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  #1  
Old 10-25-2010
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Docking in High Crosswinds

I often read about people docking routinely in 15-25kt crosswinds (or higher) with no problems. But also often, I read about walking the boat out, drifting in, using a spring or breast line to make high wind simple, and other maneuvers in the same articles that seem inconsistent with my understanding of high wind docking. Recently, I was in CA near San Francisco and drove down to Pier 39 and the Berkley Marina to see how it was done. While there was wind out on the bay, on that particular day, it seemed mighty calm in the marinas. With all the video that's around, it would seem that someone would have captured such docking events. Do any of the members of the forum have links to such video. If so, please post them so we fair wind sailers can see how it's done. Also, for docking in strong currents. Thanks.
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Old 10-26-2010
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Experience is that thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. Fender up the boat (on all sides) and go for it. I've seen the best Captains lose a landing once in a while.

Personally, I prefer idle motoring against a spring line to hold me in place, while I then secure a bow and stern line. The boat weighs 45,000 lbs. You don't fend off anything, you have to get it right. This works in any wind or current. The only variable is the approach, which is logically toward the wind as it is pushing you back. A strong crosswind can require a slightly faster approach too.

I leave lines at my dock, but never use them until I'm secure. I always set lines on the boat and either throw them to the dock hand and instruct where to secure or, more often, have someone toss the line around a cleat or bollard and secure the bitter end back to the boat.

The initial spring line is the most important. If you want to leave it on the dock and have someone hand it to you, I strongly suggest it is a different color from the rest. All you must say is, "please hand me the red line". Otherwise, a dock hand (despite their best intentions) can cause trouble if they don't understand you.
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Old 10-26-2010
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Very good advice, that above!
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I'd add that having amidships cleats can greatly simplify docking in adverse conditions.
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In Greece, many marinas use a med tie that involves releasing an anchor and backing into the dock. In strong afternoon crosswinds this is a VERY difficult maneveur. We spent many an afternoon watching "marina theater" after getting safely tucked in. The problem- new arrivals can mess up your anchor. The trick seems to be backing in with considerable speed to counter the side force, slowing quickly when very close to the dock. Prayer helps!
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Old 10-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I'd add that having amidships cleats can greatly simplify docking in adverse conditions.
+1

When docking in a wind blowing you off the dock, do not get fancy. Use a mid ship cleat and just get the boat tied to a cleat on the dock amidships. Worry about breast lines and spring lines later.

Do not, under any circumstances, step off with the two breast lines; the boat will be next to impossible to control.
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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
+1

When docking in a wind blowing you off the dock, do not get fancy. Use a mid ship cleat and just get the boat tied to a cleat on the dock amidships. Worry about breast lines and spring lines later.

Do not, under any circumstances, step off with the two breast lines; the boat will be next to impossible to control.
Words of wisdom.

IF you're single-handing, the line attached to the amidships cleat is often your best bet, especially if the dock has a cleat at about mid-span. Once the boat is made fast to the pier, you can then go back and adjust everything to get it in the proper position.

The other good use of an amidships cleat is to use for spring lines when the cleats aren't positioned well for a spring line from the bow or stern.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Thanks for the tips. I'm a believer in the amidships cleat and the amidships line. Also the spring line. I single hand, and I don't think that I'm going to step off my boat with the wind away from the dock at 25 kts. with even one, much less two lines. If I couldn't get that line around the cleat or piling before the slack is gone, I couldn't hold my boat. I've spent time in Europe and have seen the med mooring done by ships or large excursion boats, and it would be tricky at best in a crosswind, especially since the boats dock very close together.

What I haven't seen is video of sailboats actually docking in these adverse conditions.

With my boat, going between two outer slip pilings with only about 15" on either side to the pilings when the boat is centered in the slip, I'm on one of the outer pilings before I can get in far enough to use the spring, and possibly before I can get to the amidships cleat. And then there's the little problem of I'm at the stern at the helm, having just made the turn into the slip and the amidships cleat and leeward outer piling is somewhere up there....and the wind is not waiting for me to get from point A to point B. And usually, theres lots of wave action, so I am then banging up against that piling, beating the daylights out of the boat. Put out fenders...fine, Just where exactly, since there's going to be a variation, depending on the wind and other factors, as to exactly where on the boat will contact the piling first. And if I put out a 8" fender, now I cut my 30" clearance between pilings to 22", and there's a good chance the fender or fender board is going to hang on the piling, which will tear something up or pivot the boat into the pier or next boat. I hear about such docking, but I don't see it recorded where I can see it.

I did find one video of a ferry boat trying to med moor in Corfu in high winds. He eventually aborted. It's here:

YouTube - Docking in Corfu Harbour in (very) strong wind

And the way he is drifting down is how it seems/occurs with me. You travel 2-3 ft. sideways in a hurry.

Where are the videos of difficult sailboat landings?

Last edited by NCC320; 10-26-2010 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 10-26-2010
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Great thread

I have a contessa 26, a small 26 footer. Any suggestions as to where I could mount an amidships cleat? Would it be a plain stupid idea to tie a line around the mast for docking purposes?
My slip setup as well as general wind direction tends to mean the wind is either from a stern or side on to the slip. Very seldom do I get a side off slip wind, therefore I am lacking in practice for said maneuver.

Thanks,
John
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyandjebus View Post
Great thread

I have a contessa 26, a small 26 footer. Any suggestions as to where I could mount an amidships cleat? Would it be a plain stupid idea to tie a line around the mast for docking purposes?
My slip setup as well as general wind direction tends to mean the wind is either from a stern or side on to the slip. Very seldom do I get a side off slip wind, therefore I am lacking in practice for said maneuver.

Thanks,
John
The mast would be a bit far forward to make it ideal for using as a tie off point for a dock line. You'd probably have to add one to the deck.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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