Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: North Carolina
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I dock more or less the same way (backing in). My fairway is long and straight whereas yours is curved, and I start my backing outside the fairway in open water. I wouldn't worry too much about speed. Back in sufficiently fast to give good control over the boat. As you start making your turn in you can shift to forward just prior to entering the slip to slow the boat if needed. And if you misjudge the turn, shift to forward, abort the docking, go out and start again. You'll have lots of braking power when you shift into forward. Be sure to tighten your wheel brake to hold the rudder at it's setting and to avoid rudder from slamming into stops, where you might get damage. The brake setting should be such that you can correct the rudder position as required by overriding the brake. Set the brake just as you start the final turn into the slip. Using buddy lines (parallel lines from outer pilings to pier on either side of the slip) are helpful when single handing. As mentioned above, wind can be a serious issue, both in keeping the boat under control (my bow likes to fall off in a crosswind), and in making your 180 turn in the fairway. In my case, I can check out the control that I have in open water before I enter the fairway. If I have good control, I back into the fairway and slip. With wind, if I know, or find out that I don't have good control, then I go bow first into the slip on that day. You might want to pad the finger pier edge also just in case the boat blows down on it on those days that you go bow first. Those buddy lines will be really helpful too on bow first, singlehanded approaches. It looks strange, but you can back down a really long fairway, and if more open water is availiable nearby, I would consider starting my backing there, and making a long journey down your curving fairway....looks funny, but works. Good luck.
p.s. Different people have different ideas, but I think backing a long distance is better than trying to go to the dead end of a narrow fairway and then trying to start backing into the slip. If you misjudge or wind gets you out of position, you can be trapped into an impossible situation that you can't get out of without contacting other boats or shore. It depends a lot on the boat too...some back well once you get them moving, some don't. If yours backs well once moving in reverse, backing into the slip is more or less like going bow first....just drive it in between the pilings. And if you have to abort, shift to forward, apply as much power as needed. You probably should practice both methods when you have crew aboard (standing by to assist if needed, but otherwise not doing anything) to determine which technique works for you, your slip, and your boat.
Last edited by NCC320; 08-09-2011 at 07:19 AM.