Choosing the right mooring for your floating pontoon: tips and advice

Identifying the appropriate mooring system for your floating pontoon is a key factor in how successful its installation will be. How do you go about it?

Identifying the appropriate mooring system for your floating pontoon is a key factor in how successful its installation will be. How do you go about it? Although every project is unique, and it is not always possible to be exhaustive, here are a few key points to keep in mind when choosing the best mooring system.


Describe the location, and I’ll tell you which mooring to use


The first step is to properly assess the environment where your floating pontoon is to be installed. We have selected five types of environments that our customers often encounter:

  • At sea
  • On a lake or pond
  • On a landscaped waterway bank
  • On a wild waterway bank
  • In a port or marina

At sea, the choice is simple


We systematically recommend our Sunnydock floating cubes for our customers’ projects at sea. Their versatility, durability, flexibility and easy handling make them the only real option when you want to install a pontoon at sea. They are generally moored using chains or ropes attached to the pontoon via rings. On the under side, chains or ropes will either be secured to a deadweight (block of concrete) or with sand screws anchors.


Cubes flottants Sunny Dock sur la mer


A lake of possibilities


When you want to install a floating pontoon on a pond or lake, several choices of products and mooring type are possible. Some options are more preferable than others though, depending on your priorities – stability or lightness, for example.


If your main priority is stability with limited sideways movements, you should opt for mooring on driven or screwed-in piles. In general, piling permission needs to be obtained from the appropriate authorities, you need to ensure that water depth does not exceed 4 metres and that you can drive the piles at least 1.5 m into the ground. If your project meets these criteria, piling is the ideal solution, as it will allow the pontoon to slide vertically over the piles as the water level rises and falls.


mooring on driven piles


If piling is not possible or you’re looking for a temporary solution that’s easy to dismantle, mooring with chains, ropes or cables is recommended. Chains are attached to the waterway bank either onto piles or rings. The advantages of this solution are flexibility and lightness. Make sure you adjust the tension of the chains or cables according to the required stability.


Finally, if your pontoon is too far away from the bank, or fixed mooring is not permitted, deadweight anchoring is the solution. This involves anchoring the pontoon with chains to a submerged concrete block. The chain’s length and weight should be tailored to the water depth, pontoon size and weather conditions (e.g. wind, etc.).

On a landscaped waterway bank


If you want to moor a pontoon to a landscaped waterway bank, other factors need to be taken into consideration.


The first option is to moor it via a gangway attached to both bank and pontoon, which will become the main mooring component. In the interests of safety, this type of mooring should always be coupled with chain or cable mooring. Please note, using a gangway as a mooring point is only possible in a calm environment with moderate current conditions.


mooring via a gangway


Mooring with chains and cables is recommended if you need to easily detach the pontoon or if tidal range is large. It is also the most cost-effective solution. Stability is determined by the tension of the chains or cables.


 ancrage par chaînes et câbles


If water level fluctuations are too great, we would recommend using stiff arms – i.e. articulated arms attached to pontoon and bank – which would increase the pontoon’s potential vertical movement to a varying degree depending on their length. Access to the pontoon would then be via a gangway placed on the pontoon or bank.


ancrage par bracon double


If the pontoon needs to be installed against a quay or bank wall, there is one other solution: mooring on HEB’ beams. In this case, a mounting assembly specially designed for this application is attached to the pontoon and slides along the HEB beam, thanks to a system of extremely tough Ertalon® wheels.


Ancrage par poutre HEB


Wild waterway bank


To moor a pontoon to a wild (non-landscaped) waterway bank, there are two possible solutions depending on how much the water levels fluctuate.


Mooring with chains is the most cost-effective solution and the simplest one for temporary use. It offers the possibility of avoiding any environmental impacts if mooring can be done with piles or on an existing rock for example.


If there are substantial water level fluctuations, we would use stiff arms secured to piles driven into the bank or attached to concrete blocks.

 Mooring with stiff arm

Port or Marina


In general, only boat jet-ski drive-on docks are installed in ports and marinas.


Mooring with cables or chains is recommended if permanently securing the pontoon to existing infrastructure is not permitted. It is easy to moor to the pontoon’s cleats, or even to mooring bollards.


If your drive-on dock is allowed to be a permanent fixture, two mooring types are possible: L- or T-shaped


L-shaped mooring is generally used on marina jetties equipped with a rail, but it can also be used on metal or concrete jetties. It is screwed into the edge of a plate intended for this purpose, and the shank is sunk through a D-shaped guide secured to the ramp. This mooring type allows for significant vertical movement, which is necessary in a boat ramp when undertaking launch or retrieval operations.

 L-shaped anchoring

T-shaped mooring works on the same principle, but with an extra vertical part rising above the plate. It is thus only suitable for concrete quays.

T-shaped anchoring

After the theory comes practice…


The purpose of this article was to help you get a better idea about the various pontoon mooring options available depending on location. Unfortunately, or fortunately, every project is unique, and the various options need to be considered.


Are you ready to take the plunge? Contact us using our form!