Originally Posted by dhays
I'll have to think about this and work it through in my mind. Sounds like a good suggestion. Pilings aren't a great option since, depending on tide, the piling can tower over our heads. A cleat would work, but with the height of the gunnell the distance to the cleat on the dock is quite a ways.
I'll think about this one though, thanks.
If the piling is over your head at times, using it won't work. However, if you have or can install a cleat at the end of your finger pier, you should be able to reach it using an assist for the crew to grab the cleat even though boat's freeboard is high. SJ Johnson makes a "Grab and Go Hook" that attaches to a boat hook. With it and a 8 ft extendable boat hook, your crew should be able to grab (hook) to the cleat. Two other concepts that I have seen on You Tube are: 1) there is a special boat hook arrangement that has a "fork" at the end of the boat hook to spread the dockline splice so it is easy to slip over a cleat. 2) there is another device that is like a boat hook, except it has an integral, flexible loop at each end to be used to grab the cleat. Sorry I don't have a link to these items, but a google search should help find them. A final homemade concept is to use a dedicated line with a relatively large loop in the dock end....the line composing this loop is passed through a piece of garden hose or similar, the function of the hose being to hold the loop open so the crew can easily get the line over the cleat.
An additional comment: Even if your crew is very good at grabbing the cleat, there will be occasions that the hook-up will be missed, and in a serious crosswind, you will go down onto the leeward finger pier. Towards that end, having preplaced fenders or bumper strips on the leeward finger pier will protect your hull.
I have a somewhat similar situation in docking in high crosswind, but since I usually single hand, I really haven't come up with a solution. I just know in those situations that I am going to come down on the leeward piling/finger pier. When that happens I try to stop forward motion and stabilize movement of the boat around that point by getting on temporary lines so as not to damage the boat by dragging hull against piling/finger pier. Then try to figure out how to get the boat into the slip.