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post #1 of 37 Old 09-10-2012 Thread Starter
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Docking with an outboard

I have a 6hp nissan mounted on the back of my Coronado 23 MkII. I am interested in hearing other peoples methods of docking and how they switch between their tiller and motor controls. I feel like my outboard demands a frustrating amount of attention as I am docking and maybe some of you fine folks out there have a method that will make the end of my trips a little easier on me and my wife. Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 37 Old 09-10-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

We had an outboard on our 22 footer. Turning the handle of the outboard too far meant it had interference from the rudder. We solved that by removing the rudder and tiller before we entered our marina and relying solely on the outboard for steering. It was easy enough to slip the tiller and rudder off and lay it in the cockpit while we docked.


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post #3 of 37 Old 09-10-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

Donna's idea is an interesting one.. Some people also have the rudder and outboard linked - a complicated business that is bound to fail at the wrong moment.

In our Hartley we normally just kept the outboard centered and use the tiller/rudder as usual. It was only if we really needed thrust in a particular direction to stop us hitting the dock that would I push the outboard handle across - but then our outboard never really allowed us to go astern and reverse was more like a brake.

It seems to me like you need to forget about the outboard for a bit and spend some time getting used to the way your boat manouvers under power - forward and reverse.
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post #4 of 37 Old 09-10-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

I feel your pain, that was my situation last year.
Can you give us some specifics regarding your situation?

Is the motor fixed or can you turn it?
You may have better luck locking the tiller and turning with the motor or locking the motor and turning with the tiller.

Trying to do both at the same time is harder.
Also I have seem some folks rig up a connecting rod between the rudder and the motor so they turn together.

Do you have current issues?

It will get better the more you do it.
One trick is to imagine that you are steering the mast not the bow of the boat. Since the boat pivots somewhere near the mast it is easier to visualize what the boat will do.
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post #5 of 37 Old 09-10-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

I do what Hartley does, leave the engine centered and steer with the tiller, using just enough throttle to maintain steerage.
The other thing is that neutral is a gear too, meaning that when I feel I have enough way on to get me into the slip, I reach back and put the engine in neutral. If I've misjudged, just reach back and engage the prop again.
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post #6 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

+1 for Tempest/Hartley, I leave the outboard centred and steer with the tiller on the way in, dropping it into neutral when about 3 boat lengths from the slip and just coast gently in. Don't even bother using reverse to stop, just step off and take off the last .2 knots by hand. Gotta love a relatively light boat
Departing I use the tiller and the outboard to steer depending on how tight I need to turn, trick is to do everything slowly enough to give you enough time to think about what you're doing and push/pull/twist the appropriate bit on the appropriate thingy at the appropriate time.

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post #7 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

Man, I feel the pain too.

I charter with a company that has cruising boats from 30' to 50' and they are great, with wheel steering, diesel engines, combined throttle and shift on the binnacle. easy, ergonomic, and well thought out, even if I still find backing into a slip to be a learning process.

They also have keel boats though: sweet, nimble, quick, and fun Colgate 26 with my much preferred tiller steering. The only problem is not only that it's not easy to co÷rdinate the outboard and the tiller, but the outboard can't be locked in the centered position, so it either requires getting two people to work together, or *reverse the tiller so that you can have the tiller in one hand and the outboard control in the other*, which is tricky, and there are still some issues with running out of hands to change the outboard from forward to neutral to reverse (as needed).

So far the best solution I have found is to have two people working together and keeping the speed as low as the wind and current will allow when docking. so far so good, but really awkward.

Or rather, it's easy with experienced crew, and rather challenging with newer crew.

Last edited by groggy; 09-11-2012 at 01:42 AM.
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post #8 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

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.

I generally back into any jetty or dock so I can use the forward thrust to escape trouble if something goes wrong.

I did this modification some time ago and the outboard's reverse thrust is no excellent.

• View topic - Making a Mercury high thrust propeller perform in reverse.

I had a keel boat with an outboard on the stern, I had a piece of string on the gear lever so I could select forward without the acrobatics over the push-pit.

Some people talk about drifting into docks etc. that has issues because you are not really in control while your drifting, you need flow over the rudder and keel to keep steerage.

One good habit is stop the hull away from the dock before moving into the dock, it leaves less chance of mistaking speed or currents once your close to the dock.

Always have the dock lines ready before you approach the dock.
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post #9 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

When I'm helming a tiller / outboard combo I lock the rudder/tiller and use the outboard to steer.
It's sharper and easier in reverse, not so quick turning in forward.
The first time I ever, and I mean ever docked was the day I bought my first boat - a Grampian 26 with a tiller and 9 horse outboard.
The previous owner had it bow in - awkward to get on.
As soon as I signed the papers I jumped on and backed it out - did a complete 180 and parked it stern in - with no lines, no hands on the dock and absolutely no extra wiggles or bumps.
I've never done that again to this day despite having tried many times.

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post #10 of 37 Old 09-11-2012
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Re: Docking with an outboard

Hey all,

I have to agree with Donna, I was struggling with my clipper 21 loading and unloading the boat. fighting the tiller and outboard. Part of this summer I left the boat at the lake tided off to a tree. Went out to recover boat as my brother backed in trailer. I got ahead of myself and pulled the rudder and boom waiting on him. When it was time to move I just used the outboard and all went much better. I will do that in future, don't know if that is feasable in a large marina.

good luck

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