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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 04-07-2013
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Docking single handed...

As if backing your sailboat into a slip wasn't stressful enough, what to do when your only option is a four point tie up in a transient slip?

No dock lines set up.
The piling are 15 feet high so you can't throw a loop over them.
Any type of current or crosswind will push you into the next boat or pilings.
No hope of ever reaching the windward pilings.

Am I missing something or is this damn near impossible to do, and stop the boat, even with a second set of hands?

I know people must do it and I make a mess of it even with help.

In fact, the only time I ever got it right, it turned out I backed into the wrong slip and had to move...we all know what happened next.
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Old 04-07-2013
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Re: Docking single handed...

Tips on Tying Your Boat to the Dock | Boating Safety Tips, Tricks & Thoughts from Captnmike

Check out his "docking strap". It is simply a strap that with two loops that is setup to be the length from your mid-ship cleat (or primary winch) to the stern cleat on a dock, with a long extra line that you can use to control it. I took my brightest colored docking line and put a bowline in the middle to make the second loop. The bright color makes it easy to find.

If you snag the aft dock cleat with that and leave the boat forward in idle it will hug up against the dock and not go anywhere.

I have a 29.5' boat (with bow pulpit) in a 30' slip with my fiberglass standing up on the dock at the end of the slip. This setup has made docking a lot easier and more reliable for me.

His blog is worth reading for other tricks too.
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Old 04-07-2013
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Re: Docking single handed...

I feel your pain. I have run into the same problem and it's not always fun.
It takes a lot of preparation with lines and large loops in the them.
I have had mild success by preparing a long line with a very large loop at the end and as I cross the first upwind pylon (hopefully as slow as possible), I use the boat hook to get the line over it and as I get close to the dock, it secure it to the stern cleat, it will be an aft spring line. That prevents the stern from hitting the dock if the wind is still pushing you.
By now the aft upwind pylon should be close to you and so I take the boat hook and pass another big looped line over that pylon and secure it to the aft cleat also (it might be tight there with the spring line already on but it's temporary.
I also have a long bow line tied to the bow cleat and running down toward the cockpit. I can now take that line, pass it under the aft spring line and walk it toward the bow while pulling the boat close to the first pylon with it (through the spring line). I can then use the boat hook again and pass the loop over the pylon and then readjust the line on the bow cleat as necessary.

Now I can breathe a bit better. After that I loosen the lines as needed in order for the boat to slide downwind so I can now pass the other looped bow and stern lines over the downwind pylons.

The aft spring line can now be moved to a midship cleat of winch as needed.
This is of course easier if the wind is coming straight down the slip or at least from the dock.

There is a device you see advertised in all magazines that is designed ti pass line over pylon a lot easier than with the boat hook. I've never had one but it looks like it would work well.

Sorry about the lengthy and confusing post but it makes sense in my head
Again, I totally relate to you because that is simply not fun thing when single handed.
But I will say that the satisfaction of being finally secure in the slip without hopefully hitting any boat is one of the best moments I've known
It makes up for the times it didn't work out so well....
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Old 04-07-2013
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Re: Docking single handed...

I would like to suggest a simple set up that I jokingly refer to as the Halpern Mk III Docker. The Halpern MK III Docker consists of an old retired wire halyard with a short rope tail at each end. The former halyard is run the length of the boat, outboard of everything. Riding on that wire is a small Harken ball-bearing, wire block. Tied through the shackle of the block is a loop of line slightly longer in length than the beam of the boat so that the loop when passed through the shackle and spliced is slightly longer than roughly half the beam of the boat.

When used for single-handed docking, the procedure is as follows:

Before starting into the slip, rig bow, stern and spring lines.

When the Halpern MK III Docker is deployed the former halyard is run tightly along the windward or up current side (which ever is stronger) of the boat, outboard of everything and the rope tails at the end of the former halyard are cleated to the bow cleat and stern cleats. The block is pulled aft to the helmsmen’s station and the loop is held in the helmsman’s hand. As the outer most windward or up current pile passes by the helmsman, the loop is dropped over the piling. As the boat continues to back in the block runs up the length of the wire. Meanwhile the helmsman focuses on steering towards and catching an aft piling or cleat with a stern line. The loop of line on the Docker prevents the bow from paying off to leeward (or down current). Once the stern is tied off you can rig the remaining springs and breast lines as necessary.
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Old 04-07-2013
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Re: Docking single handed...

If it's a public marina or has a gas dock, don't be afraid to ask for help via phone or radio. I've found the college kids with summer jobs often clueless on how to tie a knot or anything, but always helpful and cheerful. Another trick is to give them a tip that's a bit excessive. $10 or more and it's likely that they will remember your boat and look for it in the future.

GJ
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Old 04-12-2013
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Re: Docking single handed...

I use a line about a little more than half a boats length cleated amidships and ran back to the helm. I make sure to run it outside of the lifelines and stanchion to ensure I don’t damage anything. I make a large loop with a bowline on the free end. I normally aim my boat at the piling to windward. As I ease into the slip I use the boat hook to get my loop around the piling and then let it drift forward. I continue to ease the boat forward and it pulls me against the pilings. I loosely attach the bow lines and let the engine idle for shutdown. I think the few things I’ve learned during trial and error were:
- Before you get to the dock set out your bumpers and prepare the dock lines. I do this before even entering the channel to get to the marina.
- If it’s a new marina or dock do a drive-by to check it out before making an approach.
- If the wind, current, or dock layout looks fishy call the marina on 16 and ask for a dockhand. They would rather you pester them for a 10 minutes then scrape you off someone else’s boat.
- If someone is getting your docking on video it should be the most boring film out there. Meaning, docking isn’t the fast and furious. Although, I love watch power boaters trying to fly into a dock.
- Most important thing to remember. If there is nobody near the dock, on a boat, or walking around you will dock like the Pardey's. If there is an audience then just turn around and head back out!! Lol

-Jeff_H: You should get a video of the Halpern MKIII Docker! I would like to see that in action.
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Old 04-13-2013
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Re: Docking single handed...

There is a point about 1/4 of the distance from your transom to the bow at which you can attach a line. Before you leave the dock find this point and attach a line and tie it off to the dock at point abeam of your transom. Slack your breast lines and spring lines. Put the transmission in forward. The boat should suck into the dock and stay parallel to the dock. If it does not; move the attachment point aft if the bow comes in too much or forward if the bow moves out. Mark that point.

When coming into the dock the ensure that your breast and spring lines are secure. Tie the breast lines to the lifelines with a clove hitch. Attach ONE LINE to a string attachment point near the point above. This may serve as a spring line.

Dock the dock as you normally would. Take the single line and tie it off a point abeam of the transom. Step back on the boat and put it forward AND LEAVE IT IN FORWARD. The boat will suck in parallel to the dock. If it is not parallel, use the rudder to make it so. Attach your bow and stern breast lines and the spring lines. Only then take the transmission out gear and shut down.

VOILA.
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Re: Docking single handed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingJackson View Post
If it's a public marina or has a gas dock, don't be afraid to ask for help via phone or radio. I've found the college kids with summer jobs often clueless on how to tie a knot or anything, but always helpful and cheerful. Another trick is to give them a tip that's a bit excessive. $10 or more and it's likely that they will remember your boat and look for it in the future.

GJ
If you are going pass off a line; use a center / mid ship line, never a bow line.
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Old 04-13-2013
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Re: Docking single handed...

For The situation you described, I like Jeff's method. If the pole is 15' high, and a PIA to reach, you could rig the tether with a Caribiner or a snap shackle at one end and instead of messing around trying to get a loop over the pole just wrap it and snap it back on to the shackle. Once you've backed in and secured a stern line. You can go forward and attach your bow line however you want.
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