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  #11  
Old 07-22-2011
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Too much to respond to right now, so this is my boiled down single best idea. Get one additional dockline and attach it to a forward cleat on the dock. If you arrive with help on the dock, just ask them to pass you that one line. Slip the eye over your midships cleat and back against it. It should have been pre-tied to be a perfect forward spring line. As you back against it, it will hold you against the dock in idle reverse. Now work the rest out in complete calm.
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  #12  
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I never have any issue with folks from the docks offering me help with my fixed lines since all they do is toss the line over to a crew.

I have more problems as a trasient when I have to hand a fixed line over to someone on the dock. Unless the person on the dock is experienced there is just a natural tendency to pull on the line once they have it in hand. This doesn't seem to be that big a deal on powerboats, but sailboats pivot on their keel's and can get sideways in the slip in a hurry.

I limit the "help" I offer to others to 1. Handing them a line. 2. Fending them off if they are obviously going to hit something and 3. Following their directions if they ask for something more. Fending off is another area where an inexperienced person can create more trouble than they avoid. The line between fending off and shoving you across the fairway apparently isn't that easy to discern for some folks boater and non-boater alike.
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  #13  
Old 07-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miketucker View Post
Using the engine to hold me on the dock was something taught to me when I took the CYA Keelboat course. I thought it was a pretty nice solution. It just takes a little reverse power to push the stern into the fenders, and that both prevents the boat from going forward, and prevents the stern from moving sideways even in a very strong wind. I use a similar technique to cast off, I put the engine in reverse to hold the boat on the dock, remove the stern and spring lines and have only a bow line (or sometimes no line depending on wind direction) which can be held then cast off by a crew member on the bow. I take it from your generous use of question marks in your comment that you don't approve? :-) Can someone explain the problems/drawbacks with this technique?
I think it is a great technique to use when needed. However, I wouldn't want to do it on a regular basis or rely on it full time. I don't trust bumpers/fenders. Over the 45 years that I've been sailing, I guess I tend to view fenders as something that should only be used to keep a tied up boat from rubbing against another boat, piling, or dock. I never view them as crash stops. Not that I haven't inadvertently used them as such, but I would never count on them.

One of the issues you are facing I think is that you are trying to back into the slip turning to starboard (if I understand your situation properly). The Hunter will tend to back to Port. This may be why you are having to carry enough sternway while you back in to keep the rudder effective. Depending on your situation (you did say you had a very wide fairway) you may find that going forward just past your slip, then reversing and backing to Port may be easier. This is particularly true if you have a lot of room between you and the Hunter next to you. Keep in mind that as you apply forward thrust to stop the boat, your stern will tend to want to move to Starboard. So the least forward thrust you use the better.

I will generally give my crew a mid-ships line to hold as they step off the boat onto the dock. As others have mentioned, this allows some control of the boat without pulling in in the bow or stern prematurely. It is also the line that should be given to a helper on the dock. My guess is that your helpers are getting nervous about your speed and are afraid you will hit the dock too hard. Handing them a mid-ships line with the instructions to just hold it until you stop your sternway, then ask them to pull the boat to the finger should solve the problem of them stopping you too soon or pulling either the bow or stern in.

Etiquette demands that any helper offer help to the skipper before touching anything. If I'm on the dock and another boat is coming in, I'll saunter over to where they are coming in, ask them "would you like a hand?". If they decline, I don't think it is rude at all. Normally, they will respond with something like "Thanks, can you take the midship line" or something of that nature. At that point, I only do what the skipper asks me or what is painfully obvious. I will never cleat their line to the dock unless specifically asked but will hook and hold it until relieved by skipper or crew.

There are exceptions. A dockmate of mine with a new-to-him Catalina-Morgan 440 was coming in to his slip with a huge number of novices on board. He has a very tricky slip to get into, lots of freeboard, and is not yet used to his newer boat. I ended up taking both a bow and stern line from his crew and helped pull the boat to the finger. However, the entire time the skipper and I were making eye contact and each knew what the other was thinking. I was following his lead, never the other way around.

So, to answer your initial question:
1) Accept or decline help as you wish.
2) If you accept help, give specific instructions to the helpers.

My wife tells me I'm terrible at giving clear, specific, instructions. I just the think the rest of the world is filled with idiots.
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Old 07-22-2011
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Nevermind technique. The original question regarded whether or not to accept docking assistance.

In my home slip, it's seldom needed. Otherwise, if it's offered, I take it. BUT!!!!!

The ONLY person in charge is the skipper/owner of the boat. The skipper needs to have a plan and instructions for the helpers. Generally, the skipper has little knowledge of the competence of the helpers, be they marina employees or friendly neighbors.

One skipper per boat. Period.

Helpers, particularly male helpers, tend to want to assist you THEIR way. I want it done MY way. Because....if things go wrong, WHO PAYS FOR THE DAMAGE? That guy who grabs a line and insists on fastening it to the wrong cleat, and totally screwing up my ability to maneuver, is not going to yank out his wallet when the fiberglass repair bill is due and payable. With that in mind I have no problem being friendly and firmly in charge.

Coming in pointy end first, I like a dockhand take my bowline and attach it to a cleat ahead of my boat. Then, all I have to do is reverse, and my boat hugs the dock like it loves it. Done. I can't tell you how many times I've given clear instructions and they guy deliberately does something entirely different. Or just stands there with the line in his hand trying to figure out if he should do it his way or if the skipper ought to have a say. It irks some guys not to be in charge.

Typical: "Hi....just grab the line that's hanging off my bow and cleat it off on that cleat ahead of my boat. That cleat....right there. No...not around the piling...straight to the cleat. Straight to the cleat. That cleat. Great...okay, take out the slack...take out the slack....get the slack out of the line before you cleat it. Pull it tight right now. Good....cleat it....cleat it." Followed by me putting it in reverse and the boat magically snuggling up to the dock. As the helper watches dumbfounded.

All instructions are loud and clear and without emotion. I'll repeat an instruction without adding additional volume or emotion. If the helper fails to comply, and creates a problem, I have no problem flatly saying, "hurry", or "now".

My basic attitude is: Thanks for the help, I love you, but it's going to be done my way. If you want to do it your way, let go of the line and get off the dock.
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Old 07-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miketucker View Post
As a relatively new sailor, I just assume everyone else knows more than me and will just do the right thing. Bad assumption, even if they do know more, they don't know my plan, so don't know the best way to help.

Any thoughts or advice on how to avoid these kinds of issues in the future would be much appreciated.


Don't ever assume. If I accept help, I accept it saying, "Sure, thanks! Hand me that spring line." There's several ways to skin a cat so you're better off just tell them what you need rather than make them guess.

It's not rude to wave off help. Just tell them thanks and that you've got it.

I was always taught you offered help automatically just as a neighborly thing to do.
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  #16  
Old 07-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sublime View Post
Don't ever assume. If I accept help, I accept it saying, "Sure, thanks! Hand me that spring line." There's several ways to skin a cat so you're better off just tell them what you need rather than make them guess.

It's not rude to wave off help. Just tell them thanks and that you've got it.

I was always taught you offered help automatically just as a neighborly thing to do.
That's my view as well. I back in and have my lines already on the dock, so it's just a matter of saying thanks and asking for a specific line from a helper.

I would recommend that you have at least one line on the dock as previously recommended. That way, the person offering help can do so, and the line you attach from them is part of the docking routine anyway: so everybody wins.
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  #17  
Old 07-22-2011
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Giving and Receiving Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sublime View Post
It's not rude to wave off help. Just tell them thanks and that you've got it.
Agreed. There's a solo sailor opposite us who does not have an engine. He comes into his slip under sail. We always offer to help but he prefers to do it his way in his own time. Not a problem. Usually within a few minutes he's settled into his cockpit strumming his guitar.

When our other slip neighbor offers to help, he always asks "Which line first?" We do the same.

Perhaps if there are not enough dock lines, you could just carry your own personal set of lines so that a set can be left at the dock? It seems like that would be an inexpensive solution.
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  #18  
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I have been following this discussion with great interest as I am still trying to perfect my docking skills. No big disasters yet, but have provided the marina with some entertainment in the last couple of years since becoming a boat owner.
Starting with a midship spring line makes a lot of sense for reasons already mentioned.
I see one of my challenges is to improve communication with my crew. Another challenge is a friend who sails with me and has some experience sailing. He often assumes that he knows what needs to be done and not wait to be told what to do. I guess I'll need to find my whip and use it until he gets it right
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  #19  
Old 07-23-2011
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"When our other slip neighbor offers to help, he always asks "Which line first?" We do the same."
That's what I do too, unfortunately, a lot of the boaters (predominately power) don't have ANY lines ready and they just kinda give me the deer in the headlights look. A couple of weeks ago a couple in a 38' trawler came into a slip a little fast and as I was asking the wife at the stern if she had a stern line (she didn't) he cut the engines. As luck would have it there was a piling on the FAR side of the dock that their bow sprit hit, stopping them from smashing into the dock with the bow. They didn't bat an eye, must happen all the time.
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  #20  
Old 07-23-2011
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FYI, I am also a member of Sailtime and my boat is three slips down from Mike's.

I also have the same issues on occasion. Most power boaters don't understand that the boat pivots around the keel, so when they grab the stern line and pull tight, the bow goes out and vice versa.

I think a line attached to the midship cleat and then wrapped around the mid dock cleat is the best idea. Very easy for inexperienced crew to manage. There's a lot of canvas on the boats, so it would be hard to cleat a line handed to you from the end of the pier to the mid cleat on the boat. I think you'd get tangled up somewhere along the journey back to the wheel!

I asked the owner of my boat why he doesn't cleat form the midship on the boat to the middle pier cleat. He said that would be great, but there's no middle cleat on the dock. Oh. Wait yes there is. So never assume

Don't worry about that Hunter 41, I was backing down the fairway, when he decided to pull out. One nice thing about backing up is that you can change direction very quickly with forward gear. Not so much in reverse. I guess he forgot to look out, or maybe thought I was leaving? I'm starting to learn that no sailor is perfect.

One terrific (nudge) idea is to have another member come out with you for a couple of hours and practice stuff that can't be done with guests unfamiliar with sailing. Considering that my boat will be gone for a couple of weeks, I humbly volunteer my services. It would also make up for the day that I passed you coming back in saying that the wind was perfect out there, only to feel it die as I finished my sentence. Cursed.

Shoot me an email through the Sailtime site, my number is there as well. I'm 5 minutes away form the dock and my sched is very flexible. I did a little practice anchoring last night with another member. It will make everything more comfortable when I anchor with guests in the future.

PS. You may be coming in too fast as well. I found that I am going slower with every new docking.

Best,
Chris
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