Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Thanked 16 Times in 15 Posts
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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.
1987 Pearson 28-2, Deale MD