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Sabreman 02-05-2007 10:26 PM

Singlehanded Unmooring from Windward Berth
I've always had mixed results with this one. Maybe there are some better suggestions, so here goes:

I'm without help, tied parallel to a dock with the wind to windward of me (pushing me against the dock). When trying to get away from the dock, Chapmans says to use a forward spring line (line tied to bow cleat & to cleat on dock roughly amidships) and put the engine in forward. The bow will go in toward the dock and the stern should kick out away from the dock. Some reverse action at this point should pull the stern away from the dock some more, the bow should fall off and the boat should be able to pull away stern first.

All this seems to work fine in something like 5 kts, but solo with 15kts is another story. By the time I run 38' forward to cast off the bow line & 38' aft to the wheel, the stern has settled back against the dock again. There must be a better way. Any suggestions?

This has bugged me for some time and it's soooo graceless to keep smacking back up against the dock (not too good for the rubrail either).

sailgibson2 02-05-2007 11:27 PM

tell the dock master you need help or tell him you can't leave until the wind dies down. If none of this helps then there is no help at the dock in which case you sit there untill you get bored or decide things are right to leave

hellosailor 02-05-2007 11:47 PM

I'm trying to think that one through, which is hard when the caffiene is gone for the day. The only real purpose of that spring line is to prevent the boat from going forward, while allowing it to rotate, right?

It would seem that you could do the same thing from the sten and midships positions, leading a line from the stern (where you remain) forward to a midships cleat on the dock, and BACK to you, perhaps paying out some line to allow your stern to swing out, but keeping enough tension on it to prevent forward motion. And, if you can get the boat rotating that way, then you may be able to let go the bitter end and just haul in the end that was secured on your stern cleat--retrieving the line without leaving the helm, or letting it get anywhere near the prop.

I must concede I'm not the master of spring lines, but I do pretty well with making sure lines come back to me, so I can always cast off without stepping off the boat, or tie up without jumping to the dock, etc. (Only time that didn't work was up in British Columbia, where horn cleats seem to be illegal or unknown.<G>)

sailingfool 02-06-2007 12:09 AM

Backing Off
54 Attachment(s)

Double the spring line back to the bow. AFTER you have backed off the dock, go forward and release one end of the spring line and pull it aboard. You have distance equal to half the spring line length to work off the dock.

Use as long a line as you have. Be sure to put a pair of fenders forward so you can agressively lay the bow against the dock, use starboard rudder and kick it with some RPMs - the rudder will kick the stern out as much as the spring line.

Piece of cake.

tommyt 02-06-2007 12:15 AM

Not sure if you are against a wall or in a slip? If against a wall a line from the bow cleat to a point amidships on the wall, with the bow protected and the boat in forward, will pivot the boat away from the wall and allow you to back down when a clear shot to the fairway is achieved. A long line is key to doing this from the cockpit. Once you release the line in this case it will be dragging in the water in front of the boat while you are in reverse and in no danger of fouling the line. Slow/stop the boat, collect the line, and proceed. Never easy when 15 knots is pushing you back, but achievable as long as you have some room to move.

In a slip with this type of wind, whether seamanlike or not, I attempt to manhandle the boat out of the slip. I would rig a line from the stern to the dock as a pivot point, controlling it from the helm. Get the boat away from the dock, walk it out part way into the fairway, get to the helm and reverse using the stern line to pivot the boat with stern downwind. Once clear into the fairway,drop the end of the line and let it slip into the water as you put the boat into forward. Dependent on your boats cleat set up you should have a line behind you, clear of the prop, to pull aboard as you proceed down the fairway.

sailingdog 02-06-2007 06:52 AM


I'm without help, tied parallel to a dock with the wind to windward of me
LOL... have you ever had the wind not to windward???

It also matters what design you boat is. If you have a windvane or a transom hung rudder, then you can't rotate off the dock quite as much as you could without them.

sailortjk1 02-06-2007 08:27 AM


Originally Posted by sailingdog
LOL... have you ever had the wind not to windward???

Isn't that Murphy's Law or something. For me its always on the nose when cruising.
(Sorry, Not on original subject)

sailingdog 02-06-2007 08:29 AM


Originally Posted by sailortjk1
Isn't that Murphy's Law or something. For me its always on the nose when cruising.
(Sorry, Not on original subject)

Nah, Murphy's law is just bad luck, the wind always being to windward is simple physics... :rolleyes: It's hard for the wind to be to leeward, given what the definition of leeward is. :D

sailortjk1 02-06-2007 08:42 AM

O.K., now I get it. Too early for me. Not all there yet. More coffee please.

sailingdog 02-06-2007 08:55 AM

The use of a stern spring line would avoid the problems of running forward to the bow, and then having the stern blow back in...

Also, most boats will do better if the bow is into the wind, rather than the stern... and using a stern spring line will allow you to power off the dock, into the wind, in forward gear, which is generally much more responsive and easier to use on most boats as a bonus.

This basically elaborates on what TommyT said above:

Running the spring line from the stern to the cleat on the dock and then back to the stern, would also allow you to easily cast off the spring line when you need to. You just release the bitter end and then haul the line in, and hope it doesn't wrap on the cleat.

Once you've run the spring line, power into reverse, and the bow will swing out. As the bow swings out, get ready to cast off the spring line and go into forward gear, and start moving away from the dock. As soon as you making way in forward gear, cast off the spring line and haul it in.

How far out you can swing the bow depends mostly on the design of your boat. If you have a transom mounted swim platform, rudder or windvane, you will not be able to swing out as far as a boat that does not have them.

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