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Do moor, be more

See how less can be moor and which knots not to knot in this boat-parking practice run.

You will need

  • Access to the internet
  • Lengths of rope
  • Posts, poles or cleats

Before you begin

  • Take a look at the ‘What knot?’ box below for some tutorials on the knots needed for this activity.
  • The person leading the activity and helpers should familiarise themselves with tying and recognising the knots so that they can help the group get the hang of them.
  • You’ll need a device with internet access to use the tutorials before and during the session.

Run the activity

  1. Everyone should gather around somewhere where they can see the person leading the activity.
  2. Explain that you’ll be looking at how boats are moored.
  1. Show everyone the three most commonly used knots used to moor a boat: the bowline, the round turn and two half hitches and the cleat hitch. Demonstrate how they’re tied using the dropdown at the bottom of the activity.
  2. Everyone should now have a go at tying each of the knots. They should tie the knot to a post, pole or cleat when practising, or a table or chair legs if you can’t get these.
  3. As they get used to tying the knots, challenge the group to tie the knots faster and with one hand. See if anyone can work out why it might be useful to be able to tie these particular knots quickly and with one hand.
  1. Everyone should now get into pairs or threes. In each group, one person should try to tie the knots again while one of the other people puts tension on the other end of the rope, to simulate the weight of the boat moving. They could do this by swaying back and forth or walking past. Demonstrate this with another leader or helper if this isn’t clear.
  1. Now that everyone has learnt and practised different ways to moor a boat, you should try to go and do it for real. If you don’t have an opportunity to try it on a real boat, you could try acting out the steps on land, as practice for the next time.


Mooring and casting off are like take-off and landing in a plane. They’re essential moments in the journey and require close attention and practice. Making fast a rope is an important skill for anyone out boating, but these knots also have a wide range of uses on land. What other times can you think of where you might need to secure something like this? What about securing furniture in a lorry, tying off curtains or stage props in a theatre, and tying off the halyard on a flagpole. Mooring a boat is made more or less difficult by a number of factors, including the weather, rope and type of mooring used. As such, practising these knots until you’re able to tie them easily will make the experience of mooring in poor conditions easier.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Near water

Manage groups carefully when near water. The guidance on activities near water will help you to keep your group safe.

Water games and activities

Be careful when doing activities with, in, or near water. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Make sure you have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.