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Thread: How Would You Dock?....This boat, this slip, these conditions Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-23-2011 07:02 PM
tempest I like it! .. If you set the 1st line up as a spring line, short enough to keep you from hitting the could probably leave the engine in reverse as you walk forward with the windward bow line ( so you'd pick up two lines). get the windward bow line thru a chock and control the bow, while the boat reverses herself on the spring.
06-23-2011 06:12 PM
Originally Posted by NCC320 View Post
Getting a line on the piling is the tricky part.
You've practically typed a book describing your challenge. I'm pretty confused reading this thread. First off, what sailboat is able to complete a turn when 25 knots is trying to blow them down? None that I've ever seen.

There are a bunch of good answers here. The one answer I like was a few posts up by arf145.

This method will work as well with less work than some of the others. Remember, the windward line controls the boat.

Come up to your slip, don't turn. Put your cockpit right close to the starboard piling. Use your boat hook to pickup your line off the piling and run it through a stern cleat and then around a cockpit winch, and hold it in your hand. You can pick up that line because it's yours and you left it there (like the rest of us do) when you went sailing.

Now let the wind blow you off, it's OK, you're not going anywhere. When you are stern to your slip, switch the one line you have on the boat to the winch on the other side of the cockpit.... Crank the winch until you're stern to your slip, put the boat into reverse .. and back into your slip.
06-18-2011 08:22 AM
So, What's My Decision?

Yesterday, I spent some time at the boat watching the boat move about in its slip as the wind shifted and studied the marina. I think I have a decision.

Exactly what will be done will depend on the wind conditions (speed, direction, steady or gusting or shifting) and the presence of waves. Generally, I think I going to stay with my current technique as described in the original post, except modified as follows to deal with the 2 ft. up and down wave motion, and the increased pressure on the leeward outer piling (the boat will come to rest there initially if a bow first approach is made into the slip….it only takes a couple of seconds for the boat to be blown downwind 2 ft.). I will modify the technique as follows:

On the existing post pad bumper on the leeward outer piling, I’m going to periodically spray that pad with McLube Sailkote to keep it as slick and low friction a surface as possible. This will allow the boat to move up and down on the pad more easily for the short duration that I will be against the pad/piling, lessening the chance for damage.

I will add a second buddy line below the existing one on the finger pier side to provide added protection for my neighbor against the possibility that my bow will swing down on him.

I will make the special thin fender board mentioned in Post # 4 (thin board, vinyl “P” type edging and/or foam on boat side, with special low friction slider blocks on piling side). I will have to do some testing to see whether it can be pre-deployed, or perhaps, pre-positioned, but remotely deployed from the cockpit using a lanyard and line arrangement.

I chose to stay with this approach because I feel it gives me the best control over the boat, and best chance of getting into the slip on the first and only attempt that I will have. Under the conditions stated in the problem, and with geometry and parameters of the boat and fairway, I will be committed once I start down the fairway, and aborting will not be possible. I especially do not like to do anything or put myself in any situation where I do not have a possible escape (workable plan B).

One technique I considered as a close alternate was, on my approach down the fairway, to snug up to the outer pilings of the immediately adjacent upwind slips, and get a spring line over to hold the boat while I went forward to place lines on my slip’s windward piling. Then, I could pivot the bow about my windward outer piling, and with windward lines already on the piling at this point, work the boat into it’s slip, thus never going down on the leeward piling, neighbor, or finger pier. I discarded this, since the 45 degree crosswind is blowing me away from the pilings that I have to tie to (especially significant in higher winds). To offset the wind and stay close to these pilings, the bow would have to be angled towards the pilings and the stern would be away such that I might have difficulty, even with a boat hook, in getting a spring line on a piling. If I failed to get the line over, I would be swept down onto the pier and other boats with little chance to escape.

Now if the wind and waves are really kicking up:

I will just anchor out (or go to another, more sheltered marina, but slip availability and ground transportation might be a problem). To this end, I will place and keep aboard the boat some drinking water (in bottles) and stock the boat with a bit of prepared canned food that doesn’t require refrigeration or lots of preparation. This will make an unexpected overnight comfortable.

If I need to get off the boat at its home pier for some reason, I can anchor directly upwind from the visitor’s T at the end of my pier; then place a snatch block on the rode, with line through my stern cleat and to a winch. I would then winch in so that the boat is parallel to the T, and gradually let out more rode until I reach the T, where I can tie up. I can use the engine to help fine tune position as I approach the T (i.e. engine allows swinging about an arc from anchor location). Once tied up securely (T has outboard pilings, so I wouldn’t be against the pier), I’ll place a weight (kellet) on the anchor rode at the boat and slack the rode so that it lies on the bottom and won’t trip any boats that might pass by.

Again thanks for all the suggestions. You have helped me clarify in my mind what I need to do. I apologize for the length of all the posts, but on something like this, “the devil is in the details”.

Lots of people have read this thread and more probably will read it in the future. Any readers with other ideas, or suggestions, please continue to post them. I won’t necessarily make comment, but others will see your ideas and recommendations, and may be able to use them.
06-17-2011 10:40 AM
Thanks and a Summary

Thanks to all who have provided suggestions. I will study and restudy each one in detail, and run a few tests as well in order to fine tune or revise my docking techniques.

Since the posts have been long, I thought it might be appropriate to summarize.

Crosswind....Here is an illustration of high wind/cross wind:

YouTube - ‪Docking in Corfu Harbour in (very) strong wind‬‏

Having seen crosswind illustrated, Captain, your task is:

With the cross wind, singled handedly without outside assistance, maneuver the boat downwind in a narrow channel (fairway), at a certain point, turn the boat sharply 90 degrees into a slip (pen). Safety tie up the boat. The pen is 2 ft. wider than the boat and is 2 ft. longer than the boat. Do not damage the boat. You will get one chance>
06-16-2011 08:38 PM
Originally Posted by sea_hunter View Post
Back into or turn around in the fairway and come in with wind on the point leaving the turn to the last moment then with balanced power-wind allowing the boat to drift and come rest against foam noodles.
In the higher winds, 15 -25+, this boat can't be controlled in backing downwind/crosswind, except possibly by backing very fast (i.e. forces exhibited by water on rudder in reverse must be sufficient of offset the wind forces that are trying to spin the boat around). My normal docking is backing down the fairway, but from experience with this particular boat, 15-25+ will be too high for reliable control at a reasonable approach speed. As I explained in one of my earlier posts, it's also too risky in this fairway to to do a turn around in the fairway when there are high, gusty, or shifting winds (can get trapped in a dead end situation that you can't escape). However, assuming it was achieved somehow, coming into the slip with the bow facing up wind would improve the docking situation considerably.
06-16-2011 08:25 PM
Originally Posted by arf145 View Post
OK, I don't singlehand. But if I were faced with that situation, I would rely on that windward piling and I wouldn't bother to turn. If you could come down the fairway until you had that first piling next to the cockpit, from there you could slip a line over it. I think that would give you windward control. Then maybe walk the line to the bow and slip it around the stbd cleat. Keep holding onto the end, go back to the cockpit and motor in while controlling the bow with your line.
The boat, because of its length vs. slip width, couldn't make the turn into my slip if you wait until the windward piling of my slip is next to the cockpit. However, you do as you mention if the line was put over at the windward piling on third slip upwind. This would hold the boat so the bow could be worked down to the windward piling of my slip, appropriate lines for my slip placed, and then the original line on the third slip piling released and recovered, as the boat starts into its own slip. In my case, that would be a possibility currently as no boats extend into the fairway of these ajacent two slips. The tricky part of this is that the crosswind is trying to blow you off these pilings and across the slip. Definitely something to think about.
06-16-2011 08:16 PM
Originally Posted by EJO View Post
..... why can't you use the Windward piling(s) as a pivot point and stop point. I know from your great sketch you have an aft cockpit, but you still should be able to have a line on the piling. I also assume you have a CW rotating wheel(prop) which gives you port prop walk in reverse, making your bow move to SB or away from your neighbor and the finger pier, therefore hard reverse should keep you off the finger pier.
Getting a line on the piling is the tricky part. This technique would allow a bit more time to get a line on the piling, however. Being tied to the windward piling is far better than the leeward piling. But it still has to be done rather quickly since there is a component of wind trying to blow the boat away from the piling and slip. I need to study drift rate to see if I have time to leave cockpit, put the line over, and get back to cockpit (and maybe practice it with someone timing me, on a day when it's not too windy).
06-16-2011 07:35 PM
Drifting Down Fairway to Slip

Here's a novel approach that was posted on another thread.

SailingJackson Junior Member

Docking in a strong crosswind

I have not seen any videos, but I did have a really difficult situation a few weeks back. I'm new to a bigger boat, previous was a 25' with outboard so docking in all conditions was easy.

I found myself with my new and unfamiliar 36' boat and a 18 knot crosswind to my finger pier. Trying to control it with boat speed was completely impossible, as the bow was being blown off when I tried to turn. Wind was 90 degrees to my finger pier and blowing me down the slot.

Any boat will want to go basically broadside to the wind. Steering left or right will adjust that broadside to slightly pointed up or slightly down, but the basic motion will remain sideways. What I did was to allow the boat to go broadside out in the open water and drifted into the slot sideways, parallel to my slip. When I got almost in front of the slip I started forward slowly, timing it so the bow just entered the slip as the boat slipped in front of my space. It worked great. The guy on the next pier over was impressed, but mainly because he knew I was a novice and expected the worst. When he realized I had to dock in that crosswind, he had hung every fender he could find on the side if his boat, just to protect himself against my boat.

Next time you're in a strong wind in harbor, try letting the boat drift sideways and controlling the orientation of the boat with the rudder, but without using the engine. It's not very difficult.


I could see this one working in the example that I have presented on this thread. Since my boat, like most, wants to go beam to the wind and the wind is 45 degrees from the direction of my slip, using this approach, if drift rate is not too fast, the boat will pointed generally in direction to enter the slip, with occasional forward power being needed to keep the boat centered in the slip. Once the windward piling of the slip is approached, add a little forward motion to snug up to the piling, then when the bow passes the piling, drive ahead into the slip. It would require less of a turn into the slip since the boat is already more or less oriented to enter the slip. But with just 2 ft. clearance to play with, I think one would still go down on the leeward piling. Not a problem if there is no wave action, but remember in the problem specification, we have 2 ft. waves, so that the piling is trying to erase the side of my boat as it bounces up and down.

Does anyone have any information on how fast a typical sailboat will drift just due to the wind? This would be critical to such an approach. The last time I made a bow first docking in the slip due to winds being too high to control the boat in reverse (I ran the test outside the slip, in front of a gallery of July 4 watchers....I can vouch, after being spun around in a near 360, I didn't have control in backing, hence the bow first approach), I recall using the engine in reverse most of the way down the fairway to check my speed so I didn't enter the slip too fast. Remember, that I either have to get my bow pulpit completely past the finger pier piling or stop the boat prior to this piling. If I don't clear the finger pier piling, I'm going to have to replace a pulpit.
06-16-2011 06:08 PM
sea_hunter Back into or turn around in the fairway and come in with wind on the point leaving the turn to the last moment then with balanced power-wind allowing the boat to drift and come rest against foam noodles.
06-16-2011 05:28 PM
arf145 OK, I don't singlehand. But if I were faced with that situation, I would rely on that windward piling and I wouldn't bother to turn. If you could come down the fairway until you had that first piling next to the cockpit, from there you could slip a line over it. I think that would give you windward control. Then maybe walk the line to the bow and slip it around the stbd cleat. Keep holding onto the end, go back to the cockpit and motor in while controlling the bow with your line.
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