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I found these helpful instructions on docking and undocking today:

Docking and Undocking - BoatSafe.com

It's inevitable that when conditions are at their worst, you'll have an audience. Prior planning and practice will not only keep you and your passengers safe and protect your boat, it will also help you avoid serious personal humiliation.

Undocking Plan

When the wind or current is pushing your boat away from the dock the procedure is simple.

1. Cast off lines and pull in fenders as the wind blows you away.
2. When clear and safely away from the dock and other boats, shift to forward and depart at idle speed.
3. Be careful to make sure you have been pushed safely away and that the stern will not hit the dock as you motor forward and turn. Remember: A boat does not steer like a car, it pivots on its axis.

If the wind or current is pushing your boat toward the dock you will have to do some extra planning.

1. Cast off all lines except an after bow spring line. This line will keep you from moving forward and allow the stern to pivot away from the dock. (see illustration)
2. You may want to use a fender forward to cushion the bow of the boat against the dock.
3. Turn the motor or rudder to the direction necessary to push the stern away from the dock.
4. Shift into forward at idle speed. Slowly, very slowly.
5. The stern will swing away from the dock. When it is clear of all obstacles and traffic, cast off the spring line and back away from the dock.
6. When you are safely away, shift to forward and idle away from the dock.

Once you are clear of the dock, stow lines and fenders so they will not be in the way or pose a tripping hazard. Be sure to control speed when leaving the dock and check for other boats, swimmers or other obstacles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

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Well how timely,
We have had our boat in a marina here in Nanaimo's Newcastle Channel for a few months now. The fingers at the marina are perpendicular to the current and the prevailing winds.
Unlike most people in the marina we actually use our boat, but with the way the marina was set up we have been man handling our boat in and out of the slip.
The marina was set up for maximum slip space and not for ease of getting in and out.
We have grown tired of this so we have moved or boat out of this marina. Now we have lots of room, no current and are sheltered from the wind. And it's cheaper too.
 

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I suppose there are many more possible combinations of wind, current, docking space, etc. I suppose the best thing is to be aware of what's going on, have the knowledge how your boat behaves and what tools you can use (like your spring lines, roving fenders, etc) and then make a detailed plan ahead of time (with plan A, plan B and maybe even plan C) and communicate that thoroughly with your crew. Having someone on the dock to help is a great tool.
 

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The slips in our marina are into the wind during the summer. I have to make a RH turn into my slip for a Starboard tie. This past Friday, we had a 15+ knot headwind wind and with my slow speed non-manueverabilty, things got real sporty. Long story short, I blew the first landing, got turned around, and blown against the boats and pilings on the other side of the fairway, needing 2 helpers to keep us off sterns and poles... finaly got her in on the
3rd attempt. :eek: The good boat suffered only a broken stancheon where one of the helpers pushed hard using the top of the stancheon. Bent right over and cracked at the bottom. Weld job coming.

I guess my point here is all the training in the world still boils down to decision making. Do I or don't I attempt? What are the alternatives? If I do attempt and things go sideways, what might be the results?

Dave
 

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Thanks for this advice! I'd rather read and learn from others mistakes than to learn from expensive mistakes of my own. Granted there is no better lesson than experience. Also thank you for the suggested websites. is there any other free reading online. Is there some good books I should pick up on sailing. I know there are probably thousands of books out there on sailing but as with anything there is a select few that top the rest. I need a good A-Z. Thanks again for these sailing know hows!
 

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Docking and undocking is a skill that must always remain in a constant state of improvement. Just Sudnay I saw a guy with a beautiful 50 footer get blown broadside against the stern/bow of all the boats on the dock. I saw this happening from a mile away when he was making his fourth attempt to get into his dock. For one thing, he had his anchor hanging from the bow. That is never a good sign. I was buying ice at the marine store and I got the marina to send 4 guys out to help him because you could just see what was going to happen. He ended up on the lee side of the alley. We had him stable but he decided to "throttle" his way out again and raked his whole side with a powerboat anchor, swim platforms and other assorted appendages sticking from the boats. I should have just told him to stay put, and let's think this through, but he just wanted out of there. At that point he was resting safely against a couple of pilings. I was tempted to just ask him if I could pull it in for him, but that is complicated, of course. The damage was heartbraking to watch as it looked like it was slow motion. Beautiful blue gelcoat with big scrapes down the side. The toe rail has major gouges in it, and at least one bent stantion that I saw. I was able to get a fender on my stern to fend him off. He was yelling at his wife to "push him off" but really she was just putting herself in harms way. In that 20 knot wind, there is no "pushing" that boat off while he throttles through it. There has to be ten grand in damage that didn't have to happen.

He came over and spoke to me afterwards, but what can you say to this guy? He thinks he needs significant speed to make the turn into his slip which always seems to have him busting into his dock way to fast and then full reverse to stop it. Sure, he needs to keep way, but not that much way. And, he can just throttle a bit during the actual turn to help swing her around. This can be practiced away from the dock. It is very concerning to see him that out of control and willing to put his wife in the middle of it. I am tempted to leave a note on his boat offering to go out with him and practice a little.

I come down the alley between 2 and 3 knots. That is usually plenty to make the turn. If I need to, I can throttle a burst or two when the rudder is hard over to help. I have the fenders out at this point. The spring line is waiting on a hook on the dock. One crew or me simply has to run up amidships and take the line off the hook and put in on the cleat. At this point I am slowly entering the slip enough away from the dock that the fenders wont be rubbing, etc. I judge my distance from the dock by this piling on the other side. "Way" here is just enough to keep some control. Then, I just grab the stern line with a boat hook. Once the spring line and stern line are on the boat, I can gently throttle forward and pin the boat against the dock on the fenders. All the way in I am slowly hitting reverse so that we don't bounce off the spring line, but rather get to the end of it, and then put on some pressure. If it is blowing hard away from the dock, then I need just a bit more throttle to pin the boat. Then I can leisurely go up to the bow and secure that line.
 

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I look at sailing the same way I look at riding a bike.
You can read all the books you want but you will never know what riding a bike is like until you actually get on one and start pedaling.
Start off small and learn from your mistakes. If you are like most people you will only make those mistakes once.....or maybe twice.
A small boat is less expensive to own, maintain and repair. Start off small and work your way up.
 

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I agree. Sometimes you simply have to get off the internet, put the book down, and DO it.

You need to learn YOUR boat. They're all different, they all handle a little differently. Your marina, your slip, is YOUR environment. There are simply too many variables to address in any number of books and articles.

All of these amateur "Masters & Commanders" that feel the need to singlehand their 50 footers, don't realize that their brain has written a check that their body can't cash.

I realize that we have some Sailnetters that shorthand large boats, like Smack, Minnewaska and Bene50, but those guys have demonstrated their competence.
 

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Exactly,
The marina we just left has a +2 knot current that hit us broadside.
The distance between the end of our finger and the fingers on the other side of the slipway is 50'.
Our boat is almost 34' and when tied up we have about 4' from us to our neighbour. I also like to go out when it's windy.
Furthermore our propshaft sits on a 15 degree angle to port, we had a starboard tie. In reverse the prop walk to port is horrendous.
There was nothing leisurely about docking or undocking our boat, it sucked.
There was no room for a "redo" it was a one shot deal.
 

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Thanks for the info. Took out our old but new to us Pearson 28 and the prop walk had me turned out of sorts. Of course audience was in full force. Just did standing turn out to realign and move on "yeah I meant to do that". ;) Docking upon return was interesting as I began turn into our slip wife says "no we are a few more slips down next to the BLUE boat". OK. Thanks for that. Proceed ahead. Nope. There were two blue boats and the first approach was correct. :eek: So I hit reverse and to my amusement the prop walk had us on perfect angle to back into slip. Almost no effort or thought other than to grab and cleat the lines. "yeah I meant to do that". :p See the need for much practice here especially to prepare for not so good conditions.
 

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Although I've been sailing for 35+ years I was never in a slip until last year. Docking scares me more than storms.
I have no trouble anchoring or picking up a mooring by myself. I have no trouble singling my boat. But I can't dock without another person present. The throttle is on the starboard side of the binnacle. I can't see the port side of the boat and mainain access to throttle. We dock port to and there is no finger between me and the next boat. She is a 40+ foot motor yacht which gives me ~3-4 feet to play with. That and the prop walk makes for the need for forethought.
Prevailing winds are S or SW. Finger pier is N/S. No major deal docking with my wife except when winds go north it's a white knuckle affair. So far we haven't hurt the gel coat and the boat is without a scratch. Had hired a husband/wife team who taught us "cowboy" docking using a tied loop to get spring ( and stern/bow lines) done. Tried it once with them with North wind. A disaster. They admitted their system failed with a north wind. Spoke to other experienced cruisers and delivery captains. They universally said the husband/wife teams advice was unsafe. If you had a loop over a dock cleat and needed to get free the time required to free yourself would likely lead to injury to boat or crew. If the other end was thrown off could end up in water and then your prop or bow thruster. Last week we had fresh breeze here every day. Sailing was great. On day winds were 20-30 from north just anchored out so as to not stress the bride.
Sometimes the best docking technique is to not dock but just throw the hook and wait for more favorable wind and current.
 

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I dock in a very similar situation. when docked, the boat faces north. Finger pier to.port, throttle to starboard. I do have a piling to jstarboard to judge my distance to the dock on the port side. All lines are on the dock. The spring is hanging on a hook. As I am coming in, all that needs to be done is grab spring and place over the cleat that is just forward of the shrouds. Then I use a boat hook to grab the stern.line off the dock. Once these two are made, I can throttle forward to pin the boat against the dock. Then securing the remaining lines is easy.

outbound:2000769 said:
Although I've been sailing for 35+ years I was never in a slip until last year. Docking scares me more than storms.
I have no trouble anchoring or picking up a mooring by myself. I have no trouble singling my boat. But I can't dock without another person present. The throttle is on the starboard side of the binnacle. I can't see the port side of the boat and mainain access to throttle. We dock port to and there is no finger between me and the next boat. She is a 40+ foot motor yacht which gives me ~3-4 feet to play with. That and the prop walk makes for the need for forethought.
Prevailing winds are S or SW. Finger pier is N/S. No major deal docking with my wife except when winds go north it's a white knuckle affair. So far we haven't hurt the gel coat and the boat is without a scratch. Had hired a husband/wife team who taught us "cowboy" docking using a tied loop to get spring ( and stern/bow lines) done. Tried it once with them with North wind. A disaster. They admitted their system failed with a north wind. Spoke to other experienced cruisers and delivery captains. They universally said the husband/wife teams advice was unsafe. If you had a loop over a dock cleat and needed to get free the time required to free yourself would likely lead to injury to boat or crew. If the other end was thrown off could end up in water and then your prop or bow thruster. Last week we had fresh breeze here every day. Sailing was great. On day winds were 20-30 from north just anchored out so as to not stress the bride.
Sometimes the best docking technique is to not dock but just throw the hook and wait for more favorable wind and current.
 

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Great idea. Thanks. Unfortunately have mom system, dinghy engine and hoist on port aft. So far in north wind finding having someone jump off with aft spring. ( stops boat) and stern line( keeps now in ) is what works best. In less wind and with less rail junk your idea sounds great.
 

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Docking is always an adventure when new inexperienced crew is on board. I make it a rule to explain every crew member in detail what his task will be during docking and let him/her repeat to make sure they understood everything. This makes it so much easier and for me and the crew and we did not have any mishaps. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
 

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I like OutBound's advice: "Sometimes the best docking technique is to not dock but just throw the hook and wait for more favorable wind and current." I used this often when I sailed my 10 ton boat without an engine.

2nd advice (not sure who first coined this phrase): "Approach the dock with the speed you wish to hit it."

If I go into my own pen/slip/dock, then all the lines are the correct length, and it is merely getting the loops of the lines over the right cleats on the boat. Therefore when I have others on board, I explain, like BostonDirk, and show them before we leave,

When on my own, I get one springer on, and gently leaving the engine in gear and rudder hard the other way (opposite to the side where the springer is attached). That gives me all the time in the world to secure all the other lines.

If I am on my own coming alongside a jetty, I use a long springer, loop the eye on a cleat midships or the the stern quarter, take this line around/over a bollard/pole/cleat ashore, and fasten this line again on the boat to the same cleat on the boat. Again like above, gentle use the engine to bring the boat alongside, steering away from the jetty.
When leaving, again one person can do that, and he/she stays on the boat. Just take the end (without a loop or knot!) off the cleat and pull the line (from the loop side) back on board.
2cts worth I hope, maybe less.
 
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