Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Marina del Rey Ca.
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The most important thing to think about in any docking/undocking situation is safety. never let anyone use their body to stop the boat, or make a flying leap from the boat to the dock. if this is a necessary part of your plan, you need a better plan. You Do NOT have to go into the slip if you are not ready! Make your plan, then execute your plan! Next think about the forces effecting the boat, they can be broken down into five general items
1. the wind
2. the current
3. your rudder
4. prop walk/torque - more pronounced in reverse
5. prop wash/ -only in forward
As for speed, this will vary. think bare steerage. Do you control the vessel or do the forces have control? when you turn the helm does it respond as much as you need? if no add speed. but remember you can always add speed but we can't always take it off. And using reverse to take speed off may not always be a good Idea because of the "prop walk" pulling your stern one way or the other, depending on the handedness of your prop.
After evaulating and adjusting for the wind and current on your approach to the slip, favoring to windward, or upcurrent, but allow room for the stern to swing. Make two 45degree turns instead of one hard 90degree turn. on the second turn if the boat is not turning fast or tight enough use a brief forceful burst of forward throttle with the helm hard over in the direction you want to turn. this "Prop wash" will rotate the boat into the slip without increasing forward momentum. Once the beam of the boat enters the slip Use Reverse throttle to stop the boat, having a crew member safely "STEP" off of the beam with a spring line if available, and take a wrap around the cleat. Do not make fast with this line at first, this can cause too much stress on the cleat, the line, or stop the boat hard swinging it into the dock. instead "sweat" the line to control the vessel.
Once the boat is stopped at the beam ease the boat the rest of the way into the slip. By stopping once the beam of the boat is in the slip you reduce the chance of scraping the hull down the dock if you are off center one way or the other.
As for use of fenders I recommend tying them just forward and aft of the beam of the boat so that it presents a flat surface to the dock instead of a big pinball bumper in the middle of the beam.
Practice this out in open water, trying to simulate the conditions at the dock. see how the boat manuevers. then practice, practice, practice. Every situation is going to be a wee bit different. becoming comfortable evaluating these five forces and improving your slow speed power handling skills will make docking and undocking a lot less stressful.
S/V "Kindred Spirit"