Join Date: Oct 2009
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I'd have to say, while a general point, that one of the most important components of a successful docking is a briefing beforehand.
The Captain needs to lead this discussion. It should include a play by play of the docking you're about to do. You need to discuss how the dock will be approached, who has what responsibility, the expected wind and current conditions at the slip and how they'll effect the boat, etc, etc. It should include what your responsibilities are, what actions you need to take. You need to be able to have all questions that come up along the way answered.
While performing the plan you already developed and discussed ... you need to stick to the plan and keep communicating. Also, you need to be willing to abort the docking, regroup, reevaluate, and try again later ... when it seems to be going poorly. While some unexpected things can be corrected "on the fly" you always need to be willing to abort.
I generally sail with those who have never sailed before but have always made useful deckhands of them by communicating their actions clearly. Yes, I communicate their actions to them. The Captain will, and should, tell you what you need to be doing in clear, concise language. It is not a power trip, and it should not include scolding ... it is simply what is necessary to safely and effectively operate a boat.
I do the same sort of "briefing" before gybing, tacking, anchoring, generally navigating channels, or around boater traffic. It may seem tedious but, once again, communication is key.
1981 C&C 32