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Old 06-09-2007
chappyonice chappyonice is offline
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Family Docking Procedure/Roles

As I prepare to take my family out on our first sail with our Beneteau 311, I'm curious as to what others recommend for docking roles to give each family member a feeling like they are contributing and yet be within their realm of comfort.

My son is 12 and went through a keelboat class with me last summer. He is capable of taking the helm out on the water and knows the basics - tacking, jibing, trimming the sails, sailing a course. I don't know that I would want him on the helm when pulling into the slip though.

My daughter is 9. She's pretty much a newbie, but very excited and wants to learn.

My wife is pretty new to sailing as well and would be the first to panic of something went askew. But she does have a steady hand (maybe not so big on balance) and is strong enough to manipulate the boat.

I see 4 basic roles/jobs:

1. Helmsman - direction and speed
2. Stern quarter - use the boat hook to snag the dockline and secure it to a cleat to help control the stop
3. Mid-ships - watch the fenders to make sure things are secure and then step off to control the boat by the stay. Then hand over the bow lines & spring lines
4. Bow/quarter - take a fender (possibly secured to the lifeline so it can slide back and forth) and make sure that any impact is cushioned. Then take the bow lines from the #3 role (above) and cleat them.

I'm thinking that I should take the helm. I can read the boats movement best and ease her in. My daughter should take the bow, which seems like the least risky and with the fender secured to the lifeline she would be safely behind. My son could take the stern, but if he misses the line we lose our safety valve. (aside - would it be best to have the line on the boat and try to catch the post instead of trying to hook the line from the boat?) My wife might be best at mid-ships even with the lack of balance. My reasoning is that she has more body weight and strength than my son and could guide the boat better. Of course, I could teach my wife to take the helm and bring her in slow, which would allow me to take mid-ship. I could put my son at mid-ship, he's stable with great balance but lacks body weight to control the ship.

Who would you put where and why?
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