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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When questions have been posted regarding docking and singlehanding, the standard answer is ....use spring lines, they are your friend!

Ok, how?

Where do you attach them for both forward and astern situations? Are they preset in length? Which side? Doesn't the slack jerk the boat around when they go tight? What happens before they go tight...doesn't the slack allow one to drift down on adjacent boats? Do you feed the spring line gradually to make it longer while at same time keeping it tensioned so that it functions as a spring line? How do you do this from the helm station? There doesn't seem to be enough time to allow one to leave the helm station to go forward to place the spring line on a piling (once the spring line is tight and engine/prop is balancing forces, I see how you can do it, but not before, especially if in a strong crosswind). I haven't used spring lines because they would seem to press really hard against the lifeline stanchions and possible cause leaks. What is your concern here? Please address the questions from a single handed standpoint.

Please help us unconverted ones to see the light! Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Actually, while I said I don't use springlines, I mean just while docking. Once in the slip, I can get a fair lead so the lines don't press on the stanchions and I do use them in this case to hold the boat in proper position in the slip. My previous post was on the details of exactly how you use them in the docking evolution, with emphasis on details like where, how long, string up to helm station, etc. for single handing. It's in the docking that they seem to offer some magic. Thanks.
 

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When i first started single handing I would connect my forward spring lines together with my dock cleat lines to form a cradle when leaving. It made it easy to come in to the slip either way when retuning and the set up would hold the boat steady while I took care of the other end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
JLBJR, thanks for the link.

Actually, I have a copy of Chapman and I find the sections on spring lines a little frustrating as a singlehander. At various times, they talk about and illustrate, moving the fenders from position to position as the boat moves, they sometimes talk about someone on the pier assisting line handling, they show the attachment points of lines at various places as if there is knowledgeable crew on board. Where I sail, there is no dock attendant, if I'm singlehanding, I have no crew and can't be in three places at one time. Oh, yes, I really, really don't want to ding and scratch up the sides of the boat...after 9 years, the hull looks like new and I want to keep it that way if possible. And I just don't see how one uses the springlines to warp around or hold the boat in position without pulling against stanchions or scuffing the hull along pilings. I've also looked at a number of films and other writings on docking, and while they talk about bad conditions, it's always easy, with no wind or current when they do it, and truthfully, in most cases illustrated, they don't even need to play with spring lines. I'm concerned about when it's just me, it's blowing crosswind line stink, and the chop is throwing the boat around crazy. This is what I really need some help on. And despite the basic details I asked about, I really do understand the concept of spring lines (In a former life, I was the officer in charge of deck evolutions in the Navy on a destroyer). Thanks though, for any input that will be useful to me, in particular, and to lots of newbies that read these posts.
 

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Study and practice. As a longtime singlehander, I can tell you what you already know: think ahead. If I need to take in a spring line quickly, I double it, with both ends aboard. I try to angle the boat into the wind before I start off, and take in any lines that won't help. If there's an easier spot nearby on return, I sail to that, and warp her around. Keep seeking source material. Stand on deck and mentally picture your manuevers. Add cleats close to the cockpit. Even shorter lines, like sternlines, can sometimes serve like a springline. Don't forget that your sailboat can be manuevered by a push on a piling also, even though she can't be stopped that way. You'll work it out.
 

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google captain jack klang. Get his book
 

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Ditto Capt. Jack Klang. He's excellent. You can see and hear him for free at most of the major sailboat shows around the US. He's sponsored by Quantum Sails. He has some "how to" videos posted on the Lattitudes and Attitudes website, including this one on spring lines. YouTube - "Latitudes & Attitudes" Cruising Tip w/Capt Jack
Thanks for the link Sailormon. It's always great to be able to see it in action while it's being explained!
 

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Hey, NCC. I use an aft spring line while docking. Attach it mid-ship leading aft. Once you get the other end onto a cleat or piling, you can gently motor against the spring and your stern will come in to the dock. Once you're pinned against the spring and against the dock, you can take your time getting the other lines on because the boat's not going anywhere.

A fender or, better yet, a generous rub rail helps.

With this setup, you only need to worry about getting that one line on when coming in.
 

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There might be a bit of confusion in terminology here.

When I had trouble docking, I retrofitted amidship cleats on my Viking 33. Mounted on cambered and Cetol'd teak blocks I made up in the club woodshop, I through-bolted these through the cored deck and 1/4" backing plates using the Don Casey method of keeping the water out of the boat (Maine Sail would approve of my work, I'm sure!)

The reason for the retrofit? This allowed me to take a "breast line" from this particular cleat athwart the CE of the boat (think "fulcrum") and run from the tiller and over the lifelines to the dock, with one hand, and the other hand for the boat. (This hand along has typically a boat hook held by my pinkie, but I don't bother if I'm being blown on).

If you throw this line around the bollard on the dock, and use the hook to snag the stern line you've presciently looped under the pushpit and over the lifeline, you can stop the boat and cleat off the bow line at your leisure.

The confusion arises because while the breast line, or amidships line, can act as a "spring", a spring line will typically run fore and aft from a midship cleat to intermediate cleats on the dock or all the way to the bow and stern cleats or bollards. The purpose of one is simply to keep the boat close to the dock, while the purpose of the springs is to act a bit like shock absorbers or snubbers and to insure fore and aft motion at dock is kept to a minimum.

My "full dock line" set-up for my steel cruiser consists of two 3/4" bow lines to the dock, two 3/4" stern lines, one 3/4" spring foreward and one aft, and a "hail mary" breast line doubled over to the amidship bollard on deck. The springs, bow and stern lines have chafe gear and I have five fenders out.

That's what I do if it's blowing 35-45 knots at the dock, which is the most I've seen in Toronto except for a few 55-65 knots squalls in the summer, which tend to last 20 minutes at most.

If I'm tying up for lunch, however, on a fair weather day, it's one bow, one stern and one doubled breast line, which is the last line I release when we leave.
 

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I use the same system as painkiller,,,with a fender..**:**)
 

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I use the same system as painkiller,,,with a fender..**:**)
I use the same principal, but I use a line from the Midship cleat going forward to the dock. The line is preset to lenght and is left on the finger within easy reach. We Dock bow in /Port side tie. I use the engine to stop the boat, than in reverse with the single line amidship leading forward; prop walk nicely tucks the stern to the PROTECTED pilling. Take your time, and tie up the remainder of your lines.
 

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The nice thing about the spring line approach is that it works in your slip, at the fuel dock, an away slip, and just about anywhere else.

Chef, I often find that the boat will bump the dock anywhere EXCEPT where the fender is! I'll put the fender in after the boat is situated, but I've always found it hard to anticipate precisely where to set it for the approach. I have one of those long Aere fenders and I don't seem to hit the bullseye even with that! Instead, I rely on my rubrail which, on my Beneteau, is actually just a protruding metal toerail. In this regard, I'm jealous of the Hunters and Catalinas.

Another nice thing about the spring line approach is that you can move the stern by turning the wheel. My slip is a little wide for the boat. I pull bow-in. While powering against the spring, I turn the wheel and the stern will walk over to my out-of-reach stern piling. Then I just walk it back over to pin it so I can secure the rest of the lines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the advice. I'll try to adopt it. On my boat, I have an amidships cleat on the genoa track and can adjust it's position. Unfortunately, the track is a bit inboard, and the sector open for either breast or spring lines is limited without tugging against stanchions or bimini. I have worked out a system of clipping on a stern line and a bow line (or breast line) to the slip's windward buddy line (a line tight between outer piling and pier piling) using carabiners on the lines. The bow or breast line is led to the helm station through a snatch block so I can tend both stern and bow line from the helm area. I normally back into the slip and this works well for me. The problem is that if I go to another slip with no buddy line, then I need to use the sprinline concept. This stanchion problem is unique perhaps to my boat, so I'll see if I can't come up with some variant. I really don't want to be putting pressure on the stanchions and I prefer not to have my hull in contact with the pilings. As has been pointed out, preset fenders are almost always in the wrong place, and in a narrow slip like mine, I can't set a fender over the side in any case since it will hang up on the piling when I'm coming in. Again, thanks.
 

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I would echo the shout outs for Captain Jack Klang and his DVD on docking. I'm actually looking forward to hearing him again at next weekend's Strictly Sail, Chicago.
 

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Many, if not most, sailboats are poorly set up for docking (mooring). It's usually not the absence of cleats so much as it is the absence of chocks at the deck edge.

Valiente added midships cleats but one can add chocks to achieve much the same effect. Particularly if you're single-handing they are quite helpful. cleats will tend to snag sheets and other lines which will usually pass over a chock. You then have to lead your line to a cleat to secure it of course. But once you're alongside that is easy enough to do. You may even elect to run the mooring lines completely differently once alongside. If you've a midships chock you can lead a line through it and then aft to the cockpit so that you have both the standing part and the hauling part with you in the cockpit, with a bight through the chock. As you come alongside you place the eye of the standing part over a bollard or dock cleat. Now you can control the hauling part at a cleat aft or even a convenient winch.

If you've a line to the dock via a midships chock there really isn't much you cannot now do to manoeuver the boat.

Klang's dvd is quite good at showing this in practice and theory for different conditions.
 
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