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Old 18-05-2018, 12:51   #1
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Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

I have a Boston Whaler 315 Conquest with dual outboard 300 HP 6-cylinder gas engines.

I had a lesson in this boat and the instructor (supposedly a 100-ton master) said that it would be necessary to steer the boat rather than use differential engine thrust because he said the differential thrust was not strong enough. Therefore, I was trying to dock by steering. (On an outboard, the steering causes the engines to pivot to the left and right). This resulted in a lot of collisions with the dock, and in one case with the boat in the slip next to mine.

I asked if I could pivot the boat in the fairway before backing in, rather than trying to angle it in, but he thought it was better to angle it in. When I watched him angle it in, the outboards would come within a few feet of the boat in the neighboring slip each time, which I found kind of scary because if my propellers hit the other boat, it would probably do a lot of damage.

This instruction kind of conflicted with what I had read about docking with my kind of boat, which said that the engines should be kept straight and only differential thrust should be used.

The boat has a bow thruster, but we rarely used that.

The engine controls (Mercury Verado) have various buttons, including "sync", "transfer" and "dock". I pointed out to him the "dock" button and told him it slows down the engines for docking purposes and we turned it on. The other two buttons were green the whole time and he made no comment about them.

Should I keep hiring this instructor or look for someone else?
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Old 18-05-2018, 13:05   #2
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

Sounds like your uncomfortable with him. Regardless if he's Wright or wrong, I'd change instructors. If the next guy does it differently, you have tested two methods, if he does it the same way, it is more likely the right way.
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Old 18-05-2018, 14:11   #3
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Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

Ditch the instructor and just go out and toss a couple of weighted milk jug Buoys in open water and practice docking yourself. Youíll get comfortable.
Iím very familiar with Veradoís myself. Their digital throttle and shift is the best there is. Imagine trying to do this a couple of decades ago with two strokes that about 20% of the time you popped one into gear it would quit.
Assuming your engines are very close together he has a point, couple that with outboards obviously point the prop and not just a rudder and you have a very easy boat to dock, especially with a bow thruster. Add in the power steering and it canít get easier than that.
Your docking button sounds like what my Merc monitor had for trolling, you could dial idle down as low as 500 RPM.

Just go out yourself and practice, you need to take some pointers maybe, but in truth you can do this yourself, just never go faster than your willing to hit something, and donít be embarrassed to go around and try again.

You may want to try this site for information
http://www.veradoclub.com/index.php?...ohgee8pla4;www


Itís inboard planing hull boats that you only use differential thrust, reason is those tiny rudders donít do anything until there is high speed water flowing over them, and that isnít docking speeds.
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Old 19-05-2018, 04:07   #4
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

Can't comment on the instructor, but...

It's not uncommon that differential thrust doesn't work all that well with twin outboards tied together... partly because the props are relatively tiny and partly because they're much closer together than larger (wider) boats with straight shafts.

You can try it, maybe sometimes use it, but the usual alternative is to steer the boat with the engines.

(There are some newer twin outboard systems where the engines aren't tied together, i.e., can be "aimed" independently, and essentially give you some of the close quarters advantages of underwater pod drives... but it sounds like you don't have those.)

Given a bow thruster, it should be dead easy to dock that boat... after you've gotten some significant practice with it. I don't mean it'll be completely intuitive, just that once you develop a feel for how it moves in the water, reacts to current and wind, and how it steers... you should become comfortable with being able to dock it in pretty much all situations.

That said, I'll suggest it'll also be useful to learn everything you can about spring lines.. and practice using a spring line often.

And until it's second nature, practice is really key. Don't dock just once and walk away. Dock the boat, do a mental after-action analysis, then leave the slip and dock it again... better this time. Repeat several times each boating session until you're really comfortable with it.

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Old 19-05-2018, 08:02   #5
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

I have never been on a boat with Mercury outboards, but used extensively Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki with dual outboards, from 200 to 900 HP (latter one is 3x300 Suzuki), and catamarans with outboards and catamarans with sterndrives, all in the similar HP range (400-800 HP), all of them sea rescue vessels. from 6 to 12 mt LOA.

Indeed when the engines are close together, as they are on monohulls, it is hard to use one engine forward and the other engine astern. I think you call that differential steering? On all the boats as above the engines were tied together as you call it.

If understand your first post correctly, your instructor asked you to steer the boat. I agree with that and steering is only effective when the engine is in gear.
However with those big HP engines often the speed is far too high, even in idle. I suggest to dock only on one engine (leaving the one one in neutral), your control over the boat is doubled!

The question is of course, which engine should I use, the engine on the jetty/dock side or the outer one? If there is no difference in paddle wheel effect or prop rotation, then the outer one. If for no other reason than often there are ropes hanging in the water along side the jetty/dock.

When docking on the starboard side:
- deploy one or two fenders on the SB side and the biggest one forward of midships
- When the boat is nearly lost foreward momentum, a spring is deployed (from midships or foredeck going aft to the jetty/dock) is secured
- outer (in this case port) engine in neutral
- steering hard to port
- engage the SB engine slowly in forward until boat is coming alongside gently as too much power...... will slam the boat against the dock and something has to give....

Your instructor should be able to demonstrate a few times the moves he is teaching you, than for you to take the helm, while he is talking you through it, you following his exact instructions, than you doing it on your own, you talking aloud what you are doing, and the instructor only interfering if you deviate from his plan. After a while you will get the hang of it and changing sides, doing under varying wind and current conditions.

Best conditions are early in the morning when no one is watching. It is no rocket science, it is a skill that is mastered with practice.
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Old 19-05-2018, 08:42   #6
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Ditch the instructor and just go out and toss a couple of weighted milk jug Buoys in open water and practice docking yourself. Youíll get comfortable.
Iím very familiar with Veradoís myself. Their digital throttle and shift is the best there is. Imagine trying to do this a couple of decades ago with two strokes that about 20% of the time you popped one into gear it would quit.
Assuming your engines are very close together he has a point, couple that with outboards obviously point the prop and not just a rudder and you have a very easy boat to dock, especially with a bow thruster. Add in the power steering and it canít get easier than that.
Your docking button sounds like what my Merc monitor had for trolling, you could dial idle down as low as 500 RPM.

Just go out yourself and practice, you need to take some pointers maybe, but in truth you can do this yourself, just never go faster than your willing to hit something, and donít be embarrassed to go around and try again.

You may want to try this site for information
Your source for Verado Information - Index


Itís inboard planing hull boats that you only use differential thrust, reason is those tiny rudders donít do anything until there is high speed water flowing over them, and that isnít docking speeds.
My Dad called them postage stamp rudders. You made a valid point about the engines being mounted side by side and using their shifting may be fruitless. In a go fast boat they probably are in which case the instructor is probably right.
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Old 19-05-2018, 08:54   #7
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

The Verado is a different animal than most, it is in my opinion a very sophisticated outboard.
First itís an in-line 6 so itís dead smooth and can reliably and smoothly idle at 500 RPM in gear and not hesitate, stumble or die.
This one I believe has a docking button which greatly desensitizes the throttle.
https://www.manualslib.com/manual/10...o.html?page=52
Secondly itís what Merc calls DTS, which is digital throttle and shift, there is no cable to drag and cause hysteresis, no grinding and clashing of gears when you slowly go into reverse and forward like others do. The solenoid quickly selects the gear, and finally the power steering is easy and smooth, no torque feedback or stiff spots like you get from a teleflex cable.
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Old 19-05-2018, 09:27   #8
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

I have done quite a bit of instruction and easily can say..... manuevering a dual outboard has no one "right way".

Too many variables with the boat, engines and combo.

I will say the vast majority like a bit of steering with the opposing twist action.

Some boats and handlers did best when I suggested they put one in neutral and drive it in like their old single they got very good with.

Just depends and while trying as many methods as you can is always best, some students disagree and fight instruction and things grind to a halt. At that point, might be time for a different instructor or self practice till a new plateau is reached.
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Old 19-05-2018, 10:50   #9
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jsc7 View Post
I have a Boston Whaler 315 Conquest with dual outboard 300 HP 6-cylinder gas engines.

I had a lesson in this boat and the instructor (supposedly a 100-ton master) said that it would be necessary to steer the boat rather than use differential engine thrust because he said the differential thrust was not strong enough. Therefore, I was trying to dock by steering. (On an outboard, the steering causes the engines to pivot to the left and right). This resulted in a lot of collisions with the dock, and in one case with the boat in the slip next to mine.

I asked if I could pivot the boat in the fairway before backing in, rather than trying to angle it in, but he thought it was better to angle it in. When I watched him angle it in, the outboards would come within a few feet of the boat in the neighboring slip each time, which I found kind of scary because if my propellers hit the other boat, it would probably do a lot of damage.

This instruction kind of conflicted with what I had read about docking with my kind of boat, which said that the engines should be kept straight and only differential thrust should be used.

The boat has a bow thruster, but we rarely used that.

The engine controls (Mercury Verado) have various buttons, including "sync", "transfer" and "dock". I pointed out to him the "dock" button and told him it slows down the engines for docking purposes and we turned it on. The other two buttons were green the whole time and he made no comment about them.

Should I keep hiring this instructor or look for someone else?
I ran a twin outboard Boston Whaler on dive charters 5-6 days/week for three years. You can definitely steer the boat using both methods you mention in your post with the helm being your primary control. Because the engines are close to each other you don't have the same dramatic response from using opposing thrust as you would on a larger fixed prop vessel. However you can affect the boat's movement with opposing thrust to fine tune a docking maneuver, including walking the boat sideways. You can also increase the quickness of a turn by going hard over on the helm, keeping your inside engine in neutral and applying a quick burst of throttle to your outside engine. The most common mistake I see with new boat owners and outboards is approaching the dock or slip with too much speed then applying way too much power at the last minute to slow down. Take it slow at the beginning, set your approach up from a good distance out from your final position and make small adjustments to your direction early. That way you can see if you've made an error and adjust with time and space to spare. As for backing your outboard into a slip, unless there is no other way I would avoid it as a general rule. You are leading with your props. Fishing lines, dock lines, shore power lines carelessly draped in the water, floating debris, plastic bags, tires secured to the dock, your neighbors vessel, etc., etc. can easily engage your props with no good result. Outboard props are fragile and dangerous and cannot be protected by a fender. Gelcoat can be and is less expensive to repair. Props should be kept as far away from hazards as possible. As for your instructor, having a 100T license is not necessarily a credential for small boat handling. A 100ton steel boat with twin diesels is a whole different animal than a fiberglass twin outboard. Happy practicing. You have a great boat.
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Old 20-05-2018, 06:28   #10
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Re: Docking dual outboards, proper method(s)?

MY FAVORITE TOPIC
Most of my boating has been with single IO . Cruisers & walk around nothing larger then 26 ft . Was always comfortable docking .
Few years ago I purchased a 30 ft cruiser with twin Volvo Penta duo props , that's 2 props on each lower unit ,.
They say use your engines too back you in . Don't use your wheel ?
Still cant get used too it . These are IO not inboards or outboards.
Both lower units connected one bar , so when turning both lower units turn same direction not independent of each other ,
I use engines too control forward motion in open waters just too play around, keeping bow straight
Same theory is applied too at dock using engines , still don't get how this happens , lower units act as rudders , but still forward and reverse , they don't move without moving steering wheel
I have too back into slip , I try too get boat straight then back up , many factors cause boat not too remain straight and I come in stern with dock while bow is moving towards my neighbor .
I leave one engine forward other reverse, Reversing , trying too keep bow straight ,
I find a little thrust in reverse get in before boat shifts little control, and don't want too hit boat next too me .
Not using my wheel only using engines , Still cant get it .
I resort too what I know best, put one engine neutral , single engine . docking using wheel
Backing into slip 99 % I am at a angle , getting close too dock, I jump off pulling boat all way back .

I am at a in/out marina . When done and I want boat hauled out I drive boat forward into a tight staging area hard turning so port side of boat lines up with dock , using one engine controlling boat with steering .

I watch others whip 45 footers backing in , forward & reverse few times , docking like its a breeze
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