Owner 1973 C-41 Sloop
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Matthews, NC
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Re: Difficult docking
Assuming the green square in your thumbnail is where you were docking, (I too was unable to view the thumbnail until I right-clicked, opened in new tab, then was asked to log in, and once I did I could view it), I would have kept the boat in reverse, split the difference between the wind and the current favoring the port side, slowly backing her towards the opening to the place with the most slips and letting the wind push the bow to starboard and the current pull the bow to port. Then I would have tried to reduce RPM to let both the wind and the current overpower the motor allowing forward motion. Keeping the motor in reverse would allow you to, if too quickly approaching the dock, to increase the RPM and overpower the wind and current and back off. Also, before attempting this manoeuvre, have strung up fenders and a fender board on the starboard side and a starboard after bow spring line run back to the cockpit (OUTSIDE of all the stanchions), and a starboard quarter breast line so both are tied off together (See Chapman's, 58th ed., p. 153, fig. 717,
"Dock Lines And Their Use",
"Mooring A Boat").
With the boat idling in reverse, you're drifting forward and to starboard. To swing the bow to port, turn the rudder hard astarboard and goose the throttle to full briefly then back to idle and don't forget to straighten the rudder. The bow should swing sharply and quickly to port. The "back to idle" will let the wind swing the bow back to stbd as the current pushes you closer to the dock. Repeat til the fender board touches AND you can reach a cleat or piling from the stbd quarter with both the spring line and breast line in hand. To stop the fwd motion, just a quick shot of throttle (still in reverse) will cease your fwd motion.
Tip for discovering how your boat acts in certain situations would be to plan to anchor overnight (incase it gets too bad) and go out in moderately rough weather (high (ish) wind and current), then maneuver your boat relative to a buoy. NOT a navigation buoy, but an anchored fender or lifejacket you can retrieve later with a boat hook. Approach it with the intention of making gentle contact with it on several parts of the boat, and from several angles, and at different speeds and in different gears. Use polypropylene rope because it floats, reducing the chance of tangling your prop.
These exercises will give you a "feel" for how she handles. Like, if you have a right-hand screw, full starboard rudder, then apply full reverse, the stern will immediately back up, then swing to port (WTH? Yes, opposite of the rudder position! The boat does not have enough momentum for the rudder to be effective, but it will, eventually, as speed is gained), then in about 7 to 12 feet the stern (slowly or sharply--depends on your hull and keel design) begins to answer the helm and swing to stbd. (Fin keel vessels will answer the helm much more rapidly than full keel vessels).
Just go out on the calmest of days and do full throttle maneuvers. This way you can gauge "when I put it in neutral at 5.6KTS it takes me X distance to come to a full (or nearly full) stop. This data for me was crucial when my motor (the coil on my Atomic 4 died) quit during a tropical storm and I had to sail back to my slip. Since I knew "about" how much forward momentum my 1977 Columbia 8.3 would carry, I struck the jib before heading under the drawbridge at Massalina Bayou (Panama City, FL), then I struck the main halfway from the bridge to my turn at "Dock @ JR's Eat @ Joe's" and the remaining momentum took me all the way to my slip with only about 5 lb. pressure to stop me. One guy grabbed my bow pulpit and Cajun stopped.
Just practice in both fair weather and foul weather conditions, and you will be golden.
just bought a Columbia 41 CC and have no idea how she will handle. She is way bigger than my previous 8.3m. RH prop vs. LH prop makes a big difference in what you can do at a dock. You just need to test it first to see what happens when you do what. Once you KNOW how she will react to a control set with various power sets, you will be well equipped to dock like a pro in a gale!
Best of luck, and hope this is the last gelcoat repair you will need!
Ray - S/V Sperantza, Columbia 41 CC Motorsailer