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Old 16-06-2013, 21:11   #1
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Single-Handed Docking Help

I need some help on docking single-handedly. I read quite a lot on single-handed docking techniques, including the ones in this forum. I am using a line through the amidship cleat, cleat one end to the winch and make a loop on the other end. Idea is to catch the stern cleat on the dock with that loop, winching in the other end and making a full turn away (to port in this case) from the dock while in idle forward. Theory is good but doesn't quite work in practice. Here are my issues:

  • I get a cross wind pushing me away from the dock (usually around 15 kt in the marina) and the line through the amidsheep cleat does not hold the boat, the bow still gets pushed down to port (dock is on starboard and wind is blowing from there), fairly strongly
  • I also have a challenge in catching the cleat on the dock, trying to keep the boat aligned and catching the cleat at the same time doesn't work for me. I once hit the dock on the bow while trying to do both.
Cross find is really tricky, I could dock on the port side as it would be much easier, but the slip I have doesn't allow that (unless I dock reverse, which is non starter)



This really is frustrating, I don't have much issues sailing single-handedly but docking is becoming a nightmare. In all of my attempts, my boat went onto the power boat on the port side. My fenders (I have three on each side) saved me each time but this concerns me.



Any suggestions?
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Old 16-06-2013, 21:17   #2
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Re: Single-handed docking help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenedos View Post
I need some help on docking single-handedly. I read quite a lot on single-handed docking techniques, including the ones in this forum. I am using a line through the amidship cleat, cleat one end to the winch and make a loop on the other end. Idea is to catch the stern cleat on the dock with that loop, winching in the other end and making a full turn away (to port in this case) from the dock while in idle forward. Theory is good but doesn't quite work in practice. Here are my issues:

  • I get a cross wind pushing me away from the dock (usually around 15 kt in the marina) and the line through the amidsheep cleat does not hold the boat, the bow still gets pushed down to port (dock is on starboard and wind is blowing from there), fairly strongly
  • I also have a challenge in catching the cleat on the dock, trying to keep the boat aligned and catching the cleat at the same time doesn't work for me. I once hit the dock on the bow while trying to do both.
Cross find is really tricky, I could dock on the port side as it would be much easier, but the slip I have doesn't allow that (unless I dock reverse, which is non starter)



This really is frustrating, I don't have much issues sailing single-handedly but docking is becoming a nightmare. In all of my attempts, my boat went onto the power boat on the port side. My fenders (I have three on each side) saved me each time but this concerns me.



Any suggestions?

Have a short line you can attach to that midship cleat. Put a good-sized carabiner on it.

Then run a line from stern piling to forward dock cleat, with a loop in the right place to catch that carabiner. One move and you have the boat secure.

That's not a line you can use as a PERMANENT docking line. It's just to secure the boat.

Now the boat can't leave the slip; the bow can't hit what's in front of it; and it can only drift as far away from your finger dock as the line you set will allow it to.

Now you can do the rest of the lines at your leisure.

Use a good-sized carabiner so you can be sure it will catch that loop easily. You pull that long line up with a boat hook if you need to.

I do the reverse of this (no midship cleat, but a perforated toe rail) all the time, by myself. It drives all the people who come running to help me nuts.

Sailing is fairly sexist. There are a fair number of men out there who think a woman can't possibly dock the boat by herself.
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Old 16-06-2013, 21:19   #3
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Re: Single-handed docking help

+1 Rakuflames! Phil
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Old 16-06-2013, 21:53   #4
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Then run a line from stern piling to forward dock cleat, with a loop in the right place to catch that carabiner. One move and you have the boat secure.
Thanks Rakuflames. One thing I wasn't sure, do you suggest to jump off the boat to catch loop with the carabiner? Or do you suggest to catch the loop from the boat? My challenge is trying to do anything from the boat itself really. It moves away from the dock VERY quickly as soon as I move from the helm.
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Old 16-06-2013, 21:55   #5
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Re: Single-handed docking help

Another (somewhat related) question. The boat owner across my slip has one of these:

Linecatcher Dock Catcher

They are advertised for single handed docking but not sure how to use it.Would this help at all?
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Old 16-06-2013, 22:50   #6
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Originally Posted by Tenedos View Post
Thanks Rakuflames. One thing I wasn't sure, do you suggest to jump off the boat to catch loop with the carabiner? Or do you suggest to catch the loop from the boat? My challenge is trying to do anything from the boat itself really. It moves away from the dock VERY quickly as soon as I move from the helm.


There is absolutely no need to jump off the boat. Just grab the line with the boat hook and pull it up to the carabiner.

Then you can STEP off the boat.

I sometimes sail my boat by myself, so jumping off before it's secure isn't a good idea. In fact, me leaping abut isn't a good idea.

This is one thing I like about it. No acrobatics. Say you always sail with someone else, but that someone else sprains their ankle? You have to be able to get the boat in by yourself.
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Old 16-06-2013, 22:51   #7
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Originally Posted by Tenedos View Post
Another (somewhat related) question. The boat owner across my slip has one of these:

Linecatcher Dock Catcher

They are advertised for single handed docking but not sure how to use it.Would this help at all?

I dunno. I've used my method as long as I've been sailing. It's so simple, and so easy ...
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Old 16-06-2013, 22:52   #8
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Re: Single-handed docking help

Thanks, I also don't want to jump off the boat, I don't think it is ever a good idea. I am single handing more and more so this has been an issue. I will try this. I will try this next time, I hope I don't end up on the power boat again
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Old 16-06-2013, 23:02   #9
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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Thanks, I also don't want to jump off the boat, I don't think it is ever a good idea. I am single handing more and more so this has been an issue. I will try this. I will try this next time, I hope I don't end up on the power boat again

On the power boat? You have a power boat in front of you and not a dock? No barrier between you and the bow or stern of another boat?

If I understand that correctly, then I would suggest setting that loop on the long line back enough toward the stern that there's no chance of "bumping." Check how you've set it very carefully.

You'll want the line coming from the cleat long enough that it's easy to handle.

It wasn't my idea. Someone else showed it to me.
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Old 16-06-2013, 23:10   #10
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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.
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Old 16-06-2013, 23:43   #11
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Re: Single-handed docking help

I am 75+ yrs old and have been doing this for more than 50 years with almost 30 different boats. First the method used must match the boat and the dock situation including current and cross winds. So what is your boat size weight type freeboard lifelines or not and what is exact dock configuration and placement of dock and boat cleats.?? Each detail can affect the best way to handle the problem. On my last boat J/44 and now with my recent two boats J/100 and a 38 foot power boat I use backing into slip and a long line rigged from bow to stern with adequate length to cleat aft and forward. I picked up this method from watching boat yard personnel move boats around long ago. I also have my regular dock lines rigged and ready to use. When I back into the slip I keep stern close enough to step off with long line when stern is about half way in with boat almost stopped and guide the boat in with long line the rest of the way. I can pull in bow stern or both and stop boat and then fast cleat either. Then I have time to reach for the regular lines draped on boat. If you are physically or mentally unable to step off your boat single handing may not be a great idea especially with 15 k cross winds and I would not be happy being the owner of the boat next to you.
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Old 17-06-2013, 00:06   #12
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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So what is your boat size weight type freeboard lifelines or not and what is exact dock configuration and placement of dock and boat cleats.??
Thanks. It is a 32 foot sailboat, Catalina 320. I am inserting a diagram here:

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Old 17-06-2013, 00:41   #13
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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.
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Old 17-06-2013, 01:11   #14
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Re: Single-handed docking help

lots of fenders, don't look at your neighbor as you bounce along his hull if he is on board, pretend you are busy with something on the starboard side..
Loudly abuse your crew or someone nearby on the dock
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Old 17-06-2013, 01:55   #15
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Re: Single-handed docking help

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?
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