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Old 07-16-2013
engineer_sailor engineer_sailor is offline
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Docking for Dummies

When we first bought our boat I hired an ASA instructor for a half day to work solely on docking. Best dollars ever spent (<$200). We worked with lines and warping which have a place/use but learning to properly back the boat was key. It largely boils down to repetitions/practice. My Cat 27 backs nicely which helps.

One key is to get enough leeway in reverse to achieve steerage. From then its driving the boat stern first into the slip. I shift back and forth between neutral and reverse while backing to maintain just enough speed. Using neutral reduces prop walk. Don't worry about the bow, it follows the stern. Slow is key. If you have strong winds more speed will be needed to maintain steerage. If winds are really stiff, it's ok to put the boat in bow first. Have a plan in mind, if things start to fall apart, abort and restart the plan from scratch. As others have noted your rudder and prop wash can be combined to act like a poor mans bow thruster. Essential to understand for tight quarters maneuvering. Wherever you decide to start your reverse, give yourself enough room to get moving before you need to steer. Once you are comfortable driving the boat in stern first you'll wonder why you ever tried to dock any other way.

If you don't have one, install a midship cleat. Useful for controlling the boat, especially shorthanded.

Hope this helps.
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