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Old 24-09-2013, 11:48   #1
Neo
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Docking In The Current At Newburyport

We have a mooring so docking has never been our strong suit, but I don't think any amount of docking in our usual haunts would have prepared us for docking at the Newburyport Harbor Marina on the Merrimack River this past weekend.

We arrived in our Pearson 31 at close to full ebb and could not believe our eyes. The dock master told us that the current in the slip that we were assigned gets as high as 4 knots. It was a transient slip, so of course it was the slip with the worst current (not many would want to spend a full season in this slip). It appears that the railroad bridge just upstream directs the entire contents of the river through these 2 slips. Fortunately, the slips run east-west with the current, otherwise docking would have been almost impossible.

We decided to back into the slip because it would be much easier to motor forward when departing. In our first attempt, we were too far away from the slip when we began backing, so we got pushed over into an occupied slip. We just managed to motor forward before making contact with our neighbor, a new 70 foot motor yacht.

In our second attempt, we made a quick pass along the slips, headed up into the current directly in front of our slip, and let the current bring us to a stop. We then shifted into reverse and began to back in. That was our second mistake. The prop walk caused the stern to swing just enough for the current to catch our bow and spin us around. We ended up getting t-boned by, and pinned up against, the dock finger. I had already passed the stern line to one of the dock hands and had hopped onto the dock with the bow line. Now it was just a matter of brute force. The helmsman put her into reverse and the three of us on the dock wrestle her into the slip.

Next time..... we'll come head up into the current directly in front of the slip, and then let the current push us back into the slip. It is important to head up very close to the slip because the current will eventually catch your bow and spin you, even without prop walk. Once the current pushes you back into the slip, you can use the motor to hold yourself in place until the dock lines are secured.

The good news: no one screamed, no one panicked and no one was hurt.

The bad news: we lost a little gel coat and a little pride.

After tying her off, the dock lines were as tight as piano strings.
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Old 24-09-2013, 11:55   #2
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pirate Re: Docking In The Current At Newburyport

I'm chicken... I'd have gone bow in using reverse to control entry speed... and happily reversed out when leaving..
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:48   #3
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Re: Docking In The Current At Newburyport

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neo View Post
We have a mooring so docking has never been our strong suit, but I don't think any amount of docking in our usual haunts would have prepared us for docking at the Newburyport Harbor Marina on the Merrimack River this past weekend.

We arrived in our Pearson 31 at close to full ebb and could not believe our eyes. The dock master told us that the current in the slip that we were assigned gets as high as 4 knots. It was a transient slip, so of course it was the slip with the worst current (not many would want to spend a full season in this slip). It appears that the railroad bridge just upstream directs the entire contents of the river through these 2 slips. Fortunately, the slips run east-west with the current, otherwise docking would have been almost impossible.

We decided to back into the slip because it would be much easier to motor forward when departing. In our first attempt, we were too far away from the slip when we began backing, so we got pushed over into an occupied slip. We just managed to motor forward before making contact with our neighbor, a new 70 foot motor yacht.

In our second attempt, we made a quick pass along the slips, headed up into the current directly in front of our slip, and let the current bring us to a stop. We then shifted into reverse and began to back in. That was our second mistake. The prop walk caused the stern to swing just enough for the current to catch our bow and spin us around. We ended up getting t-boned by, and pinned up against, the dock finger. I had already passed the stern line to one of the dock hands and had hopped onto the dock with the bow line. Now it was just a matter of brute force. The helmsman put her into reverse and the three of us on the dock wrestle her into the slip.

Next time..... we'll come head up into the current directly in front of the slip, and then let the current push us back into the slip. It is important to head up very close to the slip because the current will eventually catch your bow and spin you, even without prop walk. Once the current pushes you back into the slip, you can use the motor to hold yourself in place until the dock lines are secured.

The good news: no one screamed, no one panicked and no one was hurt.

The bad news: we lost a little gel coat and a little pride.

After tying her off, the dock lines were as tight as piano strings.
I would probably have balanced the motor against the current. With the current from the bow and the added prop wash, you should be able to steer the boat and keep the bow into the current. Just keep it reved up and balanced, then reduce revs a little at a time until you are in the slip
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:31   #4
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I would have stopped at the American yacht club and picked up a mooring.. We are all very helpful here:-)
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Old 10-10-2013, 07:27   #5
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Re: Docking In The Current At Newburyport

Getting a sternline out first doesn't help, you give up most of your maneuverability doing that. I've moored tugs and barges in the Piscataqua, I always head into the current and work the engines against it. Then get a forward spring out and drop her in.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:30   #6
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Re: Docking In The Current At Newburyport

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Originally Posted by BigBoater917 View Post
Getting a sternline out first doesn't help, you give up most of your maneuverability doing that. I've moored tugs and barges in the Piscataqua, I always head into the current and work the engines against it. Then get a forward spring out and drop her in.
Yeah, that makes sense. Normally I approach the dock bow first and I'm just braking the boats momentum, so a stern spring line (or a stern line) will do the trick, but backing the boat in with a constant current, the forward spring line (or the bowline) is the trick.
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Old 10-10-2013, 15:52   #7
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Re: Docking In The Current At Newburyport

I know the marina at Newburyport pretty well. My Bro-in-Law lives on Plum Island and is a member of the Freedom Boat Club at Newburyport. Their dock is right in front of Michaels Harborside Restaurant so there are always plenty of witnesses. One day after Bob and I were out fishing he radioed the club "Freedom, this is Sea Fox (name of the clubs center console fishing boat) returning to dock". The girl at the club replied "Roger that Sea Fox-we'll be waiting". Apparently the button stuck on the clubs radio because we could hear her say "get everyone down there, Bob's coming back in". I think he has become infamous for his docking abilities in that current. ;-)
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