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welshwind 09-13-2011 05:34 PM

Docking with two
Looking for some practical advice on docking with only two people on the boat. First, some comments as to the situation ....

1) New empty nesters ... so far, so good. But we no longer have our dockhands ... ah, daughters assist in docking. The people at the dock used to smile when we would come in with everyone on-baord because it was like a well-oiled machine, everyone knowing their role. Now, .... not as good.

2) It is a center-cockpit boat, so the person at the helm is NOT in a position to quickly exit or move very far to assist.

3) In most cases, we try to dock on the boat's port side.

4) We have a loop in the end of the spring line so it can be dropped right over the cleat, knowing it is the right length.

So, with that being said, we tried the "spring line to the aft dock cleat, hard to starboard, leave in idle forward" method. I know this works really well for power boats. They pin right to the dock. What I found was the curvature of the sailboat hull didn't really lend itself well to this method. The bow went considerably to the right, even with the spring line taut. Would not have been a pretty sight if I had a neighbor next to me in my well.

I had another idea as I was driving home that seems to make sense. Looking for comments.

Besides the spring line, lay another line from the bow cleat back to the beamiest part of the boat. Step off the boat, drop the spring line over the aft dock cleat, walk forward (as the boat continues to slowly move forward), grab the line attached to the bow cleat and wrap it on the forward dock cleat (careful to keep the bow in the center of the slip) while the helmsperson turns hard to starboard.

In this case, the boat is pinned to the dock, but the bow line is keeping it from swinging to far right. The only time when this would be a real issue is if the wind is blowing like snot from the starboard side. In that case, I may want to secure the stern line and not worry immediately about the bow line. Simply feather the throttle to find equilibrium.

Any thoughts on any of this? Any other preferred methods? My wife is handling the lines. I've tried to convince her to dock the boat and let me handle the lines. She is not interested in that.

Minnewaska 09-13-2011 05:46 PM

I take it you are docking bow in. If you are pushing idle prop wash against a rudder that is deflected full starboard and turning starboard, why not center it or offset the other way?

Donna_F 09-13-2011 05:52 PM

Any chance you can leave the lines on the dock when you leave? That way you only need to reach down with a boat hook instead of jumping off the boat.

There are only two of us when we go into a slip, usually bow first unless the finger piers are short. Tap the throttle just to give her some forward momentum into the slip and then put it in neutral. Whoever isn't at the helm handles the spring lines (those go on first) and then the bow lines. Helmsman takes care of the stern lines.

wingNwing 09-13-2011 06:25 PM

We do it similar to the way Donna does. In our case, the girl (a.k.a, the finesse) is at the helm; the guy (a.k.a. the serious muscle) is at the bow and handles bow & spring lines. Helm handles stern lines. Enter the slip on the upwind or upcurrent side & tie up that side, then let wind or current ease you down to tie up the other side. We don't use throttle at all, enter the slip slowly and just hand the boat into position.

tempest 09-13-2011 07:23 PM

Lots of ways to do this...hard to know what's best, without knowing the amt. of wind and or current you deal with on a normal basis...I agree with the methods above..
I also coast into my slip in most conditions with the engine in neutral, by the time I'm getting off the boat it's practically stopped. ( I figure, if I have to use reverse to stop I've come in too fast.)

Do you have a mid-ship cleat..and one on the dock near the beam to match? If so, maybe attaching a short breast line keep the beam next to the dock, gives you time to pick up/ or toss the other lines..your wife could step off with the breast line.( attaching that
1st) .and the bow line..while you pick up the stern line..or spring line.

My boat neighbor..uses his stern line to power against..not the works very well for him.

I have a method I use for single handing...but with two..I usually have the mate step off at the beam and simply hold the boat near the beam, while I pick up the other lines..

bljones 09-13-2011 08:21 PM

You need a longer bow line, long enough so that the bowperson can hang onto the bitter end and snag the cleat after the springline has caught and you have throttled up to snug the gunwale to the dock.
Like this:
1. As the boat noses into the slip, Bowperson drops springline over dock cleat.
2. With springline away, Bowperson takes bitter end of bow line in right hand and working coil of bow line in left hand.
3. When boat tugs against springline, helmsman throttles up and snuggles boat toward dock, signals bowperson to snag bow dock cleat.
4. Receiving signal, bowperson tosses working coil onto dock and, hauling on bitter end, belays the bow, preventing the nose from swinging away from dock.
5. Helmsman shifts to neutral, throttles up to clear carbon (diesel) or shuts down engine (gas) steps off and cleats stern line, then walks forward and ties off bowline.
6. Helmsman returns to adjust and tie off stern line and shut down engine.
7. Both take bows acknowledging awestruck dockwatchers.

All of the above assumes that fenders have not been forgotten, the springline snagged the cleat on first try, boathook did not get snagged with springline on cleat, helmsman and bowperson both understand what signals mean what, and the wind and waves are in your favour.

You can see our springline at the midship cleat and our fore and aft lines here:

NortenoSailor 09-13-2011 11:22 PM

When single handing I am completely reliant on the above mentioned method of tying off a short line from mid ship cleat to cleat on dock after which I can take my time with the other lines. So I assume this would work for two people.

SVAuspicious 09-14-2011 10:29 AM

I don't want anyone jumping or stepping off the boat until the engine is shut down. It's easiest in home slip with lines all set, not bad with pilings, and one has to be careful with only cleats to work with. I don't see the risk-benefit of having someone getting off the boat.

Minnewaska 09-14-2011 02:28 PM

I'm still not sure why the OP can't correct the original problem by deflecting the rudder in the opposite direction. I know there was a follow on question, but I may not be following the problem.

Brezzin 09-14-2011 02:50 PM


Originally Posted by Minnewaska (Post 774748)
I'm still not sure why the OP can't correct the original problem by deflecting the rudder in the opposite direction. I know there was a follow on question, but I may not be following the problem.

I can't speak for the OP but on my boat, no amount of rudder can overcome the bow being pulled into the dock and the stern being kicked out. The basic problem is the mid ship cleat is forward of the extreme beam of the boat so once the spring line has tension the bow gets pulled into the dock.

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