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Old 01-12-2013, 07:05   #1
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Line handling/docking tips for crew

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.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:42   #2
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

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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.

I've tried all kinds of different web sites, books, videos etc. and I still have to tell my wife what to do each and every time we dock. I think it has to do with the landlubber effect...I have been boating for over 50 years and my wife just a bit more than 5.

I come from a long line of sailors and she comes from a long line of land lubbers. She had never been in a boat smaller than a cruise ship in her life until we went on a friends bow rider for a Sunday afternoon cruise/picnic on a local lake.

I was pleasantly pleased when she said she enjoyed it and wasn't the least bit scared and she could consider having a boat of our own.

Well I've had bow riders, bass boats, day sailors, canoes, runabouts and my father had, for one season, a 35 foot Chris Craft which I loved.

So I thought I would start out conservatively with a 25' pocket cruiser that I could handle myself and we did okay. Then we developed 2 footitis and moved up to a 27' Carver flybridge which put more emphasis on her docking skills.

After another 2 years she decided she liked the idea of an "island" bed so I found a 36' Carver Aftcabin that we have had for 1 full season...Ahem, I will keep my mouth and my opinions shut...LOL

Through all of this we have spent the winters watching videos, reading bokos, talking about various situations and looking at you tube.

Hopefully next season we'll do fine.

I must be just blabbing on here cause I don't feel I'm giving any real input into the subject, and champagne and orange juice for breakfast doesn't help heh, heh, heh
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:23   #3
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

It seems that great caution is required when taking non boaters onboard. Things that are natural to those with a lifetime afloat are mystery's to lubbers. I have learned that they generally absorb nothing in their time aboard. In fact they become hostile when put in an uncomfortable situation (for them). Time in an outboard powered craft is actually detrimental in most cases. Boats are not cars and lines are not ropes. Except in the case of family, I invite very few lubbers aboard. It will ruin your day.
If someone actually is interested in being educated they will take it upon themselves to do so. Then they assume a place on the continuum of knowledge that all mariners are on and can strive to improve. Striving is dignified and necessary. You can see it often right here on CF. Just my .02.
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:47   #4
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

I'm wondering if you guys have the shoe on the wrong foot: isn't this about skippering style, and how best to bring crew along in their skills?

If so, it will help if you figure out why it is to their benefit to learn something, and make it rewarding for them to do so. All the lubbers know that they can count on you to tell them what to do (over and over). Why should they learn?

In the case of the wife, maybe she could teach someone else to do it, she'd have to remember everything and explain it. So who would it be rewarding personally to her to teach a little line handling to? How could you help her do it?

I know this requires the skipper to change how they think about boat jobs a bit, but there has to be a payoff for the other guy whether it's the skippers smile, respect or the sandwiches on the downwind leg. People and other animals learn best where there is a reward for them.

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Old 01-12-2013, 10:14   #5
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

I have been boating all my life and my wife had never been on a boat before me. She is now very qualified to run the boat. The way I taught her was to constantly share my thought process (not just what I am going to do, but why and how I came to the conclusion). I also help her think through the process of what she is responsible for at any given moment. And the bottom line, I NEVER yell or turn into a mad man, no matter how dire the situation might appear. If I am cool and calm, she is cool and calm. Furthermore, I always commend her on her performance - even if what she did was not perfect, or even good. After it is over we talk about what she did right first. Later we talk about what she might do different next time - as always, talking about the strategy that would lead up to better performance.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:25   #6
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

^^^^
SVRapture40: great recipe for success!
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:11   #7
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

I used to crew on boats, lots of different boats. The skipper really is the key to good docking.
*Tell crew what you plan to do before approaching dock, make sure they understand
*Tell each crew their role, make sure they understand
***Emphasize that their job is not to maneuver the vessel(stop it, pull it in with lines etc), that is the skipper(helmsman) job, period. If you cannot get a crew member to follow this rule then assign them to another task. Broken legs, hurt backs, even death can result from a over anxious crew trying to "save" the boat from hitting the dock or other objects. If you cannot dock your vessel without crew maneuvering it, you need to practice docking more.


Teach techniques of proper rope handling, some examples:
When you throw a line to someone on the dock, do not throw it at their face, best to have the receiver stretch their arm out to the side(like being frishked ). Throw to the side of the line receiver. This way they don't have to catch the line being throw, it will drape over arm.
Teach them how to use the cleat for purchase.

Making sure the crew realizes that it is the helmsman job to get the boat in and out of slip, not the crew, will reduce stress immensely.

Hope that helps and made some sense.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:22   #8
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

A couple of line handling hints

1) Generally I do not like handing off a line to someone on the boat, unless they are experienced marina staff.

2) If I do hand off a line, it is a centerline / midship line.

3) I flake / fake lines rather than coiling - fewer twists are introduced into the line.

4) Teach you crew the proper way to toss a line: split the flake, throw over the arm or shoulder of the receiver.

5) Never jump to a dock - step off.

6) When goling bow in step from the shrouds, stern in the gate.

7) One person should never step off with both breast lines.

8) I teach single-line docking.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:32   #9
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

i head in sloooowwlly and step off midships with 2 midships lines, bow and stern ready fro reaching once midships tied. this is without assistance.
at a fuel dock or when i know the people, i will hand off bow line and then step off with midships lines and secure stern last.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:44   #10
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

5) Never jump to a dock - step off.
....probably the most important thing to emphasize to a non mariner. It can be deadly....
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:45   #11
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

I have set up our boat to make docking as simple for non-sailors as possible, while still allowing them to take part. Since I believe it is important to get people involved if you want them to take a real interest.

The only dock line on my boat that I really care about is our starboard spring line, everything else can wait. So I make it in a contrasting color to the rest of the dock lines. This way I can tell even an inexperienced person to take the black line, and put it on the stern cleat by draping the loop over the horns. It's dead simple, can't be messed up, and since it is an important job it makes people feel like they are contributing.

After the spring is on everything else is collected from the dock, and hooked over the appropriate cleat, except for the last bow line that tensions the whole system to float the boat in the middle of the slip. I typically do this after everyone else is off the boat since it requires jumping from the boat to the dock (see above for the dangers of this).
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:59   #12
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

Nice slow approach.
Spring from midship to aft cleat 1st to hold against forward movement, then,
rudder hard away from the dock and idle against the spring.
Do the rest at your leisure.
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Old 01-12-2013, 15:52   #13
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

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.
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Old 01-12-2013, 16:13   #14
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

I suppose not all slips can be setup like my floating dock slip, but upon returning to the dock NO ONE moves out of the cockpit. I stop the boat in the slip reach out to port and retrieve the port stern line. Ditto the starboard stern line. I then walk forward and use the boat hook to retrieve both bow lines and attach. Now everyone is free to move where ever they wish. Since setting up MY slip no one ever needs to get off the boat to attach a line. They are left attached to the dock and I reach them from the deck with a boat hook. The biggest contributor to being able to do this a V formed from a line that starts aft (both sides) and meets at the bow. This holds the boat in the middle of the slip. I can keep the trans in forward and she'll idle while holding the bow off the dock and in the center. Why every boater doesn't do this to his HOME slip is beyond me. I've been doing this to every slip I've been in for the past 33 years.
And in all that time I've never had to leave the boat to secure it. The sides of the slip are covered with fire hose cushion, as well as two wheels at both corners. Yea, none of those lousy pilings. Like I said, not all slips can be so set up.
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Old 01-12-2013, 16:40   #15
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Re: Line handling/docking tips for crew

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The biggest contributor to being able to do this a V formed from a line that starts aft (both sides) and meets at the bow. This holds the boat in the middle of the slip. I can keep the trans in forward and she'll idle while holding the bow off the dock and in the center. Why every boater doesn't do this to his HOME slip is beyond me. I've been doing this to every slip I've been in for the past 33 years.
I've been thinking of doing something like this. Would certainly help in a cross wind.
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