Maneuvering, Docking, Mooring, and Anchoring Your Sailing Boat

Sailing Instructions – How to Maneuver, Dock, Moor, and Anchor Your Sailing Boat

New York (USA), September 02, 2017


Maneuvering a boat requires deft skill, tactic, technique, and persistence. You do not always sail in a straight line. Turning, reversing, and controlling your yacht’s sail through wind are essential maneuvering techniques. These include:

Tacking is turning into the wind gradually. When you need to turn, sail comes closer to the wind. You can sheet in mainsail to maintain steady steering. Sails continue to flap until you turn boat completely on the opposite tack, if sailing upwind.

Gybing is turning away from the wind. Sails remain taught until boat turns. You should sheet in mainsail just before gybing. Thereafter, sails start flapping as wind is now behind. Gybing should be done very tactfully as otherwise boat can capsize.

If in irons, you should reverse. While maneuvering a yacht of forty to fifty feet, back up jib to reverse. Sheet in starboard jib sheet and allow it to catch wind. This will push bow back to port. After you are sufficiently far away from wind, slow down starboard jib sheet. Next, sheet in port jib sheet and you can sail smoothly.

It is always the objective to move upwind as much as possible when beating. Going very far into wind will slow down speed of your boat. However, pinching refers to doing this at short intervals to ensure smooth sailing upwind.

This position requires pointing perpendicularly across the wind with sails flapping in the wind, sheeted out to leeward side. Go into a reach and let sails out. Slow down and turn away from the wind while having little steerage.


This is an important and essential technique to master while sailing big yachts of forty to fifty feet. While learning to dock practice at empty harbors preferably having little wind and tide. Calm waters make it easy to absorb docking technique.

Before docking, consider significant factors like wind direction, presence and type of tide, need for a squeeze, other boat traffic, occurrence of water current, and similar others. Docking while working into the wind is the best as it provides a natural brake. Docking while going with the wind is difficult, as the boat must be secured before it will stop.

While docking, speed of your yacht should be almost nil. If yacht is traveling at a speed, it could crash into other boats or get damaged at the harbor. Instead, put your yacht on reverse for some time while at a distance before docking. This slows down momentum substantially and allows easy docking. Use bumpers to absorb any jerking or hitting impacts while docking into a tight spot.


A Mooring is a huge permanent anchors located at a distance from the harbor. Moorings allow easy docking due to their simple access. A large buoy is attached to a heavy line at a moor. While docking, pick a small float attached to the harbor, and secure it to your yacht with a hook. This completes docking. While mooring your yacht, consider the drop between high and low tide. If you do not moor your yacht properly, it might be swinging in midair after the tide goes out.


Anchoring is an indispensable aspect of sailing. You should be able to control your yacht on the waters as well as restrict it to one place when necessary as in anchoring. A good and well-designed anchor will make use of wet mud and sand to secure yacht. A heavy anchor can provide substantial support but proves difficult while raising it back onto the deck. Yet a good anchor should be sufficiently strong to bear weight of your yacht if it gets caught in a storm or on a rock. Weight and strength of an anchor should be proportionate to length of your yacht and the working load.

Before dropping anchor of your yacht, consider various aspects for easy and safe anchoring:

1. Look for a muddy or sandy seabed as the ideal anchoring location. Rocky regions are not very secure anchoring locations.

2. Water depth at anchoring place should be sufficient. Depth at high water should be four times if using chain and six times if using chain and rope.

3. Anchoring spot should have as little tidal activity as possible. If the place encounters strong tides, anchor should be extremely strong to keep your yacht afloat at the place.

4. If anchoring at a place with many other boats, allow sufficient space in-between. Boats and yachts will keep swinging in the waters in different directions. Ample space will guarantee safe anchoring.

5. Rig your anchor perfectly before dropping it to keep anchor and your yacht safe.

Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht
The Complete Reference Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht

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