Sailing Holidays – Stern To Mooring in Greece

Posted: 17th January 2017

Yachts Moored stern-to on a harbourside

Sailing holidays can sometimes seem a bit daunting. Stern to mooring in Greece is certainly quite the art, but following the basic rules will ensure that it ends in success, and with minimum hassle.  In high season, with strong crosswinds and boats and yachts packed into small harbours, it can be a daunting prospect, so for safety, it’s crucial to set the anchor correctly to secure the yacht in position.

Kefalonia and Ionian islands are amongst the best sailing holiday destinations in the world. With warm waters, short sailing distances and lovely Greek sunshine a world of happy sailing is just around the next island.

As experts in sailing holidays and flotilla getaways in Greece for all the family, BeyondBeach are competent in providing you with the right tips.

In this series, we aim to bring you guides to take away the stress on your holiday, improve your skills and make your yacht charter holiday the best yet. Here’s a full guide on how to safely moor your yacht in Greece.

What is stern-to mooring?

The process of reversing into a berth or space on a quay within a harbour. Try to picture it as parking your car at a local supermarket with just a few more complications that are absolutely worth knowing. The aim is to reverse the yacht into a space on a town quay or pontoon with the anchor laid out in front of the boat and then have it secured to the quayside or pontoon with two stern lines.

When it comes to cross winds, successful manoeuvring and other yachts and boats, complications can arise so we’ve provided a full guide of tips and tricks to be the very best at this technique when sailing in Kefalonia.

Top sailing tips when stern-to mooring:

  • Be prepared
  • Give yourself as much run up as possible by leaving plenty of space
  • Once you have enough space, put the yacht into neutral until it comes to a stop
  • You’ll begin moving backwards, when this happens, head to the other side of the wheel to face the direction of travel
  • When moving backwards, let your crew member know when to drop the anchor ( 5 boat lengths from quay )
  • Control your speed and keep an eye on where you’re going and be wary of cross winds
  • Don’t panic! Remain calm and do things slowly.

1. Preparation is key!

Good preparation and a clear strategy are critical to the success of stern-to mooring in the Ionian Islands. All crew members should understand their specific roles and what the plan of action is.

Below, we’ve listed some plain directions when it comes to mooring with the anchor, as you approach the harbour, you will need to carry out the following in plenty of time before you arrive in the harbour so you can then focus on finding a space and keeping your eyes open for other boats and yachts:

  • Put all fenders out (3 on each side), to ensure that the top of the fender sits below the toe rail. Attach a larger fender to the stern.
  • Move the tender to the front of the yacht and tie off on a cleat. Make sure the tender has enough scope to drift well clear of where the anchor will drop down (or the anchor will go through the bottom of it!)
  • Turn the electric windlass on (on the control panel) and prepare the anchor for the drop, (move it forwards so it is just about dangling off the front of the yacht).
  • Have the windlass hand control at the ready, and well clear of the anchor/windlass motor.
  • Make sure the anchor locker hatch is tied back so that it does not fall on the operator.
  • Prepare two stern lines, attached to the stern cleats and fed up around the pushpit and into the cockpit coiled ready for throwing. Make sure no ropes of any description are dangling in the water or this could foul your prop, just when you need it most!

2. On the helm advice

If you are at the helm, you should stay at the helm and let your crew do the preparations. Your helm should not be left at any time when in the harbour.

  • One person should be up at the anchor and at least one should be in the cockpit.
  • Approach the space bow slowly, and check depths. Keep an eye out for anything close to the quayside which will foul the rudder (the deepest bit of the yacht close to the quay).
  • Turn away from the quay (or reverse if space is restricted) and head straight out, keeping the stern of the yacht square with space. When you are at least 5 yacht/boat lengths from the quay, you will need to slow the yacht down and give it more power when you’re ready to move backwards.
  • In this period of transition, you will have very little directional control. When the yacht is moving backwards, drop the power to a bit above idle and correct your direction. The wheel will try and kick from side to side, so remember to maintain a firm grip.
  • Look at the anchors from adjacent yachts and boats. Position your anchor in between their anchors, and not cross over them.
  • Once you begin slowly moving backwards, it’s wise to pick out a feature on the quay, e.g. a lamp post and keep that as your target and focal point.
  • When you are at least 3 boat lengths from the quay you should release the anchor. The best way is to release it manually and not using the electric windlass. The reason for this is so the anchor falls quicker and digs into the sea bottom better.
  • Release enough anchor chain so that it hits the bottom and then when the anchor chain starts to lift, release another 10 meters and stop it again until the chain starts to re-lift.
  • Try not to slow the yacht mid-mooring process by making the anchor chain too tight. Once it has stopped it will be very difficult to get the cruiser moving in a straight line and you may have to begin the procedure again.

3. How to keep the yacht moving

  • Release more anchor chain until the yacht is approximately 1-2 meters from the quay.
  • In position, with the engine in reverse or neutral to maintain the gap, the person at the bow now needs to move fairly quickly to the stern and grab the upwind stern line and either throw it to a willing passer-by or jump ashore.
  • You must attach the upwind stern line first to stop drift sideways.
  • Wrap the upwind stern line around a ring or bollard to secure the boat.
  • You still must not leave the helm at this point as you are needed to maintain the gap using engine power.
  • Once the upwind mooring rope is secure, the downwind rope can be secured. The stern lines should come out an angle and not straight back, as this will not stop the yacht from moving from side to side.
  • When both stern lines are attached securely and doubled up back to the boat, tighten up the anchor chain.
  • Do not strain the motor too much. It should always be clear if the anchor is holding or not.
  • The chain should be fairly tight and be heading off the bow of the boat at a nice shallow angle. If it is entering the water at a steep angle then either it is too slack still, or the anchor is too close in!
  • It may take a while for the anchor chain to tighten up if the anchor is being dragged in – keep going in bursts until it holds. If it just keeps on coming in then you will need to do the whole procedure again.
  • Aim to get as much anchor chain out there as possible. You cannot have too much out, but you can have too little. If dropped too early with not enough to get back to the quay, you need to start again.
  • If there is a crosswind, then you will need to position the boat slightly upwind of the space as you will be blown downwind during the procedure. A slightly faster speed may be required if it is very windy to keep directional control.
  • Now you’re done – crack open a cold beer and relax!

Further useful mooring tips:

When sailing in Kefalonia or the Ionian islands, you should make the most of the sailing conditions and ensure that you make a note of the following steps which will all help.

  • Create hand signals to communicate with the person on the bow when it comes to dropping the anchor, and when to stop dropping it when you are close to the quay.
  • If you are throwing the rope to a helper, ensure it reaches them. Do not throw too early and make sure it is not going to be restricted by anything on the pushpit.
  • It is normal practice to pass the other end of the mooring rope back to the yacht and tie off on the same cleat. This is known as “doubled up”.
  • If it’s windy, try to choose a space where you can avoid cross winds.
  • Work out which way your yacht “walks” in the safety of the open sea, and then allow for this when starting your reversing. You may want to initially have the stern pointing to the right if it walks to the left. As you engage reverse it will then naturally straighten up.
  • Keep calm and remain slow. If you need to abort and start again, that’s ok.
  • In some cases, a taverna owner may come out an assist. Listen to advice and follow their instructions.
  • Remember that the upwind mooring rope should be attached first!
  • Put as much anchor chain out as possible!

Sailing & yacht charter holidays with BeyondBeach

Our sailing holidays are for all levels of sailing experience. Catering for families, couples and single sailors on the unsurpassed Greek island of Kefalonia. New and returning visitors get to experience what it truly means to go on a sailing adventure.

BeyondBeach offer sailing holidays for all levels. Learn to Sail holidays for beginners, Flotilla holidays for those with some experience and qualified skippers can explore the gorgeous sailing areas on an independent Yacht Charter

Find out more and choose YOUR adventure today, book now.