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Old 19-12-2013, 17:49   #46
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

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Originally Posted by LesleyS View Post
Best description of my Morgan 416 yet. Thanks, Matt. I'm stealing that one
Ah, a fellow freeboard sufferer. Easy group to identify, they are the ones whose boats float away in a strong wind WITH the jetty finger still attached. I am actually about to head down to the marina to retrieve what is left of the last bump bag that the boat ate and spat out.

Matt
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Old 20-12-2013, 09:20   #47
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Yes. Practice against the softer sort of buoy, and then against a right-sized seawall first. My favourite technique is to just do a tight "S" to kill speed and to employ a downhaul on the jib.

Once aimed, don't be afraid to abandon the helm and keep a midships line in one hand and a boat hook in the other.
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Old 23-12-2013, 16:10   #48
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Hello, I too have my boat on an end tie and have a few suggestions that might help you. I feel one should know how to dock his boat singlehanded as an extreme safety precaution. My first suggestion is to have your bow and stern lines long enough to be able to hop onto the dock and be able to grab and grip both of them, with enough line to go from either the forward or aft cleat on the dock. This way as you are tying off either cleat you still have the other end of the boat in your control.

Also, since you are on an end slip you can tie off with a lot of slack line. Your boat might move away from the dock but you can easily pull it back to the dock.

Also, rather than furling you sails all the way, especially 300 feet away, try furling them a little bit at a time and just releasing the sails before hopping onto the dock, turn your wheel toward the dock with the boat still in forward motion. Hop off grab both lines and quickly tie off the stern. Your boat should swing the bow towards the dock as you walk forward with your line in hand to tie it off.

And always keep in mind. One should always aproach the dock at the speed in which one intends to hit it.
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Old 23-12-2013, 16:49   #49
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

you're really asking 2 questions:
1) best way to sail into your slip without power
2) best way to stop and tie up singlehanded

i do both with my 38 sloop.
like you, i always keep my engine running, and view the process as a challenge to prepare myself for the day my engine is unavailable.

entering your slip under sail is all about practicing control and knowing the details of your slip and marina. just keep practicing.

stopping and tying up singlehanded i have found to be extremely easy to do singlehanded with a single line running from a bow cleat, to a stern cleat, outside all lifelines, and with enough slack that i can "wrangle" the bow and stern from the dock, using this single line.
if you have the right length of line (about 50 feet for my 38 foot boat) you can have good control of both ends of the boat during entry and exit, and can hook the line around dock cleats while you tie/untie your real docklines.

when entering the slip, you pull up and jump off the boat, holding your single bow/stern line, and wrangle the boat gently into place, temp-tie using the line, and tie up.
exiting is easy too. just the opposite.

i suggest practicing the sailing-in, and the "bow/stern wrangle" separately, then combine when you feel good with both.

good luck!
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Old 23-12-2013, 17:53   #50
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

I did it once when the engine failed. I sailed up to the slip, turned the boat and then backed her into the slip. I thank god that the wind was steady and calm and allowed be to use the staysail to back her in. Once I got her 25 or 30% back in, i ran from the bow to catch lines and pull her in the rest of the way. My heart was thumping and my mouth was dry! But I did it! I hope never to have to back into a slip without an engine again. Pulling up along side a dock under sail power is okay, but backing into a slip is a completely different experience!
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Old 26-12-2013, 14:14   #51
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Just a fun docking under sail story.
Although I sailed into docks with smaller boats (28-30') before I had to sail into a difficult to approach fuel dock once with a bigger boat (38') when I found my fuel gauge had failed when I ran out of diesel.
I just used the main, with the mainsheet unclipped for easy release, had my daughter hold the mainsheet and had the dock line ready to deploy, with one in my hand to jump onto the dock with. Told her to drop and back the main as soon as we got to the dock and I would jump off with the line to secure it. Unfortunately she was 14 at the time, the fuel boy on the dock was cute and her concentration was diverted, I jumped on the dock with the line in hand, the dog followed, she forgot to drop the main while smiling at the fuel boy, and the boat started to sail away without me, while my soon to be ex-wife freaked out.
I had to run the length of the dock and jump about 6 feet onto the deck of the boat and try it again, while the dog stood on the dock wagging his tail.
Needless to say, my daughter didn't mess up the second time, the look on my face was enough, I didn't have to say a word.
Moral of the story? If your docking under sail, make sure all involved know exactly what to do and when to do it. I'm not as athletic at this age as I was then, making that leap from the dock to the deck would take few weeks to recover from now.
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Old 26-12-2013, 18:53   #52
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Absolutely possible. You just need to know the boat and the dock area well. Many marinas/docks have quirky localized winds due to structures, boats, land masses...get to know them.

There are of course some locations that are just not viable to sail into, like complex channels and or well protected marinas with no wind, but given a reasonable situation it is quite doable. If your regular slip is difficult then chose a landing spot which is easier...this gives you a plan B should you lose power on the way in.

Practice ahead of time, in easy conditions, with the engine running and ready if needed. Good skill to have for when the engine craps out. Having your routine down well ahead of time makes this much less error prone.

I used to put my 37', 20,000LB, mono it its slip under sail on a regular basis single handed. She sailed great and the slip was favorably positioned...bow to wind in prevailing conditions. The biggest issue I had was newbies on the dock who wanted to "help". As long as I spotted them early and told them to stand down all went well. The regulars would just wave as I coasted by...usually just under stay sail.

Also used to work for a small charter company whose boats were not in the best of condition and engine failure was common. Sailing back into their regular slips was not viable, but the fuel dock and transient slips were reasonable. Used to put mid sized monos in there regularly...became almost a routine event for the fuel dock crew who would stand by calmy to take lines. Good practice.

There are of course also boats which are not very practical to dock under sail. A Lagoon 500 I sometimes captain comes to mind. Great boat for charters, sails pretty well in open water, but close quarters handling under sail is not her strong suit. Fortunately losing both engines is not very likely.

This is however a situation where a good responsive ketch rig can be a real joy...a mizzen sail is quite handy in close quarters.
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Old 27-12-2013, 02:42   #53
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Gotta get back to the OP here,

It CAN be done! Practice and moving quickly are the clues. You can solve it.

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Old 27-12-2013, 19:02   #54
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It depends on the boat, slip,current, wind and the sailor.
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Old 28-12-2013, 01:52   #55
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Who ever solved anything by failing to persevere?
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Old 16-05-2015, 07:56   #56
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

I used to singlehand a Cheoy Lee OS36. The old Gray Marine was unreliable - when I needed it the most (like in docking!). So I got to be pretty good at docking into a slip under sail. And early on I had a "secret". This was a length of 3/4" nylon line that I loosely tied between the two finger piers about 2/3rds of the way into the slip. This acted as a "brake" that would stop the boat from ramming into the head of the pier.

So, the first thing to do is furl the headsail; go under main, letting the main luff to bring the boat speed down to about 1.5 to 2 knots. About 2 boat lengths from turning into the slip, run forward and drop the main and the boats momentum was usually enough to make the turn.

The OS36 was a full keeled heavy boat and the inertia was enough to accommodate the turn and the nylon line would stop the boat from going any further than about 6 feet from the end of the slip. With a handy boat-hook, pick up the windward aft dockline and secure it. Then go forward for the windward bow line (the nylon "brake", under stretch, as it is absorbing what is left of the boat speed will hold the bow in the center of the slip long enough to get to and secure the forward windward dockline. Then grab and secure the other mooring lines.

The key is to have enough speed to have steerage-way. Every boat is different. And heavy deep keel boats are probably more stable on course at low speeds than light fin keeled boats.


The tactics differ for wind direction in reference to the dock. But I've probably typed enough to put you asleep already. The key is the heavy line that stops your bow from slamming into the head of the slip.
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Old 16-05-2015, 09:46   #57
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

I agree with Anne. Did in my Compac 23, My Catalina 27 and now my Valiant 40. Just be willing to learn and have someone along or at dock for a while. Use the midship cleat, or tie off somewhere in midship and a boat hook with a loop. Works for me
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Old 16-05-2015, 23:04   #58
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

My old 1974 Grampian 30 had intermittent engine (atomic 4) problems (reverse rarely worked) and I had to sail her into dock from time to time. I almost always single handed her.

If I was coming in and I couldn't coax the a4 to life, my first strategy was to try and find an easier dock than my normal slip, I used the fuel dock more than once. Once alongside I would try and get my engine started or recruit some help. If no help was available I'd develop a plan based on wind conditions or line handling options.

I never attempted using my main sail, always used my self furling Genoa- there was no way to drop my main from the cockpit.

As I am primarily a single hander, my first line out is is a spring that I can get to easily, midship spring on my current centre cockpit 35 or from a stern cleat on my previous G30.
I kept the speed up on my G30 to maintain steerage, sometimes I'd smoke the dock in front of me, but the tough G30 would take the hit no problem.

I've never had to sail my 24000 lb 35' into dock (my ancient Perkins is awesome), but I don't think I'd enjoy it very much. I would look for an alternative, like an open wall or fuel dock and reposition when conditions permitted.

I am confused by the statements by people who step or jump off their boats while single handing. If you're on the dock, who's controlling the boat? Just lasso a cleat, dock corner, piling or whatever from the boat. Use the friction of the running line to control your speed. I would never consider stepping off a boat I didn't already have secured in some fashion.

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Old 23-06-2015, 17:49   #59
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Here's how it's done!

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Old 23-06-2015, 19:16   #60
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Jd1,

If your boat doesn't have one, fit a midship cleat to it, with backing plates. Then make up a "brake line" that you can pick up from the dock and drop over the cleat. Then, if it goes haywire, just put the engine in fwd, and give it rudder to turn the boat towards the dock. The brake line becomes taught, and stops the boat, and the boat comes side to, straight. When it stops, keep the engine ahead dead slow, and take your bow and stern lines ashore, and secure them. Finally get back aboard and kill the engine, and you're set.
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