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WhatTheFoley 08-05-2009 04:44 PM

How to Get into this... single handed?

I have an interesting problem that I'd love to get some help with. I have a 31' sailboat. I find that I single hand a fair amount, but getting her on the dock with a stiff cross wind is nearly impossible by myself.

Attached is a daigram of what I'm talking about. But the basic picture is that my slip is in a corner where a section of covered moorage joins the main breakwater. The prevailing wind for our area unfortunately blows across the slip.

To further complicate things, there are no cleats on the breakwater just a rail. So it's really not that easy to quickly secure a spring line around the rail.

The trouble that I've run into (even with a crew) is that when the wind picks up 10-15mph the bow gets blown off (as you would expect). I've tried to carry more speed in order to counter act the wind, and move quickly to get a bow spring on, but this causes the boat to get VERY close to the covered section. On one occasion the person with the spring couldn't get it around the rail and the shrouds started to rub the cover above the other slips YIKES!

I could probably install some cleats if I had to (I'm sure the owner of the marina wouldnt be to happy, but the'd probibyl never even notice). That might help with getting a spring on, but what other tips/tricks could I use to get into this slip single handed??


imagine2frolic 08-05-2009 04:54 PM

Sailing Lessons, Sailboat Docking and Anchoring

Are you trying to get in, or out?.....i2f

WhatTheFoley 08-05-2009 05:54 PM

Sorry if I was not clear... I'm looking to get into this slip.

Getting out is pretty simple. There is room behind the boat. We walk it backwards along the breakwater, then kick the nose out (which is helped by the wind in this case) and off we go.

But to be clear, I'm looking for advise for getting into this slip.

I've looked over the link you posted before, and have employed the second method many times. The trouble with it, is that I do not have any cleats or piling on the dock side, and trying to do any of those approaches alone is very difficult.

NCC320 08-05-2009 06:25 PM

Just a couple of thoughts that might help.

I assume that you can tie off to the rail in such a manner that your lines will stay where you put them, even under the constant tugging on the lines in rough weather or when wind is high. That being the case, tie your lines permanently to the rail and loop them over the rail so you just have to pick them up. Then, you simply have to drop the loops over your cleats. (If you do this, keep an extra set of lines on the boat and always have a couple in the cockpit, in case unexpected conditions require you to tie up in an unplanned location.) Then you can pick up the spring line first which is pretied at the proper length to prevent overrunning the slip and drop this on your midship cleat preferably or bow cleat, while the boat is still powering ahead slowly. Use the rudder to control the bow and the boat should snug up to the breakwater. If you don't have a midship cleat, you can get cleats from Gaurhauer or Schaefer that fit onto your genoa tracks on the deck. (Actually, if the leads are reasonably close, you might even pretie the springline so you can drop it over your cockpit winch and then you don't have far to go from the wheel, cutting down on the time for the evolution). Also, give some thought to fenders over the side to protect your boat as it snugs up to the breakwater...and consider whether it might be better to prehang these on the breakwater rail since this would simplify setting up for docking. Try these ideas out with someone on board to help if things go wrong initially until you get the technique refined and worked out.

J36ZT 08-05-2009 06:36 PM


I don't think there's a good technique without using some sort of attachment prior to entering the slip. No matter what you try, I think you'll find the wind will catch the bow and take it toward the covered slip. You could try backing in instead, but some boats don't back as well as others and this could cause more/new problems.

It's been my experience that it's much easier to beg forgiveness vs ask for permission. So, what I'd do is buy a couple of cleats and install them on the dock along the approach to my slip. If you can't thru-bolt the cleats, long lag-screws will probably work. I'd try to get the same style cleats (and use same attachment method) if at all possible so as to camouflage the job. It's very likely nobody will notice...or even care.

Likely, the main reason there aren't already cleats there is to prevent someone from docking directly behind you and blocking you in. And, this is a strong possibility you should consider before installing the cleat(s).

Again, this is what I'd do. I would consider the cleats a form of cheap insurance against costly gelcoat and rigging repairs.

Just my $0.02 worth...

Skipper, J/36 "Zero Tolerance"

WhatTheFoley 08-05-2009 07:07 PM

Thanks for all the advice so far! It looks like putting in some cleats is a must if I want to single hand it... I agree that asking for forgiveness is often easier, so maybe I'll do some snooping and see how to attach them.

I guess the one thing that is a bit terrifying when coming into this situation single handed is the fact that at some point I'm going to have to leave the helm and put the spring on... and this will/might need to be done while I'm still under power... Guess I'lll just have to get used to that...

I'd thought about backing into the slip (at least I"d be closer if I'm at the helm) but I don't trust how my boat handles in reverse with a stiff breeze.

NCC320 08-05-2009 07:45 PM

Another Thought:

You could tie a line (I would use double braid polyester for reducing the amount of stretch) at an angle in your slip from about the middle of the slip at the bow end (tied to pier) and extending to the stern end of the dock (again tied to pier) as a safety net against your bow falling down on the covered dock. And if wind is a problem from other directions or you want to stay away from the breakwater, tie a similar line on the windward side, so you now have a "V" arrangement with these lines to hold your boat in place. You could tie them at the bow end so that you could swing them away so there is no contact with your boat after the boat has been docked. Now you can't miss...just drive in bow first to the slip, tie off the windward stern line and then the other lines.

WhatTheFoley 08-12-2009 05:45 PM

I like that idea... I'll have to give it a try. Let you know when I get it rigged up! Thanks!

pdqaltair 08-12-2009 06:57 PM

If you can walk it out, why not walk it in?

Originally Posted by WhatTheFoley (Post 513302)
I like that idea... I'll have to give it a try. Let you know when I get it rigged up! Thanks!

Get off with a line, out where there is lots of room, sort things out, and then walk it in.

Bene505 08-12-2009 09:37 PM

Run a line that's just like a preventer, from the cockpit to the bow and then outside everything back to near the cockpit (instead of onto the boom like when it's used as a preventer). Put a loop at the end of the line, using a bowline or splice or anything.

Then as you approach the slip, loop the line on a cleat without leaving the cockpit and pull in the slack. Taa-daa! You have a spring line in place. Keep a little power on with port rudder to force your boat up against the dock.

Haven't tried this myself. I'm thinking about something similar for picking up a mooring single-handed. Haven't tried that yet either, by the way.


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