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Old 06-09-2015, 02:22   #1
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Trouble getting in and out of slip

I've finished most of the refitting I had and now it's sail time! Had a great sail today. 18 knots, singlehanded. Went great. Still getting used to things and all but no problems to report.

Except getting in and out of the slip. It's damn near impossible! It's a full keel. It has a feathering max prop that is supposed to help. The slip is almost dead downwind. Maybe 15 degrees off. I park bow forward.

It's pathetic because there are really large fairways at the marina here. I don't know what I would do in a marina that has smaller ones like a lot I see.

So I really made a show for everyone tonight. I turned too late and missed my slip then desperately tried to reverse and swing the stern to the side, but it just reversed straight back, then I wanted to just get out and turn around and come back but it went straight forward. I couldn't get any momentum to turn almost at all? I ended up running to the bow to fend the dock off, jumping on the pier and grabbing the stanchions and pulling my boat into the slip, but not without considerable bumping. I hate bumping. I don't see a scratch but if I don't get better I'm screwed.

So how do I do this? I can't have one shot to make the turn and if I miss I have no recourse. It is windy in the harbor. How do I drive and dock a full keel?

It's unsafe to keep the speed in the marina necessary to be able to turn, it's too windy to turn anyways, it pushes the stern around, I need speed for steerage, and I don't know how people do this.

Fin keels are so easy.

Even when reversing from the slip with the rudder all the way over it still reverses straight back.
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Old 06-09-2015, 03:37   #2
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

Sounds like fun.

I too have a pen that often has the wind blowing into it, though I have a very hard port turn to get in. Likewise I am single handed, but modified full keel, with a lot of weight and a lot of windage. No feathering prop, but I have heard they reverse better than a fixed prop. (Feathering, not folding)

So, the thing that works for me, so well that now I barely worry at all on approach, is to come in a lot faster than seems logical. Used to crawl in at 1.5 knots, now I am closer to four. Come in fast, turn hard to port later than you'd think, lined up with the starboard side of the pen, at the last moment put the helm to port more so I am now pointing in at the port forward corner of the pen at about ten degrees out of line with the pen. Put her hard in reverse and two things (hopefully) happen. First, the prop walk starts to pull the stern to port so now the whole boat is moving sideways to the port side of the pen, and second, the speed should drop off quickly. Do it right and I end up actually giving the port side of the pen a good nudge on the fenders, with no forward velocity. Step down to my preprepared springer, drop it on the midships cleat so the wind can't blow the boat forward and from then on it is a leisurely stroll around the dock to pick up the other lines.

If I lose reverse or the engine stalls I am going to damage the bow, though it should only be cosmetic as it is all stainless steel up there. But the faster approach is much more controlled, you can manage wind gusts so easily when you have some speed up.

yMMV

Matt


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Old 06-09-2015, 04:30   #3
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

As for getting out backwards... Don't ease out. Come out with a good solid prod of power. The trick is to get reverse motion before the prop walk can build sideways momentum. Then I cut the power, no more prop walk, just reverse motion, so the rudder can do its thing. Once the boat starts to respond to the rudder, stern swinging to starboard, bow swinging to port, another quick burst of power can be applied if needed.

I used to hear boats coming and going, working their engines pretty hard, and I'd shake my head, make tut tut noises and generally sneer at their clumsy lead footed approach. I now realise they were wiser than me.


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Old 06-09-2015, 05:31   #4
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

I too have a 35' heavy displacement boat, with the wind abeam to my slip as well as about a one knot current. Its a tight slip, but I have lots of room to turn, but this is my fourth permanent slip for this boat and each one has had something annoying about it.

It sounds to me on a quick read that you may be working against your prop walk (transverse thrust). This is very difficult to do. In my experience, the solution has always been the same, turn the boat around to work with your prop walk, in other words- back in.

The other practice that was mentioned into your post that is always a bad idea, is leaving the wheel to fend off, jump off or dance the can can while single handing. If you're fending off, who's driving the boat. Maintain positive control over the boat at all times when maneuvering. You're in charge, not the wind, current or boat.

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Old 06-09-2015, 06:43   #5
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

Same problem on our 58 Nicholson 36 tons, long keel & skeg rudder. Learn to go very slowly, massive patience, use your prop walk, use prop wash, anticipate the wind to your advantage. On your length boat, there are thrusters available that can be added on as you need it, like a trolling motor but with practice, you should be able to master your vessel.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:59   #6
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

I also tend to come down on the 'pro-speed' approach. Water flow over the rudder is important, particularly in a wind. Watch commercial boats come into a dock sometime. Those guys are moving fast, almost without exception. Speed gives a positive measure of control.

Of course, if you make a mistake, or reverse fails, you've got a lot more inertia working! It takes some confidence in yourself and your equipment, that's for sure.

I call it our standard 'Captain Ron' docking. We really don't have a choice on our goofy twin-ruddered boat.

Good luck!

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Old 06-09-2015, 07:29   #7
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

A few suggestions.

First of all, get to know what your boat will do in the conditions you will be docking in. If there is an open stretch of water, motor in the direction you will be approaching your dock, then turn full rudder as if you would be pulling into your berth. Note what the turning circle is.

Try this at various speeds; in neutral, under power. Experiment.
Every boat is a little different. Currents and winds have different effects.
What others suggest may or may not work for you.


Then have a try at your dock, armed with some basic knowledge and confidence of what to expect.

If singlehanded, and you have a full length finger pier, use a spring line from your midship cleat to loop over a stern cleat on your dock. Once that is looped you are home free. Just idle in forward with the rudder turn hard to pull the bow away from the dock. In that position you can let it idle in gear and calmly step off your boat and tie it off.
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Old 06-09-2015, 08:31   #8
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

Totally agree with Kokanee.
In the harbor is not the place to experiment with docking. As a sailing instructor one of the first things students learn on water is how the boat performs under power and how much way the boat has at different speeds. Do figure 8's in forward and reverse. Drop a buoy or 2 in an open area and try different approaches from different wind directions. Practice 3 point turns to help you manage in tight spaces (or if things go wrong). Practice using you propwalk. Lots of good videos on YouTube for reference.
Bad things can happen to boats when they approach land. It's much safer on the water.
Good Luck
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Old 06-09-2015, 08:44   #9
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

I singlehand a Cal 46' cruiser, but with a modified full keel which of course helps. During my 10 yrs in NYC marinas which are very tight in/out (cost of real-estate) I had some tense moments too. I chose bow-in because while I could decide if I should backing out on a windy day... you can't always decide when you have to come back in. Backing was touch because you can't roar out a 46' boat in a 50' wide fairway! There is that point where you must transition from backing to forward and in those few moments (15 seconds or so) the wind quickly starts having get way. By the second year of sitting out beautiful (big windy) days because of concern getting out I installed a bow thruster when I hauled. But I learn as others have said 90% of boat handling is confidence! Once I had the extra insurance and put the petal to the mental I didn't need the thruster! I bet I only have actually used it (versus just exercising it) 2-3 times in following 10 years. That being my experience, perhaps try to get another experienced skipper onboard to let you try a few things with your insurance policy aboard and see if you can get over the hump. That said... full keel boats are harder. Be careful not to staw the rudder in reverse... half may be better than full.


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Old 06-09-2015, 08:54   #10
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Even when reversing from the slip with the rudder all the way over it still reverses straight back.
Sometimes full helm just makes the rudder into a barn door brake. Try a little less helm, maybe 1/2? You might find this actually gives you some steerage in reverse. Try this away from your dock first, to see what works. A good exercise is to do a figure eight in reverse. Try different amounts of helm and different amounts of throttle till you find something that works.

Also, any chance you can get a head to wind slip? I was on a wait list for years to get one at my marina. Now I can come and go in all conditions easily.
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Old 06-09-2015, 09:06   #11
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

Or better yet, keep your rudder midships in reverse and only steer with bursts of throtlle in forward, then back into reverse once you've pointed your stern, like a tugboat.

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Old 06-09-2015, 09:21   #12
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

I singlehand a Cal 46' cruiser, but with a modified full keel which of course helps. During my 10 yrs in NYC marinas which are very tight in/out (cost of real-estate) I had some tense moments too. I chose bow-in because while I could decide if I should backing out on a windy day... you can't always decide when you have to come back in. Backing was touch because you can't roar out a 46' boat in a 50' wide fairway! There is that point where you must transition from backing to forward and in those few moments (15 seconds or so) the wind quickly starts having get way. By the second year of sitting out beautiful (big windy) days because of concern getting out I installed a bow thruster when I hauled. But I learn as others have said 90% of boat handling is confidence! Once I had the extra insurance and put the petal to the mental I didn't need the thruster! I bet I only have actually used it (versus just exercising it) 2-3 times in following 10 years. That being my experience, perhaps try to get another experienced skipper onboard to let you try a few things with your insurance policy aboard and see if you can get over the hump. That said... full keel boats are harder. Be careful not to staw the rudder in reverse... half may be better than full.


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Old 06-09-2015, 10:04   #13
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

For what it is worth I , too, have full keel 55,000 steel cutter and I ALWAYS Back IN. I have aft cockpit, I can see better, the prop pulls to Port so I can judge what's what. I learned this from my wife who always backed our Suburban into a parking space. Made getting out sooo much easier. Same with boat plus added advantage of being aft and up close to the dock as you confront it. Russ
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Old 06-09-2015, 10:06   #14
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

Kokanee and Wolfesmy suggestions are great! Find a bouy in open water and get used to how your vessel performs under different speeds in a breeze and in reverse. Before you know it you will become more confident and not panic or be concerned when attempting your docking exercise. Also, talk to the dock master or marina manager and secure an upwind slip!
I used to singlehanded my Transpacific 49 in and out of the slip regularly. She was full keel with considerable prop wash. It ain't rocket science... Phil
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Old 06-09-2015, 11:11   #15
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Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip

Another option is to learn how to use spring lines to maneuver the boat in a slip. I use one to leave if the wind is unfavorable. Not so good at using them upon returning, but am trying to learn. (Harder when single handed then when leaving.) It is amazing what one can do with a line when used the right way.
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