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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 08-28-2011
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Slow down when docking!

Recently, I was crewing on a beautiful 53 foot wooden Yawl. As we approached the dock, I jumped onto the dock and went forward to handle the bow lines. Suddenly, crew started yelling, "We've lost the motor". I did all that I could, which was to put a shoulder into the bow, but she threw my 230 lbs aside like I was a flea and proceed to climb the dock and ram her bow into a boardwalk that was perpendicular to the dock. The sound of splintering wood that I heard still disturbs me! Simply following the axiom "Never approach a dock at a speed at which you don't want to hit it" would have avoided the incident. I mention this because in the last month, I have seen 2 other similar incidents. IMO, there is no need to approach a dock this fast. With most keel boats, you have several Tons in motion, and no brakes. If you come in hot, lose your transmission, transmission or throttle linkage, or your motor, you are screwed! When approaching a slip, I throttle back, then go to neutral before I even commit to the slip. Then... if something fails, I can kill the motor and have room to maneuver. Otherwise, I meander into the slip, usually putting her into reverse, about half way in. No heroic busts of reverse are needed. If I have a strong head wind at the dock, I leave her in forward longer. With a tail wind, I put her in revese earlier. However, I am not approaching the dock any faster. Don't mean to rant, but I've seen too many boats rammed into to docks for no reason recently!
BTW, I assume some will say I was foolish to try to slow the Yawl with my body weight. I agree, but I couldn't stand there and do nothing. Not my nature. I had plenty of room to avoid being pinned. Had she be moving at an appropriate speed, I would have had some effect.
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Old 08-28-2011
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Very well said! I pulled into my slip a few months ago with a couple teenagers on board, they were obviously annoyed with the snails pace. That confirmed to me that I was doing it right. Well, at least doing it slowly! :-)

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Old 08-28-2011
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Excellent point! I prefer having to give a little extra bump in forward to make my slip over having to reverse to stop once there.

It's a sailboat. No need to rush.
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Old 08-28-2011
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Full agree in principal. It does bring two thoughts to mind.

First, if you are in a heavy crosswind or current, you may have to approach a bit faster, but these are exceptions.

Second, when backing into a slip, you might require more speed to get rudder authority on some boats. Many chest pounding sailors look down on the use of a bow thruster, but, if you have one, you can effectively use it as the rudder when you back into your slip at an idle speed below that which provides much actual rudder authority. I say the slow approach is more important than proving you can back in without the thruster. (I know, you should still be able to do it without one)
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Old 08-28-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulfromNWOnt View Post
It's a sailboat. No need to rush.
Thats what amazes me. If you own a mono hull "the need for speed" is obviously not your top priority. I simply can't understand why so many skippers come in so fast!
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Old 08-28-2011
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The other day I heard an engine revving from a nearby slip and turned around, to see a 30ft sailboat HURTLING backwards out of the slip. It had so much steerage and momentum that it turned through more than 90 degrees and just stopped before it ripped the large outboard off the boat in the opposite slip.

Then there was a hairy moment as he tried to proceed forward up the fairway (at full revs of course) and straighten up without hitting the outboard again (which he ended up about 6 inches from)

So the same remarks apply to leaving the slip too!

I'm very cautious especially since I was docking a chartered sailboat last year, and at that crucial moment where you give it a burst of reverse to stop in the slip, the throttle lever came off in my hand. We were going dead slow so idle reverse and timely use of a snubber stopped us anyway.

Anyway I found this educational video on how to dock properly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JATSpxlB3uE
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Last edited by MarkSF; 08-28-2011 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 08-28-2011
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[QUOTE=Minnewaska;766919]Full agree in principal. It does bring two thoughts to mind.
First, if you are in a heavy crosswind or current, you may have to approach a bit faster, but these are exceptions.QUOTE]

I often have a strong cross winds at my dock that want to blow the bow away from the dock (and into my neighbor!). I approach slowly at a Ferry angle, allowing crew to get off and lead the bow forward. If I'm single handing, I find another dock and wait till the wind dies, as there is no way I can keep the bow under control regardless of speed. Well....I could ram her into the dock (like the Yawl), which would prevent her from falling off, but then.....

A really strong cross current can certainly be problematic. Fortunately they are rare (if not, I'd find another marina!), and were not a factor in any of the examples of hull abuse I cited. I think it's simply a matter of skippers not respecting the amount of weight beneath them, and the fact that they don't have brakes!
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Old 08-28-2011
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As a rule, if you're not bored as you come into a pier/slip, you're going too fast.

FWIW...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L124C View Post
.......I often have a strong cross winds at my dock that want to blow the bow away from the dock (and into my neighbor!). I approach slowly at a Ferry angle, allowing crew to get off and lead the bow forward. If I'm single handing, I find another dock and wait till the wind dies, as there is no way I can keep the bow under control regardless of speed. Well....I could ram her into the dock (like the Yawl), which would prevent her from falling off, but then.....
I am from the school where no one ever gets off the boat until we have at least one spring line holding us against the dock, while applying idle power against it. No exceptions.

Quote:
A really strong cross current can certainly be problematic. Fortunately they are rare (if not, I'd find another marina!), and were not a factor in any of the examples of hull abuse I cited.
I did say these are exceptions to the points you were making. The worst cross current I've ever had to deal with was in a transient slip in a river in Maine. No choice.

Quote:
I think it's simply a matter of skippers not respecting the amount of weight beneath them, and the fact that they don't have brakes!
Most often, I'm sure this is true.
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Old 08-28-2011
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I teach folks how to dock yachts under sail. We use a stern breast line to stop the forward motion. Then get a centre line tie on ASAP.

Under power we use a a method similar to the spring line approach. Before leaving the dock we find a spot to which we can attach a line that permits the boat to stay parallel to the dock when the transmission is in forward. I find the mid ship cleat is too far forward. When we come in, one person steps off (never jumps) and ties off opposite the transom. Then the transmission is engaged and you can take your time getting the lines attached. This a great method for a couple to use.

If you have a cross wind or current pushing you off the dock, just get a centre line tie on. Then worry about getting the breast and spring lines on.
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