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Old 12-08-2012
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docking alone

While taking along friends with no sailing experience, I have enjoyed single handling my new Beneteau Oceanis 41 , thanks to the autopilot and its surprisingly good auto-tack and auto-jibe features. I motor back into the slip, have pilings on both sides. I usually set two bow lines on the forward pillings, two crossed lines to the dock at the back and two spring lines to port. I do have bow thrusters...

As winter sets in, I want to keep sailing but finding companions to at least help leaving the dock or getting back to it may prove difficult. There is not much help left at the docks and I am curious to see if anyone has any good tips for setting off and docking solo a boat of that size. So you get the idea, attached is a top view of my slip with the boat highlighted.

Thanks all.
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Old 12-08-2012
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Re: docking alone

You can easily dock your boat without crew. Your port side is a snap with that long finger pier. Just make sure that you have a rub rail in the dock for the inevitable brush-up. Run a 3/8" line from the piling near the bot to the end of the finger pier about toe rail height. Do the same on the stbd side - from the forward piling to the dock. That will keep you from drifting into your neighbors. Then dock normally - with bow thrusters it's like having an extra crew member anyway. As soon and the stern enters the slip, you can drive in reverse using the engine & rudder to steer. Worst case, just pull yourself in using the 3/8" lines.

This is actually a fairly common setup in our area. Docking solo is not hard with a little practice - but be willing to look like a fool. I once ended up sideways across 3 slips. Fortunately no one was around to see, but I had a good laugh. And then there are times that you whip the boat around (no thrusters), motor in reverse perfectly centered in the slip, and stop with a good thrust of forward inches from the dock, casually reaching for a dock line... and everyone sees it. Sweet!
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Old 12-08-2012
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Re: docking alone

Well, it's about my worst nightmare.
Whenever I come into a dock its for the first time... But I normally have marina people to take lines,

A few months ago in Aligator river when I was confronted by one of these pylon marinas I went in a bit, then refused to go further and went and parked on a facing dock.

I simply don't know how you do four pylons.

There was some big stick sold at boat shows that you click around the pilling. But as with all that boat show crap does it work?

Can you leave lines set up on the pylons when you leave so you can grab them with a boat hook as you come back in?

Can you get on of those remote throttle/helm controls so you can walk a line up? Or walk up the deck, etc?

Can you put horizontal lines close to the water so they act like a barricade... Then your hull touches then and moves where it's meant to go? You kinda drive into a net.

Buy a gun and force people to help you?
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Re: docking alone

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Originally Posted by Sabreman View Post
You can easily dock your boat without crew. Your port side is a snap with that long finger pier. Just make sure that you have a rub rail in the dock for the inevitable brush-up. Run a 3/8" line from the piling near the bot to the end of the finger pier about toe rail height. Do the same on the stbd side - from the forward piling to the dock. That will keep you from drifting into your neighbors. snip....
Great idea. Thanks!
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docking alone

I am relatively new to docking shorthand and but do it regularly as my crew consists of my wife and two little ones. First and foremost, there is no one correct, steadfast approach as docking is always dictated by conditions (wind, tide, currents, etc). After taking a half day worth of docking instruction, I regularly back the boat in down the fairway into the slip and a small burst of forward thrust to stop the boat. Grabbing lines after that is easy. The key is as slow as possible with just enough speed to maintain steerage. I keep a midship cleat with a large loop that I could toss over a pylon to stop the boat if I was unable to stop with thrust (emergency break). Backing in at speed is nerve wracking the first 10 times or so. I now dock regularly without assistance from the rest of the crew.

In a couple high crosswind docking situations (20+ knots), I've went in bow first. There aren't style points for docking so I err on the side of safety for crew and boat.
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Old 12-08-2012
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Re: docking alone

Quote:
There was some big stick sold at boat shows that you click around the pilling. But as with all that boat show crap does it work?
Not needed. Use a normal boat hook.
Quote:
Can you leave lines set up on the pylons when you leave so you can grab them with a boat hook as you come back in?
Yes. That's how it's done. We set our lines at the beginning of the season and they stay there all season. We have an extra set of docklines on board for when we cruise.
Quote:
Can you put horizontal lines close to the water so they act like a barricade
That's what we do with our 3/8" lines. But don't put them close to the water. They're too low to do you any good. Keep them at deck height where you can grab them and muscle yourself in if needed.
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Can you get on of those remote throttle/helm controls so you can walk a line up? Or walk up the deck, etc?
Not necessary. You can do it from the wheel. Just get the boat in the slip. It ain't going anywhere once you're in,
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Re: docking alone

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There aren't style points for docking
There certainly are points! A well executed, quiet docking is a thing of beauty. In any marina on the world, sitting on one's boat watching others dock (and critiquing) is a universal spectator sport.

IMO, docking is the culmination of boat handling skills. Two years ago in Annapolis' Ego Alley, I used every boat handling skill learned in 45 years on the water.. all in the course of 2 minutes undocking, docking, and bugging out.
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Old 12-08-2012
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Re: docking alone

I singlehand a lot. Trick is your midship cleat. If you dont have on put on on your jib track. This should be the very first line you grab when you hit the dock on your port side. Coundlt see if you had two poles on the finger pier.

If so attach the one end to the piling and a loop end of it the exact amount when you tie up so your stern does not hit the dock ( When leaving the last line off is this midship cleat and it goes on a hook on the piling or whip for easy grabbing when comming back. If you grab this first and put it around the midhip cleat it prevents the boat from hitting the dock or drifting out of the slip if the wind is from the stern and from encroaching on your neighbor. You can then leisurely get all of your other lines as appropriate.

The trick here is getting captured without hitting anything. I would have something along the finger pier to prevent any boo boos.

lastly we all have f,,d up coming into a dock,,,even our own. Murphy only makes his appearence ( hes in hidding) when you have an audience to watch you lay it across the outer pilings or something equally stupid. Remember to tell you un eductaed guests to jusrt sit down and keep their hands in when docking. Many a helpful guest has screwed up a perfectly fine docking by just helping.

Dave
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Old 12-09-2012
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Re: docking alone

Quote:
Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
Many a helpful guest has screwed up a perfectly fine docking by just helping.
I have given up telling my guests to fend off if we're about to hit something. I now tell them to fend off only if I tell them to. Many times I've seen people reach way out of the boat with a boat hook to push off a piling that's a good three or four feet from the rub rail.

To the OP, one thing that helps me is to review and visulaize in my mind, when I'm about to make the turn in reverse down the fairway, how the boat is going to respond when I move the throttle and tiller. For example, I have a prop walk to port in reverse, and to starboard when in forward (the latter being very pronounced when I goose the throttle to stop my backward movement once in the slip.) Not only can I use the prop walk to help maneuver, it also helps me anticipate which piling I'm going to tend to hit and which piling I want to get that first line over (probably on opposite sides of the boat.) Coming into my own slip, I know exactly where to position my 10-year-old son with a boat hook, and I can tell him in advance what to grab. Meanwhile, I have a line set up through my jib track and I know which way it's going to tend when the line goes taught. Knowing how the boat is going to respond to throttle and tiller is going to help me predict these same things coming into a transient slip.

When I say visualize, I mean exactly that. It's easy to say, "it walks to port in reverse," but it's much more useful to look over the transom as you back in, and say, "when I hit forward throttle, my bow is going to swing toward that Morgan and the stern is going to want to hit the Ericson." And of course, the wind is going to have a say here too.

Finally, while there is an art to docking, there is also an art to not being bashful about the occasional less-than-graceful landing. It's highly unlikely you're going to come in too hot, plowing through your neighbors (I say this because of the details you provided,) so just go with it. As someone said in another thread, "they call them rub rails for a reason."
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Old 12-09-2012
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Re: docking alone

I almost always dock singlehanded, although in a much smaller, lighter boat.

I believe the key to leaving and returning is to decide which line is the last to release, or the first to secure, based on the wind speed and direction. If you can quickly secure the appropriate first line, you are home free and can attach the rest at your leisure.
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