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Old 06-05-2013, 23:16   #1
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Trouble docking and leaving

Confession: New sailor, no experience with boats over 12 foot.

My boat is a full keel 23' Southcoast. Steering in reverse is near impossible, and the motor is finicky. I am having trouble both leaving and arriving at the slip. I currently only have 3 dock lines. I am willing to buy spring lines, but not sure what length based on my situation.

What is the best way to leave the slip in the illustration below? Again assuming I would buy spring lines. Today, when trying to back out, my boat weathercocked and left me facing the direction opposite the way I wanted to go. I ended up backing down the fairway and turning out once I was in forward. I have NO control in reverse. I also seem to have trouble docking.

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Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-05-2013, 00:00   #2
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

You need to know which way the prop walk is. The biggest , mistake I see on docking monos is people trying to steer against prop walk.
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Old 07-05-2013, 00:22   #3
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You need to know which way the prop walk is. The biggest , mistake I see on docking monos is people trying to steer against prop walk.
Even knowing/understanding prop walk won't save you every time! Don't ask how I know, I wouldn't want to out my hubby. But we did have to be hauled for a week while the bow was repaired. Advise, do not go faster into a slip than you want to hit the dock! The boat did not go into reverse -- that's my story and I am sticking to it!!!
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Old 07-05-2013, 00:36   #4
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I can say a feathering prop can make a huge improvement in reverse!
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Old 07-05-2013, 00:39   #5
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I can say a feathering prop can make a huge improvement in reverse!
Maybe there was a learning curve for us. Had a new MaxProp when we ran into the dock -- don't tell my husband I mentioned this though .
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Old 07-05-2013, 05:57   #6
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

I forgot to mention that my motor is set in a well and is offset to the left of center, if that changes anything
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:43   #7
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

Ocelot:

1) Your engine should not be finicky.

2) I assume you mean the prop is a fixed shaft, not an outboard, yes? Read about, understand and practice using prop walk. (See Chapman's etc.)

3) I assume you're trying to reverse out of the slip and then turn to port to leave your fairway, yes? If propwalk and rudder won't easily solve it that way, consider docking stern-to in the slip. Propwalk and rudder may make it easier to back in, and leaving may be easier too.

4) Spring lines can be your best friend, but in this diagram (assuming #3 is correct), a forward spring set to an aft cleat on the boat would have a tendency to kick your stern to port, but perhaps faster than you'd want. Depends. An aft spring doesn't look like it'd do anything to help.

5) Sometimes single-screw boats will actually steer in reverse (sorta) as speed increases. If you reverse more "enthusiastically" at first you may be able to keep the boat straight in reverse long enough to clear the slip and then make a turn to port in forward. OTOH, that might depend on width of your fairway, potential obstacles on the other side, and your ability to counteract that sternway quickly enough

-Chris
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:54   #8
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

Quote:
Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Ocelot:

1) Your engine should not be finicky.

2) I assume you mean the prop is a fixed shaft, not an outboard, yes? Read about, understand and practice using prop walk. (See Chapman's etc.)

3) I assume you're trying to reverse out of the slip and then turn to port to leave your fairway, yes? If propwalk and rudder won't easily solve it that way, consider docking stern-to in the slip. Propwalk and rudder may make it easier to back in, and leaving may be easier too.

4) Spring lines can be your best friend, but in this diagram (assuming #3 is correct), a forward spring set to an aft cleat on the boat would have a tendency to kick your stern to port, but perhaps faster than you'd want. Depends. An aft spring doesn't look like it'd do anything to help.

5) Sometimes single-screw boats will actually steer in reverse (sorta) as speed increases. If you reverse more "enthusiastically" at first you may be able to keep the boat straight in reverse long enough to clear the slip and then make a turn to port in forward. OTOH, that might depend on width of your fairway, potential obstacles on the other side, and your ability to counteract that sternway quickly enough

-Chris

Practice, practice, practice. Take the boat out for a day and motor her in reverse. You can even turn your body so you are facing the stern. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. Take a couple of racing buoys out if you have access to them, and pretend they're the dock, and ... practice. It will really pay off. If you only practice docking in the marina, your stress level while doing it will always be high (docking can be a dandy aerobic work out for your heart!) -- and we learn BADLY when under stress.

Make it easy on yourself and practice in open water. Once you have that down, then having a variable change -- current, or wind, will be much easier because how the boat handles in reverse is so familiar to you that you can adjust to changes much more easily.

Best docking advice I ever got, but only because I followed it.
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:06   #9
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

I just wrote a blog post about this because I had something to share. I've become good at this. I didn't feel like I had a chance when I went from a 19 footer with a tiller to a 39' full keeled cruiser. Here's what I've learned-How Not To Dock Your Boat. » Landfall Voyages
I hope it helps.
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:26   #10
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

It is an outboard engine, a 6hp Johnson sea horse. It sits in a well, offset left, and the rudder turns in front of the prop. I have to back out and turn to port. Nobody at our club docks stern to, so I'm not sure I can do that. The old owner said he always walked the boat out because of the poor reverse.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:23   #11
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

As Raku said - practice. Below a bit more of a general ramble on docking than OP asked for........

I personally would not bother with dropping a couple of own bouys if you have an alternative - the easiest one is a mooring field. and ideally with a bit of tidal stream and / or wind. Start messing around (in reverse, in forward - and every combination of throttle and rudder angle you can discover!).....you are not after picking up the bouy but just to see how she handles in various circumstances, you are only "using" the bouy(s) as a visual indicator of where you are (in open water will quickly lose your bearings). The only thing you have to worry about hitting is the bouy!, so can use plenty of throttle just to see what happens (albeit in a real docking I would avoid going much over walking pace, but not being scared of giving a burst of throttle is useful).......can graduate onto bouys with boats attached!

I would also then practice docking (and undocking!) at a straight pontoon (with another boat attached or not!). What you can do is have another person onboard, but whose only job is to verbally indicate distances and fend you off if things go wrong. On which note, your best freind are fenders! a least one decent sized one (a PITA to stow on a small boat), sometimes you can deliberately use it but mostly it is about reassurrance that a booboo won't cause damage.

Also want to be aware of prop cavitation - if you move too quickly from forward to reverse (and vice verce!) then the prop will not have any clean water to grip into, so little will happen! How much "too quickly" is depends on the boat / how much throttle was used - but only talking a second or 2, but waiting really makes a difference especially when you really want reverse to work as a brake!

and of course the secret to happy docking is......a gallic shrug! Everyone stuffs up a docking (in and out) now and again, usually your success' have no audience - your problems do! Success is if no one dies. No damage is also nice....anything else is a happy bonus.

At 23 foot you do have the option of muscle power, as the PO found out - sometimes the easiest solution is to walk the boat out, just make sure you can get back onboard! / are back onboard!....one last decent shove get her moving nicely. Might well find that best results are being very gentle with the power in reverse, but could also find that lots of oomph is needed - only way to find out on your boat is practice.

FWIW, on my boat I also had probs going astern from my mooring (a 4 point tidal mooring in a row of same alongside and behind - no pontoon or pilings) - I could not steer in one direction or another reliably. I settled on not bothering! by finding the position that the rudder had to be in to simply reverse in a straight line - all my turning being done going forward, the price is often a bit of to and froing on the throttle. At 30 foot and a fair bit heavier likely that windage not such a big deal as on yours, but nonetheless experimenting and practice likely will find your own answer.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:28   #12
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

Have the engine running in neutral. Untie the boat and walk her out, helping her stern go the direction you want by pulling the bow in as you walk down the finger. Scramble on board, and if your momentum has you facing out by now, exit in forward, otherwise you're going to have to use reverse till you get enough out of the pen to turn her.

What Rakuflames writes about practicing outside of the marina is absolutely correct, and all it takes is a couple of balloons, some string, and a couple of rocks. The idea is to teach yourself what your boat won't do, as well as what she will do. The lack of stress (I dont wanna crash!!!) does give you space to understand what's going on.

In addition, sometimes the prevailing breeze will help you turn the boat the way you want it to go.

If, the time you backed down the fairway, you did achieve the ability to steer, once the boat speed increased, and if you were able to go straight then, you've got the handle to begin to try to berth stern to, and it might be the answer in the long run. However, if the boat will never behave predictably in reverse (and some don't), you'll need to figure out other ways of getting out safely. If walking her out worked for the PO, it ought to work okay for you.

My two cents.

Enjoy,

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Old 07-05-2013, 09:30   #13
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

Can you reverse the tiller a full 360 degrees? If so, reverse it 180 degrees before backing out.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:36   #14
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pirate Re: Trouble docking and leaving

If the out board is not 'Fixed' meaning you can turn the tiller from side to side... I'd just lock the boat steering central.. loosen the OB key and steer using the outboard.
Springs are good to stop you surging alongside.. but a boat that small.. arms work better at bearing you of just before you step on..
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:37   #15
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Re: Trouble docking and leaving

Quote:
Originally Posted by ocelot View Post
It is an outboard engine, a 6hp Johnson sea horse. It sits in a well, offset left, and the rudder turns in front of the prop. I have to back out and turn to port. Nobody at our club docks stern to, so I'm not sure I can do that. The old owner said he always walked the boat out because of the poor reverse.
Don't know what the prevailing winds are in your situation but it seems to me the easy answer (assuming you don't want to sail out) is to either 1) invest in a new motor that is more reliable and user friendly or 2) get the previous owner to show you how he walked the boat out of slip. (I have an idea about how I would proceed but without being there it's hard to describe).

As far as docking, I agree that practice near bouys in the marina makes a world of difference and what benefits me the most (with any boat I am not familiar with) is to get a sense of how far (and fast) the boat will glide after you shift the motor from forward to neutral. You might be surprised at how far your boat will travel with only enough speed (as in very slowly) to provide ample steerage down the finger and into your slip.
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