Join Date: May 2007
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Looks like you've gotten some good advice here. If you google about docking a sailboat, you'll find some detailed info from some experts.
I understand your concern about not hitting the boat next to you. That would make you very unpopular. Does your slip allow you to cross-tie your boat? Ours does...there's a piling between our slip and the next, and we ran a 3/4" line from that piling, parallel to our boat, to the shore/sidewalk. We tensioned the line as much as possible. We call it our "layup" line. If we're docking and there's a strong wind blowing us off the dock, we just give up and let our boat "layup" on the line. No harm done. Then we just take our time using lines to pull our boat (31 footer) over to our dock.
Our layup line is particularly handy if I'm single-handing and the wind's blowing me away from the dock. Easy.
If you don't have a center piling, obviously this technique won't work. Still, do everything within reason to "soften" your slip....fenders, carpet, etc. to shield your boat from anything on the dock that could harm it. Protecting the boat next to you will be a function of as many fenders as you can spare.
If you're backing into your slip, you've added another level of complexity that should be avoided. Bow first is easier. Job one is to not hit the other guy's boat. The view is of lesser importance.
If you go bow in, you can rig a preventer line. Put a line on a piling or cleat at the end of your dock where you can easily grab it as you enter your slip. Your crew will grab that line and attach it to a cleat, or anything solid on your boat AMIDSHIPS. Once that line, of a predetermined length, is attached, you can continue to slowly motor into your slip and that line will force your boat to hug your dock. Note that it must be attached amidships or slightly aft of amidships or it won't work. To far forward and your stern will tend to swing out into the other boat.