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Boating 101: Where is it Legal to Tie Up Your Boat?

Posted on: April 15, 2021

There are times when you’ll want to tie up your boat without docking or anchoring it. Luckily, you have one other option: mooring.

Where is it legal to tie up your boat when it’s not docked?

You can’t just tie up your boat anywhere. If you’re not docking it, you’ll need to find another safe and legal way to temporarily secure your boat. There’s only one other legal place to tie up your boat. 

Mooring Bouys

Mooring buoys are buoys whose sole purpose is for boats to tie to. Their appearance varies by locale, but they are often white with either an orange or blue stripe.

A Note About Bouys You CAN’T Tie To

It’s illegal to tie your boat to any other buoy, including lighted buoys, hazard buoys, and information buoys. These different types of buoys are in place for navigation purposes, directing boaters where they should and should not go. Tying your boat to one of these would block the buoy and potentially put other boaters at risk. 

How To Moor A Boat

There are a few different ways to moor your boat to a mooring buoy, but for smaller, recreational boats, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to follow. Remember: always moor your boat by the bow and never by the stern, which could result in capsizing. 

Step 1

Approach the mooring buoy from against the current or wind. Your bow line should be tied to one of the cleats on the bow of your boat.

Step 2

Mooring buoys typically have a pick up line already attached to them that will be floating in the water. When you’re close enough, you’ll grab it using a boat hook and thread your bow line through the loop that’s at the end of the pick up line.

Step 3

Take your bow line and bring it around the outside of your bow, leaving plenty of line between you and the mooring buoy. Tie the other end of your bow line to the cleat on the other side of your bow.

Step 4

You can let the current pull your boat away from the buoy. Once the lines settle, the pick up line will be pulled straight and the buoy should be directly ahead of your boat.


What kind of boat is used to tie a boat?

Nylon rope is typically used to moor a boat. It’s both strong and stretchy enough to safely secure your boat.

Can I moor my boat anywhere?

No, you can only moor your boat to a mooring buoy.

What is the purpose of a control bouy?

Control buoys mark restricted areas. They are typically white with orange circles that contain information about the restriction. They may also have a flashing light.

Need new lines or your own mooring buoy? Check out our Parts & Accessories Catalog.

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