Mooring stern-to in Sardinia by Chantal Thompson

In all the marinas and harbours that we visited in our two week cruise along the east coast of Sardinia, we were required to moor stern-to. This is an effective method of packing in as many boats as possible and works well where there is no tide, although there is room for excitement and tension when the winds are gusty. Assuming a quiet evening, the procedure is as follows:

1) I call up Alessio or Alessandro or whoever via the VHF as we enter the harbour and explain in my best Italian that we would like a berth for the night. Before my transmission has finished (and in any case I usually don’t understand the answers), a small rib has appeared with someone shouting at us in Sardinian and gesticulating vaguely in the direction that we should go. If we are lucky there may also be someone on the pontoon or harbour wall shouting and waving at us. Otherwise we look around until our “ormaggiatore” re-appears, buzzing around in his tender.
2) Skippy manoeuvres the boat round praying that the bow thrusters are working as we slide in between a couple of expensive looking yachts (as our charter boat is 50 feet we tend to be put into “millionaire’s row”). With Quartette there are no bow thrusters, but the neighbouring yachts are not as smart.  Meanwhile there is a lot of excited shouting both from the man in the rib and the man on the pontoon. With any luck the man on the pontoon will pull a mooring line out of the water and pass it towards our novice teenage crewman, Ned from down under, who picks it up on the boat hook and bounces forward to secure it onto the bow cleat. Sometimes they produce a second bow mooring line out of the depths of the Marina and we use that one too. There are lots of shouts of “avanti” and “dietro” – sometimes at the same time, interspersed with “cimo” which I now know means “rope”, though it is never quite clear which one they mean. The man in the rib is sometimes known to use his vessel to nudge us the way he wants us to go – saves on translation stress!

3) While the rest of the crew are on attentive fender duty ( typical attempt in picture below ), the stern lines are secured and thrown out to the man on the pontoon who has calmed down a bit by now and soon, deo gratias, we are safely moored and settle down to a quiet drink in the cockpit before heading out for supper and gelati. 
 Picture:  Crew on attentive fender duty abort a stern-to mooring

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