About single handing! - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 23 Old 08-12-2012 Thread Starter
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About single handing!

I've read a lot of posts regarding single handing on this forum. Have even posted a number of items myself. But fair warning, this is going to be a long thread, and before someone asks what's my point, let me answer. It's mostly in jest, so read and enjoy. Maybe post some of your own experiences. And don't hesitate to offer suggestions as to how to do it well using some of your favorite techniquies.

It's an admission, despite messing with sailboats for 43 years, I still don't quite have it down pat (of course, being from the south might explain some of that, because, everyone knows those guys aren't quite as smart as people from other parts of the country).

It's an aknowledgement that lots of sailers can do it well. Why, many places 15-20 kts. is the norm (true) and people routinely single hand boats of all sizes, some up into the 40-50 ft. range. And they single hand docking routinely in the 25-35 kt. range, and occasionally, there is a post of single handed docking up in the 45 kt. range. Oh, I forgot to mention, those are crosswind dockings. Now, I've got to admit, I believe some of those docking stories are a little like fish stories, but I could be wrong. Anyway, let's push on....

(The system dropped me out on an edit with the details, so I'll try again another day).

I really was going to publish some YouTube illustrations that I think would have interesting:

Crosswind:



Docking with Crosswind....I'm afraid it looks like this sometimes and I want to avoid it this way.


Come in hotter, but you might get this result.....been there, but hit only once and no VW.


At about 20 kts., at my marina, the waves look like this. No good for the boat if I'm single handing.


And if I mess up on the approach on my dead end fairway, there is no escape and I could wind up like this:


In 20 kts. I will be making a downwind/crosswind approach into the slip. The southwest wind gives me a 45 degree starboard bow crosswind in the dock. My boat is 11' 9" in a 14' slip. I did some measurements, and cross slip movement in 20 kts. will be about 3/4 kt. or 1.2 ft/sec., so I don't get very far in before hitting the leeward piling....I stop at that point because I don't want to damage the stanchions or sides. Then stabilize the boat so wind does not drag it out of the slip. It's tied up at this point and I can work to get proper lines on and finish the docking. If I don't get far enough into slip or the situation stabilized, wind will either sweep me out of slip or bow down on neighbor. It's never pretty by myself. To get that far into the slip requires me to be at the wheel actively trying to manage the bow into the slip and to complete the 90 degree turn. I know people say "spring lines" but I have to get a certain distance inside the slip before I can use it. And in the few seconds that I have, I can't even get from wheel to the piling to place or pick up that spring line. Anyway, that's the way I do it.

Even went to Pier 39 in San Francisco three times to see how they did it....picked wrong days, I guess, not much wind at pier, but plenty out on the bay. Locally, no one goes out when it's 20 or above anyway, except this one old guy with a 15 ft. Westwight Potter. It gets choppy with the shallow water so it's not too much fun. I thought I would learn from the long distance cruisers at our marina (4 or 5) but they never go out unless they are leaving for the Bahamas.

What I strive for and hope to attain some day is docking ability like this.


At any rate, I've never done this. But if I do, I hope the girl in the blue bathing suit is there to help.

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Last edited by NCC320; 08-12-2012 at 06:04 PM.
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post #2 of 23 Old 08-12-2012
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Re: About single handing!

Knowing your limitations, working to expand your abilities, and not putting yourself at unnecessary risk. There's almost always someone who does it better, someone who does it worse, ain't no big deal where you fall on the scale.

John
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Free, is the heart, that lives not, in fear.
Full, is the spirit, that thinks not, of falling.
True, is the soul, that hesitates not, to give.
Alive, is the one, that believes, in love.
JCP


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post #3 of 23 Old 08-12-2012
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Re: About single handing!

Well,
Youve been making it hard on yourself. I dock my 69 ft long 18 ft wide sailboat in my 12 foot slip single handed daily in a 98 kn cross wind with a shifting current that runs 42 kns. Both sides of my slip have mega yachts with no fenders and my fairway aproach can only be made in reverse around two 90 degree turns and I have never so much as brushed a piling...

Wait a minute that is total bull sh1t, we operate in the real world around here.

Sounds like you are doing fine. I am looking forward to hauling out this winter so I can get rid of the last two sailing season's evidence of not so perfect docking conditions.

Doing my part to remember that they are only boats, not as fragile as premature infants in a NICU.

SV S.S.R.I
It's my happy pill
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post #4 of 23 Old 08-12-2012
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Re: About single handing!

I havestarted sailing in NC this summer. I have had to do some of it single handed. Its not easy! I love threads like this to pick up tips.


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post #5 of 23 Old 08-12-2012
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Re: About single handing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NCC320 View Post
What I strive for and hope to attain some day is docking ability like this.

Parking 15 ton boat like a toy... - YouTube
and that is why god gave us bow thrusters ....
Silvio and flyingjib like this.

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post #6 of 23 Old 08-12-2012
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Re: About single handing!

When I started driving a 40 foot dive boat, whipping around my little 28 foot sailboat got real easy. When I started docking an 85 foot tug with a 300 foot fuel barge on the hip, whipping around the 40 foot dive boat got real easy. If it all possible, It's good to get experience on bigger boats with more windage than your own. Take a job as crew on a ferry, get a deckhand job for the summer on a big boat, it doesn't take long to get a feel for how the bigger boat's handle. Like driving a big truck and jumping in a little compact rental. When I get of the tug after throwing 3" lines for 2 weeks, the lines on my sailboat feel like shoe string. It's relative.

" Some are boat wise and some are other wise"
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post #7 of 23 Old 08-13-2012
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Re: About single handing!

If I had to sum it up in the most generic terms...if you can line things up so you come in and just kiss the dock, just stall out as you touch it (or an inch shy of it) and then throw just ONE line around ONE cleat or bollard, now you've got a good start. That one point of attachment should give you the chance to jump ship, to get on the dock with a second line to secure the boat and stop it from blowing or twisting around.

Front, rear...doesn't matter as long as you've laid out at least the two lines while you were well out in the clear, and get the chance to use them quickly once you are in.

In some conditions of wind, there's just going to be no pretty way to come in or make secure and there's no shame in trying to call ahead to see if someone can take your lines. Remember, the folks on the docks don't want to see smashups either.
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post #8 of 23 Old 08-13-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: About single handing!

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
If I had to sum it up in the most generic terms...if you can line things up so you come in and just kiss the dock, just stall out as you touch it (or an inch shy of it) and then throw just ONE line around ONE cleat or bollard, now you've got a good start. That one point of attachment should give you the chance to jump ship, to get on the dock with a second line to secure the boat and stop it from blowing or twisting around.

Front, rear...doesn't matter as long as you've laid out at least the two lines while you were well out in the clear, and get the chance to use them quickly once you are in.
Each dock is different, and above should work in many cases. At my marina, the finger piers are very short, and by the time that I contact the first (outer) piling, and after I immediately get a line on/off that piling and then jump off to handle a second line, I will be doing it in the water. Finger pier doesn't extend that far. But I agree that your recommendation to get two lines on and you've got it is correct. First one should be whichever one you can get, and the second one (to/from same piling) should be toward bow or stern such that one of the two lines leads aft and one leads forward. Now, using engine and rudder as needed, the boat can held steady against the piling, not being dragged out of the slip or on other end, falling down on neighbor. And laying against, or pivoting about the piling is perfectly good technique. Just don't crash against it to hard...you can help this a bit in those last few seconds of maneuvering into the slip. And whatever one does, that boat is moving 3/4 kt. crosswise in that slip, that's about 1.2 ft. per second, so that clearance between boat and piling is going to close quickly.

Again, each marina and wind condition is different. That 20 kt. wind is almost always from the SW per my earlier description, and that's a 3 mile fetch across shallow water, so lots of waves/chop is present like in the video above that shows waves in 20 kts. That motion is going to damage the boat in no time at all. Put out a fender to protect the sides? Yes, but remember that the crosswind is still acting on the boat, and first things are to complete the turn into the slip, getting as far in as possible, getting those two lines on, stabilizing the boat and then we can focus on getting a fender in place. As to putting out fender in advance, you don't know where to place it, and if it hangs off the side entering the slip, there's a good chance it's going to hang up on piling and pivot boat in an undesired direction abruptly. Keep in mind the time for all this to happen. Moving sideways at 1.2 ft. second when you have only about 2 ft. to move doesn't give much time. Remember, it's just one person dealing with this, not the large group of people shown in the video trying somewhat successfully to keep the two boats apart. It is this wave motion, and the high potential to damage to the boat (I really, really don't like dings on the hull) that often determines whether I will go out. Waves and wind are not the problem once out, but wave motion against a fixed hard piling or pier surface equals damage and expense in my mind.

Last edited by NCC320; 08-13-2012 at 11:54 AM.
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post #9 of 23 Old 08-13-2012
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Re: About single handing!

I single hand a 40 foot, lot of windage power boat to the dock in heavy winds all the time. As soon as I have nosed to the dock, step off with a line and take a wrap. Done. I kill the engine, Once you have one line, your done, you should be able to warp the boat in to any position you want by line handling. I run a long stern line to the bow so when I calmly and slowly step on the dock, I have both lines in my hand. Take a turn with the bow line to get controll and pull the stern into positon. The more relaxed, slow and calm you move and the slower you aproach the dock, the smoother it will be. No need to muscle the boat into position with the engine.

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post #10 of 23 Old 08-13-2012
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Re: About single handing!

"I will be doing it in the water. Finger pier doesn't extend that far. "
I can appreciate your concern. We have a ahort list of rules on board, including:

1-Stay on the Boat
2-No swimming without lifeguard (see above)
3-No walking on water, it tends to start religions.

My only problem was in BC, where they apparently don't use cleats or bollards, and there's nothing to throw a line around, unless you can sneak it under that slot in the dock railing.
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