Mediterranean Mooring: What Is It and Why?

The moment you step off your yacht in St. Tropez you realize that you have hit the sailing jackpot. Well…that is if your mega yacht is backed stern to the quay and you’re debarking with a quick walk across the passarelle in view of all of the onlookers sipping coffee in the sidewalk cafes. At that point you are royalty and the Mediterranean mooring has turned you into an automatic A-lister.

What is Mediterranean Mooring?

The Mediterranean Moor is a hybrid of anchoring, rafting, and docking used in regions where there is little room and tidal range. It takes its name from an old Mediterranean custom of mooring stern-to along a town’s quay or sea wall and it allows a lot of boats to fit in a small place.

In principle, you drop an anchor in the middle of the harbor and tie the stern to the quay, but the execution takes knowledge of how your boat behaves in reverse and skill in getting lines ashore.

Mediterranean Mooring
Diagram from ASA’s Basic Cruising Made Easy Textbook

Why the Mediterranean Mooring?
The ship will occupy less space and will allow the quay to accommodate more boats.
This type of mooring protects the boat from wake damage
Ease of access to shore

  • How Do You Mediterranean Moor?
    First, study the scene. Will you be tied to cleats or to bollards? If bollards, make sure to prepare dock lines to ensure efficient transfer of line to shore and back. Is there crew on the boats next to where you intend to moor that can help with the lines and fenders?
  • You will need two stern lines set up led fair and ready.
  • Place fenders on the stern and both sides of the boat.
  • Maneuver the boat to a point beyond where you want to drop the anchor.
  • Drop the anchor and get the boat moving stern first in a straight line toward the quay with enough speed to have steerage; pay out rode as you back toward your slot. Beware of snagging your neighbor’s anchor line.
  • When you are a boat length from the quay, begin snubbing the anchor but don’t lock it.
  • Use forward gear to stop the boat while your lines are passed ashore.
  • Once lines are secure take up the slack in the anchor rode.
  • Adjust rode and stern lines to settle the boat in order to get off and on safely.
  • Extend the passarelle, aka, the gangway.

All of this is easier said than done. Sailboats with extensive prop walk will wreak havoc on your plan to simply back up. Crosswinds will give you white knuckles and tight, busy marinas will drive you mad. The benefit of walking off your boat to a crowd of admirers will make it all worth it.

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Ron Sasiela
Ron Sasiela

Once settled in, use a sentinel lowered down the rode to help keep it from being tangled by passing boaters and to increase the horizontal pull on your anchor for better holding!

Capt. Dan
Capt. Dan

MED MOOR Many Mediterranean harbors provide a central anchoring point for securing the bow of your boat. Found throughout the south of France and other locales, this allows you to skip the trickiest part of the Med moor — dropping your hook without fouling your neighbor’s anchor. With this arrangement, you back into your spot (now the hardest part of the procedure). Stop close enough to the quay (pronounced “key,” BTW) to have crew secure the stern (upwind line most importantly). Next, locate the line attached to the central mooring point. It’s usually close to the cleat where you’ve secured… Read more »

Allan Tang
Allan Tang

Nice timely overview- headed to Croatia in 2 1/2 weeks. so thank you.