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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Everything your skipper wants you to know about docking compressed into one 12 minute video.


More information: SavvySalt's Ultimate Guide to Dockline Handling!

If you have any suggestions for the follow up please share them; I'll make a follow up video once next season rolls around and I can film without snow threatening :)
 

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Overall a good video. A solid B.

They mentioned making sure lines are outboard. This needs real emphasis as getting it wrong can hurt people and break boats.

The video shows people jumping from the boat. Perhaps I'm being pedantic or my standards are too high. Jumping from a boat whether because it is too far from the dock or moving (or both) is a real risk. My friend Diana Doyle says "if I can't step off in high heels Mark (her husband) didn't do it right." I agree. Diana doesn't wear heels but the point is a good one.

The discussion on cleat hitches is well done. I agree. Too bad the example between minutes 8 and 9 don't do it correctly.

The discussion of cleat management is poor. It doesn't address the use of eyes, and the reference of doubling lines back to the boat is unclear about why it is so very important. It's for so very much more than the last line.

They spent time on superficial vocabulary that would have been better spent on other things, and that is from someone that pounds on vocabulary all the time.

Some of that time should have been spent on coiling lines (which they did poorly) and throwing lines.

The repeated emphasis on the skipper being in charge and the ability of a hand to really mess things up was good. The only thing they missed was to emphasize that the dockhand on the dock yelling for a line is not in charge. Do not pass a line ashore until the skipper says so no matter what the dockhand says.

Final nit - the discussion of sweating and jumping lines between minutes 9 and 10 misses stepping on a line. This is an important technique for those of us who are getting older (and fat) and may have back issues.

The discussion throughout on using friction to manage the boat is excellent.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Overall a good video. A solid B.
Thank you.

The discussion on cleat hitches is well done. I agree. Too bad the example between minutes 8 and 9 don't do it correctly.
Wow. Good eye. You're absolutely right, while I'm discussing sweating and surging the cleat on the boat end has a wrap of more than 270 degrees.

That's what I get for rushing; most of this was filmed between getting out of work and my crew showing up for sailing. In my haste I didn't notice the slightly incorrect cleat tied on by the last member (or one of their crew) to put the boat away.

The only thing they missed was to emphasize that the dockhand on the dock yelling for a line is not in charge. Do not pass a line ashore until the skipper says so no matter what the dockhand says.
Another good point. I'll have to think about how to un-omit this...

Final nit - the discussion of sweating and jumping lines between minutes 9 and 10 misses stepping on a line. This is an important technique for those of us who are getting older (and fat) and may have back issues.
Stepping on lines for the purposes of sweating and re-organizing lines on cleats is something that I filmed video for but decided to cut from this video in favor of inclusion in a Part II follow up. It may only be a 12 minute video but, to me, it feels like a really dense 12 minutes. But it's coming :)

Some of that time should have been spent on coiling lines (which they did poorly) and throwing lines.
Throwing lines is another topic for Part II. Do you have a good reference for coiling lines? Something authoritative? I'm hesitant to jump into that fray because I've had so many different skippers insist on so many different things...

The video shows people jumping from the boat. Perhaps I'm being pedantic or my standards are too high. Jumping from a boat whether because it is too far from the dock or moving (or both) is a real risk. My friend Diana Doyle says "if I can't step off in high heels Mark (her husband) didn't do it right." I agree. Diana doesn't wear heels but the point is a good one.
I read "don't jump from the boat" all over the internet and official docking curricula. But I've never seen it well defined let alone practiced. What differentiates stepping 2 feet down and one fender width across from the topsides to the dock from "jumping"? Especially on boats race boats where you have to get over the lifelines too? If "stepping" ashore is defined by having one foot on the boat and one on the dock at some point that seems like "stepping" ashore would require more agility than "jumping" ashore.

If my crew are going dockside with a line I tell them to "step off the boat onto the dock when you're comfortable". If they're inexperienced I tell them exactly where to stand as we come alongside so that they'll be about a fender-width from the dock at some point. They almost always "jump" before the easiest instant but they've never scared me.

Seems to me that the only way to keep inexperienced crew from "jumping" would be to tell them to sit on the rail and put their feet on the dock and then stand up dockside. That seems like a terrible idea.

Anybody have tips for how to keep crew from "jumping"? Or a definition of "jumping" that lends itself for making a precise "no jumping" rule? I'm sure I sound skeptical here but I hope I don't come off as sarcastic; I'd truly like to add tips like this to my toolbox.


Finally, thank you again @SVAuspicious for taking the time to share all of this valuable information. I wish I had the opportunity to get this feedback before I published the video on YouTube.
 

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One of None
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Cynical Denise here :p

All this assumes allot. Some skippers don't know how to communicate so, assuming they even know how to handle lines. the whole "crew" is usually a SO or spouse floundering with knowledge they gleaned alone and because the "skipper" ain't about to leave the wheel helm.

Sadly.. some "skippers" think the "crew" will control the boat when the skipper comes in hot. (don't tell me this isn't true we all see it all the time)

Seeing vids with people jumping off a moving boat at any speed is not going to get my good comments


who is "Savy Salt? The title should not be "everything" it should be " helpful" ways to dock and use lines with a big disclaimer. suggestions for how "crew" can learn more about lines despite the "expert" at the helm.
 

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If my crew are going dockside with a line I tell them to "step off the boat onto the dock when you're comfortable". If they're inexperienced I tell them exactly where to stand as we come alongside so that they'll be about a fender-width from the dock at some point. They almost always "jump" before the easiest instant but they've never scared me.

Seems to me that the only way to keep inexperienced crew from "jumping" would be to tell them to sit on the rail and put their feet on the dock and then stand up dockside. That seems like a terrible idea.

Anybody have tips for how to keep crew from "jumping"? Or a definition of "jumping" that lends itself for making a precise "no jumping" rule? I'm sure I sound skeptical here but I hope I don't come off as sarcastic; I'd truly like to add tips like this to my toolbox.
I think the important part is not "preventing" people from jumping, but ensuring they know that jumping, hopping or "extraordinary effort" is never necessary (or safe). They need to fully internalize that if they can't reach the shore safely then the problem is the skipper's and not theirs.

I casually said "hop" to an inexperienced crewmember one day when we were on a canalboat and coming on to a sloped, grassy bank. She believed if she didn't do as I said then somehow disaster would ensue. This resulted in a mildly sprained ankle. I still feel bad about that and now always take extra care to make my self clear.

We have a lot of bull rails in the PNW. I don't know if add ing a bit about them might be appropriate; it's a whole different set of techniques.


Pretty good video all in all. As others have mentioned there is a lot of extra stuff to cover but it's a good intro. Maybe put Part I in the title or at the beginning of the video so people know there is more coming...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Cynical Denise. SavvySalt here :) (I really should figure out how to change my SailNet user name; this SailNet account predates the blog.)

All this assumes allot. Some skippers don't know how to communicate so, assuming they even know how to handle lines. the whole "crew" is usually a SO or spouse floundering with knowledge they gleaned alone and because the "skipper" ain't about to leave the wheel helm.
This video was made to help out these crew you mention. Hopefully it succeeds.

The video is focused on the most helpful material for crew when they're docking with an experienced skipper at the helm. Personally, I sympathize with inexperienced crew having to dock with an inexperienced skipper because it hasn't been that long since I was both. I've been bailed out of bad docking attempt by experienced crew and been the crew bounding over the bow pulpit to save the gelcoat. Nobody is born an expert at either docking or dockline handling so there's always going to be folks learning and putting a line on the wrong cleat or coming in way too slow; hopefully this video helps some aspiring line handlers along the way.

I wish I had something like this when I was learning.
 

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I read "don't jump from the boat" all over the internet and official docking curricula. But I've never seen it well defined let alone practiced. What differentiates stepping 2 feet down and one fender width across from the topsides to the dock from "jumping"? Especially on boats race boats where you have to get over the lifelines too? If "stepping" ashore is defined by having one foot on the boat and one on the dock at some point that seems like "stepping" ashore would require more agility than "jumping" ashore.
The definition of "jump" that I would use is "push oneself off a surface and into the air by using the muscles in one's legs and feet."

The definition of "step" that I would use is "to move, go, etc., by lifting the foot and setting it down again in a new position, or by using the feet alternately in this manner: to step forward."

When you step off a boat that has lifelines, you should always step over the lifelines, first with one foot and then with the other, so that both feet are standing on the gunwale, outside the lifelines. Then step down onto the dock or finger pier, one foot at a time. When you do that, you won't trip on the lifelines, you can hold onto the lifeline or other convenient handhold with one hand for security, and you will be in complete control. If you jump onto the dock with both feet in the air, you aren't in control. You'll come down hard with all your weight, and you'll often be off balance.
 

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With regards to jumping vs stepping, I have a few thoughts.

First, I will describe my boat to provide context. 35', double ender, relatively high freeboard, centre cockpit with canvas enclosure, so a bit of a scramble to get out to handle lines, I have bulwarks, which means all lines are lead through fairleads.

My crew is generally single handed or any combination of me plus any or all of me, my wife, my two 1/2 year old and my dog. Sometimes I drive, sometimes my wife drives, she insists on getting docking opportunities, I think mostly because she enjoys it.

My rules are any one outside the cockpit wears a life jacket (myself included), children and dogs wear life jackets even inside the cockpit. Nobody steps off the boat until at least one line is secured, usually by means of lassoing a cleat and doubling the line back, or in the case of a ring, fence or railing, reaching around the ring and feeding the line back to the boat. We are able to follow this rule probably %95, of the time, occasionally we are forced to break our own rule.

As mentioned, my boat is centre cockpit, double ender, so bringing the stern to the dock first isn't effective. I solve this issue, by landing (bringing the boat to the dock) just aft of midships, since I'm usually single handed, this is kind of a must, I don't like being far from my engine controls.

If somebody must step off, I would say it comes down to body mechanics. The skipper brings the boat to the dock, the crew steps off. By stepping I would say, at no time should their centre of gravity be fully over the water. As mentioned above, if you are pushing off with enough force to become airborne, you aren't stepping.

Hopefully this makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
@Arcb that is very impressive! The only experience I have on a full keeled double ender was a docking class I took; the thing was a bear to dock with experienced crew!
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Again, a solid 'B' with extra credit for great attitude.

When you have Part II done you can splice in some 'Coming Attractions' at the end of Part I

Throwing lines is another topic for Part II. Do you have a good reference for coiling lines? Something authoritative?
Me?

^^ I crack myself up.

Jack Klang has a lot to offer.

The keys are big coils. That makes holding easier, reduces snarls and hockles, and makes throwing easier. For throwing split the coil between your hands and throw them together. See Jack. He also has a great technique for getting a line over a piling. I can point you to resources if you can't find them.

I read "don't jump from the boat" all over the internet and official docking curricula. But I've never seen it well defined let alone practiced.
Agreed. That's why Diana's "high heels" comment resonated for me. It's just a metaphor but it gets people's attention.

SavvySalt here :) (I really should figure out how to change my SailNet user name; this SailNet account predates the blog.)
Just PM a moderator. They'll fix you up.

Holler if you want help with your videos. You're on the right track and I'm happy to kibitz. Cruisers helping cruisers.
 

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I thought the video was excellent. Yes, SVAuspecious and others have given you great input to making it better. I have three comments to make:

I always tell my crew that when docking ..."we are all ladies and gentlemen. We step gently onto the dock. If the boat is going too slow or too fast, let the skipper handle it. We step ashore (onto the dock) after the boat comes to a stop."

Everyone talk in gentle tones. Be sure you are heard, but don't over-do it. I like it best when instructions and comments are repeated (example: Skipper gives order - "Please attach the bow line to the forward port cleat" - answered by the crew - "Attaching bow line to the forward port cleat"). That way we are sure that we are on the same page. Not only is yelling unseemly, but it can lead to emotional confusion (just try yelling at your wife - what could possibly go wrong?). You notice I put the word "Please" in my example. I thought about that. I do use please and thank you on the boat. Not all the time, especially when things are moving fast, but it does set a tone of friendliness to the atmosphere of the boat. Commands are often phrased as comments or requests, but with no ambiguity. When a command is urgent, it's very easy for crew to tell because of the clarity and Voice of Command. I save that voice for when I need it. In general orders are clear, but pleasant. It's amazing how being on a boat will make some skippers (yes, usually us guys) turn into abrasive mini-tyrants. This point to both skippers and crew might have a place in your video.

When the wind is blowing us off the dock, I prefer to have the crew loop a line from the midship cleat to the dock and then back. The crew does not leave the boat. Jumping to the dock is risky and not my preferred method. Another way to do this is to have a pre-made line attached to the midship cleat, just the right length to slip over the dock cleat. Midship cleat docking (spring lines) is covered in a lot of YouTube videos.

Hope this helps, VTP. Like I said, I thought your video was very well done. Easy to understand narration, good visual presentation, good information. Very helpful.
 

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The video shows people jumping from the boat. Perhaps I'm being pedantic or my standards are too high. Jumping from a boat whether because it is too far from the dock or moving (or both) is a real risk. My friend Diana Doyle says "if I can't step off in high heels Mark (her husband) didn't do it right." I agree. Diana doesn't wear heels but the point is a good one.
Absolutely spot on!
I don't care what the conditions are, nobody should ever risk life and limb trying to make up for an incompetent captain. Stay aboard the boat until you can step off as Diana stated, "in high heels".
I can't tell you how many hundreds of times I've heard a "captain" berate his wife or girlfriend for messing up a docking when it was totally HIS fault because he couldn't get the boat to the dock. Not close enough, TO THE DOCK! It's ugly to watch and totally uncalled for. It's a wonder these women ever set foot on his boat again.
If you miss, you miss. Go around again. Who cares what others think?
On one particularly windy occasion, trying to dock an 81' three masted schooner with 25 or so passengers aboard during a pretty spectacular summer squall in Charleston, it took me 5 tries to get her to the dock long enough for my PROFESSIONAL crew to get a spring line ashore.
Every time I approached the dock a gust (perhaps 60 knots?) would funnel between the two building to windward of the dock and off I'd go. I tried different angles of approach, different speeds and everything I could think of, but that wind just wasn't going to make it easy. It was blowing so hard that all the dust, dirt and trash (soda cans, cigarette butts, etc) from upwind of the two buildings was being blown into my face as I neared the dock.
On the 5th try I managed to get her to the dock long enough for my crew to get a spring ashore and we were OK. I had nothing but praise for my crew's self restraint in not trying to make a desperate leap. We were a team, and they always wanted to make us (me?) look good. But they also knew the first rule I taught them, "don't get hurt". So they waited and we finally got in and I wasn't the slightest bit embarrassed. Not the slightest bit. Nobody got hurt, the boat wasn't damaged and all it cost was a bit of extra time, in extraordinarily difficult conditions.
And some of the guests thought it was all part of the show! Go figure.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Great content!

TOO MUCH content! This should be broken into two videos.

I refer to what you call a "mid-ship" line as a "breast" line. I know that one of the curricula to which I have been exposed does too.

Font size in your slides is too small.
 

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TOO MUCH content! This should be broken into two videos.
I really thought about this. Or trying to cut out 2 mintues. 12 minutes is right at my limit; I think 7-10 minutes is ideal. But I decided against it hoping sending one video to my crew would increase their chances of watching it instead of two or three.

We have a lot of bull rails in the PNW. I don't know if add ing a bit about them might be appropriate; it's a whole different set of techniques.
Added Bull Rails to the Part II list. Also added "Part I" to the title.

you should always step over the lifelines, first with one foot and then with the other, so that both feet are standing on the gunwale, outside the lifelines.
Sometimes this works. But on race boats sometimes the stanchions are angled outboard of vertical, several degrees. It's very precarious to stand on the topsides outside of the lifelines on these boats.

The definition of "jump" that I would use is "push oneself off a surface and into the air by using the muscles in one's legs and feet."

The definition of "step" that I would use is "to move, go, etc., by lifting the foot and setting it down again in a new position, or by using the feet alternately in this manner: to step forward."
This seems right to me.

I like where this discussion is going. To keep us moving forward I can go back to the original videos and cut them into some reference material for stepping vs. jumping ashore. It's probably useful to see them without the speedup. I can start with the one I think people find objectionable: 15s-20s:


Any other time codes you where no speedup or other angles might be helpful?
 

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A couple of more thoughts on stepping vs jumping if you are planning on explaining it to viewers.

Would stepping mean you always have one foot on a solid surface, whether that be the boat or the dock. Another way to look at it is maintaining at least 2 points of contact until safely on the dock. So that could be a foot and a hand, 2 feet, but ideally not just two hands :)

With regards to coiling lines, it's a tough topic to detail by text, but if you are coiling lines for the purpose of docking, I would say, how you intend to use the line, should influence how you coil it. If you are tossing the line a short distance and want to provide maximum surface area for an inexperienced dock master to grab onto, big coils might work best.

If you are holding on to the running end with the standing end made fast and you are throwing the middle of the line with the intention of lassoing or snagging a cleat or a bollard, big coils.

If you are trying to achieve maximum range, especially in windy conditions, I personally, would always go with small very neat coils 10-20" in diameter to provide a denser package with less wind resistance. Unless using a monkeys fist or heaving line knot (which I never use).
 

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Absolutely spot on!
I don't care what the conditions are, nobody should ever risk life and limb trying to make up for an incompetent captain. Stay aboard the boat until you can step off as Diana stated, "in high heels".
I can't tell you how many hundreds of times I've heard a "captain" berate his wife or girlfriend for messing up a docking when it was totally HIS fault because he couldn't get the boat to the dock. Not close enough, TO THE DOCK! It's ugly to watch and totally uncalled for. It's a wonder these women ever set foot on his boat again.
If you miss, you miss. Go around again. Who cares what others think?
On one particularly windy occasion, trying to dock an 81' three masted schooner with 25 or so passengers aboard during a pretty spectacular summer squall in Charleston, it took me 5 tries to get her to the dock long enough for my PROFESSIONAL crew to get a spring line ashore.
Every time I approached the dock a gust (perhaps 60 knots?) would funnel between the two building to windward of the dock and off I'd go. I tried different angles of approach, different speeds and everything I could think of, but that wind just wasn't going to make it easy. It was blowing so hard that all the dust, dirt and trash (soda cans, cigarette butts, etc) from upwind of the two buildings was being blown into my face as I neared the dock.
On the 5th try I managed to get her to the dock long enough for my crew to get a spring ashore and we were OK. I had nothing but praise for my crew's self restraint in not trying to make a desperate leap. We were a team, and they always wanted to make us (me?) look good. But they also knew the first rule I taught them, "don't get hurt". So they waited and we finally got in and I wasn't the slightest bit embarrassed. Not the slightest bit. Nobody got hurt, the boat wasn't damaged and all it cost was a bit of extra time, in extraordinarily difficult conditions.
And some of the guests thought it was all part of the show! Go figure.
As you know trying to get a boat along a pier that it's blown off of can be very difficult. If it's blowing hard enough we'll often just back to the pier, hand off a bow and stern line and use the anchor windlass to pull the bow in. Not pretty but I've yet to figure out how to make a big boat go sideways upwind.
 

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As you know trying to get a boat along a pier that it's blown off of can be very difficult. If it's blowing hard enough we'll often just back to the pier, hand off a bow and stern line and use the anchor windlass to pull the bow in. Not pretty but I've yet to figure out how to make a big boat go sideways upwind.
Stem and flare? If at first you don't succeed, take another run at it and administor a more liberal application of throttle on the second run? :)

Nothing wrong with backing either though.
 

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As you know trying to get a boat along a pier that it's blown off of can be very difficult. If it's blowing hard enough we'll often just back to the pier, hand off a bow and stern line and use the anchor windlass to pull the bow in. Not pretty but I've yet to figure out how to make a big boat go sideways upwind.
You might want to try using spring lines, especially if there's someone on the dock who will secure it. But if you can get her alongside, even for only a few seconds, and get a spring secured even without outside help, you won't ever have a problem docking against the wind or current. Your crew can even remain on the dock while you bring the boat alongside more permanently.
Once you have your aft running spring line on the dock (no other lines needed at this point), using the engine in forward with the helm turned slightly away from the dock, the boat will just suck up to the dock and sit there indefinitely while someone (even single handing) gets the rest of the lines ashore. The harder it blows (or the current is running) the more throttle it will take, but don't over throttle or try to rush things. It takes time.
You really need to be able to dock your boat without shoreside help under any conditions, not just ideal ones. That's part of becoming a confident and capable skipper.
 
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A couple of more thoughts on stepping vs jumping if you are planning on explaining it to viewers.
I just have a picture in my head of a 6' tall guy 200# stepping from the boat to the dock in his size 12 4" heels. *grin* Admittedly I have a warped sense of humor but that picture is worth 10,000 words. Finding the heels and a guy who can maneuver in them is the trick. You'll have to find an old Rocky Horror fan.

As you know trying to get a boat along a pier that it's blown off of can be very difficult. If it's blowing hard enough we'll often just back to the pier, hand off a bow and stern line and use the anchor windlass to pull the bow in. Not pretty but I've yet to figure out how to make a big boat go sideways upwind.
Blown on can be tricky also. My very first delivery we ran into Manasaquan NJ with big weather on our heels. The wind was blowing 20-25 onto the fuel dock and across all the slips. I ended up doing a Med moor to the fuel dock (on an express cruiser!) which pretty well blew the dockhands minds. It worked and held us until the storm blew through and we could move to a slip.

At that point the owner's wife managed to shove a 30A shore power cord into a 50A outlet. *sigh* That was messy.
 
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