For effortless 'dock/slip' landing .... tie a 'sissy line' between the longest distance between to the pilings that are on the 'usual' windward side. Affix a 'line' somewhere near the middle of the boat and affix a large 'carabiner' to the end. When 'coming in' just snap the carabiner over the sissy line and let it slide along the sissy line ... will hold the boat in place temporarily quite well.
Rich calls it a sissy line, I call it a buddy line, that is that line between the outer pilings and the dock, parallel to and on either side of the boat when it’s in the slip. It’s great for your home slip.
Re: my post above about my July 4 crosswind docking: the rest of the story.
As I explained in the post above, there was not time to use a spring line in that case because of a combination of strong crosswind, narrow slip, and maneuvering requirements. Where I left off was: the boat is resting against the downwind outer piling and the buddy line, and only partially in the slip. How to get the rest of the way in? I’ve found that single handing docking/undocking goes better if I can do most of my evolutions from the cockpit. Running up and down the deck takes time, and takes one away from the controls. To that end, I have a turning block attached to the bow stem plate (or alternately, to the midship cleat for same function depending on what I plan to do), and a long line led through this block. On one end there is a carabineer hook (great for quickly hooking one line to another). The carabineer end is run outside the life lines back to helm area and secured there. The other end of the line runs back to one of the primary winches, two wraps on winch, then terminates into a turning block with cam cleat that I have attached to the push pit rail. I have a second shorter line with carabineer hook for the stern which I secure to the stern cleat. These are not dock lines….they are just docking assist lines. When boat is in the correct position in slip, they will be removed after normal dock lines are in place. The concept to two sets of lines: dock lines and docking assist lines opens up all sorts of possibilities to simplify short handed docking. Back to the July 4 situation: Clip the long carabineer line onto the buddy line at the bow and use the winch (if required) to pull the bow off the downwind buddy line (the carabineer slides towards the bow on the buddy line as it is taken in). Get the stern off the downwind piling using the short carabineer stern line at the midship cleat and clipped onto the buddy line. Use engine to power ahead to position the boat and place dock lines in place. Remove docking assist lines. All of this can be done in a leisurely fashion.
My take on single handing…do it, but start in mild conditions, experiment, and work up to more difficult situations. Plan ahead and preposition lines. If you don’t have a midship cleat, get one that mounts on the genoa track….they are expensive but well worth the expense. Use temporary dock assist lines that you tailor to your particular boat and slip. The spring line concept really does work in many situations, but not always. Have a plan for each situation. If it looks confusing, do a drive by or just lay off the dock area while you sort things out and preposition the lines. Almost every time I’ve gotten into trouble, I either didn’t place the assist lines correctly, or in a hurry, decided to skip them this time, only to find out I really did need them. If things begin to go wrong, if you can, abort the landing, go out and start again from the beginning. Always have boat hooks (I use two, one at helm station and one on cabin top) ready. Occasionally, things go really wrong and you find yourself docking in the wrong place, so have at least two unattached lines on deck ready for these situations. If you are going to need fenders have them on deck, sometimes pre deployed, sometimes not, depending on whether they might get hung on something in the docking process (then things do begin to go bad). If you contact something hard (piling, dock, other boat), stop the forward motion immediately and secure the situation with those extra lines/fenders mentioned above and then calmly study the situation to see how best to get out of it. Read/study other people’s ideas/techniques, including Capt. Klangs’.