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Old 17-06-2013, 11:21   #31
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Re: Single-handed docking help

My wife and I have been using our very own fool-proof method for several years which doesn’t involve being in a hurry, winches, jumping etc…. no special equipment.
It’s simple…. 1) Make a big loop out of a 14-16 ft rope incorporating one of those large dock, solid rubber bungy things. 2) Tie part of it to your mid-ship cleat. 3) Approach the dock cleat at a 90 degree angle slowly, yet fast enough to retain steering. 4) Turn sharply just prior to hitting dock so that loop is adjacent to dock. 5) Engine in reverse as boat gently nudges dock broadside, then back into neutral. 6) Drop large loop onto dock cleat using bungy as a pole. 7) Return to cockpit at a leisurely pace. 8) Place engine in forward gear at idle and steer tiller away from dock. 9) Your boat is secure against the dock, step down at your leisure onto dock and secure lines while engine idles in forward gear.



Check out Captain Ron's docking on youtube for a demo. Ours is kind of like a modified Captain Ron docking procedure. If I can parallel park a 54 ft boat between two other boats with only a couple of feet on either end all by myself.... you can do it! Just practice on a nice day with the dock all to yourself until you build up some confidence. Good luck.
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Old 17-06-2013, 11:45   #32
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Originally Posted by Tenedos View Post
Thanks. It is a 32 foot sailboat, Catalina 320. I am inserting a diagram here:

After seeing the diagram... and assuming the 320 is an aft-cockpit... and depending on location of your midship cleats (the ones on the boat, assuming you have one/some)... ... and if I understand what you're trying to do... I think I'd be inclined to try docking stern-to in that situation.

Start with a line already attached to your midship cleat and run back to the cockpit and within easy reach.

Approach the dock, swing the bow to starboard, back down close to that outer cleat -- and ideally without having to leave the cockpit -- loop that pre-positioned line over the cleat.

Hold that line fast (take a turn around a winch or something) as you continue to back into the slip. The port side of your boat will be drawn up against the dock.

Gradually pay out some of that line -- which has become a forward spring, with the working part being that which is running from your midship cleat to the dock cleat -- as you gradually back further into the slip.

Once you're happy with the location, tie off your spring line, leave the engine idling in gear, step off, go have lunch and a couple beers, wander back at your leisure to apply the rest of your lines

The reason I mentioned positioning of your midship cleat(s) is because that could affect your pivot point. If the cleat is ahead of the widest part of the boat, the spring action coupled with your rub rail at the widest point may draw the bow in -- and kick the stern out -- in a way that puts your neighbor at risk. Or vice versa, if the cleat is aft of the widest part of the boat, spring action plus rub rail at widest point could instead draw the stern in and therefore kick your bow out, again with neighbor at risk.

Or you may be able to do all that same stuff with a stern cleat on your boat. Depends one curvature of your hull form; too much force at the stern, while the widest point of the boat is up against the dock, may pull your stern in too far -- kicking the bow outward -- but that could be worth an experiment, as well. You can also experiment with the rudder, a bit, to maybe counteract any tendency for either bow or stern to head south.

A few others have suggested the opposite, using an aft spring line to dock bow-to. I think the mechanics of that are equally easy, but I also think that probably forces you leave the cockpit to get the line attached to the cleat on the dock, unless you're motoring into the slip with some substantial way on... and substantial way while dock is usually not so good

-Chris
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Old 17-06-2013, 11:49   #33
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Re: Single-handed docking help

I sail single-handed most of the time. For the reasons you mentioned, and others, I find the midship cleat approach to be somewhat less than ideal (at my usual docks). I prefer the following.

1. I come in stern-to with enough momentum that I have steerage. Coming in stern-to allows me to stop in a shorter distance (important later) than coming head-in. How much speed you will need will depend on the conditions. When my boat used to be at Miami Beach Marina, if the tide was running out I had almost two knots of current running in to the slip, I had to come in at over 2 knots to have steerage...scary;

2. transmission in neutral about 1/3 of the way in;

3. this sounds simple, but it really is the most important thing to concentrate on: when you are almost to the seawall or main dock (4-6 feet), use forward bursts of the engine to stop the boat WITHOUT INDUCING FORWARD MOMENTUM. This is why you want to come in stern-to, the boat will stop a lot quicker. Once you stop the boat fully, you pretty much have it made, even with the wind blowing across the slip, and you'll have time to think;

4. throw or drop (dropping is easier) a looped line around a dock cleat aft of the boat (the upwind side if you have a crosswind), secure it to the stern cleat on the same side of the boat (or have it tied off already, that's what I do), then give a few bursts of forward throttle. Once the boat STARTS to move forward, use idle speed to cozy up alongside. Your boat will sit there for as long as you like.

I put a midship breast line on next, then all my other lines. This has always worked well for me, on a finger dock or alongside.

One other really important thing: don't panic. I know it's scary sometimes. Just focus on bringing your boat to a complete stop inside the slip, and your comfort level will skyrocket. pete
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Old 17-06-2013, 12:48   #34
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Originally Posted by Tenedos View Post
Thanks. It is a 32 foot sailboat, Catalina 320. I am inserting a diagram here:

I had a slip like that once. Best advice I can give it to get a better slip, preferably an upwind slip with a finger pier between you and the neighbors.
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Old 17-06-2013, 13:01   #35
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Re: Single-Handed Docking Help

AnOther technique is to motor up to the end of the dock, port side to the end. Now drop your midcleat line over the end cleat on the dock. Put your boat in reverse and just let it coast around and into the slip. Since you have a line on, your boat cannot be pushed over to your neighbor
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Old 17-06-2013, 13:34   #36
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Re: Single-Handed Docking Help

If it is 'your' dock, you can leave a lazy line on a rod. Then you do not have to get all the way to the dock to grab the cleat.

b.
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Old 17-06-2013, 13:38   #37
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Originally Posted by pete33458 View Post
1. I come in stern-to with enough momentum that I have steerage. Coming in stern-to allows me to stop in a shorter distance (important later) than coming head-in.
For getting in reverse, I think the position of the dock is really bad for that. I have the prop walk pushing the stern to port in reverse and the wind pushes the bow to starboard, so the boat spins very quickly towards starboard when I back in to the slip. Do I miss something here?
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Old 17-06-2013, 13:40   #38
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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I had a slip like that once. Best advice I can give it to get a better slip, preferably an upwind slip with a finger pier between you and the neighbors.
I agree and I am temporary in this marina but the marina is so ideally located that I don't want to move out quickly. If I had the location of the powerboat that sits next to me instead, it would have been MUCH easier. I could simply come along the dock and the wind would push me on to the dock and the fenders would touch touch. It is the windward side that makes it painful.
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Old 18-06-2013, 05:31   #39
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Originally Posted by Tenedos View Post
For getting in reverse, I think the position of the dock is really bad for that. I have the prop walk pushing the stern to port in reverse and the wind pushes the bow to starboard, so the boat spins very quickly towards starboard when I back in to the slip. Do I miss something here?

I think a forward spring line from that end cleat on the dock to your midships cleat -- with you adjusting the length accordingly from the cockpit as the boat moves -- will control your whole boat as you make the reverse turn into the slip. (See also carstenb post #35.) In essence, you'd be laying your port side rub rail up again the outer dock pile, and simply warping around that, even with constant contact if you choose.

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Old 18-06-2013, 05:38   #40
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Re: Single-Handed Docking Help

A suggestion that goes into the "general" category about working your engine against a line: the closer the point of attachment on the boat (either the chock or cleat) is to the propeller and rudder, the less effective it will be. The farther you can separate the line from the propeller/rudder, the more good it's going to do you.
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Old 18-06-2013, 05:40   #41
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Re: Single-Handed Docking Help

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
AnOther technique is to motor up to the end of the dock, port side to the end. Now drop your midcleat line over the end cleat on the dock. Put your boat in reverse and just let it coast around and into the slip. Since you have a line on, your boat cannot be pushed over to your neighbor
Because you will have the port side to the dock, when you put it into reverse, you will be using your propwalk to turn the boat into the slip. With the line held tight, your boat will have no choice but to turn in a n arc with the dockcleat in the center of the half circle.

This is the easiest way to get into this slip. You can do it single-handed and you will never fail, because you will have all the time in the world, when laying at the end of the dock. Matter of fact, here you can make and leave a line on the dock, sail up, grab it with a boat hook, fix it to your midship cleat, flip the engine into reverse and your boat rolls into the slip perfectly by itself.

Everyone on the docks will be applauding
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Old 18-06-2013, 05:41   #42
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Not in front of me, I have a dock in front of me :-) There is a power boat on the lee side of my dock. So the moment I miss the line on the dock, my boat is pushed very quickly (15 kt wind is not unusual, that's what I had today) onto that power boat and I lose my contact with the dock.

Ohhhh. I have THAT problem too -- as I've said here, lots of freeboard, boat sails just on her freeboard.

Stout line running from the stern piling on an angle to a front dock. The bow can only swing so far over away from the fingerdock.

Some people actually put a rope V in the front of their slip that acts like gutters for a bowling ball, but I didn't bother with that. I put up a line down the starboard side so my boat can't be pushed into the next slip. It's a particular problem for me at the stern because all the slips here are 40' long but my boat is 31'.

It works really well also.

It has to be above the water.
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Old 18-06-2013, 05:45   #43
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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I would not be in favor of using a carabiner. First, getting it on can be a problem, I don't like to be trying to steer, managing the throttle, and holding a boat hook and carabiner at the same time.

Second, once hooked on, you have no bail out. If for some reason you decide to abort, you're hooked and can't easily get out.

From your drawing, I would suggest doing more or less what you have been doing, but instead of tying a loop in your line, tie one end to your own midship cleat and the other end to your winch. Now you have a looped line, which is much easier to drop over the dock cleat furthest out on the slip.

With that sidewind, you'll have to come in hot in order to keep steerage. Since you're showing your prop walk, I'll assume your boat has a lot of prop walk. Mine used to until I changed the prop. Now I still have prop walk, but it is a lot less and now is manageable.

If you'll pardon the pun, getting the carabiner is a snap, but that's the finger dock side.

A line above the waterline on the other side prevents drift. Doing this I do NOT have to come in "hot," which I personally don't recommend because things can go wrong with transmissions. I have a friend who did that, and one nut slipped off a cable ... and she had no ability to shift gears. The old rule about not coming in any faster than you want to hit the dock is good advice.

Using a carabiner is incompatible with coming in fast, but there's no need to and a large, unnecessary risk.
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Old 18-06-2013, 05:47   #44
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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I like the idea but am also wary of the carabiner fumble. How about just having a LARGE loop on the dock line that will be easier to pass your midship line thru real quick and haul up the slack to your midship cleat. If you need to abort, it would be an easy thing to cast off the line rather than release a carabiner under tension.
More thoughts?

There is no carabiner fumble if you work it out carefully ahead of time. If I could do it when I had four months' experience handling my first boat, I bet the reader can.

NEVER missed. Biggest problem I had was others trying to help too much.

But you do have to be willing to come in slowly, and a line running down the other side to keep the boat off its neighbor is also useful.
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Old 18-06-2013, 06:28   #45
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Re: Single-Handed Docking Help

All you have to do is put the bow up against the main dock, put the rudder hard over so your stearn gos against the finger dock, leave the boat in gear, adjust the engine idle so the wind doesn't blow you off, get off, tie it up, shut off the engine and readjust your lines.
Just don't hit the dock so hard you break something.
You can easily stand amidships and throw a loop at a cleat before you get off the boat to tie it off permanently.
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