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post #8 of Old 06-16-2011
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Docking in a strong crosswind

I have not seen any videos, but I did have a really difficult situation a few weeks back. I'm new to a bigger boat, previous was a 25' with outboard so docking in all conditions was easy.

I found myself with my new and unfamiliar 36' boat and a 18 knot crosswind to my finger pier. Trying to control it with boat speed was completely impossible, as the bow was being blown off when I tried to turn. Wind was 90 degrees to my finger pier and blowing me down the slot.

Any boat will want to go basically broadside to the wind. Steering left or right will adjust that broadside to slightly pointed up or slightly down, but the basic motion will remain sideways. What I did was to allow the boat to go broadside out in the open water and drifted into the slot sideways, parallel to my slip. When I got almost in front of the slip I started forward slowly, timing it so the bow just entered the slip as the boat slipped in front of my space. It worked great. The guy on the next pier over was impressed, but mainly because he knew I was a novice and expected the worst. When he realized I had to dock in that crosswind, he had hung every fender he could find on the side if his boat, just to protect himself against my boat.

Next time you're in a strong wind in harbor, try letting the boat drift sideways and controlling the orientation of the boat with the rudder, but without using the engine. It's not very difficult.

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