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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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Old 09-13-2011
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Never step off a moving boat?

I started another thread regarding docking boat speed. In the thread, several references were made by other members to the rule: "Never step off a moving boat". I have to admit, when I single hand, I do it all the time. I'm a fairly athletic guy, and have never felt it was the least bit dangerous. Having said that, I'm always open to learning. Anyone have any actual stories that demonstrate that when done with discretion (slow boat speed, low feeboard, etc) the practice is dangerous? Heck....even include the examples done with reckless abandon, should be funny! Extra points for video.
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Old 09-13-2011
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I do it all the time, don't see a problem. Heck, boats are always moving. The only question is whether you get wet. In my case I stand a greater chance of getting wet stepping onto a dockside stationary boat than while it's moving (true).

Does falling off a moving boat count? Done that too.
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Old 09-13-2011
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It's always moving when I step off.

I also climbed trees when I was young, so I'm qualified.

The "bubble generation"...not so much.

For them, it's best to wait until everything is settled and then get assistance by a qualified and insured individual who understands the nuances of stepping over 1 foot of water.
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Old 09-13-2011
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The logic behind waiting for the boat to stop relative to the jetty is there is a lot less chance of getting caught between the jetty and the moving boat.

Crush injuries between jetties and boats are too common.

The advise also stops novices thinking it is alright to jump between the boat and jetty. Crew often don't appreciate the movements of a boat and one of the scary things as a skipper is closing on a jetty, positioning the hull so a line can easily be slipped over a bollard when a crew member jumps believing their being on the jetty is going to make the securing of the drifting boat easier.

My docking technique does not plan to have anyone leave the safety of the boat until a line is secured and the boat secured and stable near the jetty.

Larger boats might be more stable but the risk is still there. Best seamanship is to develop docking techniques that do not rely on people on the jetty or moving from the boat to the jetty until the boat is secure.

Most times I back in to the jetty at 45 degrees tying a line from the rear to the jetty then motor forward against the line to push the bow into the jetty. Alternatively I run a line from the cockpit to midships then lead to the stern(outside), back the boat in at 45 degrees, secure the line on a bollard then use the line to haul the boat in sideways.

Both methods allow me to watch the clearances from the helm and I can power forward clear of the jetty if anything goes wrong. Its a simple procedure that works single handed and works from the safety of the cockpit.
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Old 09-13-2011
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It's a rare landing when I'm unable to stop the boat alongside so the the crew simply steps off and secures the boat. I think the danger in stepping off a moving boat is not so much in the leap as in the attempt to physically stop the boat, or to try to act as a human fender when things go awry.. This does, of course, depend on the boat's size and displacement.

But I reckon there have been plenty of turned ankles and other injuries to those attempting to 'jump' off the boat. (Imagine having to jump off something like a Hunter Passage 45 onto a low float!)

Here's another thing that happens.. handing off the line to a "helpful" soul on the dock while still coasting, whereupon they promptly snub it down and send the stern shearing off away from the dock!!

When we do hand off lines we always let them know "We'll stop the boat"...

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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Old 09-13-2011
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If someone didn't step off my moving boat, I'd spend a lot of time repairing the bow
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Old 09-13-2011
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I just give a bit of reverse which serves to both stop the boat and bring the stern to port so I can step off with no drama. Of course, it's a Catalina 36 and they pretty much handle like a really long car.

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Never 'jump'

But 'step' is fine
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Old 09-13-2011
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L124C and junkrig like this.
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Old 09-14-2011
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I saw a person calmly step off a slow moving boat, stub their toe on an ever so slightly raised board and do a nice face plant into the dock. It looked like it hurt. You can fall or trip any time whether the boat is moving or not.

Telling a newbie "Step off when the boat is moving slow enough" leaves things up to interpretation. 5 kts might be slow for a former powerboater. A rule of not stepping off until the boat is stopped is more black and white.

another funny
This post is made from recycled electrons

A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why ships are built.

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Last edited by Sublime; 09-14-2011 at 12:28 AM.
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