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Old 13-05-2012, 16:16   #1
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Single handed docking aid

For what it's worth, I offer the following aid and method for single handed docking a sailboat in the 30' to 40' length range. It cost me under $10.00 to make.

This is for docking at a continuous slip/dock with cleats at the front, middle, and back, i.e. this is not for pilings (although I guess you could use it for placing lines over the top of pilings). The slip level should be lower or at the same approximate level as your gunnel.

The aid itself is composed of 12' of 1" diameter electrical conduit with caps at each end (so it will float if you drop it in the water !) At one end insert a hook that has screw threads, of size enough to hold a 3/4" line. I couldn't find a hook with a machine screw thread on it, so I purchased an eye long enough to go through the pipe with a nut at the top and bottom, and the guy in the store kindly cut the round eye where I specified so that it became a "hook".

Drill a hole right through the conduit of sufficient diameter to take the "hook". Thread a loctite nut on the thread of the "hook". I threaded it on normally, until I'd cut the plastic, then took it off and reversed it. Screw it all the way to the top of the "hook's" thread. Put the "hook" into the drilled hole, and then thread on another loctite nut until the "hook" is firmly held and pointing FORWARDS. i.e. in operation, you are going to put the docking line in/onto the "hook" and push it forwards over the top of the middle cleat in the dock.

You also need a length of line attached to the centre cleat of your boat, or to an eye on the gunnel rail or a stanchion. Make a loop of about 9' and then bring it back to your boat about 4' aft of your centre cleat, threading it through a fairlead (your distances will vary depending on your boat). Run the bitter end of the line down aft to your foresail sheet winch and bring it back to near your centre cleat. Leave the bitter end loose on the deck. Prepare this and have the pipe conduit all hooked up to the line before you reach the dock. Be careful the docking line doesn't get tangled up with any fenders !

Now, in actuality, you are approaching the dock: when the nose is at the end of the dock, turn the wheel away from the dock, engine in neutral, but still with some slight forward motion on the boat. Walk to centre point of boat, pick up the conduit and place the line behind the dock's centre cleat. Pull on the bitter end of the line and walk to the winch to cleat it.

The loop will connect on the dock cleat and bring your boat to a dead stop. It will also tend to bring the bow towards the dock, so I place a fender in the appropriate place. Once the boat has come to a stop, you can calmly step off the boat at the centre cleat and fix the permanent mooring lines.

As I'm increasing in age, and not as agile as upon once a time, I'm finding this a good method, especially when the slip's surface may be wet and dangerous to jump onto !

My 2 cents ! Comments welcome. It works for me !! And I prefer it to leaving a loop on the dock that you have to catch with a boathook as you whiz by !
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Old 13-05-2012, 16:43   #2
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Re: Single handed docking aid

Pictures please!
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Old 13-05-2012, 16:59   #3
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Thumbs up Re: Single handed docking aid

I use something similar to this method...I'm reversing in...but works...I'm moving to a new dock and bow in will be the method used.

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Old 14-05-2012, 07:19   #4
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Re: Single handed docking aid

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caribsailors View Post
I use something similar to this method...I'm reversing in...but works...I'm moving to a new dock and bow in will be the method used.
Yes, looks good, maybe even better than my method. However, how much does your boat weigh ? Mine's about 10,500 lbs. It could be an awful lot of pressure on the ball and knot behind it. You also have to be fairly accurate on placing the ball behind the cleat.

However, for pictures as requested, here are a few. Not vey good as I took them with my MacBook's Photo Booth - the only camera I have !

End caps yet to be attached to pole. Also with experience, I may just use a fixed loop so I don't have to run the line back to the winch.
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Old 14-05-2012, 08:42   #5
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Re: Single handed docking aid

I love the idea of docking from the mid cleate. I think my boat would swallow the ball while slowing down. But a loop on a pole kinda like a big snake stick? That may be the ticket.
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Old 14-05-2012, 08:51   #6
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Re: Single handed docking aid

More expensive - but it works well, I use one of these.

Which is not to say that the idea developed by the OP is not a very very good idea. I just didnt think of it.

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Old 14-05-2012, 09:18   #7
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Re: Single handed docking aid

Cut a piece of 3/4" pvc pipe to length, pass a dockline through it, tie a bowline in the end, and you're done.
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Old 15-05-2012, 18:27   #8
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Re: Single handed docking aid

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Originally Posted by SVNeko View Post
Cut a piece of 3/4" pvc pipe to length, pass a dockline through it, tie a bowline in the end, and you're done.
Yes, could work also, but the thing I like about my method is that:

a) I'm distributing the "pull" over four places: mid-cleat on the boat, the dock cleat, and then back again to a fairlead on the gunnel, and then finally to the winch. The above methods, from what I can see is that they are only distributing the "pull" over two places: mid-cleat on boat and mid-cleat on dock. And there is no de-accleration strain; it's loose, then it's bang tight. With my method, there is a de-acceleration process, as the dock mid-cleat pulls the line tighter, the boat is still allowed to move forward somewhat. I have some concern that I don't rip out the dock's cleat !!

b) Once I've dropped the big loop onto the dock, I know FOR SURE it will get captured by the dock mid-cleat, and I can walk back to the winch, without worrying about it, which is right close to the cockpit, from where if necessary, I can do further actions to slow down the boat or whatever else needs to be done. If you're anything like me, there's lots of things happening as I approach the dock ! The other methods suggested need more skill IMO and maybe more time to ACCURATELY place the ball or loop around the dock cleat as you are approaching it or passing it. Not necessarily easy if the boat is pitching up and down !

Whatever. I feel pleased that I've had other methods of single handed docking described. Let everyone choose whatever they are more comfortable with or suits their needs.

Thanks everyone for your replies.
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Old 15-05-2012, 18:38   #9
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Re: Single handed docking aid

Thanks Macbeth!!

I think I will try that one. My vessel is 19,000 lbs and I use a hard 6" marking ball.

Thanks for sharing

Cheers
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Old 16-05-2012, 14:27   #10
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Re: Single handed docking aid

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caribsailors View Post
I use something similar to this method...I'm reversing in...but works...I'm moving to a new dock and bow in will be the method used.


the new model...

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