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Old 06-01-2012, 05:34   #1
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Docking to a Windward Finger

I will be single handing a 44' sailboat and frequently tying up to a windward finger. I was wondering what methods/tools might be recommended to quickly get the lines on the cleats before drifting off.

Thanks,

Bob
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:42   #2
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pirate Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

If you've a central deck cleat for springs... set up a short line there with a loop you can drop over a pontoon cleat... hold you in place while you get the other lines on..
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:59   #3
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

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Originally Posted by rabend View Post
I will be single handing a 44' sailboat and frequently tying up to a windward finger. I was wondering what methods/tools might be recommended to quickly get the lines on the cleats before drifting off.

"Bow thruster."
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:02   #4
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

+1 Boatman61, the spring line is your friend. You don't need no steenkin' bow thruster!

Have the spring attached to the mid-ship cleat and led back to the cockpit, outside the lifelines. Ease into the slip, close enough to the finger to drop the spring line's loop over the nearest piling, or a cleat on the finger if it extends out far enough--whatever your slip setup offers that's right there at the stern so you can easily get to it. You'll need to figure out in advance how long to make the spring to keep the bow off the dock. The boat will stop as the spring come taut, and the stern will try to move away from the finger, so put the helm over hard to push the stern toward the finger.

Leave the boat in forward gear at idle, with the rudder hard over in the direction that will turn the bow away from the finger, and keep the stern pressed in against it.

The boat should just sit there patiently alongside the finger while you make fast all the other dock lines.
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:08   #5
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

It's a tough situation if there is a breeze. Firstly, do not ever leave the boat until secured.

If this is your own private slip you might consider arranging some method of easily grabbing a pre-positioned dockline at the seaward end of the finger. Like boatman61 writes above, this line can be quickly taken amidships and secured. Perhaps thru a chock and back to a main winch on windy days. The line will of course be secured mid-finger.

If there is room to leeward, and the breeze is up, I'd simply back up to the finger and get a first line on from the transom. Most boats being far more directionally stable stern to the breeze than bow-to. Then deal with getting up to the finger at your leisure.
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:33   #6
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

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+1 Boatman61, the spring line is your friend. You don't need no steenkin' bow thruster!
After having spring lining it for over 40 years, the bow thruster has become my best friend. While I agree with your technique, when the boat gets over the 35000 lb mark and 40+ feet, it becomes very difficult to balance the bow in a gusting wind when by oneself. It's fine if you can reach your lines and cleat without leaving the wheel, but if you have to step out of the cockpit leaving the helm unattended is just a disaster waiting to happen.
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:41   #7
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

Try this Wrino Boat hook I have one, dont use it much (two motors and all that) but when you need it, its great.
I have no connection with the company, just a happy customer.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:46   #8
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

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After having spring lining it for over 40 years, the bow thruster has become my best friend. While I agree with your technique, when the boat gets over the 35000 lb mark and 40+ feet, it becomes very difficult to balance the bow in a gusting wind when by oneself. It's fine if you can reach your lines and cleat without leaving the wheel, but if you have to step out of the cockpit leaving the helm unattended is just a disaster waiting to happen.
You must have one heck of a bow thruster. Our basin is open and exposed to the south and, in any winds at all, I can't even count the number of times we've watched yacht's blown down on the pilings on the north side of the basin while their thruster's whine away in desperation--or suddenly quit. It is so commonplace that the only yachts permitted in the northern most slips are those that do not extend beyond their outer pilings while 6' of overhang is permitted elsewhere. SOme have even suggested that we reave a shore-line down the center of the basin to be left laying on the bottom so that when--not if--yacht is blown down, the line can be hauled up and used to extract the waylaid boat.

Per Hud, the suggestion for a spring is the most sensable and ideal if the mid-ships cleat is somewhat aft of the center of lateral resistence. Turning the helm toward the finger-pier while idling in forward gear will lock the yacht in place. If one does things slowly one can pretty easily warp even a large yacht into place without undue difficulty, especially so if one pre-rigs a sping that is left in place for ones return.

FWIW...
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:50   #9
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

If you can come alongside it is in fact quite easy - the keel will stop any too fast drifting off. Head/stern on may be an issue. I try to come head on with the fore spring ready and fenders aplenty in the bow section. I drop the spring loop over a dock bollard that is as far aft as possible, then put the helm over and power fore at small rpm. Most of the time the ship comes close enough for the aft line to be chucked over the aft dock bollard.

But this may be not the way to go if it is blowing gale force. Neither if your ship has too much stuff fore: overhangs, bowsprits, etc.. Ours is plumb.

b.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:00   #10
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

My experience is that the larger the yacht, the easier to handle. The only thing that can make the midships spring fail is when it breaks or when you don't have enough hp in your engine. Many use a Spectra line for this purpose so that it can be thin but really strong so that it is easy to handle.

I can moor on just a midships spring and stay like that for hours no matter how stormy it is. Commercial ships do this all the time, even in locks.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:01   #11
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

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You must have one heck of a bow thruster.
I agree, don't cheap out on a bow thruster. Most install one that's barely effective at slack tide. When we were looking for ours we looked at the one recommended by each manufacturer, then doubled the requirements for a recreational boat. As they are all manufactured in the same place we went with pricing purchasing the largest Lewmar we could stuff into our boat. Of equal importance a bow thruster isn't a replacement for boating knowledge and experience, just an aid. If you try and use it like an outboard, you're going to be in trouble as they're not designed for continuous duty and will blow the fuse, or even the relay. They're also to be employed in conjunction with the main engine, creating an invisible spring point, providing balance to the bow in gusting winds.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:03   #12
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
If you've a central deck cleat for springs... set up a short line there with a loop you can drop over a pontoon cleat... hold you in place while you get the other lines on..
Again, +1 plus a little extra trick I do when docking my 18m - no bow thruster - high windage boat. I attach a snatch block to my toerail (or mid-ship cleat) and then wrap one end of my dock line around the primary winch. Then run it down through the snatch block and outside the lifelines. I lay the loose end by the mid-ship lifeline gate.

Then using "Capt Ron's" technique of approaching the dock as moderate speed and at last moment going hard over on the rudder while adding max reverse thrust to stop the boat. Then jump ashore/on to the dock and tie off the loose end to a piling or cleat. Then jump back on the boat and "winch" the boat into the dock. Then do the bow and stern lines.

If there is somebody on the dock who can catch the line and put it over/around a piling or cleat, so much the better. The you don't have to make the spectacular (or make a spectacle of yourself) leap onto the dock and can simply winch in the boat using the primary winch. Once the bow and stern lines are in place you convert the temporary mid-ship line to a normal spring line.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:40   #13
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

There seems to be some confusion here in terms of terminology. The way I was taught, an aft spring is one that leads (springs) aft, not one that originates on an aft cleat. Likewise, a forward spring is one that springs forward, not one that originates on the bow.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:57   #14
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

There are multiple ways of doing spring lines all of which accomplish the objective of preventing the boat from moving forward or aft.

For small boats or those without mid-ship cleats one spring-line runs from the stern cleat to a piling or dock cleat near the bow of the boat. The other spring from the bow cleat runs to a dock cleat or piling near the stern.

So the terminology can get mixed up if you refer to the line coming off the bow cleat as the "forward spring" since it comes from the forward end of the boat and prevents the boat from moving forward. Likewise for the aft spring.

If you look at the lines from the dock side view, the spring on the aft cleat of the boat is running forward to the dock cleat and tries to pull the boat forward relative to the dock. In real life I simply tell the person handling the line to tie one end to the bow cleat and the other end to the dock cleat "back there" avoiding giving the spring line a name that might confuse the person.

What gets interesting is the larger boats with mid-ship cleats. Rather than running very long lines from bow and stern, I run one long line tied in its mid section to the mid-ship cleat and then run forward to the dock cleat and the other end run aft to a dock cleat. Adjustment is made at the dock cleats. One line but it is both the forward and aft spring.
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:29   #15
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Re: Docking to a Windward Finger

Tie a line tightly between your dockside cleats, stern and midship positions. To the removable hook one one them type boathooks, splice a 6ft pennant and attach it to your midship cleat. Approach the dock, clip the hook on the dockline and motor ahead, Boat will pull to dock. Used this method for years.
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