Dock Like a Pro – How to Warp Around a Corner

Here’s another sailing tip from our friend Captain John at

Docking a boat will always be a challenge. But what happens when you need to moor your boat in a space at the end of a pier that’s shorter than your boat length? Use the magic of a spring line to “warp” your way smooth and easy!

You can also warp (turn or change direction) to slide your boat back into her slip, or change the direction your bow points for easier undocking. Follow these easy steps to learn this little-known special technique.

1. Locate a cleat near the beam of your boat, but not too far aft. You want to keep control of the bow. (also see *Note below).

2. Attach a long springline, two to three times the length of your boat to the cleat. Loop the spring around a piling at the corner of the pier (see illustration).

3. Place fenders all along the pier side of the boat. Assign one of your crew to work a roving fender to cushion contact points.

4. Turn the wheel toward the pier; in a tiller-steered boat, hold the tiller away from the pier. Shift into idle astern propulsion. Keep the engine engaged throughout the maneuver.

5. Ease the springline as needed to allow the boat to twist around the pier corner (illustration). Once flush alongside the new berth, keep the spring and engine engaged. Set the bow and stern lines to secure the boat and keep it in place. Disengage the engine.

*NoteIf backing into a slip, you will want to use a cleat located closer to the stern. Practice on your specific boat to determine which cleat to use and how to work the spring line for best control.


Follow these steps for docking your boat like a pro with warping. You will gain the skills and confidence you need for better boat handling–wherever in the world you choose to cruise.

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