. If you feel it’s necessary go and look at the berth before deciding on exactly how you are going to approach it.

It’s best to plan an approach that allows minimum speed into the berth. If necessary plan to go past a berth, turn and approach it from a more favourable direction to make the approach easier.

Once you have decided on your approach brief your crew on what you want them to do and ensure that lines and fenders are ready and that the crew will not leap on to the pontoon.

Wind and stream.

With limited wind or stream in a marina you will aim to come in as slowly as possible. When there is lots of wind or stream though, you may need to be prepared to use lines or to come into the berth slightly faster to overcome the effects of wind and stream on the boat. You can decide all of this in your initial assessment.

Let’s consider some different marina berthing situations:

A - Approaching into the wind will naturally slow the boat but on boats with lots of windage be careful not to lose control of the bow. The momentum of the boat will help it slide sideways alongside the berth.

B - The turning momentum will tend to slide the boat away from the berth. Consider going beyond the berth, turning and approaching from other direction.

C - As the stern seeks the wind in astern, this boat reverses easily into the berth.

D - The wind will push the craft into the berth, so care is needed not to overshoot. Put a stern line on early.

E - Reversing in stern first with the bow into the wind may be very tricky as the wind will try and push the bow so the vessel is lying beam on to the wind. A bowthruster would make things easier if fitted.

Top tips

Tip 1: Rather than one sweeping movement into the berth stop short, position the boat then drive in using the minimum amount of speed necessary.

Tip 2: On many boats rigging a line to the mid-ships cleat so that either the crew or helmsman can slip it over a cleat when entering a berth can make it easier to bring the boat alongside the berth.