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  #11  
Old 11-03-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

I've had the opportunity to dock single-handed a few times this summer due to taking non-mobile people out sailing quite a few times.

One trick I started using that had not seen in any videos was to tie the bow spring line and stern line together
I then did just like Denise and brought the boat up to the dock stopped or just barely moving then stepped off with the bow line.

I was able to tie the bow line on the mid dock cleat then was able to bring in the stern line quickly as it was tied to the tail of the bow line.

The bow want to blow off a little as it is only tied by the spring but a quick tug on the spring was able to pull the bow in enough for me to reach the bow breast line.

Depending on the wind you may have to move crisply but with about three feet between us the the power boat I was able to manage with no help.


In the past I tried to have someone throw me the stern line but found that they would get nervous and not get me the line and by the second throw it got closer than I liked.

I tried stepping off the boat with both lines in my hand but found that it was easy to get them fouled with each other.

Tying the tail of the lines together gave me the best of both worlds.
I could step off and only have to focus on one line.
Once that line was cleated I could easily retrieve the stern line.

I would also highly recommend you get your wife accustom to handling the helm while docking.

One way to do it is to find a day when no one is around and a slip with no boat next to you.
Go into the slip and out of the slip and each of you do steering and for-deck jobs.
If you are ambitions do it all yourself.

The problem with docking is that you need a certain amount of experience. Let's say it takes 20 times for a particular boat for a particular slip. You can get that experience on one-afternoon or it can take you a couple years.
No harm in inviting a third and arm them with a fender and boat hook.

The bottom line is that every boat slip combination is a little different and once you have done it enough you will find the most comfortable process.

For example on the boat I was on above, the stern of the boat extends past the dock and their are no mid-boat cleats. I also had no-one that I could put on the helm to give power for me to use a single line technique which is my goto strategy.
So I came up with an alternative. There are many ways to make it work.
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Last edited by davidpm; 11-03-2013 at 11:28 PM.
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  #12  
Old 11-03-2013
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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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Old 11-03-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

jk - Some basics that may be too simple for your needs but…

Line terminology can at first be confusing.

On small boats the lines are usually described with a term based on position on the boat…forward/aft/midships (or bow/stern/midships) and port/starboard. (On large ships they are usually given numbers.)

On all boats they are also described by purpose…breast or spring.

A breast line is used to hold the boat with a perpendicular strain to the pier.

A spring line is used to hold the boat from moving fore and aft along the pier.

You can rig these lines to the pier from any position on the boat…so you can have a bow breast line or a bow spring line.

Spring lines can be led forward or aft. Eg - A bow spring led forward to the pier will restrict aft motion of the boat. A bow spring led aft to the pier will restrict forward motion of the boat.

How do you use these lines? There are threads on the forum that get into this in INFINITE detail. Do a google search for them and pour yourself a libation and you can spend several winter nights pondering the possibilities.

Entering a slip under control requires practice and the understanding that wind and current are variables in direction and magnitude. Wind/current/speed/prop thrust vectors can't be calculated but the sum can be OBSERVED as you enter your slip. The simplest method is to pick out a couple of objects in line with your desired direction of motion into your slip and adjust your speed and heading to that needed to keep them in line. In general you will want to keep your speed as low as practicable and adjust your heading as needed to drive the track into the slip. If wind and current are so high that you need to crab too much to maintain that track then you have to raise your speed a bit to reduce the crabbing. Under these sporty conditions is when spring lines come into their own. With a well measured spring line that restricts forward motion you can drop it on a cleat from the cockpit when you hit your mark.

If you need so much speed or so much crab that docking becomes too high risk then find a place to go drop the hook until conditions moderate.
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Old 11-04-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

Capt Jack vids recommended above are very good at describing the spring line concept. As he repeats over and over, once you get it attached, the boat will stay put "until you run out of fuel". He's exactly correct. Perhaps the best thing he teaches is how to throw a line over a cleat on the dock with near 100% effectiveness.

Here is a link I found that has them available for download. Scroll down the page.

Singlehanded Docking & Sail Trim
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Old 11-04-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

Minne, which one has the cleat-roping video?
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

I have never understood the need of people stepping off a moving boat. That is when injuries to people and boats happen. One slip on a wet dock and the jumper ends up between the boat and dock and bad things happen.
If you are single handed, and leave the boat, who is in control when you drop a line?

The bigger the boat the bigger the danger. 1o,ooo to 20,000 pounds does a lot of damage to bones even at 1 knot.

Docking is not rocket science, but it does require practice. If you are coming back to your own slip a pre-measured spring line is the greatest tool I have.

Look at Capt. Jack and do searches on spring line docking.

Last edited by tomandchris; 11-04-2013 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 11-04-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

The most common problem I see is the well meaning docking help who crank in the bow line bringing the bow in tight, resulting in the stern swinging out! I actually prefer NOT to have help at the dock!

We use the "Hail Mary" line, which is a short line attached to a cleat about 8 feet forward of the transom. It has a loop that we throw over the stern dock cleat and then ease in to the slip in forward. The boat comes up snug to the slip, we keep the transmission on forward and I step off the boat calmly and tie off the lines. Works like a charm and already referenced in previous comments.
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Old 11-04-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomandchris View Post
I have never understood the need of people stepping off a moving boat.
+1. Don't get off a moving boat unless you are re-enacting a boat assault from the movies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nodders View Post
The most common problem I see is the well meaning docking help who crank in the bow line bringing the bow in tight, resulting in the stern swinging out! I actually prefer NOT to have help at the dock!
This is easy to manage when I'm single-handing. With crew we ALWAYS have a conversation before coming in to the dock about who is in charge, and it is most assuredly not the dockhand. *grin* It doesn't make any difference how many times they ask for a line - lines go over the side when *I* say so in the order *I* say.

It should be no surprise that the good dockhands (there are a good number out there) understand completely. The dockhand who insists on a line is one that does NOT get a line.
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Old 11-04-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

Quote:
Originally Posted by nodders View Post
The most common problem I see is the well meaning docking help who crank in the bow line bringing the bow in tight, resulting in the stern swinging out! I actually prefer NOT to have help at the dock!

We use the "Hail Mary" line, which is a short line attached to a cleat about 8 feet forward of the transom. It has a loop that we throw over the stern dock cleat and then ease in to the slip in forward. The boat comes up snug to the slip, we keep the transmission on forward and I step off the boat calmly and tie off the lines. Works like a charm and already referenced in previous comments.
Yup. This has become my preferred method. Works well unless your cleat rodeo skills are off that day. If you miss, there is no plan B!
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Old 11-04-2013
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Re: Learning to dock shorthanded

Quote:
Originally Posted by nodders View Post
...
We use the "Hail Mary" line, which is a short line attached to a cleat about 8 feet forward of the transom. It has a loop that we throw over the stern dock cleat and then ease in to the slip in forward. ...
We usually use a seasonal mooring, if we had a seasonal dock spot, I would install a three foot post and the entrance to the slip. The after midships spring line would always stay secured to the dock:
- as the departing boat exits the slip, the crew on board would hang the boat end of that line on the post
- as the returning boat enters the slip, the crew on board would obtain the spring line off the post and secure it to the midships cleat, and docking is done.
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