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Old 01-07-2009, 10:43   #1
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Docking in the Wind

We are new at this and the brief instruction we got when we bought our 34' twin engine cruiser was in calm seas. We have space at a government wharf on Hornby Island in BC and there are always lots of boats at the dock. (in Canada, the government wharves rent space, but not a specific "slip" for the boat.) We were taught to idle in and just use the transmission to manoeuver the boat but with a wind, it kicks the boat around, FAST! With more power, we get going too fast in the crowded dock area. Any suggestions or is this just a "learning to drive the boat" thing?

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Old 01-07-2009, 11:04   #2
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I have always seen ( and I drive ragtops not power vessels) twin engine power boats use the engines to turn and manouver the boat.
A couple of hints that may or may not apply in your situation;
use the wind, dont fight it, so if you can, come into the wind when docking.
Slow is good, but there are times you need power, I see too many boats come in very slowly and lose control, when a good burst of the engine will do them nicely.
Short bursts follwed by a short glide often helps.
Take the boat out away from it all and spend a day learning how she operates, reverse to a chosen spot ( a daymark or something) find out how she powers into and away from the wind. Learn how the propwalk aorks on your boat.
I do hope these help

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Old 01-07-2009, 11:06   #3
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Always park into the stronger force, wind usually but sometimes the tide using that force asa 'brake'. The following has some useful information.

Maneuvering Under Power Archive NauticEd Blog
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:25   #4
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My very first suggestion is to hire an experienced captain to give you a few hours of instruction. More throttle, while appropriate once in a great while, is usually the kiss of death. I was taught 'go no faster than you're willing to hit something'. The basic idea of using the twin engines will actually work quite well. You're 36 ft is somewhat more difficult to handle than a larger boat from the point of view that the "wheels" or propellors are probably of rather small diameter, I'd guess around 16 inch. The lack of separation between the props will also limit manuevering a bit.

Nevertheless, I've handled a Wellcraft 34 which would be similar, I think, to yours and it will do quite well. Remember, what you have is still a lot easier than a single engine sailboat! My dad's Hatteras 53 with big props and diesels was a much easier than the Wellcraft.

A few month's ago I watched (very carefully because it was in the slip next to me) an experienced captain showing a new couple how to manuever their boat, similar to yours. That instruction knocked months off their learning curve. You could see from their expression the relief of having someone to introduce them to the vagaries of docking. Especially since my marina has 3-5 kt tides, cross winds, and a lot of high and dry traffic. By the way, after a while, the new couple both were doing very well. Having run off at the mouth this long, try to accept that there will be times when no matter what, the docking will screw up. Make double damn sure that in all your practice no one tries to get between the boat and the dock. Fiberglass fixes a lot easier than flesh and bone.

Good luck and with great respect for you asking,

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Old 01-07-2009, 12:46   #5
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Read up on the techniques, in places like Docking in Style - with Twin Screw Boats : Boat Handling

Then go out and find an empty plastic mooring buoy, pretend its the dock, and practice what you read until you understand how your boat will respond to the wind and your actions.
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Old 01-07-2009, 13:11   #6
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Don't despair a landing tech that you are comfortable with will come in time with practice. A couple of things to keep in mind at the start though are 1) If possible land bow into the wind/ tide. - if you have to abort you will get carried away from the other boats 2) When landing you have more control over the stern than the bow - so try to get the bow roughly where you want then use prop thrust to kick the stern into position 3) landing into strong tide/wind means you will have to use increasing amounts of power -stonger wind means more throttle - if you go too slow you will get blown out of position. 4) Use LOTS of bumpers and if there are commercial boats around land against them (I used to be a commercial fisherman and from experience I think I can say they are not as anal as some 'pleasure' boaters)al, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> 5) Don't fall into the "I'll just land 3 feet off and pull myself in" trap - almost invariable it ends up with the stern coming in too fast and the bow out at 45 degrees. 6) We have all been where you are - a sincere 'sorry' goes a long way. 7) If you come to Comox to visit, you can raft along side me (Patience IV)
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Old 01-07-2009, 16:14   #7
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Rhosyn Mor and others have great advice. Dock into the wind when possible (if the wind is stronger than the current!.... you are in a high current part of the world!) keep some speed when docking or the wind and water will take you where you dont want to go. You can use reverse to stop! Cruise past where you intetnd to go first and pay attention to what the current is doing right there as well as the wind. Both may change direction significantly in a marina or dock situation near shore. With two engines, you should be able to "caterpiller" the boat to some extent. It would be good for you to try this when you have time in slack water near a bouy or something like that. or even in a current would be good experience. It is scary and you need to learn your boat.... especially with your currents up there, you could do significant damage to someone elses boat. Practice backing up also. You have the best situation with two props, just get familiar with the boat and NEVER jump to the dock if the skipper doesn't get the boat in the right place..... you can be crushed between the boat and the dock.
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Old 01-07-2009, 17:16   #8
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I like the idea above, of hiring someone to show you. In golf, take lessons. In tennis, take lessons. In boating.... TAKE LESSONS! Seriously, what you spend for a couple of hours, you will instead spending on fiberglass repair.
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Old 01-07-2009, 17:22   #9
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One very simple thing to remember. Neutral is a gear on a boat. It is your friend. Use it when you need to go forward or reverse slowly.

I see soooo many people act they are in a car and feel they have power to the props at all times.

Due to the effects of prop walk, you can be out of control at low speed until you really get a feel for your boat. And when you do get a feel for it, you will most likely find that indeed, neutral is your friend in close quarters.
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Old 01-07-2009, 17:52   #10
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All of the above is good advice, take some time to get to know your boat. First off, learn whether your propellers turn inboard, outboard or in the same direction when you put them ahead. That will dictate how you can "twin screw" the boat. As the others have mentioned, go out somewhere away from obstructions and with the rudders straight ahead, one at a time, put each engine ahead at an idle, and then astern and watch how your boat responds. Start with an idle and gradually increase your RPM and note if there is any change in what the vessel does. Then do the same procedure with the rudders hard over one way and then the other. After that you are ready to start using the engines together, one ahead, one astern, at an idle, rudder neutral, then leaving the engines in gear, turn you rudders first one way and then the other, and with different throttle settings, after that change the reverse engine and put it ahead, and the ahead engine in reverse and use the same process. If you spend an afternoon doing that you can learn how your boat will respond in different ways. Some of the things you learn may seem counter intuitive. The other advice I would give, is don't use any more power than you need to, to make the vessel respond as you want it. If what you are trying to do isn't working, do something different, neutral can be your friend if the boat is going the direction you want it to, sometimes more power can make things much worse. Always plan your out if something goes wrong, like you lose an engine.
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Old 01-07-2009, 19:34   #11
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As a cruising boat, your twin props should be set up so "prop walk" helps the boat turn in both directions. So even if they are quite close together, you will get a lot of turning force from having one running forwards (stbd, if turning to port) and one running astern (port, if turning to port). For maximum turn have the rudder hard over to get turning force from the engine (prop) driving forwards(hard a'port, if turning to port). A good trick on twin screws is to set up as above, runnign at moderate revs, and cut one engine in and out of gear (astern to slow; forwards to nudge the boat forwards gently).

Agree with everything said about not relying on speed & power (often not wise, even when you really know what you are doing), and all the stuff about going into strongest of wind and current.

With twin props, in an onshore wind you can use the engines (one running forwards, the other astern) to stop getting blown on bow first.

Also look at how to use springs to bring the boat in. E.g. with wind off the jetty, run a spring from midships to the stern, back up into the near end of your gap, slip the spring of the right length over a bollard (or similar), then go slow ahead with hlm slightly away from the wharf to bring the boat in parallel.

Intelligent use of springs can often make the boat do what your engines cannot.
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Old 01-07-2009, 23:10   #12
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Good advice so far, especially to get some specific instruction on your own boat.

Nobody has asked whether you have shaft or outdrives - probably cause they know your boat, but I dont. This makes a significant difference to berthing technique.

close quarters manoeuvring is all about engines, leave the wheel alone

a monohull with a single engine is significantly easier to berth than a motor boat withh outdrives when it is windy.

if the wind is really strong and blowing straight down the jetty, it is sometimes easier to berth stern to, as you then have much more control of where the boat is going, rather than having the bows blowing off at the wrong moment and in the wrong direction.

A catamaran with a single engine and twin rudders handles rather like a motorboat with a single outdrive, so I have some expertise here. I always found that it was essential to asssess the speed at which directional stability was achieveable, and then use that for berthing.
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:53   #13
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I'm with the get training crowd.

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Old 02-07-2009, 05:27   #14
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This is how you do it:
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Old 02-07-2009, 05:47   #15
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Originally Posted by denmanislander View Post
Any suggestions or is this just a "learning to drive the boat" thing?
Yes. Go out on a calm day and do circles, then figure of eights, then reverse circles and then reverse figure of eights.

Then get a lame-brain to stand beside you and call what they want and you respond: Circle right; circle left; reverse figure of 8 etc etc etc....

Untill it becomes so boring. Actually it wont become boring! You will get right into it and really enjoy it!

Last time I did it someone who was watching on shore said "Its good to see experienced people practicing their Man Overboard manouvers". I just trying to learn how not to sink the boat! LOLOL


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