Originally Posted by joethecobbler
I'm glad you found a solution to the docking difficulties you were having.
I to have a long history of boat ownership and operation spanning over 35 years in a wide variety of both power and sail in varying locations throughout the US as well as asia.
I do find though ,that a refresher course always has something to offer me and enjoy a new approach as well as a fresh perspective from a different instructor. Never a day passes when I fail to learn another newance of boat handling. I guess that is why, after a considerable time, boating continues to hold my interest.
never to old or too experienced to learn or improve.
I agree that there is nothing wrong with refreshers. I've reread Jobson and the most important parts of Chapman several times, took the BoatEd online course with my kids last year, and did ASA 105 this spring.
But I doubt a course in basic docking would get me an answer to my specific questions. As a practical matter, a basic seamanship course will teach you basic docking skills. However, I am talking about a 3-5 kt currents pushing you into the slip. It is a very complicated situation, as others have pointed out. This is especially true if you are trying to pull into the slip at less than 3 knots, because your SOW is negative while your SOG is positive. Turn your rudder and the boat goes the opposite direction from what you expect. Put the outboard on a hard link in this situation, and you've got the motor pushing your stern in the opposite direction from the rudder. I've practiced these things many many times to master these scenarios, and the current I described in my above post is a good example of this situation.
Having taken a number of group courses, I know how it works. You have a variety of people who boat in different waters (most with mild currents), being taught basic, generic skills. A more advanced question like what to do with a 3 kt current pushing over your port bow quarter into the slip is far more advanced than the instructor has time to address in these group courses. That's why I hired a guy (who later turned out to be my ASA105 instructor) to come out for personal on-site instruction to address my specific need, which he said was one of the most challenging docking scenarios he had seen. I can tell you that nobody on the Chesapeake Bay has to deal with this kind of current on a daily basis. But it's close to home and I've gotten many compliments from the powerboaters on how well I handle my boat in the close quarters. A couple of them also told me that they had been in my slip in past years and moved out because of the same reasons as me - fetch, debris, currents, wakes, and neighbor.
I shared my problem up here so others could offer their tips, so I greatly appreciate the advice everyone provided. Moving back to my previous slip puts me in a situation where I still have strong currents, but less debris, fewer wakes from boaters that ignore the no wake bouys, a little more protection from the wind (depending on its direction), and less of a neighbor problem. But the knowledge shared here is still useful.