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post #11 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

I have a 10hp outboard on my Catalina 27. I leave the motor ALWAYS looked straight and use the sailboat rudder/tiller for everything. Actually, the most awkward thing is backing out of the slip. The rudder usually wants to pull over one way or the other - quite hard - and I have to be on the tiller pretty firmly to keep it backing straight.

Coming INTO the dock, I generally leave the outboard at an idle and in forward gear. About 50 yards out, I will pop it into neutral and "coast" in the last little bit. However, I can easily pop it back into forward gear if I need a little more "uumph", or reverse if I need some "brakes". If there is a good crosswind blowing, I'll have to come in a little "hot" and grab a line quickly.

I feel strongly it's better to leave the OB straight all the time. Use the tiller/rudder on the sailboat for maneuvering. If you're trying to do both (tiller and OB), you're going to feel like a one legged guy in a butt kicking contest.

Now . . . that sounds wonderful and easy . . . we've had our share of messy dockings though too!!! grin.



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post #12 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

Much easier and more control using just the tiller on the outboard. Pull the rudder if you can, otherwise leave it "neutral" and as suggested above, cut the power and glide much sooner than you think you need to.
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post #13 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

We discovered that removing the rudder and tiller worked best for us by accident really. We returned to our slip during an extremely low tide and the rudder was scraping the bottom and wouldn't remain in an upright position. That's when we took it off and discovered how much easier it was to maneuver with the outboard alone. Plus, as I mentioned before, we then had more clearance for the swing of the outboard tiller and prop as there were some sharp turns to get to our former slip.

What works best for anyone else really depends on how the transom is configured on their boat I would think. Ours had an off-center transom cutout that held the outboard.


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post #14 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

A good topic as we All have had issues docking with outboards! I have read some good alternatives but still prefer leaving both the tiller and outboard free to maneuver! I have recently changed docks because of weed issues earlier in the summer. I now face the opposite direction and find it intimidating. Where I used to use the dock to bump off in emergency I now turn into carpeted posts and a powerboat behind them. I come in much slower now and have the outboard in reverse at an idle when entering the well. I once jammed my lifelines coming in to sharp and almost took out a stanchion on my 24 C&C. It was a hairy situation stepping of the boat to release the stuck lifeline. I find docking with an outboard a judgement call and everyone has their own preference. I would suggest not coming in any faster then you are willing to hit the dock!
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post #15 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

I typically set the outboard to face straight forward and use the tiller for steerage. I also leave my OB in the up position as the cavitation plate is still under the water by 4 or 5 inches like this. DON'T rely on reverse to stop you from hiting the dock. I dock bow first and back out from my finger dock. When I cast off I take my port bow line and bring it back along the toe rail and tie it off at the aft end of the cabin to the toe rail. When I come back in I approach my dock pretty much straight in unless there is a strong wind when I will come in slightly upwind. I come in slowly and allow forward inertia to carry me in and wind to ease me into the dockside where I tie off the stern with a single hitch and jump off the boat and untie the bow line from the toe rail and walk forward,pulling the bow in if required, and tie off the bow. I actually prefer to dock without help as more often then not others will tighten the bow line to much and I have to untie it in order to bring the stern in to my liking.

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post #16 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

Originally Posted by INMA View Post
The standard propellers on the Tohatsu/Nissan/Mercury outboards are next to useless in reverse. Their lack of thrust makes stopping the hull or moving the hull quickly in confined spaces an issue.
FWIW, that isn't strictly correct: There's plenty of thrust, it just isn't used very well.

The main issue is that in forward gear, prop thrust is pushing the drive leg against the mounting bracket which, in turn, pushes the boat. In reverse, the prop thrust pulls the drive leg away from the bracket and tries to 'tow' the boat, but the outboard's lifting/locking mechanisms aren't strong enough to withstand the pull and the drive leg tends to pop up instead.

Unless you buy a new outboard with a better locking mechanism, it's something you learn to put up with.

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post #17 of 37 Old 09-12-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

I have a Gloucester 20 with a 8 HP NS8B nissan and use both techniques depending on the "tightness" of the situation. I can leave it locked and tiller steer when the situation presents itself to have more room, but will lock the tiller and just use the OB if I need to turn on a dime. Everything has it's pros and cons and a pro to an OB IMO is that it can be turned with directional thrust, something a lot of people with fixed thrust don't have the luxury of. To me, there is no need to go one way or the other as an operating mantra.

I am well aware that the 8 hp OB I have is a bit over powered for my boat but I got a KILLER deal on it, 280 bucks, and its got the 25" super long shaft and a generator on all while weighing in around 60 pounds.

Anyhow, one of the reasons it was so cheap was the original tiller handle/throttle was missing. I built my own aluminum extension with shift and throttle controls at the far end. This lets me steer when needed and have my shift/throttle controls easily accesable when needed. To me it works far better than the standard OB twist throttle setups! I also probably have the only 8 HP OB in the world with a used 150 dollar sparco sports car shift knob for the gear selector! The clear straight acrylic lever is the throttle. Easy to feel which one you need and keep your eyes on the ball.
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post #18 of 37 Old 09-12-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

I also use both. Me preference most of the time is to leave the outboard straight and use the tiller. The boat tracks better and I can still steer even after I've switched to neutral and am coasting in on final approach. But if there's a cross current or strong wind I appreciate having the option to turn the motor and have directional thrust. The folks in my sailing club with big-boy boats are wildly jealous of ability to drive backwards accurately over relatively long distances using the rudder and engine in concert.

I have a kickup rudder which can only interfere with the prop when the rudder is in the "kicked up" position, so I have to be careful when operating in shallow water. I lash the tiller if I'm going to be in that situation for long so that I don't get distracted and chew up the rudder.

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post #19 of 37 Old 09-13-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

Great thread, but I think a lot of the replies are missing the OPs issue. He (she?) is concerned about the way you have to take your eye off the ball and turn halfway around to put the motor in neutral at a time when you should be facing foward because the dock is about 18" (0.5m ) away.

I wrestle with this as well. On my 18, I only had to turn around; the 25 sits much higher off the water* and I need to reach down as well. It has been impossible so far to accomplish this without moving the tiller and affecting my approach (sometimes for the better, I admit).

Long term, I'm going to install remote engine controls and do it the way the pros do it. Short term, I'm going to rig up some sort of extension for the shift lever. I'm thinking of a short piece of PVC on the lever itself and an old tiller extension connected to the top of that. I worry that it won't be 'crisp' enough and I'll be flopping from F to R and back, missing N. I'll try it.

Single handed docking with an outboard will be very challenging. Stay tuned!


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post #20 of 37 Old 09-13-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

Practice, practice, practice. Go to a fairly open area and try different methods. I had an O'Day 23 with the rudder and motor separate. I loved the maneuverability it gave me I always docked stern first and after a while, everything became send nature. It wasn't that way when I first got the boat.
I agree with INMA. At your size boat and motor, you should be getting lots of thrust. If not, you probably need to get a prop with more pitch.
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