Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor
But as a practical matter, a basic seamanship course will teach you basic docking skills. I am talking about a 3 kt current 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.
You absolutely have a difficult situation. I agree that all the information is basic and never handles the difficult situations. I can't address the courses, but over the last several years, I have looked at many written sources, whatever video sources I can find and asked questions about docking in crosswinds in narrow slips (my issue) or where there are adverse currents. I have yet to see any videos addressing these situations. The written answers are always the same....spring lines, walk the boat out, fenders, etc. No one has told me how you keep the boat from being swept sideways by wind or current into the pilings (It's only about a 2 ft. clearance). In principle, spring lines are great, but if there's any chance to get far enough into slip so that a spring line can even come into play, one has to come in hot to maintain steerage, and once the spring line takes effect, you've got to stop that boat in 2-3 ft. Nevermind trying to snatch the cleat off the deck. And if someone fumbles the line....that would be me since I usually single hand...the pier will absolutely stop the boat...quickly and expensively. Or dragging the lifeline stanchions along the outer pilings, may help slow the boat, but that too is expensive. Three times, when out in the San Franciso area, I made it a point to go by Pier 39 to see how the boats there do it since high winds are famous there. I guess I picked the wrong days....there was wind on the bay, but nothing at the docks, just some swell.
What do the people at my marina do when the wind is kicking up a bit? They don't go. We've got a few really experienced cruisers also. So, is there anyone out there that can provide video of docking techniques to use in 15+ kt. crosswinds and 3+ kt currents. I (and I suspect many others) would like to see how you deal with these situations. Anyone?