SailNet Community

SailNet Community (
-   Learning to Sail (
-   -   How do I dock singlehandled? (

adell50 06-16-2011 02:56 PM

How do I dock singlehandled?
1973 27' Catalina with Tiller
Outboard 8hp Tiller Engine + Electric Inboard Drive
Cleats on bow and stern only. 3 side bumpers.

My slip is a 25' and a few spaces down the dock from the channel. No corner rollers. I usually keep all but 1 of the lines left tied on the dock, so that when I'm shorthanded (only 2 of us) its easy to snap them on coming back in. When coming home, the wind is directly into my face and of course the opposite when leaving.

I have a few ideas on the best ways (check list/protocol) to dock, but would love the advice from our community.

Many thanks!

T37Chef 06-16-2011 03:05 PM

Rub rails & Spring Lines are your best friends :)

Practice with someone on board but advise them not to do anything unless absolutely needed, as if they were not there. I do this to my wife all the time, shes very good at docking on her own now, and has built her confidence.

Alstare 06-16-2011 09:51 PM

I do it day in and day out by myself now... 30' boat in a 30' well after about 3 weeks of using this technique.

I have found the key to it being the same as leaving the dock. I have a spring line on the last cleat at the tip end of the dock that runs forward about 6' or so with a loop on it that I toss overtop the winch beside me in easy reach from my controls and steering location.

When I am preparing to leave i place the engine is forward at idle the spring line will tighten up and hold the boat against the dock gently well i take off all the lines and then when i am ready i put it in reverse and as i start to backup i un loop the spring line and leave it right on the edge of the dock in a nice easy place to grab on my return.

For returning it's basically the same just in reverse order. I turn into the slip depending on wind direction either straight in or on abit of an angle inward if the wind is blowing me off the dock, grab the spring line as soon as possible and loop it on the winch and keep the boat idling forward. Same thing once again it will get to the end of the line pull tight and pull you flush against the dock nice and gently.

Then you can walk around and hookup all your other lines or even make a sand which if you want... it will just keep put put put'n away staying in place untill you run out of gas if you let it.

Another tip is i used some color tape on the end of the spring line right before the loop to make it easy to identify and grab when you come in. Also obviously check to make sure the lenght of the springline is short enough to stop the boat from hitting the end of the dock well fully extended... =P

Goodluck, and let me know how it works for ya!

adell50 06-18-2011 02:20 PM

@alstare - thank you so much!! This is excellent information and a project I intend to have sussed out before the weekend is over. I'll come back here in a few days to let you know how my progress is coming along :)

WDS123 06-18-2011 02:26 PM


I am a big fan of having a couple of fenders tied to the dock, one monster tied to where your bow will rest ( bump ?) and at least one on the side of the dock typical conditions require you to lean towards.

I am also a big fan of letting the boat drift in under its own way.

KnottyGurl 06-18-2011 09:39 PM

I have one forward cleat line always on the dock and a second that i adjust for wind wave , along with preset stern line that I pick up on coming into slip and toss over cleat, boat glides into dock and then I have second forward line hanging on lifeline midships which i grab as I step off boat and walk to bow to adjust, then toss preset back to bow and attach.
spring lines are then clipped on to toe rail.
Fenders have clips which is preset to life lines.
I use boat weight to coast in idle forward, so the stern line once placed will hold boat in slip iregardless of wind.
Takes a bit to setup but once the lines and setup is right makes for easy in and out.
I singlehand all the time

centaursailor 06-18-2011 11:51 PM

I singlehand most days and prefer to dock on the port side and go in facing forward with the forward defenders nearly touching when I,m in a strange marina or harbour.
I also hang a couple of defenders starboard just in case:eek:
Mi 26ft Centaur will stop short in reverse and the prop will push the the stern to port. Drop a line over a handy cleat or bollard looped from mid ship to the port aft cleat and pull tight with a little forward on the engine and step off to secure the other lines.:) If the finger is short then drop the loop over a mid cleat, use the extended boat hook, and gentle reverse will have much the same effect
Using the prop wash for tight maneuvering is a great advantage and should be practiced.
Have a look at this help
Safe sailing
PS love the name, Knotty

sailjunkie 06-19-2011 12:13 AM

Adell, it sounds like you have some choices to make: specifically, where to put the spring line. Your main choices would be to attach the line to either a shroud or a stanchion. I'm not wild about either choice, they work for a lot people. As a Spring commissioning project, you may want to consider mid-ships cleats. They aren't too hard to install.

My only additional advice would be to come in dead slow, even if that means staying in Neutral for most of the time. When I taught Basic Cruising, I used to tell my students that it is a lot easier to speed up than it is to slow down. To dock our own Mirage 29' I use a bit of reverse as a final step, but that is mainly for my wife's convenience. If reverse failed for some reason, she could still stop the boat with our spring line.

Hope this helps.

PBzeer 06-19-2011 01:18 AM

If it's a "home" dock, I leave the lines on the dock, then back in at a slight angle to the dock, straightening as my rear quarter comes to the end of the pier, with as little speed as possible. I then put it in neutral, hop off to the dock and walk it back. Secure the rear, then front.

At a "strange" dock, when possible, I use the same procedure, but have the lines secured on the boat.

FoolishMuse 06-24-2011 02:28 PM

If you look in my book on Tips for Singlehanding, you will find complete instructions. Chapter 6 is called "Leaving the Dock and Returning".
You can download the book free at Singlehanded Tips Book

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:11 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
(c) LLC 2000-2012

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome