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Old 15-05-2018, 13:48   #1
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Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

Hello, everyone,

It has been brought to my attention that some years back, I was rude to someone well meaning,who wanted to help us tie up on a long wharf (not in a berth or pen), according to local custom. Now, what they see is a short, fat, white-haired old woman (ten yrs. ago I was only 68), who moves creakily, due to bad knees. So you can see how this happened.

From my point of view, I am someone who has been tying up our boat in new locations from the past 25 yrs. or so at the time, according to Jim's instruction, so I think I know what I'm doing, and there's this person standing on the wharf, right in between me and where I want to be! Depending on who you listen to, I asked or told him to move! ...and offence was taken that has simmered for a long time, and I regret that.

In the past, we had a friend [who we knew was competent] wanted to help tie up our stern, but fell in the water between the dock and the boat with the stern line; we have had strangers (like the one above) take a line unbidden, and crash the bow into a marina electric box; and always taken pride in taking care of ourselves. Experience has taught us that helpers may be a mixed blessing.

Yet, it is very common here in Australia, for strangers to offer to take your lines, and I have made the same offer many times, myself. So, what I see here is a conflict between community values, helping vs. independence. As well, there may be an attitude among men that old women are incompetent: I have encountered that when I was a lot younger, and at that time, even young women were included in the "incompetent" expectation.

At any rate, I'm confessing and apologizing publicly for having been rude.

Anybody else have any stories to tell about docking interactions?

Ann

On Edit: I usually feel a little anxious to get everything done right, quickly, and I expect that tension affects how i speak to people. I have been known to say, "Put this line on THAT cleat!" and forget the thank you. So definitely sound "bossy" at the least.
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Old 15-05-2018, 14:19   #2
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

My wife doesnít let me drive. Only parked the boat once in the last 3 yearsí
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Old 15-05-2018, 14:20   #3
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

I've had a few incidents where accepting help from someone on the dock went pear shaped due to their well meaning incompetence. These days I generally refuse it except if I absolutely need it, and in those cases I relay very specific instructions about what do to, and then get confirmation that they understand what I'm talking about. Even then I'm still nervous anyway because there's always a good chance that it won't turn out well all the same...like the time I glanced back to see that the guy I had thrown my stern line to when tying up at a face dock in two knots of current going with the boat had tied the very bitter end of a 30' docking line to a small rusty cleat, even with the stern of the boat, instead snubbing me up to the piling next to it. Much frantic salty language ensued as the stern quickly swung out...oh I'll spare you the rest.

It's hard to be polite and firm at the same time without it coming off as ungrateful. It's just how it is and how people hear things, particularly when they are both offering help and are competent. I always try to be polite, jovial, and firm, maybe throwing in some self-deprecating joke along the way.

You can cross an ocean and the most stressful part of the trip can be tying up at the end. You're excused Anne, we've all been there, in some way or another.
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Old 15-05-2018, 14:41   #4
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

We also share your dilemma, Ann. Most often, try not to refuse help, lest the stranger on the receiving end of this denial will feel as if you must think him incompetent. This approach has caused a few paint chips over the years, but we've learned to be really clear about what we want done with a line, so the drama is at least reduced.

But, and we've had this happen way too many times over the years, well-meaning but not terribly competent folks have cocked up an otherwise fine docking job by snubbing a line at a terrible time.

Most commonly, going bow into a slip, somebody will decide that they need to be the one to stop the boat with a bow line. The look of surprise when the bow swings rapidly into the dock while the boat is only half way in the slip has always been priceless to me. 'What did you do???, they seem to be thinking, not realizing it was they who caused the whole predicament.

We try to head that sort of thing off at the pass, but we aren't always successful, sometimes being distracted by other things.

Anyway, sorry you offended someone. I think it's perfectly ok to tie up your own boat if that's your system, even if you do appear a witch from time to time. If someone's held a grudge for that amount of time, they may not be much worth becoming friends with, anyway, I reckon.
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Old 15-05-2018, 14:56   #5
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

Due to a past docking with the “professional” marina staff we once were docking and the dockhand shouted to my wife (who handles the lines) “throw me the bow line”, which I wife replied to with “if I do are you going to tie it up where I tell you”. This was the beginning when she finally accepted that she needed to do the least nes the way I said as I was driving and the lines needed to go the way I had planned for and expected.

But I will take and offer line help. Today I took the lines for a boat and got a couple of cold beers for my assistance.

In the end it’s our boats and we have to decide it we want to risk it with line helpers, especially if they aren’t even the marina worker monkeys.
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Old 15-05-2018, 15:01   #6
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
..
At any rate, I'm confessing and apologizing publicly for having been rude.

...
Is the offended party a CF member? ...or are you just hoping they stumble across this?
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Old 15-05-2018, 15:06   #7
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

Due to past bad experiences, I usually cringe when unknown people rush up to help. I used to dock my previous boat single handed on a routine basis...none of the dock regulars moved a muscle when I came in, but people who did not know me would sometimes rush up to help. I used to stop the boat well off the dock and politely ask them to please stand by unless I requested assistance.
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Old 15-05-2018, 15:25   #8
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

We've always been at a club, where members help members (and visitors) and that often includes assisting boats as they come in (or go out). It's been sort of a safe space to learn how best to assist, and guilt-free ways to politely refuse it.

Ok, my docking interaction story: one warm September day last year our boat was tied to the wall at a city park, and we were some distance away on the grass, enjoying an autumn picnic. A motor boat with a couple started their approach to come in to the spot behind us. They were a little tentative, and hubby was coming in a little bit hot. Some guys from the other side of that spot did jump up to help them, but apparently the boat still did donate a little gelcoat scratch to the god of docking. (not certain, just a deduction from their subsequent behaviour)

So when the guy was ashore tweaking his lines, I said. "Nice afternoon, hey?". He replies "Thanks for your help".

You see? I've helped others tons of times, yet the one time I choose to keep eating lunch with my wife and leave the docking heroics to others... it bites me. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

Maybe this provides some karmic balance to the OP's story.
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Old 15-05-2018, 15:30   #9
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

We've encountered "useless" help as well when tying up. We almost always marina hop and we've found that even marina dock hands don't know how to tie up. We still use them, but we've encountered the issues mentioned above, especially the bow puller people. Ugh. I've got all lines at the ready and always toss the spring line first. Captain usually can hop off and get the stern and that is usually enough so that I can then toss the bow line with no issues. And after the "help" has left, the Captain reties all the lines anyway.

The worst we saw was in Nassau in the Bahamas. The manager of the facility busted a guys toe rail when bringing him in (the regular dock hand, who is excellent, was off that day). It was seriously warped. After seeing that, whenever we'd pull into that marina, if it was the manager, I was vigilant on where he pulled us and how far our toe rail was from the dock.

Our home dock, at St. Simons Island, GA, the currents can be wicked. The Captain got very good at backing into our slip no matter the wind, tide or current, but the approach might be different (and sometimes took many different attempts). Had a live-a-board who would come out (when he was there and when he saw us coming in) who was great at helping snag a line and tie us up.

I'm really short so I can't just jump off the boat onto the dock. I've gotten much better at throwing the line and snagging a cleat, though.
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Old 15-05-2018, 20:19   #10
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

(Please excuse the thread drift) Experienced cruising couples put the wife at the helm to take the boat away from the dock and dock it, and he handles the lines, because she can dock the boat exactly as well as he can and he can jump ll 3/4 inches farther to the dock than she can.
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Old 15-05-2018, 20:55   #11
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

Early on in my boating career (not that long ago) I didnít realize that youíre supposed to tip fuel dock attendants. For, like, standing behind the counter and swiping your credit card, (which an inexpensive machine could do better) I guess. So, Iím still screwing in the deck plate and picking up the diapers, when I look up to see the attendant tossing my line onto the foredeck and applying one foot to shove me out into a 4 knot current. Forget, running the blower for one minute, I had about ten seconds before crashing into a row of expensive yachts. Fortunately, the Atomic 4 came to life with no arguments.

Then there was a late evening docking, I often ponder how it might have been done better - but fortunately I was not the one at the helm. Assigned to the up-wind side of a very tight double slip at the destination marina, 10-15 knot cross wind, bit of a sticky one. Skipper went around three or four times, and may have traded a bit of paint with the downwind boat. (We left a note.). All the time, a couple of beginners in open fishing boats (and who probably couldnít dock a single-screw boat of any kind under any conditions) were standing by cursing and shouting insults. But of course, not offering to help. Somehow, I have never felt like going into that marina ever since.
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Old 15-05-2018, 21:33   #12
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Hello, everyone,

It has been brought to my attention that some years back, I was rude to someone well meaning,who wanted to help us tie up on a long wharf (not in a berth or pen), according to local custom. Now, what they see is a short, fat, white-haired old woman (ten yrs. ago I was only 68), who moves creakily, due to bad knees. So you can see how this happened.

From my point of view, I am someone who has been tying up our boat in new locations from the past 25 yrs. or so at the time, according to Jim's instruction, so I think I know what I'm doing, and there's this person standing on the wharf, right in between me and where I want to be! Depending on who you listen to, I asked or told him to move! ...and offence was taken that has simmered for a long time, and I regret that.

In the past, we had a friend [who we knew was competent] wanted to help tie up our stern, but fell in the water between the dock and the boat with the stern line; we have had strangers (like the one above) take a line unbidden, and crash the bow into a marina electric box; and always taken pride in taking care of ourselves. Experience has taught us that helpers may be a mixed blessing.

Yet, it is very common here in Australia, for strangers to offer to take your lines, and I have made the same offer many times, myself. So, what I see here is a conflict between community values, helping vs. independence. As well, there may be an attitude among men that old women are incompetent: I have encountered that when I was a lot younger, and at that time, even young women were included in the "incompetent" expectation.

At any rate, I'm confessing and apologizing publicly for having been rude.

Anybody else have any stories to tell about docking interactions?

Ann

On Edit: I usually feel a little anxious to get everything done right, quickly, and I expect that tension affects how i speak to people. I have been known to say, "Put this line on THAT cleat!" and forget the thank you. So definitely sound "bossy" at the least.
I had a similar problem cruising with my daughter as crew. Her job, starting quite young, was to step ashore and place a line around a piling. We always had an exact plan, and what she had to do required no real strength, just holding the tail of a line. She understood the physics of multiple wraps and how I used the lines to control the boat.

And if there was an adult on the dock they would always take the line away from her and generally mess up a good plan. It made her angry, because it was HER job and she knew how to do it. And had to watch them mess it up. Usually it was just funny watching a grown-up foul up a 10-year old's job.

---

I'll offer to take your line, but I will ask YOU to tell me what to do with it. Your plan.
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Old 15-05-2018, 22:10   #13
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

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And if there was an adult on the dock they would always take the line away from her and generally mess up a good plan. It made her angry, because it was HER job and she knew how to do it. And had to watch them mess it up. Usually it was just funny watching a grown-up foul up a 10-year old's job.
.
We have seen this a lot as well. My 10 YO boy handles the bow line, and knows where and when it needs to be cleated off - we always pass the end back on board. But somehow adults struggle with the idea of actually listening to what he is saying. Occasionally we had to then reprimand him for (accurate) comments about the folk on dock.

We dock stern too 95% of the time, and have a set system where we run a line from our midship cleat back to a primary winch with a couple of wraps, and then the tail to the helmsman. The deck hand uses a pole to drop a loop (with a bit of hose over it to keep it open) over a suitable dock cleat. This lets the helm control that line, while the deckhand climbs ashore at leisure and deals with whichever end of the boat is blowing off fastest.

Without fail, if a dock walker gets involved, they will try and pull that line through then cleat it off, rather than just dropping the loop over the cleat. A couple of times we have just let them pull all the line through, while our deckhand person has tied off fore and aft.

Early on in the piece we decided that anytime we end up at dock without damage was considered a good docking. So we just use lots of fenders, thank anyone who helps, and laugh at the odd angles we have ended up in. Hit the dock, gently, then sort it out is our motto.

If I'm helping someone else out when they are docking, I try to be very mindful of only doing as asked. I think anyone who has their own boat would be the same, and would not be offended by being told to just get out of the way. Very occasionally though I have had the experience of a skipper ceeding all control to me as a dockhand as they come in. I find that nearly as odd as people who don't redo my cleat knots themselves after I've helped out - surely I haven't got the line length exactly right?

Mike
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Old 15-05-2018, 23:56   #14
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

Different ships, different long splices. It is a custom here, to put a number of crossing turns on cleats, but not to finish with a locking turn.

We always do ours one full round turn and two half hitches: a normal cleat hitch, for us. But that does mean, we re-secure most of our lines, and we prefer to lead the tails back aboard, so they aren't even tidily flemished., on the dock, where they collect grunge, but left secured to a lifeline, where they shed grunge.

Thinwater, I think it must be hardest for kids, because adults make the same incompetence assumptions that they do about elders; then let that elder be female, in the "men's world of sailing", and one is almost invisible, except for when one offends.

Lake Effect, he was taking out his failure to control his boat on you, and you knew it. It was kind of you not to say, "why didn't you ask? I thought you might know what you're doing."

Don't get me wrong, I don't remember the incident, so the guy did get out of the way and let me tie up or screw up on my own. And I am grateful for that. I am sorry, though, that I didn't find a polite way to what I wanted, and since I don't remember it, I am sorry it stayed with him so long and with so much negativity.

Also, to everybody, I'm reading all your stories, and they are comforting. There IS a conflict between helping and independence, and how we do it all affects how others feel. The guys who are paid, and angry about not having tips--shame on them; they should agitate for a living wage, and not feel like they have a right to tax "rich yachties," many of whom are not rich. There are many pre-conceptions in the world we have to deal with. Anyone who has had to ride in a wheelchair through an airport will suddenly know how it is to be "invisible" to others. A valuable experience, actually. That is also how females sometimes are, especially past breeding age, invisible.

Ann
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Old 16-05-2018, 00:14   #15
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Re: Docking Interactions, or "Get Outta The Way, The Witch Is Here!"

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Different ships, different long splices. It is a custom here, to put a number of crossing turns on cleats, but not to finish with a locking turn.
Not sure exactly where 'here' is for you today, but I would suspect ignorance rather than custom on that one. I've lived and sailed off and on in Australia since the 70s, and a cleat knot done properly has always been as you describe. My kids do them the same way.

What you call custom I'd put under the heading of 'if you can't tie knots, tie lots"

I only do short splices though.

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