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EJO 06-07-2010 02:31 PM

Need Help Piloting/Controling a 32 footer
How to land a boat in a strong flowing river.
I have a 32" IRWIN Classic with aft cockpit tiller steering and had to take a slip perpendicular to a often fast flowing river.
The slips are 30'x 11' . I opted for a port side floating finger dock and SB aft mooring pole (centered between two slips).
I'm a couple of hundred feet from a draw bridge where the river narrows and therefore increases speed.
Bing Maps

Normally I have no problem making a soft landing with my 12,500 lbs s/v with 30 hp A4 and two bladed prop, but when we have some rain and the river flows more than 6 or 8 knts I have problems landing.
Just this weekend geese and duck where going backwards as they couldn't over come the 9-12 knt flow.
What to do does anybody have experience with this kind of situation?
My SB dock post becomes a fulcrum point and when I can't drop off a crew member or throw a line from the bow to pull her P bow towards the finger-dock my SP bow would hit my neighboring vessel.
The river behind my boat might be 60 ft wide. I looks wider in the picture than it is. See picture link I'm in the longer slips in front of the big storage bldg. and parking area (N of the bridge)
When going into reverse due to the prop rotation my boat will go Port so when leaving the slip I can manage just not to hit my neighbor and/or the pole on SB. I then straighten out facing up stream and make a 180 deg SB turn to make the bridge when it opens.
Tricky with vessels waiting to go thru the bridge but doable except when everybody is "back pedaling" not to flow into the bridge and after it opens boats also going upstream when it is flowing that fast.
How can I land should I go for a SB dock and pull the boat in to get on board?
Please give me your opinions.

deniseO30 06-07-2010 03:15 PM

I'm on the tidal Delaware river and on a mooring but I do occasionally go into transient slips at a local marina. Current up here is always 5 knots or more. I ALWAYStry to use the current when turning into a slip. I know as soon as the keel is 90* to the current the boat will start moving side ways and I try to use that also. Of course the boat has to be before or after the slip, depending on which way the water is flowing. When the bow is just before center of the slip I motor forward and then gun it in reverse so the mid ship cleat is centered on the finger slip just as the current starts to move the boat towards it. I takes lots of practice and knowing your boat's inertia helps allot. I shudder to think what would happen without the engine suddenly. Backing out is much easier and I always back into the current so the rudder responds. Hope this helps!

PS I've seen more then a few boats use a piling or end of pier as a fulcrum

FSMike 06-07-2010 04:20 PM

I'm confused.
Do I assume correctly that you enter your slip bow first?
Does the current flow from your port side towards your starboard side or vice-versa?
Is the bridge up current or down current from your slip?
Do you always approach your slip going up current?

EJO 06-07-2010 07:44 PM

sorry and thanks
Denise and Mike in response to both your notes.
Sorry I don't know if my "bing" satellite map shows or not, but the river flows (I just heard 12 knts last Sunday) South / West towards Lake Michigan. The flow hits my boat at SB pushing me P against the finger pier, hence I'm unable to backup into the current.
Yes I always like to use the current when turning in i.e. I float downstream (in reverse to go slow enough) then take a SB turn bow first into the slip but as my reverse tends to make my boat go to port you can't get her into the slip B-4 she is being pushed to SB against the first pole (at the end of the pier) which then becomes a center-point around which the boat tends to rotate, hence my SB bow trying to hit my neighbor's boat.
Denise I've tried it every way including the way you said, but my problem is that I can't or couldn't stop my boat from say a 4 knts speed to a full stop in it's own boat length.
Also I'm not the only sailboat there with that problem, there are even a couple of PW's that have a hard time with 100's of HP.

deniseO30 06-07-2010 08:04 PM

Don't think I'd ever try stern first. I don't get dead stop dead start either I just allow for the inertia. bumping F and R is very effective too. I've not tried the maneuver in high wind and flood current. But I keep practicing! As soon as the keel is perpendicular to the current she moves sideways quick, I just try gauge the distance so the flow brings the boat to the center of the slip just as the bow enters. sometimes the current pushes us hard against the finger dock. sometimes she just "kisses" it. It's a bit nerve racking because there's an outdoor restaurant and bar overlooking the slips and EVERYONE watches!

Spring lines may help I'm sure. I know it's a rule that guys never look or ask for help but I would think your marina has people around if it's always difficult to enter the slips.

FSMike 06-07-2010 10:13 PM

I don't understand.
You go in bow first?
The current flows from your starboard side towards your port side?
The finger pier is on your port side?
Then you say that you make a starboard turn into your slip?
This means that you are approaching your slip by going down current?
If that's the case no wonder you have problems. I can't conceive of docking in your slip by going downstream. You approach the slip going up current so you can use the current to slow your boat down as you make a port turn into your slip with just enough way on so she basically stops by the time she gets fully into the slip and nestles up to the port side dock.
Let me know if I've got it wrong.

EJO 06-08-2010 10:17 AM

Fast Sail Mike reply
Okay one more time.
I have tried every conventional method to landing this boat as you all described. I have also tried unconventional methods as I described (coming down stream and trying a SB turn into slip.
Again here is the situation in more detail i'm phased with.
I have a 32' narrow 9'8" boat that I'm slipping in a 30' long slip with port floating finger pier next to a 32'x 10'7" boat in a 30'x 11' slip with a SB 30' pier.
The head dock and these finger piers are floating steel therefore there is 0 current inside the slip well. Both slips are divided by a center post.
The moment you steer into the slip (preferably to port) going upstream the boat will be pushed downstream port aft. Due to the narrowness of the slip you have to enter as straight as you can. Going straight into the slip causes the boat to drift sideways to port at the speed of the current.
When the current is below 4-5 knts you can make a generally soft landing bumping sideways into the finger pier with protection of fenders.
As my keel is at about 11 ft from bow half my boat will be in the narrow slip B-4 the river takes over and pushes the boat against the corner of the finger pier, which in turn becomes a center-point around which my boat wants to turn due to the current pushing on my keel and rudder. This action results in the bow wanting to go SB as the aft of the boat is being pushed P. In order not to hit my right door neighbor I have a crew member pull the boat P while standing on the port side finger pier. If I go in straight faster I have to reverse faster and as previously mentioned my boat will go port due to the prop rotation exaggerating the river effect.
I hate looking like a newbie that doesn't know what he is doing, but I have to accept that I only can go out when current allows and not just when i want to.
My neighbor who's been sailing his boat for over 20 years and 90% of the time single hand, has not taken his boat out since 5 of us helped him slip it 4 weeks ago.
I've been boating (sail & power) for over 48 years in 11' to 55' boat and never have not been able to land a boat with a kiss, this bump and grind is bothering me.
I only wish all the other States stop taking water out of our Great lakes and the water level would be up by 8"-12" enabling me to pick a more secluded marina that can handle my draft.

imiloa 06-08-2010 10:34 AM

Maybe a spring line

Have you tried rigging a spring line from the outer most cleat on the finger dock to an onboard cleat just aft of amidships? I would think if you pick up and secure that line as soon as possible upon entering the slip you could apply forward power against it and steer to port using the spring line to "spring" and hold the bow in to port while kicking the stern (against the current) to starboard. (It would take a bit of trial and error adjusting to get the length and position of the line just right, of course.) You might then be able to attach other docking lines and warp/ease the rest of the way in. Sounds like you've got quite a challenge here.

EJO 06-08-2010 10:45 AM

Yes I have tried and use the spring line and a bow cleated line currently, but you might be right I should adjust the spring line length as it is now short and only set to keep the boat from running into the head dock when tied up.
Thanks for your good insight.

remetau 06-08-2010 02:03 PM

If I had to battle 12 knots of current, I think I'd move.

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