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Old 06-07-2016, 10:16   #1
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First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

So I had my first damaging collision with the dock coming back in yesterday.

This is the layout of my slip




Few things to note:

- The slip is shorter than my boat
- prop walk in reverse is to port, so throwing it into reverse pulls me away from the dock
- there is about 6 foot between me and the boat next to me
- the wind direction in summer is away from from the dock


What happened was, I was coming in solo with around 10 knots of wind from the 4 o clock position, so mostly from my starboard with a component pushing me into the dock (the worst direction). It was very gusty, and I was coming in at a 45 degree angle squeezing between the boat to my left and the fishing vessels behind me. As I went into neutral and started the turn to port (I was going at around 2 knots) a big gust (15knts+) kicked up and swung my stern to port, towards the boat next to me.

At this point I figured hitting the dock was better than hitting the other boat so I went back into forward and aimed more to starboard to make sure i'd make the dock. Just before I hit the finger I straightened out and went into neutral, and then quickly hopped off and tried to slow the boat by hand. This didn't work and the front of the boat went into the dock at maybe 1-2 knots (luckily I missed the electrical box).

This is the result.




My question is - how could I have avoided this?

The only things I could think of are

- gone somewhere else until it calmed down
- cruised around yelling until someone on the dock appeared to give me a hand (having people on the dock would have allowed me to throw it in reverse coming in, as they could have grabbed the stern line to stop the prop walk swinging out)
- maybe reversed in? Though I would have been worried about the bow being grabbed by the wind instead of the stern and swinging into the boat next to me.

Any other ideas would be welcome, or failing that stories of your own docking mishaps to make me feel better, as I am feeling pretty upset about it and stupid. Poor Gudgeon .
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:26   #2
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

Waiting woudl be number one, but thats not always possible. Something to practice is arresting momentum astern to push the stern opposite of your prop walk. Your prop walk will move the stern but only when it turning. You need to have enough forward momentum that you can apply short bursts astern to get the stern kicked over. Something to practice alot to get the feel of your boat. It's a balancing act that is different for every boat. If you think you need to come in hard, try to have extra fenders on board to put on your fwd quarter.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:26   #3
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

I am no expert, but I have a few things i try.

You could have backed in, all the way, letting the wind push your bow as you turned into the slip.

Use spring lines, especially when backing, you can grab a spring line from the cockpit and catch your stern cleat, this keeps you from hitting the dock going in, once in, grab the back corner and hook it, throw into forward (barely) and the bow will come in. You can then calmly walk and put on your other lines. I built a goal post on a stand out of pvc to aid in catching lines.

3rd, when it gets bad, i hang back and start calling people. If the marina office wont help, get some dockmates numbers and see whos around....

That being said, i slammed into the dock last week and dinged my gelcoat. So take this advice at what you paid for it. Stuff happens.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:32   #4
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

I would have tried backing in and letting the prop walk work in my favor. A spring line on the dock would have helped tremendously. also your docked image shows no spring lines, how do you keep from hitting the main dock if the wind comes from that direction?
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:33   #5
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

The most basic docking procedure would have avoided your collision. Tie a large loop amidship at the widest point cleat, then simply drop the loop over the proper cleat as you approach the dock, turn hard away from the dock and leave the boat in forward gear idle. The boat won't go anywhere and you'll have plenty of time to casually step off the boat, tie up and look like a pro.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:45   #6
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

Thanks for the feedback all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingscotts View Post
Waiting woudl be number one, but thats not always possible. Something to practice is arresting momentum astern to push the stern opposite of your prop walk. Your prop walk will move the stern but only when it turning. You need to have enough forward momentum that you can apply short bursts astern to get the stern kicked over. Something to practice alot to get the feel of your boat. It's a balancing act that is different for every boat. If you think you need to come in hard, try to have extra fenders on board to put on your fwd quarter.
So I can 'kick' my stern over opposite the direction of prop walk? Do you have a link? That sounds like an extremely useful technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tkeeth View Post
I am no expert, but I have a few things i try.

You could have backed in, all the way, letting the wind push your bow as you turned into the slip.

Use spring lines, especially when backing, you can grab a spring line from the cockpit and catch your stern cleat, this keeps you from hitting the dock going in, once in, grab the back corner and hook it, throw into forward (barely) and the bow will come in. You can then calmly walk and put on your other lines. I built a goal post on a stand out of pvc to aid in catching lines.

3rd, when it gets bad, i hang back and start calling people. If the marina office wont help, get some dockmates numbers and see whos around....

That being said, i slammed into the dock last week and dinged my gelcoat. So take this advice at what you paid for it. Stuff happens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
I would have tried backing in and letting the prop walk work in my favor. A spring line on the dock would have helped tremendously. also your docked image shows no spring lines, how do you keep from hitting the main dock if the wind comes from that direction?
Yup, I am thinking that backing in and using a spring (since coming in stern first I could have dropped one from the rear cleat onto the furthest dock) is maybe the only way. I never back in, so I have to practice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
The most basic docking procedure would have avoided your collision. Tie a large loop amidship at the widest point cleat, then simply drop the loop over the proper cleat as you approach the dock, turn hard away from the dock and leave the boat in forward gear idle. The boat won't go anywhere and you'll have plenty of time to casually step off the boat, tie up and look like a pro.
This won't work unfortunately, at least going forward - the slip is shorter than my boat, so the only way I could do what you say is by leaving the wheel and going forward of the cockpit - which is not what I want to do until the last possible second.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:46   #7
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

Yeah, youtube "dock like a boss"
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:52   #8
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

What a shame it is that some folks get upset because of a love tap with the dock.

What is more important enjoying sailing or worrying about every scratch on your boat?

My slip entry is pretty tight due to a nearby jetty (see pic) and only half of that area is deep enough during low tide..........that's my excuse for slamming into the dock from time to time.

I have some white epoxy mix I smear over the "scar" when necessary until the next time I pull the boat.

I have years and years of sailing experience but just a few summers of docking experience which is one of the reasons I bought an older boat.

Old boats are awesome though. I took a huge chunk out of a piling with my bowsprit the first or second trip out on this boat in 2011. No damage to the bowsprit
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:26   #9
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

The momentum of an 8 ton sailboat at 2 knots is over 50,000 ft lbs per sec. Trying to stop it by hand in a short distance or just a few seconds to avoid hitting an object is beyond most people's ability.

Checking a line to a cleat has a better chance, but be careful. Fixing a line to a cleat is dangerous because the cleat or line may fail and cause injury.

Use engine power to stop the boat.

Docking in higher winds requires higher speeds. Sounds as if you checked your way too early when turning, and the wind became the dominant force on the boat as you stalled.

I have found that if I use the parallax of near and distant objects on the hard to evaluate motion, rather than fixating on the slip or the pilings, I can control the boat's motion much better.

Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:28   #10
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
This won't work unfortunately, at least going forward - the slip is shorter than my boat, so the only way I could do what you say is by leaving the wheel and going forward of the cockpit - which is not what I want to do until the last possible second.
But this is just what you should do: a mid-ship spring line. Ken does this with a 54(?)' boat. You'll need to leave the cockpit when your shrouds are just about at the dock. This will allow you to walk to the shrouds, safely hop off, grab the spring line attached to a mid-ship cleat and cleat it off over the aft most dock cleat (the one the stern line will also be cleated to).

You get things dialed in (the forward propulsion, rudder angle, mid-ship cleat placement and mid-ship spring line length) the boat will sit still once the mid-ship spring line is taught. You should be able to dial this in on the dock by adjusting everything, putting your boat into gear at a low speed and seeing how it behaves.

I actually set it up so the bow swing slightly into the dock, but I jump off with the stern line also in hand to pull the stern back in. Then I calmly walk forward, grab the bow line that is sitting around the shrouds and cleat it off.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:31   #11
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
The most basic docking procedure would have avoided your collision. Tie a large loop amidship at the widest point cleat, then simply drop the loop over the proper cleat as you approach the dock, turn hard away from the dock and leave the boat in forward gear idle. The boat won't go anywhere and you'll have plenty of time to casually step off the boat, tie up and look like a pro.
This won't work unfortunately, at least going forward - the slip is shorter than my boat, so the only way I could do what you say is by leaving the wheel and going forward of the cockpit - which is not what I want to do until the last possible second.
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What Kenomac suggested makes sense to me. I would be willing to step away from the helm for the couple of seconds it would take to drop a pre placed line. A spring line from your midship position slipped over the cleat or piling at the end of the dock could stop your boat before the bow contacted. A fender placed forward of the midship point would reduce the finess required as you retarded forward motion with a blast of reverse then helm hard port and idle forward to hold the boat in position while you secure other lines.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:56   #12
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
This won't work unfortunately, at least going forward - the slip is shorter than my boat, so the only way I could do what you say is by leaving the wheel and going forward of the cockpit - which is not what I want to do until the last possible second.
It doesn't matter, you simply place the loop over the first cleat. Yes you'd need to leave the wheel, just like I need to do when solo everytime for the past six years. First on a Hunter 450 and now on an Oyster 53.

But you can't drop a loop on a Hunter 36?

You ask for help, then you poo poo a very basic docking procedure from docking 101... Right from the learn how to dock book and sailboat handling.

Sorry Bud... You're on your own.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:59   #13
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

[So I can 'kick' my stern over opposite the direction of prop walk? Do you have a link? That sounds like an extremely useful technique]

Yes, if at all possible docking in a opposing wind or current, approach the dock on the quarter, with the right momentum, rather than trying to go parrallel to the dock. When the quarter gets close with rudder away from the dock a stong thrust ahead, switch rudder to mid or the dock and a strong thrust astern. The thrust ahead will start to turn the boat and the thrust astern will continue the turn on a axis.

Note every keel-rudder-prop comb will react differently so lots of practice

It sounds silly but the safest way to practice is with a mooring bouy. Approach a open bouy pretending its your dock and try to put it in the same place midship. You can practice when its calm as well as as when you have heavy current or wind. Once you are comfortable move up to trying on a pump out dock or breakwater pier of some sort.

One last thing, there are no pizes for nailing a docking perfect. We regularly make a plan and when coming in see conditions are slightly off and abort to give it another try. Sometimes three or 4 runs. If things are not going as planned you should stop and re-evaluate, once the adreniline is going you really are not goign to be very effective. It's all about control of your boat, if you feel you don't have 100% then its time to slow down and plan.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:01   #14
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

Midship Spring
https://vimeo.com/110881433
Stern Bridle
https://vimeo.com/110882884
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:02   #15
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Re: First Collision... how could I have avoided this?

No he isnt on his own, not everyone is a pro like you, the rest of us are learning. He didn't say your wrong, he's talking about his confidence and abilities.
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