Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Vero Beach, Florida
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I think Welshwind's "Bow sailing" is the key and backing into the slip is the answer.
We once had our Endeavour 37 in a North "pointing" slip and could always count on a brisk South or South-west breeze in the late afternoon or early evening when we returned from a cruise. The Endeavour has a shoal keel and prop-walks to port in a big way. (I tell people that the boat can only go in two directions ... forward and sideways!)
After much practice and trial and error, I found I could cruise along about 15 feet from the ends of the finger docks (the boat heading West) at idle speed or in neutral until the boat's midship portion was adjacent to our slip. At this point I would slide 'er into reverse. The boat would slow and stop; the bow would start swinging to starboard ("bow sailing" toward the North); the stern would start walking to port. If I timed everything right, the stern would be even with the slip, stopped, and the boat at about a 45 degree angle pointing North-west, so to speak. Then, applying more or less reverse thrust as the bow continued to "sail" North, I'd just back right in.
When I got good at it the dock idlers were all impressed; I almost looked like I knew what I was doing. I never bothered to correct that assumption.
Make a few (about four) buoys out of empty milk jugs, string of suitable length and some bricks. Find an out-of-the way spot, stop the boat and plant the buoys a suitable distance off your boat's beam to simulate the width, length and orientation of your slip. Then practice, practice, practice!
As others have pointed out, the trick is to learn the way your boat moves under given conditions of wind and engine power and then USE this instead of trying to fight it. Good luck!
Just my two cents.
Cruisers don't have plans ... just intentions.