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Thread: Bow in or stern in at the dock? Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
07-06-2011 03:41 PM
pinayreefer Interesting discussion as I just docked for the first time at a public marina this past week, and went in stern-to. Why? My lifeline gate made it easier to board since the finger is short, our dock floats so not so much a privacy issue, and most importantly, the boat next to us goes in bow-to and has a 6' bowsprit that nearly extends across the pier. Really irritating! It seems friendlier this way, but we may rethink it later.
07-06-2011 09:29 AM
blt2ski NCC,

I tried the outgo method the other day, worked well, considering it was only blowing about 5 knots!

Coming in so far, as not been as big a deal, but havining a long line in the front, that I can throw around the front cleat as I go past with the stern seems to help. I will usually get in the slip 1/2 to 3/4 of the way and get out, pull the boat the rest of the way in. Then again, I still have some strength to do this,ask me in 20 yrs if this still works!

07-02-2011 10:56 PM
pdqaltair My primary reasons for backing in are loading and ease of loading arthritic guests (VERY important to me).

However, daily practice is also very handy when visiting unfamiliar locations; it keep your boat handling sharp. More than once I have been directed to a slip that did not fit only to find that an adverse current made retreat complicated. It's good to know how to slide her around against wind and current.
07-01-2011 09:06 AM
NCC320 Marty,

Thanks for your reply regarding slip departure in 30+ winds. Everyone's dock and wind/wave exposure is a bit different. With my own home slip, I believe, if necessary, using one of two different techniques, that I could get the boat underway singlehanded in such conditions provided I'm stern first into the slip...bow first in would be more problematic. One technique would use long bow lines (port and starboard), that can be lenghtened and released from the boat helm station, and power against these as they are gradually lengthened by paying out line from the helm station to allow the boat to move forward out of the slip while using rudder to keep the boat centered until out of the slip.
The other would be a long amidships spring line doubled on the windward outer piling, again handled as to length (gradually feed out line while keeping the line sufficiently snubbed on winch while allowing boat to move forward, simultaneous with spring line holding boat close to windward piling) and release from the helm station. Winches would definitely be used in either technique, and I have my boat set up for such a situation, including 2 75' float lines to avoid prop fouling.

But I would go only if absolute necessity, because, for me, at least, the real problem comes in getting back into the slip successfully without damage in choppy wave conditions and cross wind. (Under these conditions, I get one shot, without ability to abort if things go wrong due to configuration of the marina.)

How do/did you handle the docking under these high wind conditions singlehanded?
06-30-2011 05:20 PM
blt2ski NCC,

The HARDER wind days are when it comes out of the north, then it is pretty direct at the boat equal to open water. When I have 30+ out of the south, I am sheltered to the south and east a slip by the covered area. Either way, much easier with another person or two.

By myself, yes twice at least it was blowing 30+ out of the north. Yes, the bow goes towards the boat to the SE of me and I have to run and release the rear line and hit the throttle forward and turn to the right/west to not hit the boat next to me. I also have one of the wider 30-32' slips in my marina at 15' or 30' total between the two piers. There are some that are 12.5' total 25. those slips would be way harder!

With this in mind, and what I learned if you will the two times I have done this............ NEXT TIME. I will use my "lock lines" basically 50' 3/8 lines with an 18" loop required to go thru the locks south of me into Lake washington from Puget sound. ANY long line would do! I would attach to the bow, pt a single wrap if that around a dock cleat, run it and hopefully me only walk per say to the back, release the rear line, and hold this line such that the bow will not go away from the dock into the boat next to me, as I go forward under power, I would then hopefully flip this line out of the way of the cleat, pull on to the boat away from the prop, turn west at the end of the pier and out to the main waterway north to the main entry, ie 180 from my slip, and into the main bay. The main goal for this line, is to operate I want to say as a reverse spring line. Not sure if this is the correct I can say and or type at this time.

Both days I only need fuel the 2nd time, a bit less than the first, about 35-30, when I did a better figure out how to do this. the first was 30-45 at times for a haul out over presidents day weekend locally. I'm in the water 24/7/365 for the most part, with haul outs every 2-3 yrs for paint etc.

Hopefully this strategy will work the next time I need to do this. The idea seems reasonably sound from others doing something similar in lighter winds. The south winds blow me into the finger pier, so not a big deal, in higher winds. North is the issue be it single handed or with my kids/race crew etc. as I get blown into the boat next to me. The dock, it will not be damaged, just my boat.......boat next to me we damage it and me, hence why the More NW to N winds are the worst.

Sorry about the couple of day later on the reply.

06-29-2011 05:20 PM
arknoah I dock stern in. When our boat was launched by the marina after repairs, they put us bow in and my son and I had the devil of a time getting on and off the boat to prepare to motor to our current marina. Plus, my wife isn't very confident boarding the boat at the stern as it is: I am sure she would be even less confident trying to board near the bow.

Fortunately, our relatively small boat is pretty maneuverable in forward or reverse.
06-29-2011 11:41 AM
Originally Posted by blt2ski View Post
What is kind of funny about the bow in for privacy..... at a recent YC get together, granted about 80-90% PB's vs SB's, most are backed in, so one can get into the boat, see who is on the back deck, talk to them etc. So backing in could also be "more Friendly" if in a YC away from home port get together too!

In the end, as I think I alluded in my first post, no real right or wrong in reality, ALL the points given must be accounted for.
You're right, there's no right or wrong as far as privacy is concerned. Maneuverability and environmental issues are something else.

If I was in the situation you described above visiting a YC, we'd more than likely back in and party with the crowd. But our marina is very small with only about four seasonal slip holders (all in a row) on our dock who are there every weekend. The two 30-footers go stern in and we chat quite nicely across our cockpits. The larger sailboats in the next two slips back in (mostly because of ease of boarding) and we go visiting, chat on the dock over beer, etc. The configuration hasn't hindered us from making anchoring playdates and getting to know each other.

The Island Packet dealer uses our marina so the rest of the boats are charters or for sale (some for sale so long that I've never seen them leave the slip except for winter storage) and we get quite a few "dockwalkers" just looking. Because our dock is not gated, bow in is also a weak attempt at security.
06-29-2011 10:20 AM
ahab211 With a wheel and inboard no problem backing in, winds favorable. With an outboard and tiller I wouldn't attempt it with mine. I have a 25 Searay powerboat, too and always back in. Big difference in maneuverability. I banged my outboard on a spile backing out of my well with my C&C 24 sailboat and since then don't trust the lack of power shifting from reverse.
06-29-2011 08:21 AM
Originally Posted by blt2ski View Post

Going out when I solo is also easier to go out forward, backing in or forward in while solo, with practice, both have become a 6 and 1/2 dozen or another! Altho in HIGH winds ie 30+, backing out is easier solo, as the wind pushes me into the dock, vs a northerly, the bow moves to the east and into the boat next to me. Altho if I had a really long line from front to stern to pull in as I go out, this would help.......
Not to highjack the thread, but do you really go out (undocking and docking singlehanded) in 30+? Or is it that the wind is blowing 30+ in open water, but because of shelter, the winds are much lower than that at the dock? If it really is 30+ at the dock, please, please explain how you do it. If you will share your knowledge, please be specific enough so those like me can learn how to do it without wrecking our boat, our neighbor's boats, and the pier. This is the one issue that has troubled me most after messing with sailboats for 40 years. Where I am, they just don't do it, but I hear and read that it is done in some places. If I knew the techniques, it would definitely expand the amount of sailing that I do.
06-28-2011 08:14 PM
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Both my current and prior slips each required stern first docking. In the last, it was exposed to fetch, which the bow would split as opposed to the transom, which would just get slammed.
yep - stern-in is the answer. I spend a lot of time in transient moorage on OPBs. Some of the boats suffer badly from transom slap.
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