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Old 08-27-2008
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FastDocking habits

hey guys,

I'm a fairly new sailor so I'm always open to new ideas and advise on things that I find less than graceful.

Docking for me tends to be time consuming and I get the feeling that there are some sequence of events and habits that I could adopt that would make the whole process faster and more consistent.

Here is an example of my docking process:
1. Motoring in,
2. Put engine in Neutral
3. Jump off the boat to catch it at the bow as it comes into my slip.
4. Grab a line and tying off at a cleat (whichever is closest to me at the time).
5. Tie off more lines to cleats (no set process here either)
6. Jump back in the cockpit and kill the engine.
7. Fold, roll or do whatever to the jib into it's sailbag. I've been rolling it lately as I've not found a folding technique that is working for me.
8. "flake" out mainsail as best as I an (it's a small mainsail so it doesn't flake as pretty as bigger ones).
9. dig around in cockpit to find missing sail ties.
10. Fasten my sail ties to the mainsail.
11. unfasten them after realizing mainsail flaking is crappy and needs to be re-done.
12. re-attach sail ties
13. attach sail cover.
14. attach cover over other sail cover (original is rotting and the new one is just a bimini tarp about the length of the boom.
15. turn off electrical in boat.
16. lock up companionway hatch.
17. realize my docklines aren't to my satisfaction. re-hitch everywhere.
18. walk to gate, realize i forgot my keys
19. get my keys, walk to gate but realize I forgot to turn off depth sounder.
20. finally get to my car and drive the long drive home, realizing all the other things I forgot to do such as lifting the outboard out of the water or closing off my lifelines.

I could really use a better process. I watch other people ease in and be in their car within 10 minutes. It takes me like an hour.

Can anyone offer their good habits, short-cuts and tips to streamline and shorten this process? I've seen lots of people leave their docklines on the dock with pre-set lengths. One guy uses carabiner-type clips and just clips these onto his cleats and his bow-towing ring.
how about those jibs and sails? Quick easy ideas? Folding tips?

I'd love to come back, clip off, turn off and walk to my car. It never turns out that easily...

Last edited by idealflaw; 08-27-2008 at 03:36 PM. Reason: used the wrong word for 'flaking' my mainsail ;)
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Old 08-27-2008
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What a lot of people do, as you said, is to leave their dock lines on the dock. Put the loop on your boat cleat and use a cleat hitch on the dock cleat. This way you just have to drop the loop over the boat cleat and know it is the right length etc.

It also looks like a lot of your frustration is forgetting things.
A list to take a quick look at before leaving makes that easier.

I think you mean flaking not leafing of the mainsail.
We used to have a Dutchman system that made flaking the main easier than doing it by hand like we have to now.
Also I'm not too fussy about flaking the main because if you flake it perfectly the same every time it could actually be worse for the sail than a little randomness. At least that is what I have been told. The experts here will correct me if I'm wrong about this.

Since there are usually two of on on board one of us does most everything you mentioned on the way motoring to the slip.
And of course a roller furling jib is pretty common for obvious reasons.
We can leave the boat in about 5 min. All we really have to do is plug in the elec dock cord and close the through hulls and wash down the cockpit.

Last edited by davidpm; 08-27-2008 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 08-27-2008
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When I charter a boat, the charter company has a check list for before leaving slip and after returning to slip. Seems like a good habit especially if you are forgetful like me. No way you could clean head, empty garbage, put sails away, wash deck, turn off battery, place covers on, hook up shore power , etc and do it in ten minutes.

Maybe you could make up your own check list, or get one out of Sailing for Dummies or some other instructional book.

Hope this helps
michael
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Old 08-27-2008
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thanks for the replies guys. I am indeed forgetful and I'm looking to make a list especially after seeing some good stuff here.
(BTW, flaking, thanks!)

Can I ask what you mean by 'closing the through hulls'?

I tend to get back to port right as the sun is setting, meaning I'm doing tons of this stuff in the dark.
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Old 08-27-2008
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If you like to sail, than these things are necessary to enjoy your time on the water. Other than trying to be better organized and more efficient, you can't cut corners. Can I ask you why your in such a hurry?
Why be in a hurry to leave the boat? The more time I can get onboard the better off I feel, regardless of wether its doing boat work. Take your time and enjoy yourself. It will probably go smoother if your not rushed.
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i am in no hurry. I just spend an hour or two before I get to my car. NO one on my dock takes that long. people with more experience and seamanship than myself make everything look so efficient and quick.

I'm not trying to 'cut corners'. Simply asking for observed good habits.


If you will notice whilst walking around your marina, those absurd super-knots people use to tie off their boats. They might look at your simple cleat hitch as 'cutting corners' but in essense, it's quick proven and proper. THAT is the kind of stuff I want to learn more and more of.
Everyone has a process around these things. Many of these people have developed these processes over 20 years or more of experience. I am simply asking for wisdom.
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Old 08-27-2008
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After a good sail. I always let my guest leave. I would take my time to tidy the boat. It was a relaxing time for me. Making sure she was prim, and proper.

I single-handed a lot, and always took my dock lines with me. You never know when something may happen, and you will be in a strange marina. I did keep my lines inplace, but tied off to the most distant stanchion.

When approaching the dock I used reverse to stop the forward motion. Not my body. The bow, and stern lines were also my spring lines, so there was lots of line to keep the boat in place. I could step off onto the dock with me fairly centered to the boat. Both lines in hand I could control the boat, and quickly cleat her. After she was stopped I made adjustments, so she could ride proper at the dock.

With practice this will happen quickly, and effortlessly. BEST WISHES in improving your skills....i2f
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Old 08-27-2008
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idealflaw,

All the smart kids in class sat in the front row, and asked all the questions......GOOD FOR YOU!
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Old 08-27-2008
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IMO...better to use the loop end on the Pier cleat or piling and tie off on the boat. You can determine the proper length better and mark it with colored tape where the end begins to wrap around the cleat, then snail the lines on deck.

Jumping off the boat to stop its forward motion is a bad idea. Use the engine to stop it first, then use a boat hook to grab the lines from the boat. Then shut down and stow everything.

Yes...you do see absurd amounts of improper cleat hitches around most marinas...umm I got 5' of extra line...I'll just wrap it around the cleat. The the next guy see that and thinks what a great idea. Yet another reason you should use the loop end on the dock

Last edited by T37Chef; 08-27-2008 at 04:07 PM.
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Davidpm gave you some good dvise on your dock lines.
Most people keep the lines attached to the dock rather than to the boat.
This way when you return the lines simple drop over your deck cleats and are at the right length. I would also say that your bumpers be attached to the dock rather than the boat. Makes it much easier for when you are docking.

Do you single hand or do you have another crewmember that can help you?
If you have another crewmember, than some of the things your talking about in many instances can be done while motoring in. Flaking the main and putting on the main sail cover can be done under motor if conditions are right. If you inunprotected waters and bouncing around a bit, than you might want to wait till you reach the dock.

Sounds like you have a hanked on jib. If your simply rolling that up and putting it in a sail bag, I would think that too could be done under motor in realativly flat conditions. Just be very careful that you don't drop a sheet in the water when the engine is engaged. This could be very bad.

I think once you get into a routine it almost becomes second nature and you will start to see yourself getting better at it the more you repeat the process.

I guess our routine is different from yours, our last sail of the weekend is always on Sunday. We usually get back in around 4:00, head to the pool and soak in the hot tub for a while, than go back to the boat, pack her up for the week, and leave around 8:00.
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