Docking Assist Lines Lead Aft
It has been mentioned that leading control lines aft to the cockpit area is beneficial to the single hander. The same can be done for a few critical lines that you use to assist in docking. On my boat, I have done the following and find it helpful in that it reduces the time that I must be away from the helm station during docking.
At the bow stemplate, I have shackled two Series 50 Ronstan single blocks(for 1/2" lines) to the stem plate. These could be also shackled to either bow or amidships cleats as you desire. One block is for starboard, the other is for port lines. At the pushpit rail on either side, I have added a CS Johnson Pulpit Anchor bracket, and shackled to it a Garhauer 30-05 Fiddle Block with Camcleat. I use a piece of velcro strap to hold the blocks off the deck when not in use, and a small bungee cord to support them when in use.
I typically back into my slip, so the description will be for that case. I also have some very long lines that I use in this procedure. On one end, tie a carabineer hook if you use a buddy line, or a large loop if you don't. On the windward side of the boat, starting at the helm station/stern cleat area, temporarily place this loop on cleat, then lead the line over and outboard of the lifelines forward to the bow, through one of the bow stem blocks (or amidships cleat/block per your choice), back down the deck inside the lifelines, through the genoa sheet turning block, two turns around the winch, then to/through the Fiddle Block and secure with the camcleat.
When I start into my slip, I bring my stern close to the windward piling, and clip the caribineer into the buddy line and my bow is tied to the slip. If there were no buddy line or you are tying off a springline, drop the loop in its end over the piling or cleat. Now, I can tend this forward line from the helm station. If there is a lot of tension on the line, I can also use the winch to pull the bow in. My stern cleat is still free to use for a stern or other line as I need.
Typically, for my home setup with the buddy lines, I clip a second caribineer hook onto the buddy line and tie it off at the stern cleat. Now, I use the engine to back the boat into the slip. The stern slides along the buddy line (a loop/knot in the buddy line will prevent going too far along the line) and I tend the bow or amidships line. And this is at my helm station, so I don't have to go far. It works very well and I believe is applicable to either stern or bow first docking...the lines would be set differently, but still using the blocks. All the blocks are permanently in place to speed preparation for docking.
Last edited by NCC320; 06-09-2011 at 10:56 AM.