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post #31 of 43 Old 08-19-2012
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

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Don't you think that if the boat came alongside INTO the current and wind, a spring from bow to cleat with enough scope to reach amidships, the helm over to starboard with engine in gear just enough to keep from slipping back, and the help of current would keep the bow from angling in at too sharp an angle. I think it might work. It would be a balancing act for sure to get the motor idling at just the right rpm and I know exactly what you're saying but this may have been a way to at least get the boat in with no assist. There are no real good alternatives going with current and wind. Attaching a single spring to a midship cleat going into current would surely allow current to throw the bow out and wrench the stern into the dock, a real disaster.
Of course, in 9 out of 10 situations, one would likely be better off swinging around to approach against the current... But, I still disagree that running a spring from a bow cleat is an effective tactic on a sailboat, and likely to result in anything other than pulling the bow into the dock... A spring line run from somewhat aft of midships, at the balance point from which the boat will still remain aligned parallel to the dock while motoring forward on the spring with the helm centered will afford by far the most control, in my experience... As I've said, people really need to find this balance point on their own boats to make best use of an aft spring to walk their boat into a dock, on most boats usually to be found around Station 6 or 7. And, when shorthanded, a line run from midships is far more accessible to the helmsman, or if the helm has to be left with the engine still in gear against the spring, while bow and stern lines are made fast... There's just no way that can be done with a spring line run from the bow, which will also likely result in potential damage to the bow pulpit, or hull forward of where a rubrail might end, or where fenders have been placed...

Every boat is different, of course, but with most boats with spade rudders that are fairly maneuverable in reverse, coming alongside stern-to the current can often work just as well... Or, in a situation where the breeze is REALLY honking, many boats with furling headsails and minimal forefoot will be easier to control with all that windage forward positioned downwind... This can be especially true in gusty conditions, on a boat without a bow thruster, where it can be quite easy to "lose" control of the bow in close-quarters maneuvering with minimal steerageway, when subjected to a gust from a slightly offset or different direction...

So, depending upon the wind strength, the OP might actually have been fine approaching the dock that day downwind, and down current... The key to making such an approach work, of course, is to bring the boat to a dead stop parallel to the dock, while still perhaps a boat width or more away from the dock, and then feather it in against the current from there... With a bit of practice on a boat that backs down reasonably well, this tactic can often result in a gentler landing than might be had going up against the wind and current. It can also be a great tactic for a singehander with no help available on the dock - in many instances, the only line that need be made fast initially can be a short breast line or loop taken from one of the primary winches. Once such a line is looped around a piling or cleat, the boat's not going anywhere, and the rest of the lines can be dealt with easily...

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I have no midship cleat and it IS a PITA when running springs. I wind up using the little inner jib block for a tie-off point. I actually bought two of those flush pop-up cleats but they're so deep and would protrude so far into the cabin that I probably won't install them. I'm also not sure they would not leak either. After recoring the decks, I'm loathe to putting holes in it. Putting a standard cleat there would invite lines getting caught. Have been thinking of just putting in a 1/2" high base with bolt holes to which cleats could be bolted onto when needed. I don't like those genoa track cleats.
I don't like those pop-up cleats at all, they have no place on a voyaging boat, IMHO... They're weaker, and they require the configuration of drains... KISS, when it comes to something as basic, and important, as a cleat...

Midship cleats also should be oversized, at least as large as your bow and stern cleats. In preparation for extreme conditions, more lines will be likely made fast to a single midship cleat than an individual bow or stern cleat, after all...

There's a very simple defense against a midship cleat becoming a toe-stubber or a line catcher. One can easily fashion a set of tapered chocks that can be fitted around each horn of the cleat, held together by shock cord, that will eliminate any hazard of tripping or snagging deck cleats might present... If you look closely at the pic, you might be able to make mine out...

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post #32 of 43 Old 08-19-2012
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

That is great Jon! Thank You. I've been in a quandary about this issue for years. That solves the problem. My next internet stop is to the cleat dept.

The way I almost always get tied up alongside is to have lines from bow and stern run to the gate. When I jump off, I have both lines in hand and good control. Coming in with the boat positioned parallel in the first place is the most important aspect of the whole idea but every situation is different and challenging. One of the "planning ahead" issues of single-handing is thinking ahead far enough to know it may be impossible to get to some docks. At Block Island, for instance, or Atlantic Highlands, I would much rather just jerry jug it than attempt the gymnastics involved in docking.
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

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I don't like those genoa track cleats.
Curious; why not?

I have two of these on my O'day 35;

I consider them one of the best improvements that I have made to the boat..
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post #34 of 43 Old 08-19-2012
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

I understand your dilemma. I've been into Knapps Narrows and the current can be very swift. I think that I would have done two things differently.

1. When the dockhand was jumping up and down I would have thought that something might be wrong and aborted the docking. I know that thunderstorms were imminent, but better to be wet than damaged. On the other hand, many dock hands wave to let you know where to dock so it could be easy to misinterpret the signals. If the signals were ambiguous, I would have called the marina and asked what their dockhand was trying to convey (and also suggest that they spend $100 and give the guy a radio).

2. I would definitely not docked with the wind and water at my stern. With them on your bow, they act as a brake. On your stern, they act as a propellant. I've never had an elegant docking with forces on my stern.
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

I could be wrong but they don't look very strong, especially the type that look like they are made from small bent rod. Yours look pretty rugged. Not only that but I don't know that these tracks were really designed to take the kind of stress that can be applied at times to a cleat. I wouldn't want to take a chance on damaging the genny track which would be a major repair job. Visually, it just looks like they can apply a lot of leverage to the track/toerail.
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Re: Genoa Track Cleats

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I could be wrong but they don't look very strong, especially the type that look like they are made from small bent rod. Yours look pretty rugged. Not only that but I don't know that these tracks were really designed to take the kind of stress that can be applied at times to a cleat. I wouldn't want to take a chance on damaging the genny track which would be a major repair job. Visually, it just looks like they can apply a lot of leverage to the track/toerail.
Mine were made by Garhauer Garhauer Marine Hardware -4895102. I can assure you that they are strong...

The loads that the Genoa cars are under in "normal" use are also fairly heavy (that's why you use winches to manage the sail trim and lines). It would be interesting to have someone with a tensile gauge measure the loads (hello - Maine Sail). However, I firmly believe that the track on my vessel is strong enough to handle the loads. - YMMV
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post #37 of 43 Old 08-19-2012
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

The rails are certainly strong. Mine are bolted right through and serve as the deck to hull attachment. I think the flat, bolted down plates like yours and mine are probably a lot stronger for this kind of thing than some of the aluminum vertical genoa tracks. Well, I've ordered some traditional 8" - 4 bolt s.s. cleats. Now I need to make up some backing plates and covers as Jon described. Think I'm going to just make them out of some nice tight grain Red Cedar I have with a tie that loops through the center of the cleat. They'll look like rounded blocks, covering the whole cleat. In any case it will be really nice to have some midships cleats.
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

Just to jump on the discussion re mid cleats. I will install a set eventually, but in the mean time what I have found to work is I tie a long dock line around the base of my shrouds and use it as a mid cleat line when docking. I dock single handed quite frequently and I run this mid tied line back to the cockpit winch. It allows me to settle the boat down with a single line until I can get proper dock lines fixed. I have used this technique in many different and difficult situations with good results. I wouldn't use this as a permanent dock line but it is very helpful for getting into a slip or side tied to a floating dock or wall.
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

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That is great Jon! Thank You. I've been in a quandary about this issue for years. That solves the problem. My next internet stop is to the cleat dept.
Here’s another pic, hope this helps…



I’m not a big fan of the genoa track cleats, either… OK for racing boats, but for a cruising boat, seems a temporary solution, at best… Tying spring lines to cleats or winches well inboard of the rail can create a real tripping hazard on deck, especially when tied to a fixed dock well above deck level…

I also don’t like the possibility of eccentric side or twisting loads that can be placed upon the track by a raised cleat. Normal sheet loads on tracks are primarily upwards. But the sort of heavy snatching/side loading that mooring lines could impart on a genoa track would appear to be similar to side forces put upon lifeline stanchions, and virtually guaranteed to work and create deck leaks, over time…

I put genoa tracks in the same category as winches, and windlasses in this case… They’re simply not intended to be subjected to sharp, snatching forces, do it right with a properly mounted and backed deck cleat…
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Re: Knapps Narrows Incident - Post Mortem

Thanks again, nice picture. If we cross gps coordinates, I owe you a beer.

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