Canal Cruising Skills - How to Moor a Narrowboat
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Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 11:55am

Whilst crusing your canal boat there will come a time that you will need to moor up to have a rest, to go back to your home moorings or to sleep overnight.  It is important to make sure that you have the right equipment, know where you can moor and also how to move your boat to the side of the canal/river to safely 'park' your boat.

Mooring is a term which has been used since the 15th Century and is a place where a craft (such as a narrowboat or widbeam) can be made fast or held in place.  Please see Venetian's guide for our narrowboat terms explained guide for details of other terminiology used in the Canal Boat industry.

So what equipment will I need to moor a narrowboat?

The items below are essential equipment to moor a canal boat.

1. Mooring pegs/pins (to help secure the rope - this look just like a pin (hence the name!)).

2. Lump Hammer (to hammer the mooring pegs/pins in to the ground).

3. Mooring Hook (looks like a large safety pin).

4. Mooring Rope (to enable the second crew member to help pull the boat to the side of the canal/river).

Mooring Up

Once you've decided a suitable place to moor, got your equipement, the next thing is to actually moor your boat up safely and effectively. A canal boat doesn't have any brakes so you have to try to manoeuvre your craft to your mooring spot at a slow pace and also using the reverse gear if you feel you've gone that little bit too far.

It is much easier to moor if you have at least two people on board (one to direct the boat and the other to pull the boat into the side with a centre rope). If you can edge slowly to the side of the canal on your boat close enough for the second member of the boat crew to get off with the centre rope and pull the narrowboat to the side.

Once the second crew member has control of the canal boat then it is time to tie the boat to the waters edge.  The aim when mooring up your boat is to make sure that the boat is secure and moves as little as possible.  The ropes must be firm and a rope tied up at least either end of the boat (perhaps also having a centre rope tied up on longer boats - this should be used at the last resort).  Ideally the moorings should be a yard or two either side of the boat.

The boat should then be secured by tight ropework by using a mooring pin, hook , ring or a bollard (see the image of a bollard below).  A mooring pin is generally used in the countryside where there are no other alternative.  They need to be pushed into the ground at an angle using a lump hammer.  A hook or a bollard is generally used when mooring up near a lock and the mooring hook can be used on the canal in places where there is metal piling that you can attach your hook to. 

Mooring Bollard


The rope either end of the boat then needs to be tied up by using a secure knot.  There are many different types of knots that people use to secure their craft.  Our sister company Whilton Marina shows how to moor up to a pier in their youtube video by using a figure of eight knot.  Take a look below:

 Youtube Video: Mooring up to a pier

 Important Safety Advice

1. Don't let the rope cross the towpath.

2. Be especially careful if you decide to moor up on the side of a river as the level of water is likely to rise and fall.

For More Information take a look at these sources:

1. Mooring a Narrowboat to a bank:

2. How to moor a Canal Boat:


Mooring Vacancies -  - Use this website to have a look where you can find Canal and River Trust Moorings or contact marinas directly to find out their availability.

Our blog is for information purposes only and Venetian Marina cannot accept any liability. We advise that all novices have some kind of training on how to operate a narrowboat.

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