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Old 23-07-2018, 08:48   #1
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Sailing off the windward side of a dock

In another thread, @boat_alexandria wrote:



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If the wind is aft of the beam. Raise any sail, preferably main sail with reefs, and put the rudder over. Detach all but the stern line, and let it loose allowing the boat to swing out. Once at an appropriate angle, you can release it.

This makes sense to me but I'm surprised by the number of narratives from well-traveled sailors who find themselves pinned to (usually) a fuel dock and can't get off without extreme measures such as kedging or getting a tow. In none of these narratives is there any mention of trying to sail off.


Does anyone besides boat_alexandra try this? How well does it work?



I'd run the experiment myself but my slip is in a harbor where there isn't much wind and there is a strict "no sailing in the harbor" policy that is enforced.
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Old 23-07-2018, 08:54   #2
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

I think the key to what boat Alexandra said was “aft of the beam” and I would add plenty of room downwind too.
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Old 23-07-2018, 10:36   #3
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

What if the wind is dead on the beam or forward of it? There's gonna be a point where the wind is too strong to sail off no matter what--after all, the rest of the boat is feeling the action of the wind as well.
It seems, though, that sailing off a fuel dock is kind of silly, since in all likelihood you were there to fuel up your engine. In which case, unless the wind in really rowdy, you should always be able to spring the stern off and back into clear water.
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Old 23-07-2018, 10:46   #4
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

Sheeting in the main sail will bring the bow into the wind, you should be able to handle the rest from there.

Most all beach cat racers know how to move their boats from a stand still (or near stand still) since many times you are stopped on the starting line just waiting for the gun to cross to start the race and must hold your boat steady in the mean time with mostly just the sails since there is minimal forward movement......sometimes with a minute or two still on the clock

Many well traveled sailors never have to do this maneuver so never learned it

If the wind is too far forward, go forward and push the bow off with your foot then sheet in the jib.

Holding steady on the start line:

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Old 23-07-2018, 14:20   #5
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

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... beach cat...

So predictable.
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Old 23-07-2018, 15:28   #6
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

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So predictable.
It's a great way to learn to control a sailboat (and my advice was totally on) since the sail area to displacement is off the charts.

http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=7787

Adjustments include downhaul, mast rotation, prebend, rudder alignment, daggerboard depth, mast rake, batten thickness, main sheet tension, jib tension, spinnaker tension, body position on the trapeze, halyard tension, etc.

Then there's start line position, favored end of the line, land effect , traffic at the downwind mark...... furthermore there's harness adjustment for a good horizonal position when trapped out and position of the hook for a good connection, but the most important thing is tension on the harness leg straps so the strap between your legs doesn't harm you.

Then there's the spreader rake and diamond wire tension

Main sheet block is 8 to 1. Downhaul 4 to 1 and up. Diamond wire tension around 700lbs and I think my spreader rake was 1 1/2 - 2" for a 1 1/2" prebend but it's been a while

Not to mention sailing those things keeps you in pretty darn good shape.

Pitchpoling though isn't fun at 25 plus knots.

And since you brought it up: (speed can be fun!!)

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Old 23-07-2018, 16:04   #7
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

Oh snap! I found another: (can you talk your wife or girlfriend into doing this? Best advice is, let her drive and you do the work!)

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Old 23-07-2018, 16:37   #8
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
This makes sense to me but I'm surprised by the number of narratives from well-traveled sailors who find themselves pinned to (usually) a fuel dock and can't get off without extreme measures such as kedging or getting a tow. In none of these narratives is there any mention of trying to sail off.

Just to be sure I understand, when you say the windward side of the DOCK it means the wind coming over your boat and then to the dock, right? If so, I can't imagine how it's done under sail alone.

Is there a video of this maneuver?

The subject of getting off a dock that's leeward of the boat under power has been discussed many times and it isn't that hard if you take your time and prepare.
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Old 23-07-2018, 21:40   #9
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

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Just to be sure I understand, when you say the windward side of the DOCK it means the wind coming over your boat and then to the dock, right? If so, I can't imagine how it's done under sail alone.

Is there a video of this maneuver?

The subject of getting off a dock that's leeward of the boat under power has been discussed many times and it isn't that hard if you take your time and prepare.

Not easy, not for the faint of heart, and to be fair, it really needs some muscle power to fend off and get some initial way on, but it can be done. As another poster mentioned, you don't want a foresail up. You want the stern pressed in, the bow out as much as possible, the rudder hard over toward the dock. A line running well forward from the stern is a big help, a bight, preferably and not an eye, so you can easily cast off on the fly. Cast off all lines except an offshore stern line and your forward leading line from the cockpit. Hoist your main and sheet it home just full. Shove off, beginning with the bow, and when you have gotten the bow well off, let go the offshore stern line, haul in on the forward lead HARD, and shove off from amidships. Ease your rudder enough so that you don't turn back onto the dock and scrape your way out of the berth. With only the main up and no foresail, she will want to head up, and a bit of rudder to hold her down will also serve to push the stern, and so the entire boat, a bit to windward. Once you have enough way on, point up a bit and get a headsail up, and bobs yer uncle. This is not so hard with a smaller boat. Don't try this cold with a 44 footer!



You can also pass a bight from the offshore stern cleat around a piling well aft, and from the inshore stern cleat well forward, lead the standing parts to winches and twist your bow out from the pier if it isn't blowing too hard. In this case, let go everything and shove off HARD sending the boat dead ahead, and hoist (assuming a sloop) main and jib both, quickly, and sheet them in just to where they draw decently, again with some rudder toward the dock to help keep your stern from dragging on the dock. Works best when the wind is abaft the beam as you lie alongside the dock. Anyway once clear, head up a bit and away you go.


Once you have way on and are a few feet off the dock, that dock is no longer a thing, unless you point up too high and go in irons and crash right back down on it.



I would be surprised if both successful and unsuccessful attempts at these methods were not on youtube, somewhere.



If you are near the end of a pier, just warp ahead until the forward half of the boat is well past the end of the pier, get up a headsail, shove off and then hoist the main, clear the pier head on a broad reach and then head up as needed.



Basically every method I have used or seen or heard of for doing this depends on a good hard shove off, and good fending off, and help from at least one line passed around a piling or cleat and back to the boat so it can be cast off quickly. If it hangs up on something, LEAVE IT and let someone know immediately that there is a line in the water where you were docked. If possible, toss both ends up on the dock where they won't foul anyone. You can't diddle around recovering a stuck line, or you will get blown back down on the dock.


I would not try to claw off a lee dock under sail alone, singlehanded. At best it will probably end in embarrassment. Even with a crew, don't be surprised if you don't nail it the first time.
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Old 24-07-2018, 05:04   #10
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

Maybe with a sub-25' boat with no lead in the keel, but a larger boat? It takes a lot just to push the boat 2' off the dock let alone enough to have the stern rotate past it.

I'm guessing your leaving that line on the dock when your done also.
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Old 24-07-2018, 05:33   #11
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

Sailing off on a typical cruising boat would indeed be an interesting/challenging problem to solve, but given that the typical cruising boat has an engine:

Spring line, a bit of prop thrust, done.

No need for heroic efforts, tows, kedges...just easy routine seamanship.
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Old 24-07-2018, 05:43   #12
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

The traditional way: Row out a kedge, haul/winch the boat up to the kedge, set sails, retrieve the kedge and sail away.
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Old 24-07-2018, 05:51   #13
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Most all beach cat racers know how to...
This one time, on a beach cat...

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Sheeting in the main sail will bring the bow into the wind, you should be able to handle the rest from there.

If the wind is too far forward, go forward and push the bow off with your foot then sheet in the jib.

Just not gonna happen on any larger displacement keelboat in any appreciable breeze. Yes it’s probably possible with a 25’ boat in just the right circumstances but a keelboat needs flow over the keel to create lift.

I could no more sail off a dock with 15 knots ahead of the beam than I could fly to the moon...except if there were no boats in front of me, there was room past the end of the dock, and I was itching for a new paint job.
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Old 24-07-2018, 06:25   #14
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

Depending on boat, it's possible to sail off on the mainsail with wind just forward of beam.

If the wind is forward of the beam on windward side, you can always turn the boat around on the dock using lines.

In strong winds, you might need a spinnaker pole attached to the mast and held by a sheet, with a rope to the end of it so you can pull the boat around while fending the bow off standing on the dock.

In up to 15 knots (or gusting more I wail for lull) I can scull off, so I normally don't need to turn the boat around on the dock.

As mentioned you can always dingy an anchor off, so it's always possible to get off, but I never needed. I think this mostly applies if there are other obstructions or boats nearby and/or if there are strong currents depending on how they are flowing.

If you have space, it should normally be possible to sail off. If the crew can't turn the boat around manually by pulling the lines and fending in any wind (you would be sailing) on the dock, I suggest your boat is too big for your crew to handle.

Demonstrating motoring in a perfectly capable sailing vessel broadcasts the wrong information to bystanders. It's also boring to watch.
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Old 24-07-2018, 07:42   #15
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Re: Sailing off the windward side of a dock

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This one time, on a beach cat...




Just not gonna happen on any larger displacement keelboat in any appreciable breeze. Yes it’s probably possible with a 25’ boat in just the right circumstances but a keelboat needs flow over the keel to create lift.

I could no more sail off a dock with 15 knots ahead of the beam than I could fly to the moon...except if there were no boats in front of me, there was room past the end of the dock, and I was itching for a new paint job.
Sorry, I can swing mine with the mainsail alone.

Maybe you need to try it.

Maybe considering a wind vane will help you understand

Also think when heaved too. You use your mainsail to turn the boat more into the wind.
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