How To Make Fast Your Narrowboat
<< Back to Blog list
Mon Sep 9, 2013 at 5:08pm

Tying up Your Boat To Moor

When mooring your narrowboat it is essential to make sure that you know how to tie it up securely to prevent the boat from drifting away and also to protect the boat from damage to itself or other boats that may be moored next door.

If you are moored on a river there may be a current, in which case it is preferable to moor facing up stream.  This will avoid pressure on the rudder from flowing water or debris from drifting  into the rudder or propeller which could damage or jam it.  It will also make it easier casting off if your boat is hemmed in by others.

There are a variety of mooring options.  If you are in a marina or permanent mooring these will usually have mooring bollards, rings or posts.  However if there are no fixed mooring points you will have to use your own mooring pins or spikes.  These are steel bars with pointed ends. Hammer the pin into the ground at an angle of 20 to 30 degrees if possible away from the direction of the pull which makes it more secure and less likely to allow the rope to slip off.  Hammer it down as far as possible so that you can keep the rope as low as possible.  It's good practice to cover over the top of the pin to make it more easily seen at night by anyone walking the towpath.  The pin should be put in the same side of the towpath as the boat to help avoid anyone tripping over the rope, however don't put the pin in too near the waters edge, which will eventually cause the bank to break up.

mooring line on a narrowboat


When tying the boat to moor up, two lines will normally be sufficient if on a canal or non tidal river.  Tie the bow and stern at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees to prevent the boat from moving, but don't tie too tightly otherwise the pins can gradually work their way out, leave enough slack for a couple of inches movement, so that the boat will not snatch every time another craft goes past.  Double the line back from the bollard or pin to the boat which will allow you to let the line go from the boat when casting off without going ashore, it will halve the strain on the rope and position the knots on the boat.   If you just need to tie up for a short period of time, such as when waiting for a lock, you can use a single point, mooring with a line taken to a point amidships.  This allows one person to tend the line temporarily while others do the lock.  When leaving the boat for longer periods of time or when mooring on a busy waterway two more lines should be used for greater security, running at shallow angles to the bank, these should prevent the boat from surging fore and aft, as well as spreading the load.  They can run from the same two pins or bollards on the bank to a point midships or from the bow and stern of the boat to one or more additional pins.

Do not tie up to trees unless it is an emergency, the bark will gradually be worn away causing the tree to die.

Our next blog will be about which knots to use when making fast your boat.


Please note this is only a guide, for more information you can get a guide.

Reference: BARRELL; E., 2003. The Inland Waterways Manual. 2nd Edition.  Adlard Coles Nautical