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Old 22-01-2005, 05:51   #1
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Boat Handling advice

Ok all you gurus out there. I consider myself relatively competant when comes to handling our 40 foot cruiser but I recently found myself in a situation that I couldn't get out of gracefully.

We tied for the afternoon alongside a long straight pier that is just in marginal condition. It has several broken pilings and nasty snags so we put out plenty of fenders, had a bow line, stern line, and midship spring running to a forward piling. It was a port-side tie. When we tied, there was no tide and the wind was about 5 knots on the bow.

During our dinner ashore, the wind clocked and built and the tide started running. So, when it was time to leave we had 15-20 knots of breeze and a 2 knot current pushing us right on to the pier. Both wind and current were right off our starboard beam.

We were able to use brute force to push off but that was only happy accident. How would you get off if only you and your mate were aboard?

Boat has a standard starboard rotation prop so putting in forward gear would move the stern out but as soon as I gave us a turn to starboard, the stern would hit the dock. Reverse would walk the stern right in.

What is the elegant method?

Curtis
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Old 22-01-2005, 07:26   #2
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Springing Off

Most boat owners are familiar with the use of spring lines to keep their boat alongside the dock without moving, and how springs can permit other boats to raft up to you without surging back and forth.

The spring line is also a simple solution to many docking and undocking situations.

Springing Off involves removing all your lines except one spring line, then motoring against it so that the opposite end of the boat is levered off the wall.

~ With the Wind Ahead: Reverse the engine with the rudder hard to port and the bow will spring out away from the pier. Use a fender at the stern for protection, and be careful if you have a swim platform or davits extending outboard.

~ With the Wind Abeam (Pushing you onto the dock): An aft bow spring is run, and the engine is put in forward with the rudder hard to port. A fender should be used for protection as the bow comes into the pier. The stern will swing out until you can safely retrieve the spring and reverse neatly away from the pier. The same method can be used if you find yourself tightly surrounded by boats since it doesn't require more dock space than you already have.

~ To spring your stern off: Motor slowly ahead against a bow spring, using the rudder to deflect the propwash.

~ To spring your bow off: Motor astern against the stern spring. The position of the rudder is irrelevant (*see "Wheels" later comments), but remember that as you motor away you will be pivoting; don't grind your quarter into the dock.

Don't forget to use your fenders intelligently while springing off, and always be sure that you can let go the spring line without leaving one of your crew on the dock. Run all spring lines back to the boat.

If you have the more common 'right-handed' propeller, you will find that when the engine is put astern, the stern of the yacht will “prop walk” to port, and vice versa with a left-handed prop. On some craft this can be so positive that it becomes a primary maneuvering tool; in others it is barely perceptible. What you need to determine by experiment is which way the stern will go and how hard. Use this information when docking - come alongside, such that your prop walk will assist you in getting off. If there is no tide and not much breeze, you should always choose to put the side to the dock OPPOSITE to which the boat naturally favours.

Most authorities suggest you use prop’ walk to assist in approaching a dock. I always consider how I’m going to get off the dock, and tie up so as to ease the undocking maneuver.

Here's an aggressive approach to turning a boat in tight quarters:
Using rudder direction change and thrust to rotate. Put the helm hard over in the opposite direction of stern torque (on most boats this means turning the helm to starboard to continue the turn of the stern torque as it lifts the stern to port), give a strong pulse of power in reverse, then switch to a comparable pulse forward. Repeat as needed until the perquisite angle is obtained.
We start with the helm hard over to starboard (right hand prop’), with a thrust in forward. This shoves the stern to port. The helm is then quickly switched to port and a shot in reverse is given. The stern torque, plus some rudder action jumps the stern to port, continuing the turn. The process is repeated, forward and reverse, until the correct angle of turn is achieved. Note: turning the helm back and forth only works with boats which have fast acting rudder ratios, and in relatively calm winds (so drift to leeward is not a problem). The boat completes a 180 degree turn (clockwise, to starboard) in less than 2 boatlengths.
Cautions:
1. Keep power on in each direction only as long as lateral displacement is taking place. When the turning action becomes forward or aft motion, change the direction of propeller thrust (usually this is about two to three seconds tops).
2. Allow a second or two for the rpms on the diesel to drop back to idle before shifting. This is especially critical with Max props, which otherwise slam their blades back and forth putting a lot of stress on the transmission and engine pressure plate.
3. The above not withstanding, the faster the shifting takes place, the tighter will be the turning circle.
4. Do not try to fight the wind. If your bow is downwind, and there is more than four to six knots of breeze, it may be very difficult to get the boat to rotate against the wind. If you are heading upwind, set the bow off at an angle to the breeze so that it helps blow it to leeward while the prop is pulling to windward.
5. The higher the rpm (and the more horsepower going into the water) the more rotational energy there will be. However, it is best to finesse this maneuver with minimum necessary bursts of engine rather than using brute force (which is hard on the drive train).

Some on-line tutorials:

Sailboat Docking, Maneuvering and Anchoring - by Captain Jack Klang
http://www.quantumsails.com/pdf/maneuvering.pdf

Docking Defense - by Steve Colgate
http://www.boats.com/content/default...ontentid=17609

Spring Lines: The Key to Painless Docking - BoatUS “Seaworthy”
http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/swlines.asp

HTH,
Gord
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Old 22-01-2005, 12:41   #3
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Thanks, Gord. Seems like you have a nice little article for about every situation!

I actual had fiddled with springing off but didn't stick with it long enough......we'll have to practice it in a friendlier situation.

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Old 22-01-2005, 14:40   #4
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Yup, good advice from Mr. Gord.

Spring off by going forward with full left rudder, get the stern as far out as ya can, let go the spring and reverse power should motor ya clear, have the mate at the bow with a boat-hook to fend of the bow as ya start moving astern.

With a little practice and timig, it should go fairly smooth.

Where were ya?

I had similar "incidents" in Bimini, strong current running and Easterly winds.

Been pinned against pilings there before, and done other less than graceful maneuevers to get out.

Started arriving and leaving only at high-slack tide a few years ago.
Have not had any problems since, but of course it may include overtime charges to the marina if ya leave after 12 noon.
(A crisp $10.00 and a six pack of beer to the dock master will usually waive the charges and also get ya a better slip next time... )

As far as boat handling, aye, for a while I was spoiled:

Drove a 70' Johnson motor yacht for a rich guy last year.
Not only did I have twin engines, but also a bow AND a stern thruster.

To leave the dock gracefully I just pointed both joy-sticks in the same direction and the boat would move sideways like it was made for it.

Backing into tight slips was also easy:
2 auxillary steering stations with all the controls on the aft deck.
One gets close to the desired position, then run down from the fly-bridge and activate the aft controls, back it in like ya park a car in the garage, except ya have better view since ya are on the tail end,
That boat sure made me look good many a times...
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Old 22-01-2005, 16:27   #5
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Quote:
CSY Man once whispered in the wind:
Where were ya?

No place as exotic as Bimini. We were at Moore's Crab Shack on Longboat Key in Florida. We didn't embarass ourselves too badly but it surely wasn't "seamanlike."

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Old 22-01-2005, 19:05   #6
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well, what can I add to the expert advice listed. Nothing really, except one little comment in Gords advice. He said, "it doesn't really matter where the rudder is pointing". True, he is quite right. But I think it good to actually have the rudder in the position of where you want to go at exit. Mainly applies to steering where you have a long way to go from lock to lock. Mine for instance is 7 turns and it is slow to trun, as it is a big wheel. Or the other idea is to have the wheel already a midships, so as you can go where you have to with faster response. Whatever, I find it always best to have several things sorted before trying tricky manovering.
Steering ready,
Ropes ready,
Fenders ready,
Crew ready, then,
Calm approach to engine engagment and revs. Don't panic. If you get all paniced, you will do silly things like, put engine into rev ranges with no gear engaged, then ooopss, and before you think, you engage the box and forgot to drop the throtle and then, oooops, no not forward when you thought you were selecting reverse and quick back into reverse, oh darn that throttle and before you know it, you are back to where you started. Well hopefully that is what happend and not something a little more embarressing than what you just did.
Actually maybe there are some comments I can add here. So while we on this subject, lets expand a little.
Panic and nerves are the biggest threat to control of a vessel. A freind of mine told me of an ordeal they had just last week. they ran aground in a major navagation channel, which is our only in and out to our Marina and it is really narrow. Now the guy did everything right. And he took it all in his stride. Well, what would you expect from an Airline Pilot. But it was his comment that I was reallhy impressed with. Now keep in mind, this channel is a nightmare. Very narrow at only two boats wide, dredged to 1.8M and very winding. His comment was, "well I figure there are two types of boaties here. "Those that have, And those that will". That helped me a lot, as I tend to be one of the panicy type. Hence my check list above it helps to make things clear in my mind. I have had a bit of experiance manouvering vessels, and can handle ours reasonably well. She is 26T, Full Keel, 46ft and only one engine, no bow thrust. She handles about as well as any brick afloat can.
One other mistake I see many do, especially the high flybridge power vessels with no keel. They try to come into there birth with not enough speed on. So they have poor directional control. They need to have speed on and be able to stop exactly when they need. Get used to working out stopping length and in fact, all manouvering, so as you have a good handle on how your vessel responds, BEFORE, putting it into the birth in a major blow. We get the big blows here in NZ and I guess we get used to it. I had 15knts to fight last night, as I came into my birth. And our births are a little over two boats wide, which means two boats are in each.
Hope this helps.
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Old 23-01-2005, 04:27   #7
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Good thread! Keep it coming, boat maneuvering is a complex subject, with a huge number of variables.

Wheels is absolutely right, particularly about preparation (& no panic), knowing your boats maneuvering characteristics, et al.

You should become familiar with the pivot points* of the boat, it’s turning radius, it’s glide zone**, and of course, it’s prop’ walk.

* Pivot Point(s):
In Forward: usually about 1/3 back from bow, over the mast.
In Reverse: usually about 1/3 forward from the stern, over the helm.

**The glide zone is the distance it takes the boat to stop, when the forward thrust is turned off, while advancing at the minimum speed to maintain steerage.

The single commonest maneuvering mistake I’ve noted is approaching at too high a speed - not too slowly. You need enough way on to keep water moving past the rudder, but no more. It is desirable to make docking maneuvers slowly, but not so slowly that steering is no longer possible. Approach the dock at a speed no greater than to maintain steerage, often around one knot.

Here’s the exception (to the minimum power rule): When “goosing” the throttle, in short bursts, fairly high bursts of power are desirable. Always use quick***, hard bursts of power when you "goose." This will let you complete the maneuver in shortest order, minimizing any drift, due to wind and/or current. A tight turn can thus be made by using a succession of short, sharp bursts of power, maximizing the turning effect of the slipstream while minimizing forward movement.

***Remember to pause in neutral, long enough for the gears to stop turning, when shifting from forward to reverse and back. It should be axiomatic that; the engine should be at idle speed, before shifting into either forward or reverse.

Always remember Newton's Third Law:
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Gord
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Old 23-01-2005, 11:33   #8
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Of course, few have read the rest of Newtons third law. The 3.a. addition.
"For every reaction, there is often an expensive result"
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Old 23-01-2005, 11:37   #9
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Or was that Sir Issac Murphy?
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Old 23-01-2005, 12:51   #10
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LOL
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Old 26-01-2005, 11:45   #11
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One other thought on this, no one has mentioned dockboards. In piling situations an overlength dockboard rigged towards the most forward piling that you would come in contact with can really prevent a disaster as you rotate the bow in towards the dock.

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Old 30-01-2005, 02:26   #12
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I love the idea of dockboards....just haven't been able to find a place to stow them.

While my wife will attest to the fact that I trend towards the slob ashore, I hate having stuff lashed abovedeck while afloat.
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Old 30-01-2005, 04:00   #13
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There have been a couple of posts here about it not mattering where the rudder is pointing while trying to manoeuvre away from the berth. This is a sweeping generalisation that in a lot of cases is far from the truth.

If your boat has a sail drive that is a good way from the rudder, then yes the rudder will have little impact.

If the boat has enormous prop-walk, then yes the rudder will have minimal effect compared to the prop walk.

If your boat has a sail drive that is close to the rudder, or is a conventional shaft, but without enormous prop-walk, then the position of the rudder can have an enormous impact, especiially when going ahead, the rudder can assist by vectoring the majority of the thrust from the prop and thus assisting the sideways thrust. This has much less effect when going astern, but rudder position can quickly make a diffeence when you start to get water flow over the rudder.

Finally, do not underestimate the effect of the ruddder if you have any waterflow such as tide, or river current. The only way to get a feel for this is to play around a lot.

If your boat has lots of windage and not much underwater (ring any multihull bells), consider the fit of a single bow thruster for those conditions when you would otherwise be pinned against the jetty.
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