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Old 05-07-2002
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Entering and leaving dock solo

There''s no one answer to your question. I think you''ll need to plan out at least 4 scenarios to have an approach ready for both leaving and re-entering the slip depending on the wind/current direction.

First, I''ll simplify and only deal with wind because that is what I''m most familiar with. I don''t have much current to worry about in my slip. But before leaving or entering the slip, you will have to judge which (wind or current) will be the greater force on the boat and plan accordingly.

The 4 basic scenarios are wind from the front, wind from behind, and wind on either beam. You will need a different approach to each depending on how your slip is set up, and how much rom you have to maneuver both in the slip, and outside it. Is you slip 40 feet, or much longer than that, for example? Do you have 2 feet or 10 feet between you and the other boat? Is there only one piling (at the end of the slip where you enter from the water), meaning there isn''t a piling halfway up? This all makes a difference in what you need to do as far as which lines to release first when leaving, or which to tie first on entering.

Which way does the stern move in reverse? Learn to use propwalk to your advantage, or at least learn to overcome it. One tip on that, if the stern goes to port in reverse and you need to back up to starboard when exiting (my situation)-- use bursts of power to get up momentum, then shift to neutral. You can then steer anyway you want as long as the momentum is there to keep the boat moving. If you lose momentum, use another burst of power in reverse to get moving again, then shift back to neutral.

Put out fenders on both sides of the boat for protection. Depending on the slip, you may want to put protection of some sort on the finger pier itself for those times you come into the slip and the wind is blowing you into the finger pier.

Can you rig what I call a cheater line running parallel from piling to piling between you and the neighboring boat? That will give you something to push/pull against when needed, and if rigged at the right height (tides allowing of course) it might even be enough to keep your boat from wondering into the other one. I have such a line rigged on one side of my slip (the finger pier only comes back halfway) and will install one on the other side this year.

You''ll learn that if the wind is from more or less straight ahead, it will almost blow the boat back out of the slip pretty easily. if the wind is still that way on entering, just get a bow line tied first and the rest will come together OK. If the wind is from behind on leaving, you''ll need to keep a stern line tied until the last moment. That same stern line will be the first you need to tie on entering again.

Last hints if you are still reading after all this: don''t just throw your lines off the boat when leaving. Place them where you can reach them when you return. Be neat on leaving, and it will be easier when you return. Take it slow and easy both leaving and entering. Think each move through. As you motor to the slip, start looking for where the wind/current is coming from to plan ahead. Don''t be surprised when you get there. Sorry this is so long!
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