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bacampbe 11-24-2009 03:52 PM

Holding Position
Imagine you are waiting for space at a fuel doc in tight quarters, or otherwise need to hold position in a tight and/or congested area. How do you go about it? I can see dropping anchor in some circumstances, but that may be difficult in tight quarters.

We had a situation like this on our last charter out of Tortola. When we returned to the Moorings base, we were instructed to proceed to the end of a dock and standby for instructions. Of course, the instructions were not forthcoming in a timely manner, and "standing by" in that spot got a little more interesting than we had in mind. No actual incidents occurred, but if it happens to me again I think I'll head back out to open water and tell them to call me when they are ready for me.

JohnRPollard 11-24-2009 04:53 PM


Originally Posted by bacampbe (Post 545126)
...if it happens to me again I think I'll head back out to open water and tell them to call me when they are ready for me.

I think that's what I'd do too.

CaptainForce 11-24-2009 05:05 PM

I find this situation common while waiting for a bridge opening on the ICW. It's an event that develops great skill in manuvering and if it happens enough in a significant current you will increase your ability to approach a dock in a wide variety of conditions, but I agree, when the conditions are troublesome it's best to double back. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew

Sabreman 11-24-2009 05:05 PM

I agree with John. Happens quite often in the Chesapeake on summer weekends at the busier locations (Baltimore, Annapolis, Herrington Harbor, etc.) or smaller ports. We do one of three things 1) point the boat into the wind and maintain bare steerage until the situation resolves itself, 2) stand off and circle until the situation resolves itself, 3) max throttle and yell like Rodney Dangerfield. Ok, I never tried the last one, but it's entertaining to watch.

I can't afford to mix it up.

klem 11-24-2009 05:09 PM

Depending on your hull design, you can sometime do a really good job of holding position and other times, you just have to head back out. On boats where the propeller is placed just forward of the rudder, you can really control the direction of you thrust and keep the boat head to wind. The technique is to spin the wheel hard over and engage forwards then put it back in neutral just before being pointed into the wind. This does not work on a lot of modern boats where the props are further forwards and there is a lot of windage forwards which make the boats quickly fall off the wind.

There are also a few rare boats that actually hold position really well stern to. These tend to be boats with large rigs placed very far forwards. Just using a little reverse every now and then can keep you in the same spot. You do have to be careful about moving sideways.

Realistically, it is usually easier just to go out and motor in circles slowly.

JohnRPollard 11-24-2009 05:15 PM

Then there's always the Captain Ron method:
:D :D :D :D

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deniseO30 11-24-2009 05:41 PM

Capn Ron's method would be good to have in one's list of "things you can do if you have to" lol

Sabreman 11-24-2009 08:01 PM

I was thinking of something like this. Rodney is my hero.

YouTube - Caddyshack - Funny Boat Scene

Boasun 11-24-2009 08:22 PM

Have had that happen to me. But then I was on work boats and if there is another work boat in there, then many times I just come up along side them and wait until they are finished fueling and taking on stores. thus the fuel farm know I am waiting and the boat inside know that they can't hang around delaying getting underway.

HenkMeuzelaar 11-24-2009 10:43 PM

The heave-to under bare poles approach
Motorsailing 800 NM back from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego (the infamous Cabo Bash) in 1993 meant refueling in Turtle Bay. The fuel was pumped/siphoned down via a long hose directly from barrels on a dock too rough and high to tie up to so you were supposed to anchor in the fairway and back up to the dock Mediterranean style.

Once your turn was about to come up (sometimes taking a day or two....) it was advisable to try and hold position as close as possible to the vessel being fueled or someone else might sneak in. In our case, we were right after a motoryacht taking on 1500 gallon or so, without anyone having any clue whether this was going to take 20 or 200 minutes.

A stiff wind was blowing straight onto the dock and there was not enough room to make smooth circles. Since I couldn't see myself making forced back-and-fill turns for more than a handful of minutes I started to try and keep the bow into the wind by countering the rudder and applying a little forward power.

Soon we found ourselves effectively hove-to under bare poles; i.e. on bow and rudder alone while slowly drifting/yawing sideways, i.e. parallel to the dock, until we threatened to run out of space and I had to push the bow through the wind with a little extra engine power, after which we would sidle the whole way back on the opposite tack, etc.

After 10 or 20 stressful minutes it was actually starting to become fun, especially when it occurred to me that we should be able to sidle directly into the fairway next to the fuel point, drop the anchor and let the wind push us back to the dock. When our turn finally came, this worked just fine (although we managed to make enough clumsy manoevers with the fuel hose to spoil our brief moment of glory).

As already mentioned by several responders, it all depends on the type of vessel, the local conditions and your own experience. Although I have hit too many docks, pilings and bow anchor stocks over the years to consider myself a hotrod dock acrobat, what I learned from this episode is that being forced to wait and think things through definitely has its plus sides.

Flying Dutchman

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