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Old 16-09-2016, 10:28   #1
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Docking with a spring line

Here is the scenario - I'm coming into my berth single handed. The slip has cleats at the end and middle. I've rigged a spring line from my shrouds and have led it back to the cockpit. I need to get the line over the end cleat in order to stop and control the boat.

I've seen one example where the person stood on the line end and had a coil of line in each hand, they then tossed both coils to the dock on either side of the cleat. This worked, but it seems that there is an awful lot of rope to pull back in.

I've seen another example where only one loop is tossed. This looks like it results in less rope to pull back, but I think it requires more accuracy.

I've also seen where a person puts a large loop on the boat hook then drops the loop over the cleat. Seems more accurate, but you have more moving parts to deal with.

What would the best method of getting the spring line on the cleat quickly and accurately?
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Old 16-09-2016, 10:48   #2
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Re: Docking with a spring line

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Old 16-09-2016, 10:53   #3
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Re: Docking with a spring line

That would be the ultimate.
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Old 16-09-2016, 11:50   #4
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Re: Docking with a spring line

I do this all the time. And it's complicated by the relatively high freeboard of my boat. The cleats on low pontoons are a LONG way down.


I loop one end of the midship spring on a midship deck cleat, then take several coils in my hands. Keeping hold of the bitter end of the rope, I fling it out so that it lands around the cleat, then pull in on the bitter end until the dock cleat is captured, then tie up.

With a little practice it's not too hard.

Then I go the bow and do the same with the bow line, and so forth.

Like this I can dock single handed in almost any conditions -- even if a decent wind is blowing me off the dock. It's important to handle the boat so that she is stopped just touching the pontoon, so that you have some time to get to the side deck to throw the spring line. In strong wind blowing me off, I find I have to leave the helm while the boat is still moving towards the dock, so obviously that takes a bit of coordination and finesse.
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Old 16-09-2016, 12:26   #5
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Re: Docking with a spring line

Are you backing in or going in Bow first?
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Old 16-09-2016, 12:45   #6
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Re: Docking with a spring line

My home berth is along a lengthy, linear dock that has plenty of room for maneuvering adjacent to it. The prevailing winter wind blows directly away from the dock making it impossible to get the boat close and parallel when the wind is above the mid 20's. What I do, is back right up to the cleat that I want to lasso, (bow is pointing directly away from the dock). The stern of the boat has lots of overhang allowing me to be standing "over" the dock while remaining at the controls that are well aft. Since the boat is held stable against the wind with engine power, there is plenty of time to get a loop over the cleat. I have done this, alone in an honest 30 knot blow (with some protection from a downwind breakwater.

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Old 16-09-2016, 12:46   #7
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Re: Docking with a spring line

Going in bow first. My boat backs like a pig on ice!
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Old 16-09-2016, 12:47   #8
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Re: Docking with a spring line

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Originally Posted by Panope View Post
My home berth is along a lengthy, linear dock that has plenty of room for maneuvering adjacent to it. The prevailing winter wind blows directly away from the dock making it impossible to get the boat close and parallel when the wind is above the mid 20's. What I do, is back right up to the cleat that I want to lasso, (bow is pointing directly away from the dock). The stern of the boat has lots of overhang allowing me to be standing "over" the dock while remaining at the controls that are well aft. Since the boat is held stable against the wind with engine power, there is plenty of time to get a loop over the cleat. I have done this, alone in an honest 30 knot blow (with some protection from a downwind breakwater.

Steve
That's an excellent technique!

I'll file that away in my database of tricks, thanks.

Just don't get that rope in your prop

You could haul it in with a winch, and just haul yourself up to the dock

Great idea.
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Old 16-09-2016, 14:29   #9
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Re: Docking with a spring line

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That's an excellent technique!

I'll file that away in my database of tricks, thanks.

Just don't get that rope in your prop

You could haul it in with a winch, and just haul yourself up to the dock

Great idea.
If only I had winches! Actually, this is a mid-ship spring so forward engine power is then able to bring the boat up to the dock.

And yes, a line in the prop or any other engine failure would be a disaster. Having scratched that heavy weather itch last fall, I feel that it was quite irresponsible of me to endanger the other boats. It all worked out fine, but the risk was probably not worth the reward (recreational sailing).

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Old 17-09-2016, 00:32   #10
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Re: Docking with a spring line

I use the line around a chain plate, loop outboard, winch inboard and the loop on a boat hook technique. Works OK usually. I have backed up to the cleat going astern so the boat weather cocks in stiff beam breezes then worked it onto the jetty with the spring and winches. I also have a grappling hook which I have used to heave and hook onto rails and dock edges but have not had to use it for years and once managed to get hooked onto a jetty by motoring up to it and dropping the anchor over a large toe rail to get hooked on, desperation stuff.


Bit of a bugger single handing when it comes to docking.
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Old 17-09-2016, 03:26   #11
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Re: Docking with a spring line

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. . . and once managed to get hooked onto a jetty by motoring up to it and dropping the anchor over a large toe rail to get hooked on, desperation stuff.. . .
Wow!!
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Old 17-09-2016, 03:33   #12
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Re: Docking with a spring line

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If only I had winches! Actually, this is a mid-ship spring so forward engine power is then able to bring the boat up to the dock. . . . .. .
That's the way I normally do it. But can be difficult in a tight berth, and also when you are being strongly blown off and the spring line is not very short.


I am lucky to have big electric sheet winches which I can reach from behind the helm. I use them a lot in docking.

When Baltic mooring (bows-to to the quay, stern tied to a buoy or kedge anchor), I run the kedge rode through a stern cleat and to the winch, and I can steer and regulate distance to the key myself, so that it takes only one other person to get tied up. The idea of doing this single handed kind of boggles the mind, but I think it could be possible if you have room to get the middle of the boat close enough to throw a bow line out from there.
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Old 17-09-2016, 04:29   #13
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Re: Docking with a spring line

I've found the midships cleats are often too far fwd on most boats and they always tend to drag the nose into the wharf, I like to use a strong point about 2/3 of the boats length aft. This makes it easy to use the engine to push the boat alongside parallel to the wharf. I often lead it back to the primary winches so I can adjust it easily from the helm. I normally use a big loop and a boathook. Id love to try a grappling hook!

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Old 17-09-2016, 04:30   #14
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Re: Docking with a spring line

There are 1.7 zillion variations of docking, following are my thoughts.


If I pull in bow first, reverse is stopping the boat as much as any line. My dock lines stay at my home dock. It is much easier to grab a hanging line than lasso a cleat or piling. In a case like yours, if the stern line is on the stern cleat will it stop the boat before it hits anything? Are the primary winches well secured that you could run the stern line to them to get a better angle until the boat is fully docked? Once a boat has one line on it, the engine can be used to maneuver the boat to the dock.

Since I back in (see below) the key dock line is my spring line that I leaving hanging off the short finger and drop onto the stern cleat. Depending on cross wind, the engine is either in neutral when I grab the line, or is already on forward, stopping my sternway progress. Once the line is on the cleat, I use a touch of forward to keep it from bouncing off the line forward. Mrs. S also likes soft dockings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmksails View Post
Going in bow first. My boat backs like a pig on ice!
Almost all sailboats back like that. Suggest a few experiments, without getting into the technicalities. In a quiet bay with room-- from a dead stop, put the boat in reverse. Odds are her stern walks to port. Put the rudder full, the other direction (stbd). As she gains sternway, (often around 1.2kts.) you will notice that the rudder is beginning to have effect and the boat is turning in the other direction. At this point, start taking rudder off, moving it amidships. Since the rudder is designed to go forwards, it is misbalanced for going astern, so limit speed astern to about 1.5-2. Much faster than that and the rudder is hard to control and if you let go will slam against the rudder stops.

Once you can go straight astern with your boat, now turn into an imaginary slip. The turn is controlled by BOTH the rudder and the prop. Specifically, if the engine is going astern, turn radius decreases since the prop is walking to (usually) port. In neutral the turn is strictly controlled by the rudder.

Hope this all makes sense. Using this process I can dock my boat single handed even with a significant cross breeze. The trick is to work with the prop walk by always turning the stern to port. The challenge is having faith in yourself, since when the wind is up the boat must be moving faster into the slip and you will really need some forward gear to stop her. Not quite a Capt. Ron landing, but faster than most would dock.
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Old 17-09-2016, 06:24   #15
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Re: Docking with a spring line

I have permanently rigged preventers so just use a dyneema loop clipped into one of those, goes outboard through a block at the spreaders back to anwinchl. A piece of plastic water pipe in the loop keeps it open which can be easier to get onto a cleat.
As for..
"What would the best method of getting the spring line on the cleat quickly and accurately?"

If you're single handed then all of the above keep as many options as possible open, what works one day might not for some wierd reason work the next
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