Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 02-24-2013
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Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

Hello SailNet!

I recently fulfilled a life long dream: I bought a new sailboat in December of last year and then learned to sail in January and early February (becoming ASA 101/103 certified and then getting some hours under my belt). The boat - named Walrus - is a Beneteau Oceanis 37.

Walrus and I live in San Diego, CA. I day sail around San Diego Bay (and the ocean just outside the bay) every chance I get. I love every minute of sailing. It's been everything I hoped for and more.

I've lurked on SailNet for a little while now... and I've learned a ton by reading many, many threads.

I do have a newbie question that I've seen many others ask in various flavors but have not seen an answer that fits just right with my specific situation.

Here goes:

What is the best strategy for entering my slip in a cross wind blowing the boat away from the dock?

I am in a double slip on the port side. I have docked several times with wind on the nose, coming from behind, or coming over the starboard side with no drama. However, I have had some issues with a crosswind coming from the port side.

My plan for next time is to come in at a shallow angle to the dock just a little bit faster than my usual very slow speed, "flare" when I get close, and go into reverse to simultaneously stop the boat and prop walk the stern over to the side of the slip. That should give my line handler a few golden seconds to step off the boat while it isn't moving. He or she can then take the spring line that has been left attached to the dock cleat near the stern and loop it over the mid-ship cleat on the deck. Once that is done, I can put the engine in forward gear, turn the wheel hard over to starboard, and the stern should tuck in and hold next to the dock as the boat pulls against the spring line. The bow and stern lines can then be secured.

My concern is the tiny window of time for the line handler to get off the boat safely while it is ever so briefly at rest - so he/she can attach that critical spring line before the bloat blows away from the dock. I don't want the line handler to have to make any sort of dramatic leap to the dock steps or dock. Is there a better plan? Any way to give my line handler a less anxiety-inducing window of time to get off the boat? Should I leave the spring line configured so the line handler can grab it with a boat hook without leaving the boat? If so, any thoughts on how to do that?

Any help is appreciated!
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Old 02-24-2013
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Re: Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

West Marine sells a little antenna type whip that has a hook at the top. Attach the whip to the dock and the coil the dock line on the hook on the top.
All you have to do is get close enough so the line handler can grab the line with the boat hook.

Sometime depending on your dock setup you can rig a little notch directly forward of your boat with either lines or fenders.
Then it is just a matter of putting the bow in the notch and steering the the stern the right way. Just like a ferry does it.

A picture of your dock with your boat in it would help.
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Old 02-24-2013
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Re: Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

Rig a springline from a bow or midship cleat. the deckhand drops the spring over the cleat nearest the end of the finger dock, then you can power up and tuck the boat against the dock, allowing the deckhand to disembark and tie off bow and stern. safer, easier, drama free.
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Old 02-24-2013
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Re: Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

You can have the spring line attached to the boat or the dock. There are advantages both ways.
Attached to the boat once your line handler is on the dock they can easily control your bow. That effectively gives them a lot more time which is what you were asking for.

I often use both.
IE fixed lines on the dock set at the right length and a temporary line or two attached to the boat.

Most of these suggestions apply to full length fingers, if you have short fingers and a pole 10 feet away. Your technique will be different.

It is really annoying if you drop off your line handler and they are trying to control the boat with the life-lines and either get pulled in the drink or have to let go.
Better to have a line tied to the boat so even if the wind is such they can't hold the boat by hand they can cleat it off before you get blown down on your neighbor.

Where your dock hand gets off your boat is important also.
Rather than waiting for the stern lifeline gate they can get off midships by the shrouds which I actually think is safer as they have the the shrouds to hang onto.
The trick is to make sure they have both feet out side of the lifelines before stepping to the dock.
I actually like to have the life line gate closed until the boat is secure. That way if someone does put a hand on the life-line during docking it is tight and might do some good. Not that anyone recommends docking using the life-lines but it does happen.

BL Jones recommendation above is the defacto standard solution.
It has a lot of advantages:
If they miss you have someone on-board to help you fend off your neighbor.
If it works they don't have to get off the boat until you have powered up and forced the boat to the dock.
Some docks are configured however with rings or 2/4 cleats so that will not work.

The problem I have with your original plan is that it implies you are planning on being all the way in the slip then prop walk the stern over to the dock. That means that the bow will swing towards the neighbors boat very fast being driven by the engine and the wind. I'm not sure you will have time to corral it before it gets away from you.
There is nothing wrong with stepping off the boat with a bow and stern line at the shrouds with the boat only half in the slip. It's easy and now you can easily control the boat from the dock.





With two people it will end up being a piece of cake. Next step is to figure out how to do it by yourself.


PS:
A couple fenders set on your neighbors side is good insurance.
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Last edited by davidpm; 02-24-2013 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 02-25-2013
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Re: Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

I am going to try both recommendations to see what works best for me - they each sound good for different reasons. Will have to see if it's easier to drop a line from the boat over the dock cleat or hook a line on shore from the boat.

I like that both suggestions keep my line handler on the boat and require me to get the boat only 1/3 to 1/2 of the way into the slip (totally get the issue raised in the last post).

Super helpful. Appreciate it!
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Old 02-25-2013
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Re: Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

I'm not sure why you would come in at a shallower angle to the dock if the wind was coming off the dock? Unless I misunderstood. I would come in at a steeper angle, with the bow pointing at the finger dock then falling away as late as possible to tuck the beam close to the dock . Then, I do has BJ says and have a short line to a mid-ship cleat that I make fast.

You or a crew member can step off with the breast-line so that you can maintain control.
Until you make it fast. Then get your permanent lines attached.

Depending on how close your neighbor is, you may or may not be able to get a good enough angle.

If your finger dock is long enough and you can pick up a spring line and get it attached you can slowly power against it to tuck your bow in.
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Old 02-25-2013
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Re: Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

I never advise the leap to the dock thing, it's possibly dangerous and it leaves less hands on board.
I have the advantage of owning my dock, I have lines on my outer pilings that are long enough to be both a spring and a breast line. I grab whichever is appropriate for wind direction (or if I'm not alone have my deck hand grab both). I'm also fender-ed out so I can literally drive to my dock and hold it there with idle thrust.

I'd lay my bow breast/spring on what will be your outer pilings (at your stern) when docked. That way he/she can get both lines at once.
Prep on the way out is key.

In your case going bow in I'd have the deckhand pick up the line on the starboard side and put it on the bow cleat (if you have the line marked it's super simple). That both stops your boat from hitting forward and pulls the bow into the finger pier.
Once he/she has done the cleat, they still have the other line (what will be your starboard side aft breast line right in hand. No jumping, no drama.

Single handing, I back in - puts me closer to the pilings so I can get whichever one I need to do the same thing.
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Re: Hello and newbie question about crosswind docking

And BTW, congrat's on the boat and achieving your dream
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