Originally Posted by davidpm
Your not going to like my answer Casey but I'm pretty sure it would solve the problem.
Sacrifice a few hours, preferably on a day with few people around. Bring someone with you that owes you a favor.
Leave the slip and come back in about 10 times.
Now if possible have your buddy do the same while you be crew.
After a few dozen training runs it will get so that you can have a drink in one hand, the tiller between your knees, your phone in your ear, while you pickup your glasses on the cockpit floor and still dock the boat.
After a relatively short time you will not have to stare at the approaching dock you will just know where your boat is.
I obviously don't know your docking situation and it may be worse than I've ever seen but if I had to guess it might be less about ergonomics than it is about practice.
Three things have helped me.
1. A spring line from just forward of the the center of the boat. Once this line is hooked on the dock if you put the boat in forward at idle it will hug the dock till you get the real lines set.
2. This is a weird thought but instead of thinking of steering the bow of the boat think about steering the mast. Try it it might help.
3. Remember from the cockpit it looks like you are on top of the dock when you are really a few feet away. It is amazing how close you can get at least from the perspective of the cockpit.
Most of us who sail for fun don't get to do tricky maneuvers very often. We are out for fun. The only solution sadly is to forget the fun for a few hours and treat it like a job and practice the &*& out of it till it is boring.
Reminds me of a student I had who was down on herself as she had trouble docking in a difficult slip and was comparing herself to a guy a few slips down. I got tired of giving her the same pep talk so finally I said lets go talk to Mr. Docking Expert. The conversation went something like this.
Me: Nice boat, have her long.
Expert: Ya we love it had her 35 years.
Me: Wow, been in the marina long.
Expert: No this is a new slip for us only been here 10 years but was in the one over there for over 20 years.
Needless to say I gave my student a hard time about comparing her docking skill to a guy who had been docking the same boat in the same slip for decades.
Docking with crew is a piece of cake, it's when I single hand that it is difficult. I have no pilings I can tie off to. The one at the end of the dock is a concrete piling and it is in the middle of the finger pier (floating dock). I can bring the boat up to the dock and have her stopped. But the wind will imediately start to move her away. It can take a 50 pound force (or more) on a line just to keep her in position to counter act the wind. What I do is bring the boat up to the pier stopped, then jump off and tie a temp spring line and then tie a temp stern line. Now the boat is good until I tie the permanent lines. When there is little or no wind I can easily dock even single handed, but typically there is a 25 knot wind that makes things difficult. when windy, I have one shot at getting the boat to the dock, because if I do not, the wind is blowing me off and blowing me into the slip next to me- like I said, there is no piling or pier between me and the other slip. Once I start to get blown off, without a bow thruster the only thing I can do is back out and start over. If I could see better that would make things a lot easier. Also, if I tie a spring line as you suggest and put the engine in forward, the boat's stern would swing out to starboard (especially since I usally have some wind component pushing the stern away also). I would need to put the boat in reverse (and use some prop walk) to do this, and I would not like to have the boat in gear when I jump off onto the dock (when singling handing). No doubt I need some more practice, just trying to reduce chance of impact until I get "good".