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Old 07-16-2013
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Re: Docking for Dummies

Most sailboats are pretty hard to control in reverse, especially before you have enough way on.
I generally keep the rudder hard over (in the direction of the prop walk) and when she begins to get off center, put it in forward, giving a hard burst of power (only enough to swing the stern back on center, NOT go ahead). Since boats turn around their center, unlike a motor vehicle, once mastered, this system will work on even the most cantankerous boat, if they do not have an offset prop.
Whenever possible, always turn, using the back and fill maneuver, with the prop walk. It is almost impossible to go the other way anyway, and if you add a bit of wind and/or current you might be in a real pickle.
Learning to use spring lines is definitely a very important thing to learn, but basic boat handling skills are invaluable if you want to enjoy your time on the water, not stressing about your next docking.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.

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