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NCC320 01-23-2009 10:58 AM

Spring Lines ---The Details?
When questions have been posted regarding docking and singlehanding, the standard answer is ....use spring lines, they are your friend!

Ok, how?

Where do you attach them for both forward and astern situations? Are they preset in length? Which side? Doesn't the slack jerk the boat around when they go tight? What happens before they go tight...doesn't the slack allow one to drift down on adjacent boats? Do you feed the spring line gradually to make it longer while at same time keeping it tensioned so that it functions as a spring line? How do you do this from the helm station? There doesn't seem to be enough time to allow one to leave the helm station to go forward to place the spring line on a piling (once the spring line is tight and engine/prop is balancing forces, I see how you can do it, but not before, especially if in a strong crosswind). I haven't used spring lines because they would seem to press really hard against the lifeline stanchions and possible cause leaks. What is your concern here? Please address the questions from a single handed standpoint.

Please help us unconverted ones to see the light! Thanks.

JLBJR 01-23-2009 11:03 AM

Go to this link for lot's of answers to your single handed questions.

Chapman Piloting and Seamanship - Google Book Search

NCC320 01-23-2009 11:31 AM

Actually, while I said I don't use springlines, I mean just while docking. Once in the slip, I can get a fair lead so the lines don't press on the stanchions and I do use them in this case to hold the boat in proper position in the slip. My previous post was on the details of exactly how you use them in the docking evolution, with emphasis on details like where, how long, string up to helm station, etc. for single handing. It's in the docking that they seem to offer some magic. Thanks.

SailKing1 01-23-2009 11:42 AM

When i first started single handing I would connect my forward spring lines together with my dock cleat lines to form a cradle when leaving. It made it easy to come in to the slip either way when retuning and the set up would hold the boat steady while I took care of the other end.

NCC320 01-23-2009 12:03 PM

JLBJR, thanks for the link.

Actually, I have a copy of Chapman and I find the sections on spring lines a little frustrating as a singlehander. At various times, they talk about and illustrate, moving the fenders from position to position as the boat moves, they sometimes talk about someone on the pier assisting line handling, they show the attachment points of lines at various places as if there is knowledgeable crew on board. Where I sail, there is no dock attendant, if I'm singlehanding, I have no crew and can't be in three places at one time. Oh, yes, I really, really don't want to ding and scratch up the sides of the boat...after 9 years, the hull looks like new and I want to keep it that way if possible. And I just don't see how one uses the springlines to warp around or hold the boat in position without pulling against stanchions or scuffing the hull along pilings. I've also looked at a number of films and other writings on docking, and while they talk about bad conditions, it's always easy, with no wind or current when they do it, and truthfully, in most cases illustrated, they don't even need to play with spring lines. I'm concerned about when it's just me, it's blowing crosswind line stink, and the chop is throwing the boat around crazy. This is what I really need some help on. And despite the basic details I asked about, I really do understand the concept of spring lines (In a former life, I was the officer in charge of deck evolutions in the Navy on a destroyer). Thanks though, for any input that will be useful to me, in particular, and to lots of newbies that read these posts.

WanderingStar 01-23-2009 12:32 PM

Study and practice. As a longtime singlehander, I can tell you what you already know: think ahead. If I need to take in a spring line quickly, I double it, with both ends aboard. I try to angle the boat into the wind before I start off, and take in any lines that won't help. If there's an easier spot nearby on return, I sail to that, and warp her around. Keep seeking source material. Stand on deck and mentally picture your manuevers. Add cleats close to the cockpit. Even shorter lines, like sternlines, can sometimes serve like a springline. Don't forget that your sailboat can be manuevered by a push on a piling also, even though she can't be stopped that way. You'll work it out.

sailingdog 01-23-2009 01:04 PM

google captain jack klang. Get his book

Sailormon6 01-23-2009 01:41 PM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 436783)
google captain jack klang. Get his book

Ditto Capt. Jack Klang. He's excellent. You can see and hear him for free at most of the major sailboat shows around the US. He's sponsored by Quantum Sails. He has some "how to" videos posted on the Lattitudes and Attitudes website, including this one on spring lines. YouTube - "Latitudes & Attitudes" Cruising Tip w/Capt Jack

smackdaddy 01-23-2009 02:03 PM

78 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Sailormon6 (Post 436805)
Ditto Capt. Jack Klang. He's excellent. You can see and hear him for free at most of the major sailboat shows around the US. He's sponsored by Quantum Sails. He has some "how to" videos posted on the Lattitudes and Attitudes website, including this one on spring lines. YouTube - "Latitudes & Attitudes" Cruising Tip w/Capt Jack

Thanks for the link Sailormon. It's always great to be able to see it in action while it's being explained!

painkiller 01-23-2009 04:00 PM

Hey, NCC. I use an aft spring line while docking. Attach it mid-ship leading aft. Once you get the other end onto a cleat or piling, you can gently motor against the spring and your stern will come in to the dock. Once you're pinned against the spring and against the dock, you can take your time getting the other lines on because the boat's not going anywhere.

A fender or, better yet, a generous rub rail helps.

With this setup, you only need to worry about getting that one line on when coming in.

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