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Old 24-11-2013, 10:15   #16
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Re: Docking

Jammer, I hope that I wasn't talking in circles. You're correct, docking is not an issue of hindsight, it's an issue of foresight. Before docking:
1. Know your boat, it's turning radius at various speeds and at port or starboard, forward and reverse. Know how it reacts to windage issues. At what speed goes it have steerage in various conditions?
2. Have fenders and docking lines ready (I'm a big proponent of mid-boat lines.) Being prepared allows you to concentrate on coming in. Have crew ready with instructions on what to do - and what not to do. One reminder I make is that all crew is to step ashore like ladies and gentlemen. No one is to jump! If I blow it, we'll come around for another pass. If I come in hot, keep hands and feet out from between! I've seen that on bigger yachts, crew sometimes holds fenders to place between the boat and the dock or other boats. On commercial boats we just let it crunch! Let's not go there!!
3. Check current and wind. They will move your boat. If moving with the resultant vector of wind/current, slow way down. If moving against the combined vector, use more power. If cross vector, well, that's just trickier. Usually it's better to steer into the direction of wind/current when docking. People see wind more easily, but don't forget current, it can have quite a strong effect. We get a lot of wave surge in my harbor when the swell is running! Zeehag refers to a perfect landing every time. Don't I wish! I don't think I would refer to the speed as slow, but controlled might be more accurate. Either way, wind and current are definitely part of your plan. They will move you.
4. Slow is good. As pointed out several times, if you hit something going slowly, it usually is an easier result, possibly with less damage. Gear does let go at the most inconvenient times! Yes, you do need enough speed to keep steerage, and being tentative has poor results. Strong decisive steering is a good thing. So we meet those two ideas in the middle. Calm, deliberate and safely.

As you pointed out, hindsight is good for assessing what happened, and what to do next time, but the key to proper docking is planning and anticipation. Correct speed is a big part of successful docking, but there are lots of factors, some of which I've talked about here. It's funny that I may dock correctly most of the time (correctly = coming to a stop 6" from my docking position), but I can be sure to screw up on a fairly regular basis! If I cause damage, I apologize with a checkbook and chagrin. If I don't hit anybody, I just laugh at myself!
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Old 24-11-2013, 10:39   #17
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When all is said and done you're dealing with the physical laws relating to fluids (air and water) and momentum and inertia (Newton's laws). In layman's terms wind, water and weight.

Suggestions by others that slow, but not too slow, is better than too fast and using the wind and currents to your advantage are key.

Instruction and supervision by someone experienced in docking who you trust followed by practice are needed. Each vessel has its own manouevering quirks. So what works for my boat might not work for yours. Bar room expertise IMHO is not something I trust too much.
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Old 24-11-2013, 10:42   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty c-m View Post
Jammer, I hope that I wasn't talking in circles. You're correct, docking is not an issue of hindsight, it's an issue of foresight. Before docking:
1. Know your boat, it's turning radius at various speeds and at port or starboard, forward and reverse. Know how it reacts to windage issues. At what speed goes it have steerage in various conditions?
2. Have fenders and docking lines ready (I'm a big proponent of mid-boat lines.) Being prepared allows you to concentrate on coming in. Have crew ready with instructions on what to do - and what not to do. One reminder I make is that all crew is to step ashore like ladies and gentlemen. No one is to jump! If I blow it, we'll come around for another pass. If I come in hot, keep hands and feet out from between! I've seen that on bigger yachts, crew sometimes holds fenders to place between the boat and the dock or other boats. On commercial boats we just let it crunch! Let's not go there!!
3. Check current and wind. They will move your boat. If moving with the resultant vector of wind/current, slow way down. If moving against the combined vector, use more power. If cross vector, well, that's just trickier. Usually it's better to steer into the direction of wind/current when docking. People see wind more easily, but don't forget current, it can have quite a strong effect. We get a lot of wave surge in my harbor when the swell is running! Zeehag refers to a perfect landing every time. Don't I wish! I don't think I would refer to the speed as slow, but controlled might be more accurate. Either way, wind and current are definitely part of your plan. They will move you.
4. Slow is good. As pointed out several times, if you hit something going slowly, it usually is an easier result, possibly with less damage. Gear does let go at the most inconvenient times! Yes, you do need enough speed to keep steerage, and being tentative has poor results. Strong decisive steering is a good thing. So we meet those two ideas in the middle. Calm, deliberate and safely.

As you pointed out, hindsight is good for assessing what happened, and what to do next time, but the key to proper docking is planning and anticipation. Correct speed is a big part of successful docking, but there are lots of factors, some of which I've talked about here. It's funny that I may dock correctly most of the time (correctly = coming to a stop 6" from my docking position), but I can be sure to screw up on a fairly regular basis! If I cause damage, I apologize with a checkbook and chagrin. If I don't hit anybody, I just laugh at myself!
+1 to this
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Old 25-11-2013, 16:54   #19
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Re: Docking

In general the bigger and heavier the boat is, the slower you want to go, because the inertia of a big, heavy boat tends to overcome winds and current.

It's counter intuitive. My 20,000 pound single screw trawler is very easy to dock. It's predictable, and can be nudged easily with throttle and rudder.

My 3,500 pound outdrive "beater boat" is amazingly hard to dock. The lightest wind blows it around, the throttle and steering is super responsive, leading to over correction.

My sailboats were all like the trawler, although they turned far more easily as the rudders are so much larger.

Best advice after 30 years? Use spring lines! You only need one line to the dock to pull the boat any direction you want. Got a line on the front? Put her in reverse, the aft end will pull right up next to the dock and stay there. Got a line in the back? Put her in forward. This technique works in all wind conditions, and is perfect for the couple where she doesn't want to drive, but isn't strong enough to handle lines.
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Old 25-11-2013, 18:14   #20
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Re: Docking

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Originally Posted by Moosemiester View Post
In general the bigger and heavier the boat is, the slower you want to go, because the inertia of a big, heavy boat tends to overcome winds and current.
That's exactly the opposite of my experience. In my experience, the Catalina 25s answer the helm at a much lower speed than the 49' Juneau.

The huge, heavy boats have a much higher speed necessary before you can control them.

I figured that's why ferries and ferry terminals are built so they can slam into the docks.
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Old 25-11-2013, 18:23   #21
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Re: Docking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
That's exactly the opposite of my experience. In my experience, the Catalina 25s answer the helm at a much lower speed than the 49' Juneau.

The huge, heavy boats have a much higher speed necessary before you can control them.

I figured that's why ferries and ferry terminals are built so they can slam into the docks.
Actually he half right....big heavy boats...depending on windage/draft do react slower...

ALL boats react the same due to current....thus leeway versus set/drift.

I find bigger boats do react slower to a degree...but once you let them get away from you....ut oh....

as far as bigger boats needing more control...sort'a...that why the really big ones without thrusters /pods require tugs...no twisting a 200 foot plus ship in tight quarters without some tug assistance.

Today I helped the 210 foot USCG cutters in Cape May...the inboard one had to get underway so we tugged the outer one off arounf 100 feet, let the inboard one back out and pushed the one we were tugging back to the pier. While things were still tricky...the 210 footer still reacted much more slowly to wind and tugging than a much smaller vessel (we were usung 40 crew boats to tug).
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Old 25-11-2013, 19:14   #22
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Re: Docking

You dock at the minimum speed you need for control. If that speed is higher than you care to hit the dock or your neighbor you need to stay out or drop the hook or grab a mooring.

Absent thrusters or tugs: If you are being set crosswise to your dock at a knot by wind or current you need a knot in the opposite direction to offset it. Twenty degrees of crab will compensate a cross current by one third of your speed through the water...thirty degrees will compensate by half your speed...so compensating a knot requires three knots of boat speed at 20 degrees of crab and two knots at 30 degrees of crab.

If you have a boat whose profile on one end or the other (high bow or high aft deckhouse) wind effects will pivot the end with the higher profile downwind which may require even further crabbing.

At 20 degrees of crab your 30 footer needs 10 feet of clearance between your finger pier to your neighbor to just barely rub both as you dock. At 30 degrees it needs 15 feet.

Use of a spring line to pivot your boat is a sign of good seamanship but if you put that spring line on a cleat or piling from your cockpit and your cockpit is ten to fifteen feet from the cleat due to having to crab you may not get close enough to put a spring line down to the pier/piling.

Every sailor should do "back of the envelope" calculations to develop "go/no-go" thumb rules that let you know for your particular boat and dock when conditions just won't let you make a safe landing.

You should also be aware of any current and wind shadows that will exist as you enter the marina or slip with boats or buildings or other obstructions nearby because the current and wind effects can be "lost" rapidly as you enter these shadows and the extra speed and crabbing you needed to proceed safely outside the shadow will need to be taken off to prevent quickly leaving your intended track of your approach to the pier.

Safe landings!!!
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Old 25-11-2013, 19:32   #23
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Re: Docking

I let the valet park it___

I have always favored the three bears theory; Not to much, not to little, but just right...

Coming along side a buoy without touching it as a practice has helped my control confidence with both powerboats, and the canoes.
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Old 25-11-2013, 22:13   #24
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Re: Docking

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Originally Posted by fryewe View Post
You dock at the minimum speed you need for control. If that speed is higher than you care to hit the dock ...
One of the reasons I've always rejected this theory is because there is no speed at which I'd care to hit the dock. Therefore, following this logic, I would never dock.

I'd rather be going fast enough to avoid hitting the dock than hit the dock at a lower speed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew B. View Post
I have always favored the three bears theory; Not to much, not to little, but just right...
My point in starting this thread is that if it's not "just right", I'd rather have too fast than lose control. As long as I keep control, I can avoid hitting anything.
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Old 25-11-2013, 22:18   #25
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Re: Docking

I like a heavier vessel for manuevering, you can use the weight and inertia to put the vessel where you want. When I manuever a 220' tug, it is nice to have the bow thruster and both main engines, but I have and can manuever it on one engine only, it is more challenging and you have to pay attention to what you are doing, and it would be a lot easier if it were a single screw designed vessel, then the propulsion would be in the center and the rudder would be bigger, you have to be in step with the environment and not trying to fight it. And yes when things go wrong they can go very very expensivly wrong.
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Old 25-11-2013, 23:11   #26
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Re: Docking

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One of the reasons I've always rejected this theory is because there is no speed at which I'd care to hit the dock. Therefore, following this logic, I would never dock.
Cute, but the idiom is still of use.

Of course no one would like to hit the dock...but there is always risk of losing control. And if there is a loss of control there is a likelihood of hitting something.

As the environment during docking becomes more adverse, greater speed is necessary to maintain control...and the increased risk of a loss of control means an increased risk of significant damage.

So it's a matter of risk analysis and risk acceptance. If you don't care, you dock in any conditions. If you are perfect and there is no risk of hitting anything, then you can dock in any conditions. If you care and the risks exceed that which you can accept, then you have to exercise other options.
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Old 25-11-2013, 23:17   #27
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Re: Docking

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
novel idea...use wind and currents to assist your slow progress into slip for a perfect landing every time.
Umm.... how does that work when the prevailing wind blows me INTO my pen? And there is no current...
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Old 25-11-2013, 23:26   #28
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Re: Docking

I'm happy jammer doesn't dock near me. Everyone does it s l o w here.

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Old 26-11-2013, 05:19   #29
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I'm happy jammer doesn't dock near me. Everyone does it s l o w here.
+1 Same here
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Old 26-11-2013, 05:57   #30
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Re: Docking

I think there is a basic misunderstanding of the terminology in the previous posts

Too slow - means that it is too slow for your boat's handling characteristics.

Too fast - means that your approach is faster than your reactions can cope with.

There is obviously normally a range of speeds in between these extremes. However, there are occasions where wind conditions are such that the two conditions overlap, and it is unsafe to approach the dock.
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