Making mooring stress-free

Duncan Wells is the author of our incredibly popular Stress-Free series, highly illustrated step-by-step guides to all kinds of sailing skills, complete with QR codes linking to Duncan’s videos. His latest book is Stress-Free Mooring, and in this blog he explains how the book was born and shares some advice from it.

With Stress-Free Sailing and Stress-Free Motorboating selling well in the UK and the USA and while working on Stress-Free Navigation, I was approached by Bill Saint from Charlotte in North Carolina.

He asked me whether I had ever considered doing a pictorial version of the books so that when on board, a skipper could look at what the wind and tide were doing, flip through the book and find a technique for casting off or coming alongside, or indeed any close quarter manoeuvre.

“No, I hadn’t,” I replied. “But I will now.”

And so Stress-Free Mooring was born.

Stress-Free Mooring Front Cover

It covers all the close quarters situations you will find for sailing boats and motorboats and delivers ground-breaking solutions. And all techniques can be managed by one man from the cockpit of their boat.

Anyone who has read Stress-Free Sailing or Stress-Free Motorboating will know that I favour techniques that use rope for attaching to or detaching from the dock. And generally, particularly for coming alongside, we need something on the shore that we can get our rope round. Remember we never step ashore until the boat is lying alongside and holding to a bridle or a spring. Most marinas and docks either have T cleats that we can lasso or are moving over to them as they upgrade their equipment.


But river banks can still have mooring rings, which we cannot lasso and of course France still favours the tacquet circlé – hooped cleat – and short fingers with a bar at one end. Neither of which are lasso-able.


I showed how to get onto short, narrow, wobbly French fingers in Stress-Free Sailing. I cover this too in Stress-Free Motorboating but as motorboats mostly like to moor stern to, the lack of anything to lasso on the seaward end of a French finger is not an issue as the motorboat backs into the berth and lassos the T cleat – which is generally available – on the shore end of the berth.

In Stress-Free Mooring I have added the use of stout devices to help us – mooring hooks.

If we attach a mooring, snap hook/caribiner to a line and then run the line through the mid-ship cleat and to the cockpit, we can offer up the snap hook on the end of a boathook – assuming it has a fitment for this.


Now when faced with a bar at the end of the finger we whack the snap hook at it, remove the boathook, take up the tension on the line and click the engine into ahead so that driving against this, the boat is held alongside the dock. We can then step off and set our mooring lines, before returning to the cockpit and with the boat nicely moored taking the engine out of gear and turning off the engine.


I also make great use of the Rustler’s Hitch in Stress-Free Mooring when it comes to casting off and especially for springing out the bow or stern. Have a look…


Bill Saint, who owns Classica Homes ( take a look at the website; they are fantastic homes. I just wish I lived in North Carolina!) is very pleased with the book he inspired.

IMG_7633 Bill Saint

Stress-Free Mooring is published on 14th May (ISBN 9781472968357, RRP £12.99). You can order it direct from us with a 10% discount here. Keep up-to-date with Adlard Coles and Reeds on Facebook and Twitter.