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  Topic Review (Newest First)
07-29-2003 03:30 PM
single-handed docking

Thanks, Sailormon6. I guess I''ll have to pay more attention to the wind. My boat does get blown around a lot. When winds are light I''ll practice not using the motor at all and see how it goes.

07-28-2003 10:07 AM
single-handed docking


You say you need to maintain 1 kt. of speed in order to maintain steering control. Thatís just not true, unless youíre operating a 65 ft. houseboat or a barge, or unless your rudder is thickly coated with slime. A sailboat rudder will control the direction of the boat until the boat almost comes to a stop. After I lower my sails, I frequently let my boat drift downwind for a few hundred yards before I start the motor and go into my slip. While my boat is drifting under bare poles at much less than a knot in light to moderate winds, I can easily steer the boat with the rudder. If it is moving at a fraction of a knot, thatís enough to provide steerageway. A sailor at my lake often docks without using his motor, and if the boat stops, he sculls it in, using his rudder. Iíve done the same thing. Another local sailor always sails in and out of the docks, because he doesnít have a motor.

You say ďAll I want is reverse,Ē as if that is the solution to all your docking problems. As you can see, you donít need a reverse. In fact, you donít even need a motor. And you donít need sissy lines or any other cushioning or catching device. You need to slow the boat down, coast, and use the motor sparingly to nudge the boat gently into the slip. You also need to be aware of the strength and direction of the wind, and, if the wind strength and direction are favorable, use them to help you move the boat where you want it. If they are unfavorable, then use the motor sparingly to just barely overcome the effects of the wind, and to put the boat in the slip.

Hereís what you said. ďI was coming in a bit faster than usual at 4.5 knotsÖ I cut engine speed way down more than 500 feet away from the slip. Then again to an idle 200! I just couldn''t slow dawn fast enough.Ē The reason why you couldnít slow down fast enough is because, when you cut engine speed only partially at 500 ft. from your slip, you barely reduced your speed. Remember that a displacemernt sailboat is a very easily driven hull. It doesnít take much power to drive the boat, especially when it already has forward momentum, and it can coast a long distance. If your throttle was about two-thirds open, and you only reduced it to about one-third or one-fourth, the motor would still be providing enough drive so that the boat would actually slow down very little. If you were going too fast at 200 feet from your slip, then reducing your engine speed to an idle would not slow the boat enough. Even at idle, your prop is still driving the boat.

To significantly slow your boat, you need to at least shift your motor into neutral. If I find that I am still coming in a little too fast, I shift the motor into reverse and let it idle in reverse. If Iím coming in way too fast, I open the throttle about one-fourth in reverse, so that, when I am ready to make the turn into my slip, the boat has just enough momentum to coast into the slip and come to a stop by itself, without anyone having to catch it. I donít always get it that perfect, but that is the result that I am always striving for, so that, when someone does have to catch the boat, it doesnít take much force to stop it.

Whenever boats are anywhere near docks, they should always reduce speed to near idle speed. At some docks there are children swimming around the docks, and people scrubbing their bottoms, and boats backing in and out of their slips. Docks are always regarded as idle zones.

If you are going too fast, itís a problem, because boats donít have brakes, and you canít stop them suddenly. If you are going too slow and lose steerageway, itís usually not a problem, because a little application of engine power in forward gear will easily increase your forward momentum and steerageway. Therefore, itís generally preferable to err on the side of slower speed, rather than higher speed.
07-28-2003 08:22 AM
single-handed docking

I dont back into the slip.

1.) lead your forward docking line aft to the cockpit.

2.) Sail in, drop sails at the point where you''ll have enough momentum to coast into the slip.

3.) kick over the fenders, and grab both the fore and aft docking lines.

4.) after turning into your slip, walk to midship and step off onto the edge of the dock, tossing the forward line around the outside section of the outside cleat of the dock, and slowly let it out, till your boat is stoped in the perfect spot, then undo that line, and tie on the aft line, walk forward and tie on the front line.

I''ve found this technique FAR better than having inexperienced friends "help" me with docking, either by stearing the boat (into the dock), or by tying up for me (as my boat goes drifting away from the docks)

To leave, I make sure the rudder is straight, undo the lines, and grabing the shrouds, push her back. as she slips past me, I grab the bow and swing her around, so she''s pointing down the channel, and hop on. Up goes the main, and away I go.

PS. I have the inside slip, right next to the rocks. I also have almost no experience. While I only do this with my little 19 footer, I have a friend who does the same thing with his 38. If we can do this, anyone can.

-- James
07-23-2003 04:26 PM
single-handed docking

Thanks again for all your advice. I like the idea of using lines to slow the boat into the slip.

When leaving my previous slip, I used lines to pull the bow into the wind when leaving because I had to turn immediately to port so as not to hit a boat at the next dock. But, when entering, grabbing a docking line that was hanging from the piling was pretty much impossible because the boat is already entirely in the slip by the time that I was close enough to reach for it.

I have been considering the idea of running "sissy lines" on either side of the slip (from the pilings to the dock) and running another right across the slip from one side to the other like the hook line on an aircraft carrier. The bow pulpit would catch the line and the line would stop the bow from hitting the dock.

But, so far I just can''t bring myself to build a contraption to do what good piloting should do.

All I want is reverse! Hmm, I would love to see how those guys without auxilliaries do it.

07-23-2003 03:57 AM
single-handed docking

I don''t have and outboard, but one of those diesels, but... I have a two blade folding prop that is offset, C&C 29 MkII, talk about prop walk. I single hand almost all the time. The key for me is three fold. First, I have my home dock set up so that all the lines are left set up the right length for me. When I leave the slip, I make sure the lines are easily grabbed by my boathook as I slip in. The second key speed. I back in, so I go well past my slip in forward, allow the boat to almost stop, usually 50-100ft past my slip. I put engine in reverse, takes a couple of minutes to achieve any sternway, then slip engine into neutral and allow the rudder to do the job. I continue to move it into reverse and neutral, depending on current and wind to just maintain steerage. Once again the key is speed that just maintains steerage. The third key is gabbing the aft spring line and the bow line as I slide into the slip. I put the spring over the cleat and walk forward to make sure the bow stays in and the cleat that line. The stern line comes last. I found this be be easier after trying all kinds of ways to get in bow first. The advantage is I can stop the boat with the engine by putting it in forward, but takes a long time in reverse so I actually have more control of speed by backing in. The most difficult thing is if the current and the wind are both moving the boat the same direction. Makes for some need for quick movement.

When I am docking at a foreign dock the key for me is preparation. I have fenders on both sides with bow and stern lines on both sides, especially if I don''t know the area. There is usually more help at other docks than at home so it is always nice to have some dock help.

Anyway, that is my 2cents. I had to plan almost as much for going out from the dock. If the wind is strong as I am leaving, letting go of the bow and stern line without drifting into the boats close to me before I have steerage is also interesting. This actually has me running crazily around the boat more frequently than docking.
07-23-2003 03:46 AM
single-handed docking


I single-hand my 26 footer most of the time. My boat has an inboard diesel and I don''t have the reverse problem that you mention, but I have learned a few tricks that help me to get into my slip. Before starting my approach, I attach a rope that is a little longer than my boat, to the bow cleat,and the stern cleat, on the side of the boat that will be tied up to the slip. When I make my approach to the slip, I''m coasting in the last ~200 ft.Once I get the bow of the boat to the slip, I can step off on to the dock, and have good control of my boat working the line up or down that is attached to the bow and stern cleats.Very seldom do I use any reverse at all entering the slip. I hope this of some help.
07-23-2003 03:45 AM
single-handed docking

Ahoy, BigRed.

Please tell me you went to Burnt Store Marina to pillage or plunder. A place like that is much too fancy for a self-respecting pirate, such as yourself, to visit for any other reason.

Your scurviness,
07-23-2003 03:21 AM
single-handed docking

I single hand most of the time in a Buccaneer 240. I to do not have a turnable outboard. I find that in reverse I need to get speed up quick, then cut engine to idle to gain rudder control. When docking come in slow and controlled watching what the wind does to the boat on approach. As I make the final approach the engine is usually in idle reverse and I coast in. A cockpit throttle is a must!!

While I don''t have a cleet amidships on the boat I have a rope that stays tied to the dock cleet with a mountain climbers hook on it. As I slowly coast into the slip I step off the boat onto the dock and snap the clip onto my rail. The boat comes to a graceful stop against the dock and never hits the bow.

Good Luck
07-22-2003 09:12 PM
single-handed docking

You can avoid the dash to stop the bow of the boat by installing a mid-ship cleat.

With a mid-ship cleat on your boat and a docking line attached to it, just step off the boat and throw the line around a dock cleat. The boats momentum will bring the boat against the side of the slip and to a stop.

If you really want to impress your neighbors, you can measure how long your docking line should be to stop the boat right where you want it. Ty a knot in it at that point. When you step off your boat ty it off on the dock cleat at the knot. the boat will come to a stop where you want it. In my case I just walk around the slip and attach my permanent docking lines!

Of course, you don''t want to try this at 3.5 Kts!!


07-22-2003 07:26 PM
single-handed docking

Docking is one of the activities I really enjoy sailing solo. I line up my slip and sneak into it as maybe a 1/2 knot. Just as the midships pass the tips of the slip I jump over the side and run to the bow and stop the boat from hitting the dock. I know I look like a Keystone Cop but in the 8 season I have been doing it not once have I hit the dock...
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