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Old 11-03-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

jk - Some basics that may be too simple for your needs but…

Line terminology can at first be confusing.

On small boats the lines are usually described with a term based on position on the boat…forward/aft/midships (or bow/stern/midships) and port/starboard. (On large ships they are usually given numbers.)

On all boats they are also described by purpose…breast or spring.

A breast line is used to hold the boat with a perpendicular strain to the pier.

A spring line is used to hold the boat from moving fore and aft along the pier.

You can rig these lines to the pier from any position on the boat…so you can have a bow breast line or a bow spring line.

Spring lines can be led forward or aft. Eg - A bow spring led forward to the pier will restrict aft motion of the boat. A bow spring led aft to the pier will restrict forward motion of the boat.

How do you use these lines? There are threads on the forum that get into this in INFINITE detail. Do a google search for them and pour yourself a libation and you can spend several winter nights pondering the possibilities.

Entering a slip under control requires practice and the understanding that wind and current are variables in direction and magnitude. Wind/current/speed/prop thrust vectors can't be calculated but the sum can be OBSERVED as you enter your slip. The simplest method is to pick out a couple of objects in line with your desired direction of motion into your slip and adjust your speed and heading to that needed to keep them in line. In general you will want to keep your speed as low as practicable and adjust your heading as needed to drive the track into the slip. If wind and current are so high that you need to crab too much to maintain that track then you have to raise your speed a bit to reduce the crabbing. Under these sporty conditions is when spring lines come into their own. With a well measured spring line that restricts forward motion you can drop it on a cleat from the cockpit when you hit your mark.

If you need so much speed or so much crab that docking becomes too high risk then find a place to go drop the hook until conditions moderate.
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