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Old 02-04-2006, 12:59   #1
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Greetings, and Question About Shorthanded Docking

Hi all,
I am new to this forum, and wanted to say "hello." It looks like a cool place to exchange information.

I have a question about shorthanded docking. I am an experience sailor and charterer, but always had at least two crew members with me when sailing larger boats. I am considering a charter with just one crew member soon, and my only concern is with getting the boat into slips with only one other person to help.

Does anyone have a suggestion for either a good method, or at least a resource, where I could get some tips on this. I'm not concerned with sail handling, or even docking side-to, just the slip, while shorthanded.

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 02-04-2006, 13:07   #2
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The main issue is speed of obtaining dock lines and getting them to where you need.
You can buya device, or easily make one from some light SST rod, a simple "wand" device that holds your docklines up for easy reach from the deck. As you slip in, take hold of your first line, the one you would commonly use to spring the boat. Once over the bollard, you can then use the engine/s to hold the boat along side till the other lines are attached.
Have I understood your question properly???
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Old 02-04-2006, 13:53   #3
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You have understood my question, thanks for the reply. I guess I'm thinking of how I've gotten used to having someone grab a line to windward, and someone fend off to leeward, particularly while backing into the slip. If I was going in bow-in, it really wouldn't be that big a deal, but most finger piers don't reach out far enough to make bow-in viable.

When chartering, I'm particularly concerned about scratching up the boat, for obvious reasons. One method I've seen, when there are just two people on board (skipper and one crew) is to set the boat perpendicular to the slip opening, then use a spring line tied short to the dock-side stern cleat as a sort of leverage point, so when you back on it, it pivots the boat straight, you slack the line, and back in.

I'm just looking for other tips to make sure I can get this done without banging up an unfamiliar boat in an unfamiliar slip. Thanks again for the feedback!
-Jim
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Old 02-04-2006, 13:58   #4
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If you use oversized lines, it can be done with one person. You will need lines at least the length of your boat... maybe a foot or two longer. This isn't "correct" seamanship, but it's a way to dock solo.
Lead the bow line properly through the pulpit, and stern line properly through the pushpit.

Next, lead the ends of the lines amidships, where you plan to jump off and start securing things. Keep the lines in order, and make sure they don't end up down in the prop while maneuvering into the slip.

When you have positioned the boat as well as it's going to get via the motor, throw her in neutral and make a dash for the lines amid ship.

Take both with you and jump on the dock, being sure to grab the bitter ends and have no tangles.

Run to which ever part of the boat is getting out of control (bow or stern) and do a quick cleat to hold it in place. Because your dock lines are as long as your boat, you can carry the other line with you while you are cleating the first one.

Now hustle back to the other cleat and do a quick cleat.

You are now safe!

Adjust as usual, put on the springs, turn of the motor and relax.
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Old 02-04-2006, 14:30   #5
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The most underutilized cleat

Short-handed docking or not, the most underutilized cleat is the midship cleat. In most cases (obviously not all) the FIRST and LAST cleat to tie/untie should be the midship cleat. Don't have one? Improvise with anything strong nearby even if you don't leave the line there due to chafe after finishing the job.

One huge reason is that this cleat allows you to restrict movement of the vessel close to its center of moment. Another reason is that if one shortens up a line directly from the dock to the midship cleat neither the bow or stern can get too far out of control before the boat fetches up against that nice big fender that you have advertently placed for just that purpose ahead of time.

Exceptions are due to cross currents and/or wind which may necessitate using either a bow or stern line to facilitate controlled docking or leaving with a proper angle to the vessel. You need to map out these situations aheat of time on a tablet so that you have a plan and know which way the vessel will move or stop and in what manner.
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Old 02-04-2006, 14:34   #6
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You can set up ways to back into your own "regular" slip, using two lines running along each rail, and lines from the slip you can hook onto them to keep you more or less straight as you back in.

I'm no doubt stating the obvious here, but for a "strange" slip while cruising, don't be shy about using your radio to ask if there's anyone around to help catch a dock line, or just ask whoever's in sight as you get close. Most people are glad to help, and you'll have met someone local who can give fill you in on your new harbor/town.
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Old 02-04-2006, 16:36   #7
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Thanks for the great tips, everyone!
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Old 02-04-2006, 21:08   #8
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Rick's point is a very good one. I single hand my 16 ton 28 footer quite often. I do no have an engine, so sailing in is the only option. My experience is slightly differnt than yours, as I have generally had either end ties, or full dock fingers. I prep my midship spring line, that is the full length of the boat, including the bowsprit, and the stern line, also 36' long. When I sail in, usually on the main, but the sail situation depends on the wind direction, I step off the boat when the midship cleat reaches the aft dock cleat. I wrap both the spring, and stern line onto this cleat, and walk forward to fend. I keep the bowline hanging on the lifelines midship, so I can reach it at this point. I let the boat drift forward to where I want it. (sometimes with a bit of pushing), and at this point, with the boat stopped, I can release the stern and spring lines, and secure the bowline. (If the wind is blowing me into the slip, I will secure the sternline before going forward with enough slack to get me close to where I want to be. Once the bow line is secure, everything can be adjusted. The key here is long docklines. Every boat I have ever owned was purchased with short docklines. Often so short they would barely secure to the dock cleat. This is the first thing I change. Not sure I agree with Sean that it is unseamanlike to have over length docklines. I forget the exact length formula, but it is in Toss' book. I believe bow and stern lines should be equal to the length of the vessel. When in the slip, I run the additional length back to the cleat on deck so my docklines are doubled.
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Old 07-04-2006, 01:10   #9
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Docking

When approaching a dock whether crewed or short/single handing, the critical issues to me are vessel speed and wind strength and direction.

I will usually prepare for docking long before the dock/marina by deploying mooring lines and fenders at the same time as sails are dropped and stowed.

On approach, speed is critical, and for me I try to have boat almost at a stop as you reach the dock; you can then step off and secure lines according to location of bollards and wind direction.

There probably is no absolutely right approach as every docking will be different. The main thing for me is to be prepared early, be aware of wind/tide/current, and not too fast!

Good Luck

Steve

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Old 07-04-2006, 04:10   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Nui
Not sure I agree with Sean that it is unseamanlike to have over length docklines.
I may not have been clear... I meant my flying acrobatics as I dock may be viewed by some as unseamanlike.

Sometimes I've created quite a spectacle the way I run and leap all over the place docking single handed. But... never had a problem and always am on top of the situation. I've moved kind of fast and jumped all over when docking since I was a kid. Some view that as unseamanlike. I just like to move fast to give myself extra time if something goes wrong.

As for the boat... definitely don't move that fast when docking.
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Old 07-04-2006, 05:16   #11
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Even if my wife is onboard, I still berth singlehanded as she is unable to leap gazelle-like for the pontoon, and it is easier for me not to have to worry about what she will do!

I use an extending bosco boat hook with a wire strop at the end. This enables me to lasso a cleat and then disengage the hook from the poleleaving a wire strop around the cleat attached to a piece of rope that I can turn up easily and by motoring ahead, can hold the boat into position, and leisurely secure with my normal ropes.

sorry its only a small image, but you can probably make out the details.

BTW this is also ideal for hooking the tops of mooring buoys
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Old 07-04-2006, 07:06   #12
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Hi Talbot, Question
I was wondering about the wire loop with a line attached. Why not just a loop in the line? I use a similar method, only I use a longer line that I loop around a cleat or a pile, then bring the bitter end back aboard and cleat it. Since I have a catamaran, I then put my outside engine in forward and the boat will lie nicely against the dock. The spring line is the trick, mono or multi.
Marc
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Old 07-04-2006, 07:18   #13
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The loop of wire is much easier to pass over the cleat and make sure you get the cleat snagged. It is also much quicker - especially important if the wind is blowing off (single engine on my cat).
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Old 07-04-2006, 12:54   #14
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Makes sense, Thanks.

Marc
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Old 07-04-2006, 13:57   #15
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Wow - some excellent advice here - could be I think that because I single hand and dock myself all the time and use almost all of the above mentioned methods at one time or another. Although... I do not "jump around" all that much: speed of approach and wind are critical. Another advantage *I* have in my (full) slip, is that my beam is only about 10" less than the slip width. Point the boat in, get it partially slotted and where the heck is it going to go?

Preparation IS the key: have fenders deployed, have LONG lines fore and aft ready to grab as you leave the boat (amidships?) via the lifeline gate or, for you sloops, perhaps from outside of one of the main shrouds as you step on the dock.

A lot of boats don't have midship cleats. And, unfortunately, a lot of docks don't either. MOST of the marinas that I've been at will put one (on each side if appropriate) if you request it. Take advantage of that.

Thomas
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