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Discussion Starter #1
Our new Beneteau 40 will be launched May 8, they will be giving us a walkthrough and taking us out sailing to go over the boat. I started sailing 15 years ago on 26 , a 32 and lastly a 36 so I am pretty comfortable with the sailing part, as is my husband who sailed on a Tartan 30 as a teenager.

Last year we had a twin screw Formula 27 PC, docking was challenging, but my husband got the hang of it and a few weeks into the season was pretty good at it. As I recall docking the sailboats always was difficult. Panic time, especiall if there was wind. Our new boat comes with a bow thruster which will provide some control, we hope. My question is should we hire someone to spend half the day with us giving us instruction, tips and feedback on docking, or is it just practice. The boat will be in Noank, next to Mystic, so if anyone knows a seasoned sailor who'd be interested in tutoring us, we'd love their contact info.
 

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Actually your sailboat will tend to drift less sideways than a powerboat, and should generally be more easily controlled at low speeds due to the larger rudder. With a bow thruster there should be no great difficulty at all.

I'd just take her out somewhere where there's an open dock with little traffic and practice. You'll find with the thruster you can easily turn in your own length, and I'd expect that boat to behave quite well in reverse gear. The one thing possibly new to you after the twin screws will be prop walk, but again, with the thruster you should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, that's reassuring. Too many people have told us if you think that the powerboat was hard to dock, wait to you try to dock the sailboat. These were all powerboaters so they probably don't have first hand knowledge.
 

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Nika44, your dealer should have someone in the area that could be of help!

I sort of agree with your power boater Friends. A twin screw power boat is a peace of cake to dock. Once you are use the boat, as you know, you can do it without touching the wheel. I not going to say that the sail boat will be harder but different.

I also 2nd what Faster said.
 

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Au contraire, mes amis!

I owned a 35' Mainship with twin engines for a few years. By playing one engine off against the other I could move that boat around anyway I wanted to, in just about any conditions.

Fast forward a few years and I now own a Hunter 30.

Anyone who tells you that docking a sailboat is as easy as a twin-screwed power boat is blowing smoke at you. Your memories of "panic" time when you docked your old boat are there for a reason. Docking a sailboat requires a lot more concentration and preparation because when things start to go wrong, you're generally screwed. You can't just back up and try again. (I can't speak for other sailboats, but I will tell you that my Hunter does not like backing up one bit) So, I've got to get it right the first time.

This being said, successful docking is just another part of the learning process. Once you become familiar with using your bow thruster you will find that it makes your life a lot easier and will quickly boost your docking ability and confidence. You'll learn from your mistakes just like all the rest of us do and the more practice you get, the better you'll become.

Best wishes with your new boat! You've bought a beauty!
 

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My question is should we hire someone to spend half the day with us giving us instruction, tips and feedback on docking, or is it just practice.
Yes, A good instructor for half a day will teach you docking and close quarters handling such that will you do it with confidence.
I keep trying to tell people that you should be able to park your boat just like a car, you simply approach slowly and stop. I've helped a few people in this area and once they learn the "secrets" of propwalk it just takes a couple hours of practice to get proficient. You don't want to get a lot of "dockrash" on your new boat anyway.
 

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I used to be completely scared to dock our sailboat, but now it doesn't bug me at all. My wife always says "Wow" now when I spin her hard around a shallow corner and pull right into a slip. There's no magic though - just practice and getting to know your boat. For example, when you parallel park your car, you just know where your bumpers are. When you pull into a parking spot, you know how close you can cut it to the car in front of you. Likewise, once you get to know the boat, you can make her do anything. By the way - learn the "Back and Fill" maneuver. It will be your best friend, and allows you to turn in a little more than your own boat's length WITHOUT the bow thruster... see http://www.his.com/~vann/KrgStuff/360turns.htm for more info.
 

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There is no substitute for practice. Go out into open water on a calm day and just play around doing slow turns. Here are a couple of tips I have discovered over the years.

First, a fin keel boat rotates on the keel. When you make a slow turn to starboard, for example, the bow turns to starboard, the stern turns to port and the keel stays pretty much where it is. That means you can start your turn into the slip much later than with a full keel boat that makes a big, swoopy turn. I could turn my old Pearson 30 on a dime. My "new" Islander Freeport 41 takes a lot longer to make a turn.

Second, learn how your boat "prop walks". Depending on whether you have a LH or RH prop, the prop will push the stern one way in forward and the other in reverse. I can almost turn my Islander in place using the prop walk effect. Between that and your bow thruster you can probably carve your initials in the water.

Finally, and most important, never dock faster than you are willing to hit something.

Best regards,

Dick Pluta
AEGEA
Moore Haven FL (for the moment)
 

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Nika,

My wife and I hired a captain for a day to provide us with docking instruction. It was well worth the price. I tried practicing on my own quite a bit as Faster recommended, but I really just ended up over-thinking it (too much good advice out there) and repeating my own mistakes. So sometimes having somebody knowledgeable standing by makes the difference.

If your broker can't recommend someone, then try calling Annapolis School of Seamanship and see if they can recommend someone in your area. You never know.
 

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You should consider buying the "Docking and Sail Trim" dvd from Captain Jack Klang. There are some decent techniques discussed and demonstrated.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Lots of great advice, I've asked our dealer to see if they can find someone to tutor us for a few hours.

Dick, how different would a bulb keel (ours has a 5'1" draft) react than a fin keel, there would be less drag, right? And wouldn' that mean it would be more responsive quicker? We have feathering prop I wasn't sure what your initials LH or RH stood for. ARe the feathering props less responsive than a fixed 3 blade?
 

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I really enjoyed this thread I started back in Aug 07
http://www.sailnet.com/forums/seamanship/36188-docking-paranoia-yes-they-watching.html

I still make every time I dock a "practice session" Saturday night not being the exception. It was low tide at the state marina where the free pump out is. Of course the pump out is alongside the public ramp and the drunked up power boaters were have fun trying to zoom onto their respective trailers. One decided to play chicken with my Oday 30 as we approached dead slow. Already anticipating the inevitable, I had to come to a dead stop as ego man decided to show everyone that he could show that lady on the sailboat who was the hot shot! I knew we wouldn't, but to everyone else it looked like my boat would have t-boned the 15ft or so powerboat that cut right in front and along side between the dock and my boat. geeze.. anyway Mr. ego helped tie the bow line and acted like nothing was amiss. :rolleyes:

I decided to back out, because the smaller boats wouldn't give me the space to do a 180, (and finding out the pump out isn't even hooked up yet) my depth finder was blinking blankity blank. I stood with wheel to my back and steered in reverse while using the prop wash also. My Partner thinks I'm pretty cool now since she is new to boating, but I was happy not to embarrass myself.
 

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...Dick, how different would a bulb keel (ours has a 5'1" draft) react than a fin keel, there would be less drag, right? And wouldn' that mean it would be more responsive quicker? We have feathering prop I wasn't sure what your initials LH or RH stood for. ARe the feathering props less responsive than a fixed 3 blade?
You won't see any particular difference in docking as your bulb is actually located at the bottom of a typical fin keel.

The handling of the feathering prop depends on its design. Some like the Max-Prop provide very similar perforamce to a fixed in forward, and better bite in reverse, as the blades rotate 180 degress in reverse. If your prop has the reversing blades characteristic, you will find the boat more controllable in reverse than a fixed blade would be.
 

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I think Mr. Pluta had it about right. The side force of your prop, forward but especially aft, will determine how your stern and bow will swing when you have little forward momentum.

But more so will a crosswind. Headwinds and tailwinds you can deal with. A crosswind makes it much more difficult to get into a slip, since you need to carry some speed to counteract the sideslip/leeway from the wind. In a really screeching crosswind, you may have to just delay docking.

But in regular conditions, sounds like you're on the right track..
 

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Lots of great advice, I've asked our dealer to see if they can find someone to tutor us for a few hours.

Dick, how different would a bulb keel (ours has a 5'1" draft) react than a fin keel, there would be less drag, right? And wouldn' that mean it would be more responsive quicker? We have feathering prop I wasn't sure what your initials LH or RH stood for. ARe the feathering props less responsive than a fixed 3 blade?
I was kind of avoiding getting into too much detail but here's an expansion. The boat is moving at some slow speed, let's say 1 mph. If you turn the boat to starboard, the bow will go right and the stern will go left while the whole boat is going forward. In other words, the boat makes a relatively wide turn as it rotates on the keel. The final effect is a nice tight turn. The bulb keel vs, fin question applies to the forward spped part of the equation, so you just have to allow for it in your approach.

I think minimum steerage way is really important because, if you come in too fast and have to use reverse to slow down, prop walk will move you to one side or the other. My Pearson went to starboard in reverse and my dock was to port, so my lovely docking job, right in the middle of the slip, was usually for naught.

LH and RH are abbreviations for left hand and right hand. I forget which pushes what way but it is significant at low speeds and can be either your enemy or your friend. I have no experience with a folding prop.

After all that, please understand that much of it is more analytical than is needed. You'll quickly get the feel regardless of theory but it's good to understand the mechanics. One of my afflictions is my banjo and, when I first bought it some 40 years ago, I bought Pete Seeger's book on how to play the 5 string banjo. On the back cover is one of my favorite quotes. It says" I once asked an old time picker how you find the notes on a banjo. He replied, 'Hell, son. There ain't no notes on a banjo. You just play the damned thing.'.

Good luck with the new boat and best regards,

Dick
 

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Once you get the hang of it, prop walk can be your friend. Our boat walks to port, so when docking to port I put the boat at a 20 degree angle to the dock, come in with just enough speed to still have good steerage, and back down to stop. The propwalk rotates me nicely parallel with the dock and we step off.
Docking to starboard, I'll put the boat into a bit of a rotation (stern toward the dock) at the last second and back down to stop both the boat and the rotation.

We've always had boats that backed up well, and in a new or unusual docking situation usually try to back in... better directional control (we have, anyway) and better brakes as a rule.
 

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For a couple and a single, I highly recommend single-line docking.

There will be a spot about a 1/4 of the distance from the transom to the bow at which you can place a line that, when attached to the dock opposite the transom, will hold the boat parallel to the dock when the transmission is in forward. You may have experiment a bit to find this point.

Rather than stepping off with a bow and stern breast line, step off when the boat is stopped and tie off (or use a hook) with the single line. When secure put the transmission in forward and the boat will "suck" into the dock. Leave the transmission engaged while you attach the breast and spring lines.

If you have a strong wind blowing you off the dock, use a centre line tie and get the boat secure, and then worry about breast and stern lines.

I teach these methods and it simplifies matters greatly.

While on docking issues, why is the man does the docking while the women deals with the lines. Surely the reverse makes more sense.

Jack
 
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