Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: District of Columbia
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Re: Singlehanding a PSC37???
This is a late response to your questions about single-hand docking of a PSC37. My situation is a little harsher than normal docking, you may be able to adapt it to your own situation.
For docking purposes, our slip is just six pilings; the finger pier is much too short to be useful except for boarding. Sheltered from chop but crosswinds are common. With crew aboard, a piece of cake. Single-handed, it used to be pretty ugly. After a lot of experimentation, dents, and busted nav lights, here's the routine for Annie, our PSC37.
I lead a light line over the midship cleat, with the loop-end outboard to leeward (relative to wind across the slip that Annie is entering) and the tail trailing back around a winch and then draped neatly near the pedestal. Annie then enters the slip bow-first and straight-on ahead, with just enough way to steer. I reverse strongly as the first pile to leeward comes even with the midship cleat. By the Annie she comes to a complete halt, the first pile is about about 2/3 along her length.
At that point, with the prop now in neutral, it is pretty simple to boathook that first pile and tug the stern close enough to lay the docking loop by hand over whatever the first pile offers -- hook, cleat, ring, or the pile itself. I then slip Annie back into gear, dead slow ahead, with the rudder cocked to nudge the stern to leeward. At the same time, I adjust the docking line looped around the winch so that the first pile will kiss the rub rail on the quarter, about even with the pedestal. Meanwhile, tension on the docking line swings Annie's bow, so that the second pile meets the rub rail a bit forward of the spreaders. Now pinned against the first and second piles to leeward, the rest is pretty easy.
The full stop is one key. Even if the cross wind is pretty strong, it assures that Annie only has a few feet to to accelerate to leeward before she meets the piles, and without the added drama of rubbing off headway. And it doesn't matter much that Annie has quite a pronounced prop walk in reverse; the boathook easily makes up the difference. The other key is the light "docking" line, different from any of the "dock" lines used to tie her up. Having a cleat precisely on the balance point might improve routine but the midship cleat seems to work just fine as long as the rudder is cocked hard over.
Coming out is similar. The idea is warp her far enough back that the light line can again pin her to the first and second pilings to leeward. Take time to neatly cast off everything except the pinning line. If you are pinned to port, put her in neutral, unhook the pinning line, push the stern out a little, center the rudder, and reverse out. Prop walk will work perfectly in your favor for a pretty exit. If pinned to starboard, slip into neutral, walk forward to give the bow a good push, maybe even using the boat hook to get her six or eight feet off the second piling. Then walk back to the cockpit, unhook he pinning line, center the rudder, and slip into neutral. Another smooth exit.
Hope this is helpful.