How To Pick Up a Mooring Buoy
Articles, Blog

How To Pick Up a Mooring Buoy

December 4, 2019

So if you’re watching this video and you don’t know how to pick up a mooring Ball i’m guessing you’re a beginner so Jimmy Cornell and Alex Thompson who I know both watch every episode. You might want to give this one a miss lads So mooring is relatively easy But just one quick tip before we get into it is to buy yourself a good boat hook because we’ve broken way too many trying To pick them up if you buy flimsy ones. they just like to snap right in half step 1 examine your navigation charts for depth Pick a mooring ball not all mooring balls are for the public so you usually see the word private or maybe a boat name So you can email in advance to reserve a booking and you can also get them on the VHF radio as they’re getting close Pay attention to the direction that other boats in the mooring field are facing because that will give you an idea of the direction of wind and current Approach the mooring ball from downwind. have one person up the front pointing at the mooring ball and communicating with the helm to Slow the boat down so that the mooring balls within reach of One of the boughs and if you’re on a monohull you can usually pick which side you grab it last-minute Connect two lines to the mooring ball. So as to imitate a bridle having the secondary line will also be a backup in case one chase through And that’s it you’re done it’s pretty easy mooring, what about sailing into a mooring No Sailing in to pick up a mooring It’s not as hard as it sounds there’s actually really good fun and it’ll make you more confident with your vessel It’s a good thing to practice too in the case of your engine or engines being down and out out of action So we practiced in an open bay using a Fender that was imitating a mooring ball pick a mooring ball as you approach and sale an angle up wind that avoids obstacles and that feels comfortable for you and your vessel Obviously it’s different for each vessel, but for catamarans a rule of thumb is that she’ll slow down within one to two boat lengths Tightening the mainsheet can be used to accelerate loosening off of the main sheet can be used to decelerate Deceleration can be also done by moving the helm all the way to one side or the other which will drag the rudder through the water as One persons taking the mooring ball and tying off the lines to the boat The other person can be filling in the head sail and then dropping the mainsail straight after that and there you go without using the engines you’re able to come to a stop and tie off to something and if you’ve done that you Should feel pretty proud of yourself having not started the engines It’s a good thing to not have to rely on those one thing that everyone should be aware of is that mooring balls are maintained by people other than ourselves. so cruises should always go and check on the mooring balls making sure there’s no chafe or Corrosion or anything like that and it’s up to you to make sure it’s all Burn tight all good in place and can hold the load of your boat. Absolutely and some haven’t been maintained for you know years So we’ve heard of a few cases of boats drifting off in the night in rough weather. So yeah, that’s definitely something to check Thanks for watching if you found that helpful or liked the video Make sure you give it a like that helps us out if you’re new here, subscribe and if you I’ve been around for a while click the bell because you’ll be notified of our Videos as soon as they drop. Yeah. Thanks for watching everyone


  • Reply Stephen Ireland November 15, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Boat hooks should only used to push or pull, Never use like a fishing rod as they will snap. Keep on cruising.

  • Reply canada752 November 15, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    all great info i'm sure if we could bloody hell understand a word your saying lol

  • Reply wi11y1960 November 15, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    At Catalina Island of the coast of California the mooring ball has two loops. One for the bow and one for the stern of the boat. The reason being they want everyone to be stationary where they are moored.

  • Reply A Welsh November 16, 2018 at 12:07 am

    How many subscribers have never even been on a boat but watch all of your videos and love them?

  • Reply The Disabled Gamer November 16, 2018 at 12:16 am

    Love you guys <3

  • Reply Roketboy52 November 16, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Riley and Eliana, new fan here!
    4 quick follow on questions:

    1. You mentioned to "check" your depth around the mooring ball. Are you just making sure you have enough water, or are you managing the "swing" length on the ball as the tide goes out? I'm just curious if you have found a mooring ball that was in too shallow of water for either of your boats, keel vs catamaran?

    2. in your travels how many times have you heard of boats breaking off of mooring balls because of inadequate underwater hardware? Is it a real risk? Do you dive on every ball as you show up to a new place? As an aspiring cruiser, I would suspect that you sleep more soundly on a mooring ball vs an anchor. do you set GPS Anchor alarms when you are on a ball?

    3. Whats the average, or typical price for a mooring ball? It would be interesting to know the range of the costs in different parts of the world. I think in one of your Med destinations you showed up to a ball and the guys wanted $100 a night for a ball? Do I remember that right?

    4. When you call on the radio to claim a ball, how do you know who to call? do you just transmit on maritime VHF channel 16 asking about mooring balls? Is there a "guide" for each destination that tells you who to call, or what radio channel to call on?

    Thanks for all the vids!

  • Reply Jf Mc November 16, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Great video, one tiny thing please don't upload at 60 fps. It takes about 2x the bandwidth (time, data, buffering…) and there isn't any fast moving action that would benefit from a higher frame rate. Just my two cents. Thank you.

  • Reply Jason Grinnell November 16, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Show offs!!!!! Lol

  • Reply Stuart Simmons November 16, 2018 at 12:52 am

    Awesome explaination

  • Reply Brandon Abbott November 16, 2018 at 1:03 am

    The bell worked

  • Reply Morty November 16, 2018 at 1:03 am

    Tomorrow is a very stressful day for myself and I’d like to thank y’all for helping me with these relaxing videos.

  • Reply Kingship LLC November 16, 2018 at 1:16 am

    more lessons please
    in between the awesome entertaining vids of course

  • Reply Richard Chasse November 16, 2018 at 1:27 am

    Niiiiiiiice !! 😊👍👌⛵️⚓️🍷✨

  • Reply freedomrider30 November 16, 2018 at 1:33 am


  • Reply jim nickles November 16, 2018 at 1:36 am

    Good vid for the First Snow of the Season, lol..

  • Reply RypienGT November 16, 2018 at 1:45 am

    Im a land lover, but watch your videos regularly and love them ….. even these tutorial ones 😉

  • Reply Steven Stritenberger November 16, 2018 at 1:53 am

    Great job guys, informative and always nice to see your friendly smiling faces and the beautiful locales and blue waters, epseically since it's been freezing rain and now snow here all day long. Damn I miss Bimini, lol.

  • Reply nathanaichase November 16, 2018 at 2:11 am

    What if the mooring ball doesn't have a rope attached to the top that you show picking up with the hook. I've seen some with a metal eye? How to you attach to those types of mooring balls?

  • Reply BostonClipper November 16, 2018 at 2:18 am

    I got one of these a couple of years ago at the Newport Boat Show. It works remarkably well! Really helps with safety.

  • Reply MILITIA BROADCAST November 16, 2018 at 2:53 am

    The both of you! You guys are AMAZING! Safe travels! Love from Cape Town!

  • Reply elliot.blunds November 16, 2018 at 3:07 am

    Every new video I watch it gets better every time I watch it, you guys are natural born content creators, I hope someday to have half the skills you both have.

  • Reply OneEyed Mike November 16, 2018 at 3:17 am

    Can't stand chafed mooring balls

  • Reply Glenacus November 16, 2018 at 3:17 am

    I love these sailing basics videos……….keep them coming

  • Reply alexander dornbirer November 16, 2018 at 3:23 am

    your videos are the highlight of my week

  • Reply Travel With Us November 16, 2018 at 3:36 am

    Thanks for sharing guys. Always love to see the ocean after working 16 hours in the freezing cold. Hey y’all what’s the name of the song playing in the background. I remember it from a past video.

  • Reply Harry Parker November 16, 2018 at 3:39 am

    Hey guys, with my parents yacht we would always pic up our mooring bouy by motoring up wind slowly as the wind is pushing against the front of the hull as it comes to a stop to pick up the bouy. Is this just a different technique or is it different for mono hulls or have we been doing it wrong the whole time. To me if you pick up the bouy from a downwind location wouldn't you drift over the bouy??, anyway love your work and your videos. I started following you guys about 6mouths ago. I wish i could just get out of school and sail the world instead of getting ready for 2019 HSC, Yay what fun

  • Reply Heidi and Franny's Garage November 16, 2018 at 3:54 am

    Always a great instructional video! You two are masters and you can tell by how easy you make it seem. I love learning stuff from you 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply Matthew Scullin November 16, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Be safe delivering your baby and enjoy every moment!

  • Reply dav snow November 16, 2018 at 4:19 am

    Thanks for this guy's, I'll practise at the local shopping Centre multistorey carpark, lol.

  • Reply DoubleDeckerAnton November 16, 2018 at 4:39 am

    Very informative video! ⛵🙂👌

  • Reply Andy Moss November 16, 2018 at 4:42 am

    Always a neighborly thing to lend your balls to complete strangers.

  • Reply Kirk Singleton November 16, 2018 at 4:44 am

    Very happy to see Riley hasn't had any accidents since the last video and Elana is still as beautiful as ever!

  • Reply John Donaldson November 16, 2018 at 4:59 am

    Clear and concise.

  • Reply Shane Smith November 16, 2018 at 5:49 am

    Nice topic, y'all are great.

  • Reply Dizzledoe November 16, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Every video i watch is making me more and more jelly yet more and more motivated at the same time. Slowly strategizing to how I somehow get this done and live this type of life. I went from want to #vanlife to #boatlife real quick.

  • Reply Smithsgold November 16, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Cool !!!!

  • Reply gunslot3 November 16, 2018 at 6:28 am

    What? No yelling and screaming each other? No "you can't helm for %#@&!" comments? Nothing finer than getting to a busy anchorage early and watch the husband and wife teams arriving and start WW3 on deck as they approach mooring balls.

  • Reply Kemper Olive November 16, 2018 at 6:34 am

    Love the second song, "Fine" – Rye, just having trouble finding it anywhere (including Soundcloud). Any help?
    Awesome video!

  • Reply ross adamthwaite November 16, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Oi Oi Oi : )

  • Reply o o November 16, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Very informative.

  • Reply Tim Ponton November 16, 2018 at 8:04 am


  • Reply Tim Spurge November 16, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Will you soon do a video about choice of tender & outboard?

  • Reply Kary Hansen November 16, 2018 at 8:15 am

    What do you do if you think that the mooring is not maintained well enough to hold you boat?

  • Reply Anton Dichtl November 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

    More often as desired, it´s very difficult or impossible to pick up a mooring from the bow( visibility, difficult steering and short mooring rope or chain).I prefer picking the mooring fom the stern platform. Then take your rope to the bow. It´s the same for monohulls. Singlehanded its your only way to go. Of course you gotta be extremely careful with the ropes and your propellers, especially with a cat. Give it a try!

  • Reply Pancerny Szczur November 16, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Very nice video 🙂 please do some more like this from time to time 🙂 Additionnaly you have so many years of practical sailing experience that some tips&trics episodes are also more then welcome 🙂

  • Reply Alexander Seipel November 16, 2018 at 8:49 am

    It took at least the first minute for me to figure out what a mooringball/buoy is. That's the only point that could be improved. <3 Sailors will laugh at me now, but not all of your viewers are sailors.

  • Reply Yannis Poly November 16, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Have I ever told you how calming your Videos are? Nowdays it's so difficult to find a innovative chanel which produces videos that calm you down and you learn things you could need in life from. So thank you for that and just stay the way you are <3!

  • Reply dunkoff87 November 16, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Can you make a video about what sort of sports, fitness and generally how to keep fit onboard?

  • Reply Dave Liley November 16, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Once tied up if the water is too cold to swim on the mooring to check it is ok, then I like to put the boat in reverse and give it a gentle pull to check the mooring is strong enough to hold the boat if the wind gets up.

  • Reply onelonleyfarmer November 16, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Great video thanks for posting.

  • Reply Tim Neeve November 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Riley how long did it take upon sailing to know so much ? as you both are well proficient and knowledgeable and I'm new to the boat world as I've just purchased my Earraid Motorsailer to play around with…16 tons of damp leaky mahogany lol and lots of work lol…

  • Reply James Gleeson November 16, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Alex Thompson might want to watch it to brush up… the poor bloke just ran aground in the rum route… they are going to fang him for using the motor.

  • Reply Dustin Clark November 16, 2018 at 11:24 am

    I’ve never even heard of one and still don’t understand it completely. I thought you had an anchor for this. Is an anchor the only point of them? Unfortunately I probably never have a sailboat or have to worry about a mooring buoy so this is really just constructive criticism. you can go even more basic.

  • Reply William Webb November 16, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Sorry, thumbs down. You have a lot of videos that are fun to watch. This video, however, gives incomplete advice to a beginner. A good video on how to pickup a mooring buoy can be seen at

  • Reply Martyn Morris November 16, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Good video. Given that it is aimed at beginners, I think the thing you did not emphasize enough is that the looped lines need to independent from each side of boat and each cleat. That is, bring the end of each line back to the same cleat it started from. If you don't do this the line will saw and chafe its way through the eye of the buoy or the loop that is attached to it. We were hanging onto a buoy in Calvi in Corsica (you were there) for 3 and a half days in an outrageous Maestral and the boat next to us made this school boy error. We tried to shout and tell them but all was lost in wind noise and lost in translation problems. When the line snapped it was like a rifle shot.

  • Reply Martyn Morris November 16, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    …..and as someone else has said below. If you have a stern swim step, the technique of pre-laying out a line from the bow to the stern and reversing onto the buoy is an interesting variation, albeit with the need to make sure you keep the buoy on the right side of the boat and the line out of the prop.

  • Reply Jeff Slaven November 16, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Mooring buoy : 1a (noun) I. E. – To anchor your boat with Gruntus Minimus. *See also sunset bevies earlier than normal. 🙂

  • Reply Felix Nieves November 16, 2018 at 12:48 pm


  • Reply Oussama gacem November 16, 2018 at 1:03 pm


  • Reply ralph holiman November 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    The worst was picking them up in the north mooring field at Wardrick Wells, Bahamas with the current flowing. Took three tries to get it and I felt like an idiot until I watched everyone else doing it!

  • Reply BayAreaBlues November 16, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    For those of us who don't cruise regularly, mooring – like docking – should be practiced occasionally, especially BEFORE we go somewhere to cruise.  I take a day every once in a while to do just that, instead of bouncing back and forth across San Francisco Bay.  Always good to keep all sailing skills up.

  • Reply Thomas Green November 16, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    You guys are my favorite channel, been watching since the beginning of your journey, stay safe…

  • Reply Mark Neil November 16, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    These how to videos are easy mode. show us how to do it single handed , mate 😛

  • Reply Ventura 19 November 16, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    How much is to install a seakeeper in La Vagabonde?

  • Reply David Ascher November 16, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    Baffles me why anyone would give this a thumbs down. Haters gonna hate I guess.

  • Reply Bruce Wagenberg November 16, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    Beautiful graphics and information. Would appreciate a video on picking up an attractive helmswoman.

  • Reply Bobfelli November 16, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Would like to this singlehanded

  • Reply Gwendolyn de Ashborough November 16, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    We watch every Episode and still look forward to learning what you suggest. We have moored our boat in all conditions and (as You Know) mother nature is unpredictable = )

  • Reply Broken Baz Bass Fret November 17, 2018 at 12:07 am

    Well I’m rather upper crust high society. Gods gift to ballroom notoriety.

  • Reply Ron Johnson November 17, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Beautiful weather.

  • Reply Montana Cabana November 17, 2018 at 1:27 am

    these videos are great

  • Reply bernTOAST November 17, 2018 at 2:33 am

    no offense but you've literally never picked a mooring bouy up under sail before…

  • Reply Rob M November 17, 2018 at 2:58 am

    Nice video. One other tip
    I would add when picking up the mooring ball or pendant under sail; to slow
    down the boat faster, try back winding the main by hand. This will slow the
    boat down quickly. This method is much easier on smaller boats however due to the
    lower sail area. You need to be much stronger on larger sailing vessels but it
    can be done by using various vangs and pulleys. Make sure to maintain rudder
    control as the boat will shift quickly once forward momentum turns into reverse
    speed and the boat shifts accordingly. Good luck…………..

  • Reply Kymberly P November 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I adore your videos and the relationship the two of you have for each other, nature, your patreons and the locals. You are so respectful. 💚🌺💚

  • Reply mitch repperd November 17, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Make sure Elana is reading good stuff the baby is listening. Oh and when you were on the other boat changing the accessory belt , there was an adjuster on the alternator , just looser the bolt on the slide and it loosens and tightens the tension on the belt. Some have a tensioner that looks like a pully. Safe travels mate

  • Reply Logan Mackay November 17, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    alex tompson should lern about depth after he ran aground

  • Reply Radiance Within November 18, 2018 at 12:21 am

    Very informative!!

  • Reply Pippa White November 18, 2018 at 1:42 am

    My name is Pippa and I'm a 15 year old girl from Melbourne Australia who's currently studying for exams. I watch you guys whenever I am feeling stressed or anxious which helps me calm down and get into a positive mindset. I aspire to do the same thing as you guys when I am older and be as happy and stress free as you guys seem to be. I love watching your videos and just wanted to say thank you so much for making them! Wish you guys the best with your baby and the future ahead of you.<3

  • Reply Katie Ambach November 18, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Speaking of Alex Thomson (sort of), are you watching the Outremers in the Route du Rhum? One in 4th in Rhum multi Class!!! Sooooo??? Next time, Riley?

  • Reply Jay Green November 18, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Make a redecorating the boat video

  • Reply annizefissh November 18, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    Question Riley, I am new to sailing (like really new, only have my sailing 101) but what if you are the first one at the anchorage, how do you determine which way to point the bow of the boat?? Is it based on the current and/or the wind?
    Thank you,

  • Reply Том Джери November 19, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Заведите собаку

  • Reply Mia de Villiers-Hill November 19, 2018 at 10:28 am

    What about a mooring buoy when there isn't a pick up line? We were sailing in Italy (Sardinia) this summer and experienced very different mooring buoys that were close to impossible to pick up in rough weather. Any tips on attaching a rope straight to the buoy?

  • Reply JonesN Life November 19, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Good job guys first class DIY video yet again

  • Reply Dylan Majors November 20, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    This is my favorite YouTube channel

  • Reply Nick Ruocco November 21, 2018 at 9:53 am

    do you guys set an anchor alarm most nights? on a GPS or Phone?

  • Reply Bob Ratcliffe November 23, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Guys, just one bolt on to this. As mentioned, some buoys are not serviced and reliable. Always set your anchor drag alarm when on a Buoy.

  • Reply Dave Nicol November 24, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Love you guys

  • Reply Justin C November 25, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    The music link and the video audio don't seem to match! I'm looking for the song playing from 1:45 onwards, can you check again what you've linked to please?

  • Reply Neal Kolb December 1, 2018 at 1:22 am

    Maybe you should add how to actually tie (attach) to a mooring ball with your mooring line since I've seen so many variables,; some good and some very bad asking for chafe at the connection and at the boat.

  • Reply David Wallace January 1, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Do you ever need to leave any sort of length of line to the ball? Do you use a snubber or are they usually prepped with adequate shock absorption for a short bowline?
    Thanks for ALL the dreams…

  • Reply Boring/funny January 23, 2019 at 5:17 pm


  • Reply nick13610 February 17, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Great video, looks like you were practising just off Jolly Harbour in Antigua, so beautiful there!

  • Reply Rupert May April 4, 2019 at 10:43 am

    i learnt something today dyslexics like videos better than reading !!

  • Reply Stewart At Large May 2, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Thank you guys, this was helpful for a NEWB!

  • Reply Kevin Carey May 17, 2019 at 10:50 am

    I am ALWAYS surprised to see thumbs down numbers on La Vagabonde videos.  Who the heck are these people?

  • Reply Bart June 6, 2019 at 11:05 am

    So there I was looking how to do this…and my favorite sailors pop up in my search. Thank you!

  • Reply Anthony Brady July 13, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Top O da Mooring to ya !

  • Reply Damage, Inc. August 21, 2019 at 12:23 am

    No video of your old lady in a bikini. For that reason, I'm out.

  • Reply C Q October 19, 2019 at 10:56 pm


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