I have just moved to a Yacht Club where the boat is docked sort of Mediterranean
style. (We moved from one city to another). That is, the two bow lines are led to a dock
edge, one to each side, and the two stern lines are both led, one from each side, to a central (sort of !!) buoy behind the boat.
Most Skippers also run a "messenger" line from the stern buoy to the dock
. The messenger line has a loop in it about 18" shorter than the stern lines from the buoy. It can run either run on the Port or Starboard side, although most Skippers have it on the Starboard side.
Boats are lined up one against the other, with only their fenders in between them.
Let's consider you are docked and want to go sailing. The prevailing wind
is on your Starboard side, and the current
is also pushing you to Port. Let's also assume your boat goes easily to Port in reverse. In sum, you have the wind
, the current
, and your prop walk ALL pushing you to port (where an adjacent boat may be or may be absent) when you want to leave.
Let's assume you have two people on the boat: First Mate at the Bow and the Skipper
at the wheel
at the stern.
The accepted practice when leaving is for the First Mate to undo the bow lines, but hold on to them, and tie the ends together in front of the forestay. The Skipper
uses a boat hook to retrieve the messenger line from the water
, and places it temporarily over the winch
. He undoes the slack line, almost always the Starboard line, holds on to it, or ties it into the messenger loop, and then retrieves the port line, and moves it to the Starboard side to tie it into the loop. As soon as he has released the Port stern line, the boat moves to Port because of the wind and current. If he doesn't hurry, he will be almost riding on top of his neighbour's messenger line (and ropes if his neighbour is absent). He has to quickly put the boat into reverse, throw off the lines from the winch
, shout to his first mate to throw the lines on the dock, turn the rudder
full to starboard to counteract the prop walk, and if it's a calm day, he might be lucky not to get his neighbour's ropes around his props. So far, it's happened to me twice !
Returning is almost the same madness. Most Skippers drift down with the wind and current and turn when they are just beyond their buoy. The First Mate, at the bow with a boathook, retrieves the bow lines (hence the reason for them being tied together). The Skipper is controlling the boat speed, and angle of approach so as not to whack into the dock edge which is usually only about a foot from the bow. He is also busily retrieving the messenger line and the stern lines from the water
with a boathook, all the time the wind and current blowing him away from them. One time I misjudged the speed of the boat, and we didn't get the bow to the dock in time, or get close enough to the messenger line to pick it up. Our neighbour was absent, so in no time, we were over his messenger line, and laying against the boat usually two away from us. Fortunately, I was able to rescue
us and get back to our proper place.
I like to occasionally single
hand. So far I've been too scared of the undocking/docking procedure to do it ! Anyone with any suggestions as to how to cope with the undocking and docking
procedures ? I'd like to move to another marina across the river, where they have docks, but they have a lengthy waiting list ! I wonder why !!