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Old 22-06-2013, 06:59   #1
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Docking help

Docking question; I have a 27' O'Day with tiller steering. I'm having some difficulty getting out of dock and even more difficulty backing in to my slip. In the past I practiced backing, getting use to the prop walk, etc. on my other boats. I know I should practice with the O'Day a little more, but, I have a specific docking question.

I'm located between two boats. I have the boat facing bow out for easy access. The boat to my starboard is on a lift between the pilings, to port he is in the water. The pilings I tie to in the front are near the forward opening hatch, not out extended past the bow. The boats to either side both extend out 3-4 feet past the pilings, this makes it difficult to use the pilings as a pivot point. Directly in front of me is another pier about 50 feet away. When exiting my slip I motor out past the pilings to port and then start bearing to port to get out to the channel. At times it's hard to make this turn, I have to go out quite far to miss the pilings and then it's difficult to make this turn. I usually pull straight out, then reverse 90degrees and then head out. If I was to wrap a line around the port piling would it help to hold it amidships and use it to pivot around the piling? Or should I keep this line in the cockpit?

When entering the slip I've been having difficult too. If you can picture it, as I come in I now have two boats to starboard and my slip is in the middle. I can't get up close to the piling because their boats extend out past the pilings where my lines are tied. I've tried pulling past and then backing in while turning with limited success. I've also pulled past and turned port then tried backing straight in.

Any suggestions??? I want to dock like a master. I'm 27 and have my wife and kids on board, wife helps but we are a bit frustrated. Don't get me wrong I've seen much worse, on my previous boat In the same situation I pulled up bumped the piling about amidships and pivoted around it beautifully. I docked like that for years but can't do the same with this new situation. Thank you for your help
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Old 22-06-2013, 14:47   #2
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Does the boat have an inboard engine or an outboard? If an outboard is it centered or off to one side?


IMHO you should not need spring lines for a 27- unless there are some weird currents. I single hand dock a T-33 alongside a dock no issues. Best tip I got was to set the RPMs at idle and just shift. Only add power in small amounts to compensate for errors- such as not shifting into reverse quick enough and about to hit dock....
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Old 24-06-2013, 00:59   #3
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Re: Docking help

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Originally Posted by Thebriansnyder View Post
Docking question; I have a 27' O'Day with tiller steering. I'm having some difficulty getting out of dock and even more difficulty backing in to my slip. In the past I practiced backing, getting use to the prop walk, etc. on my other boats. I know I should practice with the O'Day a little more, but, I have a specific docking question.

I'm located between two boats. I have the boat facing bow out for easy access. The boat to my starboard is on a lift between the pilings, to port he is in the water. The pilings I tie to in the front are near the forward opening hatch, not out extended past the bow. The boats to either side both extend out 3-4 feet past the pilings, this makes it difficult to use the pilings as a pivot point. Directly in front of me is another pier about 50 feet away. When exiting my slip I motor out past the pilings to port and then start bearing to port to get out to the channel. At times it's hard to make this turn, I have to go out quite far to miss the pilings and then it's difficult to make this turn. I usually pull straight out, then reverse 90degrees and then head out. If I was to wrap a line around the port piling would it help to hold it amidships and use it to pivot around the piling? Or should I keep this line in the cockpit?

When entering the slip I've been having difficult too. If you can picture it, as I come in I now have two boats to starboard and my slip is in the middle. I can't get up close to the piling because their boats extend out past the pilings where my lines are tied. I've tried pulling past and then backing in while turning with limited success. I've also pulled past and turned port then tried backing straight in.

Any suggestions??? I want to dock like a master. I'm 27 and have my wife and kids on board, wife helps but we are a bit frustrated. Don't get me wrong I've seen much worse, on my previous boat In the same situation I pulled up bumped the piling about amidships and pivoted around it beautifully. I docked like that for years but can't do the same with this new situation. Thank you for your help
I'm not sure why you have problems when heading out. If it is 50 to the other side and you're in a 27 footer, there should be adequate room. However, for you it is a problem. If you can get a line on the port piling (longish one that gets you out past the boat on the port side), you can use this amidships and sail around it. When it tightens, it will pull you around.

Docking, gets tougher, since you can't get a line around the pilings due to the other boats. I would sail past, and back in going to port, and thereby using my prop walk. I would also drop a line over the portside piling as soon as possible. If you have heavy sidewinds, this will be an issue. I would sail as close to the other side of the channel as possible, go just by and then start to reverse. The prop walk will help pull you around and the 20 feet or so of room should be enough for you keel and rudder to bite, giving you steerage. Then you can drop the line over a piling as you come in.

I also have to dock in a similar situation and my boat is a 40 footer. Just to make things a bit more entertaining, the other side of the canal is, like yours, 50 feet from the pilings. I only have 10 feet to work with. It is entertaining, but I've gotten used to it.
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Old 25-06-2013, 05:16   #4
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Re: Docking help

This should not be too difficult. Try using a hard "whoosh" with the tiller to swing the stern...being too close to a dock is better and easier than being too far...think of it in those terms and it becomes easier... or hire a pro for instruction!

triple w Foerfront dot com thanks!
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Old 25-06-2013, 05:33   #5
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Re: Docking help

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
I'm not sure why you have problems when heading out. If it is 50 to the other side and you're in a 27 footer, there should be adequate room. However, for you it is a problem. If you can get a line on the port piling (longish one that gets you out past the boat on the port side), you can use this amidships and sail around it. When it tightens, it will pull you around.

Docking, gets tougher, since you can't get a line around the pilings due to the other boats. I would sail past, and back in going to port, and thereby using my prop walk. I would also drop a line over the portside piling as soon as possible. If you have heavy sidewinds, this will be an issue. I would sail as close to the other side of the channel as possible, go just by and then start to reverse. The prop walk will help pull you around and the 20 feet or so of room should be enough for you keel and rudder to bite, giving you steerage. Then you can drop the line over a piling as you come in.

I also have to dock in a similar situation and my boat is a 40 footer. Just to make things a bit more entertaining, the other side of the canal is, like yours, 50 feet from the pilings. I only have 10 feet to work with. It is entertaining, but I've gotten used to it.
Of course if you have real balls and the slip opposite yours is empty, you drop a midship cleat line around one of those posts and get your boat lined up in that slip, then you simply reverse out of that slip and with good speed you can just drive into your slip in reverse!
Easy peasy
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Old 25-06-2013, 07:14   #6
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Re: Docking help

Getting out should be a breeze. Make sure there are no boats coming, go straight out, and cut hard when your stern clears the pilings and boats. Don't go too slow. You've got plenty of room to turn.

Getting in is more difficult, but you have almost double your boat's length to work with. I'd go perpendicular to your slip until almost at it, with your boat to the port side of the channel, turn starboard BEFORE you get to your slip, with the goal of getting the boat lined up with your slip, and back in straight with whatever adjustment is necessary. All you need is to get your stern between the pilings with your boat as parallel to them as possible.

That's what I'd do, anyway. With the space you have, you don't really need to depend much on spring lines until you're already in your slip.
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Old 25-06-2013, 07:21   #7
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Re: Docking help

Practice your backing and filling. For a single screw boat this means being able to pivot it to port and to starboard within two boat lengths. With enough practice you will learn how to back and fill within 1 1/2 boat lengths. Learn how and you won't need the spring line.

Master the Art of Backing and Filling
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Old 25-06-2013, 07:21   #8
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Re: Docking help

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Originally Posted by Snore View Post
Does the boat have an inboard engine or an outboard? If an outboard is it centered or off to one side?


IMHO you should not need spring lines for a 27- unless there are some weird currents. I single hand dock a T-33 alongside a dock no issues. Best tip I got was to set the RPMs at idle and just shift. Only add power in small amounts to compensate for errors- such as not shifting into reverse quick enough and about to hit dock....

That's right -- I was taught to "goose it" with the outboard, but it also works on my larger boat with the diesel. You have to have enough speed to steer, but you don't need any more than that.

So that would be a specific thing to practice.

Also, does that O'Day have a centerboard? If so, is it down while you're docking? I would think that would help with keeping steerage.

If you have plenty of room between your pier and the next one there's absolutely nothing wrong with backing out and then "back-and-forthing" to get in the direction you want to go. There's no shame in not making the turn completely the first time.
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Old 25-06-2013, 08:17   #9
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Re: Docking help

If your moving slow you touch insted of RAM.
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Old 25-06-2013, 08:20   #10
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Re: Docking help

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If your moving slow you touch instead of RAM.
Possibly the best advice of all.

Although if you go TOO slow, you have no steering.
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Old 25-06-2013, 08:47   #11
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Re: Docking help

we used to walk my friends 32 ft challenger out of her slip--was easiest way to get to sea....i would push it out the slip, backwards, and she would engage engine as i pivoted the boat so she could just run to ocean....we did this with her 25 and her 32...
there are many ways to do the slip exit thing---
just remember--boats aint cars and do not respond in car - like manner.
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