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Old 01-12-2013, 15:42   #16
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

Originally Posted by 67Therapy View Post
Don't laugh...I have a small dry erase board onboard with ship shaped magnets. I use this with my wife and kids both for a prebrief and usually a debrief when we prepare to dock someplace new.

Everyone on my boat knows Rule 1: Safety First...we can fix fiberglass...NEVER get between the boat and the dock or try to stop a collision.

There are some great replies and philosophies in this thread.
that is good seamanship, well done

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Old 01-12-2013, 16:07   #17
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If you're good enough to talk smack on "land lubbers" you should be good enough to dock solo (or VHF ahead for someone to assist).

If you can't solo a full keel 40' sans thruster monohull into a slip, drop the old salt attitude.

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Old 01-12-2013, 16:11   #18
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Great advice from all. Throw in a please and thank you when giving instructions and your set.
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Old 01-12-2013, 21:04   #19
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

On more than one occasion I've gone through all the discussion about throwing, retrieving, and cleating only to have the crew throw, retrieve, then freeze up. They just stand there next to the cleat and look at the buildings with their mouths hanging open.

There's something about coming into a foreign harbor and talking to a Greek on the quay that makes them forget we are actually trying to dock. It cracks me up.

Throwing lines at the person on the quay also blows me away. One thing I'm changing for next year is that my current dock lines are fairly large and heavy. I'm going to have the first thrown line of smaller diameter so it will be easier to throw, retrieve, and return. I can always change it out later.

Good comments from others.
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Old 02-12-2013, 00:22   #20
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

Guess I'm a little surprised. Docking at your home dock really shouldn't be an issue (since you've docked here hundreds of times before). docking in a different harbour is the problem. Here you don't know if there are any tricky wind gust, currents etc. Having only landlubbers can be an issue, but I've always gotten around it by giving exact ins ructions and having the lubber only have to lay a mid-spring.

Whe we see what type of tie-off we will have to work with we discuss that before we dock. While I've had some problems, generally if all they have to worry about is 1 line and getting that line on a cleat or post, they usually manage

It is the skippers job to lay the boat in, not the crews job
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:44   #21
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Excellent responses from everyone. Thank you. There is a lot of good info here I can put to use.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:08   #22
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

To a certain extent, this is piggy-backing on Carsten's post, but what we have seen many times is that there are a number of skippers who are not prepared when they come in to a dock that is not their home dock. No lines flaked/or faked out, or only one when they need at least four: one bow line, two springs, and one stern line. Without lines ready to go, they're in a world of difficulty. Sometimes, no lines ready at all.

Few seem to know how to use motoring against a spring to hold the vessel in place, and where there are current swirlies in the pen, one really needs to know how to do that.

So, being prepared, and learning more boat handling skills would help heaps of the folks out there.

Sometimes it is the friendly people who come out to help us doublehanders dock who want to take our lines who cause problems--and they're not subject to your training like your crew might be. One dislikes being unkiind, but we've taken to saying, "we've got it under control, thanks," rather than trust them to "put this line on that cleat."

Part of the skipper's preparation may have to be a dinghy trip in to look at the pen he's going to go into. Does it have rings instead of cleats on the pontoon? How are the cleats set up? is there one that will wind up about amidships? How do you want to arrange your lines relative to what they have for you to use? How are you going to cope with ultra-short docks? The skipper's plan guides the whole procedure, so he or she needs to be clear with him/herself first, then with any helpers there may be.
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:42   #23
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Originally Posted by SeaSloth View Post
So, I'm not the best boat pilot in the world but I'm not bad. Fortunately there are lots of blog posts, message board forums threads and web pages devoted to piloting and small boat handling that I can use to further increase my knowledge and skills.

When I have new crew on the boat not only do I need to think about piloting the vessel but explaining to the crew about line handling, when to fend, setting spring lines, etc. I can do some advance instructions but that only goes so far.

Are there any resources out there about line handling and how to be a good crew, especially when it comes to docking, that I can send to new people? They won't be able to learn everything from it but between that and my instructions, getting the information in multiple ways will hopefully help reinforce this knowledge.
Our local ASA school has a 2 day course on docking. Check around there may be similar course in your area, then it's someone else providing the instruction leading to possibly reduced stress. You may also want to take it yourself, separately so again to reduce stress.
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Old 03-12-2013, 12:35   #24
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Here's something I use on GAME PLAN that has saved us untold amounts of money in repairs when tying up in a unfamiliar marina.

Rather than trying to get a slip assignment sorted out, figure out the current, wind, and all the rest that goes into a safe docking we simply tie up at the fuel dock first. The fuel dock is the easiest dock to tie up to and to leave from.

Even if you only take on a few gallons of fuel this practice gives the Captain and CREW the opportunity to walk over to the slip they are assigning you and see for yourself what you're getting into. It also gives the Captain the opportunity to brief the dock hands ( in no uncertain terms) what is expected from them.

I can tell you that this practice is responsible for saving us big bucks in damage. On several occasions I have refused a particular slip and they either give me another slip or we leave.

Since using this procedure we have enjoyed a 100% success rate for our dockings with 0% damages.

We sail the Caribbean and I can tell you that some of those marinas are tricky,,, some down right dangerous. This is the only safe way to do this that I've come up with so far for small yachts.

As for lines when docking, I make sure ALL dock lines are rigged long before we ever get to the marina. Whether we use them or not, they are rigged and ready to go. When the actual docking maneuver begins the spring line is the primary line I depend on. Once secured I can then gently power into it while controlling the alignment of the ship to dock / slip with the rudder and pin ship to dock/finger pier with the engine in gear while we calmly walk around and secure the other lines as needed.

That's my two cents ,, hope it helps someone. Capt. Roger
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Old 03-12-2013, 14:54   #25
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

I think we should teach interested guests because the captain could become incapacitated and need help coming in and it's more fun. I've been using this 3 step teaching method at work for 20+ years.
1. I perform and explain the steps.
2. You do the steps and I direct you as needed.
3. You perform the steps and you tell me what you're doing.
My daughter, the school teacher, calls this: I Do. We Do. You Do.
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Old 03-12-2013, 15:06   #26
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

95% of the docking should be done from the helm, and the crew is there only to make you look good. Crew safty is first! The Eagle is 58 ft and 40 tons, so trying to muscle the boat is not going to work. 100% of the time I will try to call/get somebody to meet us at the dock. Most marines have dock assist it you request. However, if there is no dock assist, then the docking is done from the helm. No body steps/gets off the boat until a line is secure to the dock.

Being the Eagles bow is 10 ft off the water and the helm 30 ft away, my wife usually stand on the bow telling me what to do, which is usually what she does anyway! When we are close to the dock and while maneuvering my wife will toss the mid spring line onto/over the dock. The lowest point is the stern swim platform, so first have to get the stern close enough to the dock so my wife can cleat the stern line while still on the boat, step off and cleat the mid spring line. If some one is on the dock then the mid spring line is the first line and stern line is second. My wife is only to cleat the lines loosely, just enough so I can get off the boat to tighten. This is usually done with out a word spoken by me as I find it best to let my wife do the talking.

Be sure the lines are large enough the person can grab/hold on to tightly. At least the size of your thumb as most people, even those of us will long nails, can grab and hold on to our thumb. If the line is too small the person well not be able to grip/hold on to the line tightly and the tendency is to wrap the line around the hand. Not good! Also line should be at least the length of the boat. Better to long than to short.

We have two sets of funders/lines. One set is left at the dock and one set we carry with us. So at our permanent dock there are no fender lines to set. However, I do have the lines we carry ready just in case if needed. When cleating a line its recommend to only figure 8 the line and not under lock the line. Under stress/pressure getting a under lock line loose can be difficult and dangerous. Several figure 8’s is sufficient and easy to un tie.

I found that most boaters on a dock for boats over 50 ft have a reaspnalbe idea of lione handling. Go slow so if the boat does bumb/hit something there is no big damge, and with as little pucker factor as possible.
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Old 03-12-2013, 20:25   #27

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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

Too fast is better than too slow. The people on the dock weren't in on the talk we just had, so don't involve them.
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Old 04-12-2013, 07:43   #28
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Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
Too fast is better than too slow. The people on the dock weren't in on the talk we just had, so don't involve them.
Damage last summer to my boat was thanks to a helpful dock-stander. While buffing out the scrape I practiced this docking instruction:

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Old 04-12-2013, 09:41   #29
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

It all depends on the situation, crew/guest skills and experience. Most common instruction to guests is “Please stay seated in the cockpit and enjoy your drink!”

Suzanne and I took lessons when we began sailing almost 15 years ago. The instructor took one look at me (6’ 230 lbs.) and Suzanne (5’ 130 lbs.). Standing at the helm, he asked “How much strength does it take to turn the wheel and adjust the throttle? How much strength is required to raise the sails, pull up the anchor, and fend off as you leave or enter a slip or dock? Who is the strongest with the longest reach or stride? So what are the best roles for the big ugly gorilla and beautiful bride?”

Thus Suz is almost always at the helm and I serve as crew. We talk through docking as we come to the slip or fuel dock. With 10 years of practice, she can back into our slip with 20 kt. crosswinds and lightly “kiss” the dock as soft as Captain Ron as we come to a stop on the fenders. Then I step off and secure spring and bow lines.

This works on our Beneteau 393 on Mark Twain Lake and on charters on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands, and BVI charters.

She lets me dock a couple of times a year so I have basic skills and can dock on the rare occasion I sail alone.

If Suz and I are sailing together with guests, we use same process and instruct guests (regardless of the skills and experience) to stay in the cockpit and enjoy their drink out of our way until I have stepped off the boat and have the spring and bow line secure. I get very firm with experienced sailors who naturally want to help, telling them to stay in the cockpit. Past experiences have shown this works best for us. Those who sail with us regularly understand and agree. We offer the same courtesy when we sail with them.

The only exception to this procedure is one couple who crew with us 3-4 times each summer and have chartered with 5 times. They know our process and we work well together.

If Suz and I are not together and have at least one experienced crew, we instruct that crew member to wait until we come to a complete stop then they step off the boat and secure the spring line then bow line. All other guests stay in the cockpit and enjoy their drink.

If Suz or I are alone with no experienced crew, we pretend we are single handing. Inexperienced guests stay in the cockpit until spring and bow lines are secure.

This works for us.
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Old 04-12-2013, 09:45   #30
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
Too fast is better than too slow.
Do not ever lose steerage! You have to be moving. I tell my students to maintain at least 0.5 knots on a fin keel boat; probably at least 1.0 knots on a full keel boat. I lost steerage on a Dana 24 by going too slow - not pretty.

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