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post #1 of Old 06-13-2013 Thread Starter
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Don't "drive" your boat like it's a car!

I was at a public dock last weekend. A sailboat (probably around 40 feet with a fair amount of freeboard) was docked behind me. We were both pointed in the same direction, with the dock on Starboard and a stiff breeze coming from Port. The "Skipper" first got my attention, when he started removing his fenders before leaving the dock. He cast off, got aboard, put the boat in gear and started rubbing along the dock (towards my boat!). I don't know if he ever realized the wind was keeping him against the dock, but after several feet, he spun the wheel more to port, and the boat finally responded, with the bow veering to Port and the stern cantilevering over the dock. He soon realized the stern was going to hit a dock piling, so he gave the boat more throttle. Fortunately, the boat had impressive acceleration and the stern missed the piling by about a foot! As he passed me, I yelled; "Been a Skipper long?". He stared blankly at me and asked "What?".

I'm no Master Mariner, but it absolutely stuns me how many "Skippers" give little or no consideration to the effects the forces of nature are having on the operation of their vessel. I would think all "Sailors" would at least have some awareness, and plan accordingly (as they have chosen wind driven craft). I would be WRONG!

In his situation, I would have left the fenders on, powered gently forward or backward to see if the boat would respond. After all, the current could have been helping. If not, I would have run a stern line though a dock cleat and doubled it back to the helm, holding the boat while powering the bow away from the dock, then releasing it, and waving to the nice man in the boat docked in front of me as I passed! Sound right?
This is a excellent video on docking under various conditions, and addresses the conditions mentioned above 37 minutes in.

Other stories of the lack of situational awareness are most welcome. I have several! The most common are skippers turning into their slips too early or late to accommodate wind conditions, and refusing to abort and try again, based on what they should have just learned!

Last edited by L124C; 02-02-2014 at 04:32 AM.
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