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  #11  
Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Docking help

For what it's worth, I've always done well with a little studying prior to on the water practice. Helps me get the concept straight in my head [U]before[U] I go screw something up. A good reference, recommended to me by a fellow sailor, is a book called "7 steps to successful boat docking". Being such a newb on here, I can't post a link here, but just search the title at amazon and it should come up.
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Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Docking help

If you can, practice when your marina isn't busy. Go to the boat and spend a calm weather day just docking. Pay attention to what the wind and current are doing to your boat each time you go in and out. Those are the two most important things that will screw you up and you'll need to adjust accordingly and learn to make them work for you (or at least not against you).

Asking for a different slip is perhaps good advice, but, unless you never plan on taking your boat to another marina, you'll do yourself a favor by learning in whatever slip you have. If your slip is tricky and you figure out the best way for you to get into it, when you go away from home you'll have more confidence. When visiting another marina, you won't always have the option of choosing the slip that makes life easier for you.
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Re: Docking help

Everyone has felt like you feel about docking early on as owners of cruising sailboats. They all handle a little differently, but there is much in common as well. Good advice in this thread.

The best close boat handler I know worked for years in a marina. Here's some of his rules:

1. Always have a plan. Try to think out what's going to happen before it does, don't just drive into the slipway and hope.

2. Always have a backup plan. Even for him, it didn't always work out. A sudden wind gust, or unexpected current. If that happens, how are you going to escape and try again.

3. Say no. Sometimes, particularly when visiting a marina, they'll try and put you into a slip that isn't going to work. Say no and ask for something else. Seeing this guy do this, gave us the confidence to do the same. When an ace can say no, us amateurs are certainly able to say no!

All the ideas about practicing around mooring's and things that won't bang up your boat are great. My first boat had an outboard as well, and sounds like you've already discovered that turning the outboard itself is the equivalent of a stern thruster, and can be used in many circumstances if you can reach the motor tiller. The motor this way will work when in gear, even when the boat is not moving, the main rudder of course only works when you have enough way on.
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Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Docking help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post

Then get Captain Jack Klang's docking video. He's a classic. I will post a link, if I can find it. While he shows you how to do it singlehanded, the exact principals apply if you have help. Spring lines are your friend. Good luck.
Here's the url for the Klang video that Minne suggested. Good video to watch.
Singlehanded Docking & Sail Trim
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Re: Docking help

Docking is something I am trying to get better at too. You've gotten good advice already. I highly recommend the free instructional video from the Maryland School of Sailing. I took their weekend course and learned a lot. My boat behaves differently from the IP32 we trained on and I'm doing it single handed, but the principles apply. Learning how to effectively use lines to spring in and out of tight spaces was invaluable to me.

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Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Docking help

Never approach the dock at a speed higher than you would be pleased to hit the dock at.
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Re: Docking help

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
.......unless you never plan on taking your boat to another marina, you'll do yourself a favor by learning in whatever slip you have. If your slip is tricky and you figure out the best way for you to get into it, when you go away from home you'll have more confidence. When visiting another marina, you won't always have the option of choosing the slip that makes life easier for you.
This is very good advice. When I bought my current boat, it was the biggest I'd ever had to dock. The only slip available, required us to back in due to oncoming fetch, with a prevailing crosswind that would blow us off our slip and toward our unprotected neighbor. I had relatively little experience backing into a slip, let alone with this new boat.

I thought I would vomit at first. Once I gutted through it, foreign marinas seemed pretty tame by comparison.
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Re: Docking help

I love watching the old guys docking around our club with 40+ boats. They come blasting down the fairway at 5 knots without a care in the world (for a long time I thought "this is going to be messy"), crank the wheel at their slip and then magically come to a full stop 4 inches from their slip, calming step off the boat with their dock lines and secure the boat.

Someday, I hope to be able to dock like that!

We did the practise bit coming up on a bouy everywhich way for hours to get a feel for the boat and how it moves with various winds moving from different directions. That helped. One trick that makes a huge difference for me is to always enter the slip at an angle towards the bow end of the dock. Once the boats midpoint is past the corner of the dock, I crank the wheel to bring the stern in while throwing it in reverse. the next step is to attach our "hail mary line" to the stern cleat on the dock - this holds us snug to the dock (I am in forward now) while we secure the other lines. IMHO, going straight in to the slip usually leads to big problems unless there is zero wind.

My biggest problem is well meaning help at the dock! Inevitably, someone yanks in hard on the bow line causing the stern to drift out...I usually ask them to just secure the line with some slack that I can tighten up later.

We are not pros yet by any means, but after watching two motor cruisers try to dock in a strong wind last week, I do feel like a pro! The wind was blowing them sideways into the slip, hitting other boats, hitting the corner of the slip with the side of their hull. Thankfully they were docking a couple of slips away from us and not beside us!
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Re: Docking help

I'm right there with you (see my previous 'Docking for Dummies' thread).

I highly recommend the docking seminar from Maryland School of Sailing posted above. It really helped me understand the basic principles of maneuvering under power.

I'm coming to terms with the fact that this skill is just practice, practice, read more, practice, get advice, practice some more. Every boat, slip, dock, wind, and current situation is different. What works perfectly one day won't work when the wind changes direction, or blows a little harder. I've been discovering is that there's no one right way - what works great for your marina neighbor may not work for you, your slip, or your boat. That's why getting to know how your boat handles at slow speeds is so important.

Here's what I've learned so far:
-- how to use the buddy lines in my slip to control my bow when backing out, and to keep the boat from sliding into pylons/neighbors when we're tying it back up.
-- take advantage of your boat's strengths (do you have mid-ship cleat? can it turn on a dime? is the prop walk going to help you?) and adopt workarounds for problems (spring lines, buddy lines, use of neutral to minimize prop walk, etc)
-- the importance of neutral to minimize prop walk
-- that I don't need to touch the throttle in many slow-speed situations. If I need to go forward or backwards slowly, idling in that direction moves the boat.
-- the importance of knowing which line to tie up first when entering the slip - and to make sure you can get to that line easily when you get in. (My first-mate improvised on our last docking when that line wasn't easy to reach. The wind kept blowing us back out of the slip so I got lots of practice inching the boat back and forth while she figured out what to do.)

It also helps that almost everyone else is nervous too. And once you see someone really screw up and come out okay, you'll feel a lot better about your own more minor mess-ups.
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Re: Docking help

My 1st docking was a disaster wrapped up in embarrassment. I had just motored for 90 minutes into the wind from the winter storage to the marina. Single handing my 22'r what I should have done at the storage marina was to practice backing up, turning, backing up, turning etc.

I arrived at my new home marina and was following a large motor yacht who turns out was a transient. Halfway down our channel, and opposite my slip, he decided to stop and back up. I slammed into reverse and stopped. He then moved ahead again so I waited until he turned into his slip before I headed forward. He then shoots out of his slip (????). Again I go to reverse just as I am making the turn into my slip. I throttle up a bit too much and my outboard tips forward leaving the prop chewing at air. I hit the kill switch and jump to the bow with my boat hook to fend off as I am still moving forward towards a runabout docked two slips away from where I want to be.

I push off that boat as the wind turns me and pushes me parallel to the main dock, between the two finger docks. Once settled I then manhandled the boat around the finger dock and into my proper home. A few dings on my brand new paint job and a huge ding to my seamanship pride.

Now I have done it successfully 20+ times alone and I treat reverse with ultra respect. I have had wind on the nose, behind me and on both sides and I can still coax her in slowly and gently nudge the dock mid-ship. I leave the spring line at the end of the finger dock and that is what I grab first, wrapping it around the winch to stop the forward motion.

My main lesson learned is that I now always watch out for single handers coming in to my dock and I always walk over and offer to take a line.

Last edited by i_amcdn; 08-08-2013 at 02:51 PM.
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