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Help with assessing my particular dock situation

3975 Views 21 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  MSWhite

I'm new to this forum as after banging my head against the wall for a few days trying to figure out my problem I've come to the conclusion that I need some real help. I'm a novice sailor that's on the journey of finding my first boat. At the same time, I'm lucky in that I have access to a dock in a sailable river where I frequently see large sailboats come by. Now I'm looking for something reasonable, 22-25ft range, to get me started. But my dock situation is so peculiar that I'm not sure how feasible it is for me to get a boat of this size. Let me explain:

My dock looks like this:

Rectangle Grey Slope Atmospheric phenomenon Electricity

And the challenge is that the following factors are in place:

1. current from the river
2. waves from weather and wind. I think they can get up to 2-3ft on really bad days.
3. wakes, this is probably the biggest problem. Lots of large motor boats generating big wakes every weekend.
4. the dock is not huge

Handwriting Rectangle Slope Line Font

My only thought is to place the boat right at the end and use bow/stern lines with spring lines and serious fenders or maybe even some hard poles for the bow/stern lines to keep the boat away from the dock. So like this:

Handwriting Rectangle Slope Font Parallel

But I have no idea if this is reasonable. I don't think I could put in a permanent mooring as the river freezes in the winter (dock is removed each fall). Is this a reasonable approach? Anything else I should consider? Or should I reconsider getting a sailboat of this size here as it's certain to get damaged?

Thank you so much for any thoughts and ideas!
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Hey Mark! Thanks for the welcome :)

I should have included this bit of information in my first message. It becomes shallow fairly quickly. I think it would be possible for a 17-18ft sailboat with a swing keel in the upwards position. But otherwise there really wouldn't be enough water under the boat for me to feel comfortable with that setup, even though I would prefer it.
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I no longer use it, but ...

I have a mooring off our neighborhood dock made from an old tire filled with concrete on the bottom with (in the past) a surface float some distance from the dock. The bow of my boat was secured there. The stern was tied to the dock at a safe distance from the dock. Moving the dock tie off point moved the boat closer to the dock and gave me access. Except when I moved the boat, it was at a safe distance from the dock
Hey wsmurdoch, thanks for the message :)

My river freezes in the winter and although the mooring itself probably wouldn't move as it doesn't freeze solid I don't think I would be able to find the mooring and reattach a float each spring. It would be deep and muddy where it would be located. Not to mention that I'm not sure if I'm allowed to drop a mooring in the first place. Certainly unfortunate as that sounds like a really interesting option if docking the boat at the end of the dock is a bad idea!
If the current is non tidal, (flow one way)Two heavy chains on 2 mooring blocks that hold the boat away from the dock but not on it and when they're not being used the chain will lay on the River Bottom on the bank near your dock.
The weight of the chain will slow the action of wakes and waves hitting the boat broadside but they will also keep the boat parallel to the current with the addition of lines parallel to the dock, this is not a perfect answer but it comes to mind because my Yacht Club where I used to belong was on the tidal Delaware River and we always had problems with boats slapping against the docks.

Spring storms on the River brought debris (even whole trees!) hitting the bow of the moored boats lifting mooring blocks & chains sending them up or downriver depending which way the current was running.
Thank you so much deniseO30. My thoughts of using poles at the bow and stern in combination with spring lines would be to achieve that same effect. Pushing the boat away from the dock. Moorings are probably better but with my river freezing over I really wonder how well the moorings and chains/floats would survive year-to-year. Early spring the river is like an avalanche of icebergs just bringing everything with it. I have a feeling moorings or chains would just go with the ice.
I was out on a large northern river similar to what you describe all day to day. Current, wake setters, wind driven waves 2-3 ft, spring floods. The Ottawa River, I have been sailing it for years.

Almost every house has a mooring in front of it in about 8-15 feet of water. Lots have small sailboats on their moorings. There are almost zero sailboats on docks outside of marinas without stone break walls.

Mooring a bigger boat or beaching a smaller boat are the way to go IMO. You can keep a dinghy or small powerboat at your dock to run out to the mooring with.
Thanks Arcb that's certainly interesting to hear. Do you know how a mooring survives the winter on a river like the Ottawa river? I'm surprised there are any! Are permits required to install a mooring? I'm certainly very new to that whole concept. I still think I'd like to try to find a way to work with my dock but maybe it's asking for problems :unsure:
You could tie multiple floats if you are worried about one getting ripped off the chain. The Ottawa where I was today was maybe a mile across, 160 feet deep in the middle, so a mooring in 8 feet of water is in relatively shallow water. The currents and ice flows are much stronger out further in the river towards the middle than close to shore. What ice there is flowing close to shore, the mooring buoy just slides under and pops back up in the spring. A lot of people use these.
Thanks Arcb! I might have to investigate installing a mooring as my best option. Especially if I end up getting a larger boat down the line!
I have seen people use poles to hold their boats off the docks as you suggest. They are called mooring whips.

Thanks, JohnBPrice; I'm considering these. For the size of a sailboat that I'm considering it might be doable. But for any larger boats, I think it might be too weak.
On the New York Finger Lakes, during the winter. people with moorings tie a long line to their mooring chain and run the other end ashore. They then disconnect the mooring bouy so the anchor chain and the line sit on the bottom. In spring they bring up the rope until they get to the mooring chain. Reconnect the buoy to the chain and bring the rope ashore for cleaning.

Obviously this requires several hundred feet of rope.

Thanks Jeff! That's a great idea but on my river this would not work, the spring current brings mountains of ice at surprisingly high speeds. Anything tied to shore would get ripped to shreds. To give you an idea, the large boulders on my neighbour's shore are my boulders next spring :)
If I were in your position, I would drop a BIG mooring a safe distance away from the dock, and then bring my tender up into that little notch in the dock.

Welcome to SailNet :)
Thanks eherlihy. Long term, especially with a bigger boat, this might be the right solution :)
Sound like "mooring and dock your tender" is the general consensus. As for keeping your mooring from getting dragged by ice in the winter, you can use a "winter stick" to replace the buoy on your mooring. You can buy them, some people make them out of PVC pipe and a pool noodle, some people just use a piece of 2x4. Here are some resources:

Thanks for the resources Jeremiahblatz! That might work, but even with PVC pipes, I think the ice on this river would rip the off. I'd have to try it, I guess!
I've got 2 moorings in the St. Mary's River near Sault Ste. Marie. For winter, I take off the mooring lines and buoys, and attach a smaller float (1/2 liter bottle) to the anchor on a 2 foot line. This keeps it below the ice, and high enough off the bottom to locate the mooring in the spring.
If your river is moving big boulders every spring, this approach may not work. But flows near the bottom aren't usually as turbulent as those near the surface and at the shoreline, so might be worth trying with a not-too-expensive anchor.
That's a very good idea lmills011 and probably would work great for my river! What would a not-to-expensive anchor look like? Can a mooring for a 22-25ft boat be done by myself? A few resources I looked at seemed to indicate I would need many hundreds of pounds of weight for my rocky bottom. That certainly is not an easy thing to get out in the water and sink!
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