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Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded
We teach a single line docking method that works well for couples.
There is a point about 1/4 of the distance from the transom to the bow where you can attach a line that allows the boat to sit parallel to the dock with the engine in idle forward and the rudder centered. The line is attached to a dock cleat directly opposite the end of the transom. Experiment until you find the point. If you have toe rail, attach a shackle to that point. On some boats it is a winch; on others I have used the aft cleat.
When docking the person stepping ashore simply has to attach attach the line a dock cleat opposite the transom. The helmsperson then puts the boat in forward and the boat sucks into the dock. By turning the wheel you can adjustt the position of the boat relative to to the dock.
Leave the boat in gear and attach the breast lines and spring lines. The single line can function as a spring line.
If the winds have a strong tendency to push the boat off the dock, use a center line tie and get the boat attached to the dock. Worry about breasts and springs later.
When leaving the dock, the single line is invaluable as it can be released from the cockpit while everyone is onboard. Just pass the line around the cleat and ether pull it through or whip it off.
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As I sail, I praise God, and care not. (Luke Foxe)