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bobban 05-11-2012 04:48 PM

Docking stern in, strong crosswind
I am trying to complete an online sailing test and got stuck in one question:

You're about to dock stern to with mooring lines. The wind is 20 knots from the side. How do you approach the quay?

A) From the windward side of your berth with the bow into the wind
B) Straight
C) From the leeward side of your berth with the stern into the wind

I find both A and C answers valid. It seems to me to me that it is possible to dock using both techniques. I've found others asking similar questions and receiving mixed answers. Some people are suggesting backing with the wind, the others against.

What do you think is the correct answer? Thanks!

Cruisingdad 05-11-2012 05:06 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind
Well, I have done it both ways. Part depends on the fairway.

Problem with backing into the wind, which seems the most correct, is that you have to really have a head of steam or when you turn or your bow will be slow to follow. Bow's fall off with the wind. So that manuever needs a bit of thrust.

Problem with following the wind down is that when you turn and that bow starts to follow, it may not stop and you will find yourself pointing the exact opposite way or sideways into the dock. THis is the least controlled method IMHO.

If I had the fairway, I would back into the wind with a good head of steam because it would keep the boat the most controlled following into the slip. That's my opinion. C.

Course, I have had more than my share of "Oh CRAP!". Nothing a little gel coat doesn't fix.


nolatom 05-11-2012 05:12 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind

But It kind of matters to me, backing a right-hand prop, whether the crosswind is from stbd or port.

If from port, the stern-walk plus the crosswind will put her into a stbd swing too rapid to allow us to stay parallel to the slip long enough to enter it; if it's from stbd though, better chance to hold your heading as you back up, since the turning forces of wind on the bow, and prop-walk, tend to cancel each other out.

But sometimes I just can't get it done without using the outer piling as a pivot point--get the lee quarter partly into the slip, grab the (eventual) leeward bow line from the soon-to-be lee bow outer piling, cleat it to the lee quarter, and back against it as a spring line to pry the bow upwind using the (fendered or rubrailed) outer piling as the fulcrum. Once bow gets parallel to the slip then ease the line some as you move astern and get in.

tempest 05-11-2012 05:12 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind
I would favor A Backing in with the bow to the wind. Then once you begin the turn into your slip the wind will help push the bow off to help you line up in the slip.
Timing and speed would be critical. I think I would favor my dock side of the fairway and let the wind turn my stern into the slip. If the bow gets past 90 degrees to the wind it will be tough to get it back, so I think you'd want to be halfway into the slip by the time that happens.

With the stern to the wind the wind will work to prevent your turn pushing your bow downwind, rather than allowing you to bring it up.

sea_hunter 05-11-2012 05:16 PM

It's all dependent on the direction of your boat's prop walk.

PBzeer 05-11-2012 05:16 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind
I also would come stern into the wind, if I was going to attempt it.

The real problem with this scenario though is, you usually don't get a choice which side of the dock to come in on.

dabnis 05-11-2012 06:46 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind
Had a big commercial salmon troller, had to back it in with strong side wind.
1 Came down the fairway, which was fairly wide, with the wind
2. Made a hard right turn putting the bow about half way into the wind
3. Let the wind catch the starboard side of the boat and start a drift
4. As the bow starts to blow downwind use hard right rudder and a short blast of power to kick the stern to port
5. Use short bit of reverse to kill forward motion, which wasn't too much
6. Repeat #4 until you are lined up with the slip
7. One final shot of reverse into the slip, then a shot of forward to stop the boat

It was kind of like "walking" it in, drift, kick the stern left, back a little and repeat. For whatever reason this boat didn't have a lot of propwalk if just short bursts of reverse were used. The primary function was to keep kicking the stern to the left to counter the bow drifting downwind. Worst fear was to let the bow blow back down too much, massive pucker time, no way to recover except to try to back out of the fairway against the wind. Not good.

Paul T

Brent Swain 05-11-2012 06:47 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind
Pull in bow first. Turn her around later, after the wind has died.
Do it the logical, easy way. Leave the macho, exhibitionism to the adolescents.

CaptainForce 05-11-2012 06:51 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind
There are too many variables not identified, but let us assume that adjacent vessels are not sticking out beyond the pilings at the ends of their slips and the wind is strong enough to be more significant than the effects of prop walk. My vessel, typically of most will have the bow move off the wind if I have little speed; therefore, I would need to approach into the wind and place the quarter of the vessel to the outside windward piling. As the bow is blown off the wind I would be backing into the slip with both a quarter spring and bow line on the earlier referenced piling. There would be no urgency in gaining lines to leeward, but as the quarter spring tightens the stern will come close to gain the upwind stern line. Take care and joy, Aythya crew

dabnis 05-11-2012 06:59 PM

Re: Docking stern in, strong crosswind

Originally Posted by Brent Swain (Post 870231)
Pull in bow first. Turn her around later, after the wind has died.
Do it the logical, easy way. Leave the macho, exhibitionism to the adolescents.

That would have been nice if we had a float. We were in San Francisco Bay Fisherman's wharf. Just 2 pilings on one side and a steel ladder on the far left side of the slip which you couldn't get to except from the stern of the boat, hence the need to back in, no heroics, just necessity. :D

Paul T

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