SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 67 Posts

·
Remember you're a womble
Joined
·
2,328 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Had a very difficult docking situation today, looking back I can't really see any way I could have done much better.
Approaching with the current (no choice) and with the wind on my quarter, narrow channel into the space between the docks, hoping to end up where the green blob is. There's zero spring line opportunities (what is it with Canadians and bullrails?), and I am single-handing.

Anyways, I ended up impaled sideways on the end of the finger, and managed to drag it off and eventually hit the bit of dock I needed close enough to be able to get a line off the dock and onto a cleat. Lots of gouges in the gelcoat but no holes at least.

The only alternative I can see in hindsight would have been to attempt a 180 turn on the outside of the dock, and tried to come in against the current and wind, and then let them carry me into the dock on the inside. Problem there is there would be a big risk of the wind taking the bow either way, and definitely a one shot deal, and there are boats on all sides.

I'm sure it's easy in a sportfishing boat with a 150hp engine that will stop on a dime, with a 6hp diesel that doesn't like to shift fwd/rev quickly, not so easy.

What sayeth the peanut gallery?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,595 Posts
The only thing harder than a difficult docking situation, is trying to understand someone else explaining theirs. :)

My internet is slow this morning and won’t open the pic. Sounds like you made it. A good docking is one where no one gets hurt. A great docking is one where you can use the boat again.
 

·
Learning the HARD way...
Joined
·
7,139 Posts
My connection will not open the picture either. As a rule, I embed a full size image if I want others to look at it. I usually do not click on thumbnails.

Part of the skill of docking is knowing when to not make an attempt. When I teach advanced docking I stress if you are unsure of a situation, take your time and evaluate all options, including not docking. Single handing and with current AND wind against you, is what I call a "three strikes" situation. Either wait for wind and or current to change, or call for help.

The attempt was made with your C&C 27? Does this boat have an inboard, or an outboard?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,189 Posts
I cant open the image either, I tried both my wifi and my LTE, but based on what I think I understood from the description I think I might have been inclined to do a 180 and back down on the dock. Or maybe get more fenders? I don't see anything wrong wrong with a hard landing if you bounce, provided you have the power to recover from the bounce.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,722 Posts
My connection will not open the picture either. As a rule, I embed a full size image if I want others to look at it. I usually do not click on thumbnails.

Part of the skill of docking is knowing when to not make an attempt. When I teach advanced docking I stress if you are unsure of a situation, take your time and evaluate all options, including not docking. Single handing and with current AND wind against you, is what I call a "three strikes" situation. Either wait for wind and or current to change, or call for help.

The attempt was made with your C&C 27? Does this boat have an inboard, or an outboard?
^^^^
I've been at this for more than 40 years on different 5 boats from 22 to 52 feet. If I arrive at a marina, and they direct me to a slip that won't work based on conditions, I ask them to find me someplace else or anchor out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,908 Posts
^^^^
I've been at this for more than 40 years on different 5 boats from 22 to 52 feet. If I arrive at a marina, and they direct me to a slip that won't work based on conditions, I ask them to find me someplace else or anchor out.
would never consider a marina when I can anchor out.... 99.99% of the time
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
8,998 Posts
As others have said, I can't open the image but I would be hesitant to attempt a single handed docking in conditions that are too risky.

That said, it does happen to all of us at some point. Here is what I have done when faced with that.

I first prototype the situation out in free water with lots of searoom. I will make several practice runs of a similar length to get a sense of what to expect. That alone might convince me that this is a really bad idea.

I might have tried backing down the fairway rather than going in bow first or trying to turn around in the fair way, since I would want the bow facing outward in case I needed to bail out since my prop is more efficient in forward.

That would also put me in a position where the rotation of the prop walk would more effectively swivel me into the slip and the bow's tendency to pay off in a breeze would also work for me.

I would be tempted to hang dinghy style from a bow line while rigging working lines If that can be done safely in the conditions. I probably would evaluate using fenders and dock boards to keep me out of trouble, but only if they can help rather than risk catching them on something and screwing up the maneuver.

I tend to do a lot of 'warping' maneuvers, where I run dock lines to snatch blocks and back to a winch, but I have 3 winches on each side of the boat in the cockpit to work with making that easier to do.

When the wind is blowing me down on the slip I want to get into, I have rigged a warping line across the fairway and used that to keep me from being pinned. I have some very long line for that purpose.(100 feet of 3/8") I tie one end on a cleat, and put an open loop on the cleat or piling that I am warping from, so I can recover my line with out having to go back to the pick it up. I run the working end of that line through a snatch block back to a winch. I can then slowly let the boat move towards the slip by easing the bow line and using rudder and prop to pivot to where I want to be. That buys a lot of time to rig additional working lines.

For what it's worth, we all have been in your shoes and the is what touch up paint or gelcoat is for. It actually sounds like you did about as good a job of it as you could have under the circumstances and it's easy to throw out advice sitting quietly at a key board. It's a lot harder to actually size up and respond to a situation in real time.

Jeff
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,777 Posts
^^^^
I've been at this for more than 40 years on different 5 boats from 22 to 52 feet. If I arrive at a marina, and they direct me to a slip that won't work based on conditions, I ask them to find me someplace else or anchor out.
This. Numerous times I have anchored out or requested a different slip when I felt that I could not dock safely in the one suggested, and I've always felt smart with that decision. Perhaps it was my lack of skill or the lack of crew, but it matters not. If I am not certain I can do it safely, I don't.

I guess you have to make a few mistakes to learn this simple truth. I did, none of them damaging. But too close for comfort.

One of my clearest memories was in a strong cross current in Chincoteague (several knots) driving a big cat. With the right crew is might have been possible, but I declined and used a bulkhead nearby. I felt humiliated when a boat pulled into the slip 30 minutes later. And then, walking into town I saw the horrible dock rash he got in the process. I felt a lot better after that. I had made the right call.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,722 Posts
Jeff's advice is right on.

And know this, every one who really uses their boat has scratched gel coat, scraped awl grip, bent railings, or worse. It happens. I've got a power boat with a single screw and it's so easy to drive that I could do water ballet. The sail boats I've owned have all had their close maneuvering quirks, lots of displacement, lots of windage, lots of underwater stuff to be influenced by current, and a little tiny engine. What could possibly go wrong :).
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
8,998 Posts
As an amendment, I was able to open the picture on my PC and enlarge it so I could see it. My boat backs very well, so this would not work for every boat. But looking at the picture, I would definitely tried to keep the bow into the current. Those conditions are perfect for that maneuver since the strong current would allow you to move slowly sternward over the bottom while having enough speed through the water to precisely steer and keep your speed and direction under control. I would turn into the wind at the mouth of the first fairway to port which should give you plenty of time to test how this is working and bail out if it is not.

This is not a maneuver to try for the first time when there are boats and docks around you. I certainly would have spent time practicing controlling the boat out in the river until I was completely aware of what to expect and was comfortable. I would have rigged amidships fenders and also rigged a fender near the stern. I would run a stern line and run a springline from the stern and a bowline back to the area of the cockpit and over the rail where I could quickly grab it from the widest point of the boat.

The idea would be to use the throttle to keep your speed over the bottom as slow as possible or even stopped. You will still have good steerage because of the current. You can vary the angle of the bow to the wind to pick your spot across the width of the fairway. The wind will cause leeway that will try to push you into the slip sidewards and judicious use of the rudder and throttle can control the angle to the wind and the speed and angle at which that you are moving sidewards. Once in the slip, throw a loop of the stern line on a cleat or piling and lock off the helm to turn the bow into the dock. Keep the engine slowly in forward to reduce the amount that the bow wants to pivot off the stern line. The wind, and the current with the rudder turned should keep the boat hard against the fenders against the dock. At that point you should be able to step ashore, pick up the bowline and spring and make the boat fast.

Again, without being there, this may be easier said than done, but I have done this exact maneuver several times in the past when the conditions were right.

Jeff
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,189 Posts
^^^ That's what I meant in my first post, but I left out some details ;)

Always bow into the current or wind if you can.

If you think you might land hard, fenders, especially miships and stern. But be aware if you bounce too hard, she could take off on you again.
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
8,205 Posts
I'm kinda winging it as (I also can't see the pic), but I'd come up into the wind/current until I was in a position to back into the slip. At that point, I'd to chuck my heaviest anchor (on line only) slightly upwind and current from the slip, with the line, already run to the gene winch.
Then it's only a matter of getting a stern to an outside piling to get a line on it and a fender, the do the same for the other one, with the bow being held by the anchor.
Then ease back into the slip keeping the anchor line tight and it should pull free (or if not it can be retrieved by dinghy) and be just enough weight to help you control you bow as you back in the slip. Commonly on big ships, the anchor is used as a dragging weight to help control the bow as they dock. We can do the same, with a little practice. I did it all the time before thrusters became popular on the ships I operated. (not too many harbor tugs at the wharves up the Orinoco ar Amazon Rivers in my day.
 
  • Like
Reactions: wymbly1971

·
Remember you're a womble
Joined
·
2,328 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Weird how the photo won't open, it's just an attachment here, anyways, maybe this works, https://photos.app.goo.gl/uqanoXD7FUogj1Aw9

I had planned to come through the gap, turn into the current and then back down (fenders were out on the port side ready), it's a narrow entrance coming into the general area with a lot of shoals around (the "current" arrow is about as far out as you can get, and thinking back, there may have been more than 3kts, I was moving sideways at a heck of a rate), and it's tidal so currents will vary every time. The photo doesn't really give a good idea of how tight things are, I don't think any of the boats on the dock near me in that photo are over 20' so I really have maybe a boat length and a half to manouvere in. Needless to say that wasn't the slip location I was expecting for the season but there you go.

My boat doesn't stop well, so coming in fast enough to overcome the current and be able to get the bow through the wind likely means too fast to avoid hitting something. In my case I didn't have enough speed and my starboard midships was pushed onto the end of the finger. I managed to push off from there and get my bow into the right approximate area, and then somehow get the stern near enough to let me get onto the dock and manhandle the boat into position, had the boat in front been there then it would have been very messy indeed.

In hindsight I'd have gone past the docks, turned and approached from the other way, I'd probably have still made a mess of it but at least it would have been a different mess :)

Didn't help that my depthsounder decided to go on the blink, and my GPS decides that it's only going to use 30m accuracy.

Just need to practice more I guess, this is a new area and I'm not overly familiar with the layout yet.
Hopefully the boat survives the process in the meantime.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,189 Posts
Maybe try putting the cover on your GPS just before you enter the fairway? I know for me personally I would find electronics distracting while I was trying to dock. Especially if they were acting up.
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
8,205 Posts
Wow, that's funny. I was thinking of a slip in the neighborhood of the wind arrow.
I apologize.
For that pic, I'd enter and come close to the boat at the end of the 4 slips that come from shore toward the entrance, with my bow into the current and engine just holding me in place against the current.
Then it's just a matter of using your engine in reverse or forward (depending on what's needed to keep you in the center) as you let the current and the wind set you right back into your place.
As you've drawn it, the wind should be pushing the bow very slightly to windward, so you can use their interaction for your gain.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SVAuspicious

·
Remember you're a womble
Joined
·
2,328 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Main problem there is that to put the bow into the wind, I'm 45 degrees to the current and heading sideways into the other boats/dock, and if I just hold against/into the current, the wind is then pushing the bow off too quickly and I'm still going sideways into the other boats/dock but pointing the other way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,166 Posts
The wind will not always be the same, but the current will flow in one of two constant directions ebbing or flooding. There's often a sweet spot between the push of the current and the wind, that will allow you to a least "hold position" and then using the engine, the current and the wind, you can crab yourself to a spot a least close enough to perhaps get a line on something.

What's peak current? 3 kts. ? It may be that you just have to time it to not be there at peak flow?
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
8,205 Posts
Main problem there is that to put the bow into the wind, I'm 45 degrees to the current and heading sideways into the other boats/dock, and if I just hold against/into the current, the wind is then pushing the bow off too quickly and I'm still going sideways into the other boats/dock but pointing the other way.
How about think of it as if it was someone flying on those indoor flying games/tests. You position yourself between the three forces. The wind the current and the engine hold you in place. Then slowly let the current push you aft, staying in control and balanced between all these forces as you ease back towards your slip.
I know it sounds like hooie, but go try it outside the marina, using the three forces to hold your position or even move your bow a bit to windward, every now and then. Practice playing these forces off one another, and you'll have a crowd watching you dock by midseason. You'll be famous!
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
8,205 Posts
Main problem there is that to put the bow into the wind, I'm 45 degrees to the current and heading sideways into the other boats/dock, and if I just hold against/into the current, the wind is then pushing the bow off too quickly and I'm still going sideways into the other boats/dock but pointing the other way.
That leaves you about 22.5 degrees of wind force against the current on either side of the bow. 15 knots of wind should balance out a 3-knot current somewhere in there so your bow is in control and you are slowly going backward toward your slip.
Nobody promised you were gonna slide right back into your slip. More like an airplane landing it a severe crosswind!
But, by midseason, you should be the talk of the marina and folks will turn out to watch you dock. lol
Good luck.
 
1 - 20 of 67 Posts
Top