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Old 11-06-2012, 11:46   #46
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

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Originally Posted by decatur1945 View Post
Decided to take some advice from this board and take my boat out and practice backing. I have a Cape Dory 27, semi full keel. Yesterday was a good day to try since there was very little wind.

So, I motor out and put it in neutral until I have no way on. Go into reverse and hold the tiller amidship. As expected it starts to back to the port, however, no matter how much I put the tiller over to port (I'm kind of dyslexic so I might have this backward, as I sit here at work recollecting) it continues to back to port. So, I stop again. Put it in reverse and put the tiller a little to port and it backs to starboard, but.... it continues to back to starboard regardless of what I do with the tiller.

After probably 5 or 7 different attempts, I cannot make the boat back in a straight line!!!!! All I did was back in circles. I'm sure other boats were wondering what the hell I might be doing, at lease no one called the Coast Guard to come and save me! Other boat traffic started to pick up as foks were returning from the bay, so I motored back in trying to figure out what I did wrong.
Well, I'm confused since you say it went two different directions. The only way to fight prop walk is really to stop the walking part. You need to give it a HARD blast of reverse thrust, to get moving in reverse and then stop the rotation of the prop and let the rudder and momentum carry you rearward, steering with the rudder.

You may have to repeat this a few times, but Hard thrust then stop, then steer.

Some boats it might not even be possible to steer with the rudder much. In those cases it's HARD reverse to get momentum, and then a short forward bast over the rudder to correct your steering but not hard enough to stop your momentum... often repeated many times. does that make sense?
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:54   #47
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

when i dock my 35 ericson i take the bow and stern lines to the waist of the boat, midshipsish, and affix them in a not secrue but available fashion. i approach dock verry slooowly. when i am the distance from the dock i can walk sans juming, i step onto dock and tie bow and stern. i dono tusually dock forlong term, but i have to dock her annually for uscg safety checks.
my formosa is huge to dock, and i usually find a line catcher fo that one. i toss midships line and then bow and stern comes after bow --i usually step off boat with tern line and affix it meself, as the others are being done. my midships lines are for springs.
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:22   #48
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

Coming into our home slip is a breeze. Come straight into the slip @ about 1kt. when the bow reaches the end shift to reverse.

Boat slows as the bow catcher line stop and holds the bow in the middle. Meanwhile the prop walk has gently pivoted the port stern up to the dock. I reach through the lifelines, pick up the line and make it fast. All the while I literally have not gotten out of my seat..I then shut down the diesel and with my boat hook I go around and retrieve the other three dock lines.

No one ever has to jump off our boat when we dock...Never have never will...

Away from home, Well. that's a whole different ball of wax...Usually involves lots of running around...
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Old 11-06-2012, 13:28   #49
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

backing into a slip with a full keel boat with a barn door rudder can get exciting. As others have said you have to get the way on and then shift to neutral to allow the rudder to overcome propwalk. When backing in a fairway, I'll use short thrusts back neutral and forward as need be to get the angle of the boat right for the dock.

If the wind is up I'll dock bow in as its just tons easier. Like zee, I'll have my dock lines on the boat in the middle so I can easily girlhandle the boat at the dock. Fun when the winds are up 20 knots and the finger is windward.

Practice, practice. One day you'll be able to do it without fenders with 20 knots side wind
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Old 11-06-2012, 13:48   #50
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

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Originally Posted by decatur1945 View Post
Decided to take some advice from this board and take my boat out and practice backing. I have a Cape Dory 27, semi full keel. Yesterday was a good day to try since there was very little wind.
[...]
so I motored back in trying to figure out what I did wrong.
First test is to make some way in reverse, no problem if it's a circle or not, and then put the gearbox in neutral again and see if you can steer straight then. You really should be able to go straight then, especially if it is with the stern into the wind.

If that worked, then try this: just before coming to a stop from forward, steer to port so that the boat is pointing 50-60 degrees too far to port. Now put the rudder midships again and put the engine in 3/4 reverse (full-on). As soon as the prop walk has turned the boat so far that it is pointing straight again, put the engine in neutral and steer the stern (always turn around facing the stern) a bit to starboard (your left looking aft). As the stern starts to move that way, correct with a blast of reverse with the engine again, which wants to put the stern to port (your right). As soon as it's straight, you put the engine back in neutral. This is the fail-safe method for any boat that one doesn't know well enough.

When that all works, you can use that technique to start going in reverse and then, when some decent reverse speed is gained, find a throttle setting that matches a slight correction with the rudder. If you find it, you can use that but remember it all changes with the speed of the boat, so wind will also change things. Some boats will never allow this and always need the short bursts of reverse thrust followed by neutral.

Just to make sure... ... when going in reverse, always turn around to face the stern. Now, if you have a steering wheel, steer like a car, turn left for stern left etc. For a tiller, think of it as the barrel of a gun and look along it's length and align/aim it where you want to go; when the stern moves, correct so that the tiller keeps aimed at your target. You should be moving it slowly back to midships that way, which is the right way. Expect high forces on it so use muscles to keep it under control. If it starts overpowering you, put engine in neutral without letting go the tiller.
I know you do it right but there's many who will read this and I see people steering the wrong way in more than 50% of the time that I observe boats (but I only observe when I feel it's gonna be a show )

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 11-06-2012, 15:37   #51
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

The OP asked about docking and mooring. Most of the techniques described in the 4 pages before are fine, especially the emphasis on using a mid ship cleat for a MONOHULL. Docking a catamaran is a bit different and usually easier with widely separated twin screws. You don't need to worry about prop walk but windage is more of a concern. I normally back into slips so I approach them from down wind, using rudder and forward engine as necessary to steer into the slip.

To catch a mooring buoy single handed, getting lined up dead down wind/current of the mooring is essential. Then motor slowly up to the buoy, adjusting RPM to be barely moving for the last half boat length. When the pendant is within reach of your boat hook, shift to neutral, walk forward, catch the pendant, and moor. Except in really strong wind, forward momentum should carry the boat toward the buoy long enough for you to catch the pendant and run your mooring line through it.

This past solo season, I successfully caught the buoy first try 7 of 8 times. The one miss was partly because a gust from the side hit just as I was heading forward and partly because the mooring line was not faked down cleanly on the trampoline (inadequate preparation).
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Old 11-06-2012, 16:20   #52
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

Well, you can imagine how confused I was! However, your explanation makes a lot of sense and that was the one tactic I didn't try. Thanks!
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Old 11-06-2012, 16:20   #53
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

Traditional full keel boats tend to be difficult to back down, whereas a lot of modern designs can steer in reverse as well as in forward. Small movements of the rudder off center tend to be more effective than larger ones.

There is one advantage to heavy, full keel boats: once they are moving (in either direction) they tend to carry on. So one trick to keep in mind is to use forward gear to steer, as the prop wash over the rudder is very effective. So, for example, if you are backing down and the stern starts to pull to port and the rudder can't counter it (tiller to port) then swing the tiller to starboard and give a short pulse of the engine in forward. Done right this will swing the stern in line without reducing speed very much. Give it a try next time.

Greg
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Old 11-06-2012, 16:29   #54
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

Ooops- didn't see the 4th page. So others use the same technique... It really does work. I would just add that it is a lot easier if it is done slowly- build up too much speed and you may not be able to respond fast enough in a tight place.
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Old 13-06-2012, 07:52   #55
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

Royal Yachting Association in the UK has an excellent series of videos. I you are docking long side against a dock with a heavy wind against you, you are seriously hampered if you are single-handed. But.... Pick a place with a clamp or something you can loop a line over without having to get off the boat. Have you line, rigged to a forward lead ready. Bring the boat all the way in to the dock bows first, balancing it with you engine against the wind (good idea to have a fender rigged horizontally on the bow). Quick as a flash. put your engine in neutral, run up to the bow, loop the line around the cleat on the dock, and bring the bitter end back to the cockpit with you. Drop it around a winch.

Now you have the boat tied to the dock by the bow. Let out some of the line, until you are say 10-15 feet from the dock, put the wheel hard over and put the engine in forward. YOur boat will now sail "around the spring line" and you will end up lying right alongside the dock. Have your aft and center lines ready and you can tie these up. Your boat is now docked and you can arrange the lines as tightly or loosely as you want.

A bit scary the first time you try it - do it one day when it doesn't matter if you catch it right on the first try

By the way - Captain Jack Klange videos are first rate!
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Old 14-06-2012, 21:45   #56
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
Royal Yachting Association in the UK has an excellent series of videos. I you are docking long side against a dock with a heavy wind against you, you are seriously hampered if you are single-handed. But.... Pick a place with a clamp or something you can loop a line over without having to get off the boat. Have you line, rigged to a forward lead ready. Bring the boat all the way in to the dock bows first, balancing it with you engine against the wind (good idea to have a fender rigged horizontally on the bow). Quick as a flash. put your engine in neutral, run up to the bow, loop the line around the cleat on the dock, and bring the bitter end back to the cockpit with you. Drop it around a winch.

Now you have the boat tied to the dock by the bow. Let out some of the line, until you are say 10-15 feet from the dock, put the wheel hard over and put the engine in forward. YOur boat will now sail "around the spring line" and you will end up lying right alongside the dock. Have your aft and center lines ready and you can tie these up. Your boat is now docked and you can arrange the lines as tightly or loosely as you want.

A bit scary the first time you try it - do it one day when it doesn't matter if you catch it right on the first try

By the way - Captain Jack Klange videos are first rate!
??? This sounds horrible!
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Old 14-06-2012, 22:11   #57
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Re: Single-handed docking procedures

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Coming into our home slip is a breeze. Come straight into the slip @ about 1kt. when the bow reaches the end shift to reverse.

Boat slows as the bow catcher line stop and holds the bow in the middle. Meanwhile the prop walk has gently pivoted the port stern up to the dock. I reach through the lifelines, pick up the line and make it fast. All the while I literally have not gotten out of my seat..I then shut down the diesel and with my boat hook I go around and retrieve the other three dock lines.

No one ever has to jump off our boat when we dock...Never have never will...

Away from home, Well. that's a whole different ball of wax...Usually involves lots of running around...

I have two docking aids. I don't have a true "bow catcher" line, but I do have a line running at an angle from the seawall to the rear piling. That keeps the boat from being blown into the boat to my south when the wind is from the north. A finger dock is to port so I don't have to worry about south winds.

The other thing I have is a double-ended spring line which runs down the port side from rear piling to the seawall. In the middle there's a figure-8 loop. In that loop is a carabiner.

Then on my toe rail I have a harp latch. I bring the boat into the slip, using reverse as necessary to stay off the sea wall. Then all I have to do is make the short walk to that harp latch and attach the spring line carabiner to it. The boat is now secure. It can't go into the sea wall, it can't go back out of the slip, and the very tender bow can't swing into the next slip. I can take my time with the rest of the lines.

I prefer it when no one "helps" me dock.
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Old 15-06-2012, 11:21   #58
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Re: Single-handed Docking Procedures

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Originally Posted by Tim - Blind Squirrel View Post
The technique that I use, and is used by many professional captains, involves one well placed spring line.

Run a very long spring line from your dock side jib winch, through a block that is exactly midship, to a dock cleat that is near where the stern of the boat will be. The spring line should have a loop in one end. If you don't have a permanant block midships, rig a temporary snatch block on the rail.

As I approach the dock I drop the loop of the spring line with a boat hook on a cleat that will be near the stern of the boat when docked. You then turn your rudder as if you were turning away from the dock, put your boat in forward gear at idle speed, then start cranking on the winch. The winch will pull the boat to the dock, keeping the boat parallel to the dock. Once you are very close to the dock you can casually step off the boat and attach bow and stern lines. The boat will stay on the spring line, parallel to the dock without other lines, as long as you don't run out of fuel.

This technique is used by many ferries and tourist boats that come and go quickly from the dock. Keeping the rudder turned away from the dock with the boat in gear will keep the boat stationary and stable. Prop walk has no effect on the boat since you are not using reverse. I have used this technique extensively on my boats and it has never failed. It will take a little practice, but even in strong cross winds it worked from me. I have a spring line that is one and a half times the length of my boat. It is even easier to use if you happen to have some crew along for the day. Quick, easy, and no yelling.
This post bears repeating. It is exactly the procedure I use to dock solo, so it is inheritly correct. (LOL)
But really, this is the best way to do it I know of. Nothing matches it for consistency.
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Old 18-06-2012, 18:51   #59
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Re: Single-handed Docking Procedures

senormechanic wrote:
"put the stern to the point where it was stable between the current and wind and left it in idle reverse."

YES! I couldn't agree more. I can never understand why people persist in trying to keep the bow of a conventional sailboat into the wind when holding position under motor. It's like picking a fight at a peace conference.


David O J wrote: (and others corroborated)
"...visit some deepwater moorings and use the vacant mooring bouys as "target practice"
This is great advice for anyone, I believe, especially for those who need to quickly get to know a new vessel's habits, and and essential for single handers.

But here's one you can only practice against a dock.
Someone else wrote about 'backing against a spring when pinned' to leave a leeward dock.
The bigger the boat, the more important it is to be able to do this, and for a singlehander, if you have to do this under adverse circumstances, you would preferably have some failsafe way of tripping the spring from near the helm. I feel it's risky relying on one half of a doubled spring to pull through multiple fairleads and a dock cleat or (worse) eyebolt without it whipping around something, developing a deathgrip, and buggering things up. I've only ever had it happen twice, but that was 2x too many.

Ever since then I always take with me, on big boats, a maxi-boat snapshackle (one of those ones the size of a child's fist) with integral eye, which can be rigged with the spring line doubled (ie middled) through the eye.
A light line is middled through the trigger hole of the shackle and both ends hitched to the springline, close by one side of the shackle.

To depart a lee dock when alongside in a decent breeze: This snapshackle is then clipped to an eyebolt on the dock, or failing that I make up a 'disposable' loop of offcut rope or webbing to cow-hitch to a cleat, and clip the snapshackle to that.

Usual deal: big fender near the bow, cast off all shorelines except the bow spring, motor ahead with enough power to rotate the stern towards the wind, then cast off one end of the spring. If the snapshackle jams, the tripping line will break and you're still no worse off than you would have been slipping a doubled springline through an eyebolt.
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Old 18-06-2012, 19:06   #60
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Re: Single-handed Docking Procedures

Never had a problem. Come in slow; have the docking lines ready, and don't do it with strong winds/currents working against you without help.
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