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Old 19-03-2016, 19:11   #1
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Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

Which is the correct side of a sailboat for a motorboat to pull close/alongside for conversation or boarding? And is this the same whether the the sailboat is sailing, anchored, or motoring?
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Old 19-03-2016, 19:16   #2
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

Traditionally the captain's tender was tied to the starboard side and guests would tie to the port side.
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Old 19-03-2016, 20:08   #3
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

Wouldn't it depend on the wind? Leeward of the wind so there is no crashing into of the sailboat.
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Old 19-03-2016, 20:11   #4
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

Pilot Boats always approach on the ship's Port Quarter.
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Old 19-03-2016, 20:12   #5
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

I always try to approach from leeward.
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Old 19-03-2016, 23:34   #6
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

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Originally Posted by Blue Stocking View Post
Pilot Boats always approach on the ship's Port Quarter.
I'm not a pilot, nor do I portray one on TV, but I listen to the VHF a lot, and can't count the times I've heard pilot boats instructing the vessel to rig a ladder "one meter above the sea on the leeward side". Never a reference to port or starboard.

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Old 19-03-2016, 23:38   #7
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

There simply isn't a single correct answer. Is the sailboat beating, reaching or running? How far back does the job come, how rough are the conditions, and what are you trying to do?

Generally the leeward side is prefered if the powerboat won't interfere with the boom in the event of an accidental jibe, but if you are trying to board and the rail is buried then the windward side would be safer.

For a conversation coming along the leeward side is generally prefered since sailboats tend to round up not down. But if the leeward rail is buried then again it maybe difficult for someone to get to the leeward side to talk.


Either way the sailboat should maintain speed and course as close as possible and allow the powerboat to match.
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Old 20-03-2016, 09:01   #8
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

If the sailboat is anchored and the intention is for the motor boat to actually tie to the sailboat, then were I on the sailboat, I would put my fenders on the starboard side because the propeller walk or P factor on most powerboats would help the powerboat walk the stern in once the bowline was loosely attached.

If both boats are underway and the intention is to just just toss over a few beers etc. I would encourage the power boat to come along the leaward side as the powerboat is more likely to experience leeway (more likely to be blown sideways) and I would want the powerboat to be blown away from me as opposed to being blown into me.
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Old 20-03-2016, 09:10   #9
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

There is no one simple answer.

When a CG inflatable came alongside my boat while I was under sail, they came to leeward. But their boat was low, and the wind was light, not lee rail down by any mean.

When I wanted to swap crew with another sailboat while sailing, I had them approach on the weather quarter. We only overlapped slightly...the crew jumping from their bow to my quarter. I held a steady course. The overtaking vessel could head up at any time, which would avoid collision and slow his boat too. His "racing" boat had trouble catching up to my cruiser (to my delight), so I eventually had to spill the main a bit (with great aplomb, to my friend's chagrin). The two crew members transfered were only 10 years old, but the maneuver went smoothly. So much so that the crew insisted on repeating several times, until they realized I had the better/faster boat (with tv), and they stayed with me.

When a powerboat, adrift, needed a jump, I rolled up the jib and sailed slowly upwind to him. Once we had a line, I let the main luff, in irons. Being a calm day, we stayed like that for 10 minutes or so while I removed a battery to send him...his jumper cables being only a few feet long. I now carry extra long cables, since this seems to happen a lot in my area.

The big thing to keep in mind is not to foul the rigging. So two sailboats underway should stay away from each other. Be very careful around square rigged ships, as their "yards" protrude aloft quite far.

For boats at anchor, for just a quick GAM, I like to buzz the stern while under sail. With no engine running, you can actually hear each other. Also, you eliminate the risk of catching their anchor line on your underbody, which is a very real risk. When approaching in a dinghy, I also approach from the stern, so they can see me coming, and shut off the outboard as soon as possible. If they offer to take my line, I know they are keen to chat, otherwise, I just drift away....
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Old 20-03-2016, 14:19   #10
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

Our pilots generally require boarding on the Starboard side.
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Old 20-03-2016, 15:45   #11
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

I'm a little surprised that pilot vessels anywhere insist on one side over the other. I've been out on a pilot vessel as a visitor a couple of times and at least in this part of the world they ALWAYS go to the lee side for the obvious reason that it gives the little pilot vessel protection from the main vesse.

When I was a police officer doing marine duties we would aim for the stern or the Lee side. It was almost always for the purpose of protecting the public's property because if we damaged a person's vessel it was our department who had to fix it and then that criticism comes down to the skipper of the police vessel. So we just always protected the public's boat at all cost.

The exception is when someone is being difficult and not letting us board, or an aggressive boarding which I never had to do. In those cases you use the windward side so that the police vessels stick to the vessel your boarding.

For the OP's purpose, I'd suggest you board where the skipper of the other vessel wants you to board.
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Old 21-03-2016, 04:18   #12
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

Always leeward if it is my boat involved.
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Old 21-03-2016, 08:31   #13
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

Leeward for me, except for the few exceptions noted. Joining together while underway is not for the faint-of-heart. It would have to be an emergency to the nth degree. Just coming together for a touch and go (not joining) would be on a case by case basis, but I wouldn't do it if avoidable. Having crew to jump off to another boat is riskier than I would want to be responsible for, on either boat.
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Old 21-03-2016, 14:55   #14
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

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Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
I'm a little surprised that pilot vessels anywhere insist on one side over the other. I've been out on a pilot vessel as a visitor a couple of times and at least in this part of the world they ALWAYS go to the lee side for the obvious reason that it gives the little pilot vessel protection from the main vesse.

When I was a police officer doing marine duties we would aim for the stern or the Lee side. It was almost always for the purpose of protecting the public's property because if we damaged a person's vessel it was our department who had to fix it and then that criticism comes down to the skipper of the police vessel. So we just always protected the public's boat at all cost.

The exception is when someone is being difficult and not letting us board, or an aggressive boarding which I never had to do. In those cases you use the windward side so that the police vessels stick to the vessel your boarding.

For the OP's purpose, I'd suggest you board where the skipper of the other vessel wants you to board.
From a non-statistical point of view, my observation is the authorities generally avoid a sailboat under sail if possible.

Under power, you are just another boat.
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Old 21-03-2016, 16:16   #15
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Re: Motor boat pulling alongside a sailing boat - which side?

When pulling alongside a sailing boat, it's safer not to stay abeam, to prevent the Venturi effect from pulling the hulls together (don't ask how I know). It's better to have the bow of one boat astern of the mast of the other.

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