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Inkwell 18-08-2007 15:14

Docking Help
The sailboat is temporary docked between hugh motor yachts. i am waiting on a slip to become available next month or so, but leaving and returning the dock has me puzzled. There is little current, but I have to deal with wind. Any advice of getting out and in easy. I usually single hand.

hellosailor 18-08-2007 15:25

It would help if you detail the situation. How big the boats all are, what kind of dock, how much space or channel behind it, any pilings that may be of use or obstructing...Paint us a picture.

AnchorageGuy 18-08-2007 17:00

I doubt you will get much usable advise on this one since there are too many variables. How big are the motor yachts, what direction is the wind and how strong is it? What are your skills and experience? How long is a piece of string? And a hundred more questions. Most importantly, if you need to ask you might need more than some advise on the board to help. Crashing into a million dollar yacht will not make you a popular guy at the marina. First I would ask them to move you to a spot more conducive to coming and going. Above that find a crew for the time being or go sailing with someone else at the marina for some experience. Or work on those never ending boat projects until your slip opens up. Next month is not very far away.

slomotion 18-08-2007 18:28

Do not despair
Your problenm is easily explained by the Boat size change theory aka
the Cinderella Theory. I was going to have this published posthumously - you know, because of the controversy which will undoubtedly erupt - the implications for creationism vs. evolution, not to mention relativity are obvious. However, I am compelled to share my discovery now in the hope that others will benefit. The theory of boat size change requires that certain competing theories be discredited:

1. A long time ago when I had a boat which I kept in a slip at a marina, I became quite proficient at docking (others may remember this differently). I do not deny that there were some scrapes and crunches along the way, but eventually I experienced every possible permutation of tide, current and wind such that I could (more or less) successfully dock MY boat in MY slip in MY marina. Thus, I subscribed to the experience/practice theory of docking.

2. Unfortunately, there came a time when I attempted to dock my boat in a different marina. Despite my undisputed expertise, this resulted in scraping and crunching. How could this be? - I had employed all my hard earned knowledge and skill; no alcohol had yet been consumed; and yet .... I got a clunky amateur result. Obviously, this led to the still popular theory of ‘‘boat training’’. Under this theory it is not the skipper, but the boat which becomes ‘‘skilled’’ at entering/exiting ITS slip in ITS marina. This skill is, of course, useless and even counter-productive when entering some other slip in some other marina.

3. As the years went by and I scraped and crunched my way into various slips in various marinas, I shared the boat training theory with various people, some of whom were quite receptive. Still, the majority seemed to think my theory absurd; and this was so regardless of alcohol consumption - hmmmmmmm.

EPIPHANY: Eventually, I realized that when I was day-sailing in/out of MY slip in MY marina, I was rarely out of sight of land. But, when I was sailing to some ‘‘foreign’’ marina, I was frequently out of sight of land. I also observed (as have many others) that a sailboat seems very small when there is no land in sight; and yet, the very same sailboat seems uncommonly large when you attempt to dock it in a strange marina (or perhaps, temporarily dock it between megayachts). How can this be? - obviously, the boat changes size. In my opinion boats shrink when they go off shore. If they are not returned to their 'home' marina in a timely manner and instead enter a strange marina, they expand to enormous dimensions. Under these circumstances scraping and crunching are necessary in order to return them to their normal size and restore equilibrium in the universe.

Hope this helps.

Greg S 18-08-2007 20:25


I think you're on to something! :D

Tropic Cat 18-08-2007 21:05

I want what he's drinking :D

cooper 19-08-2007 01:41

Slomo you are of course absolutely right. These undeniable rules are usualy not spoken about by "professionals" for fear of scaring newcommers. Einstein explained relativity in much the same way by saying "time goes much faster when sitting with a pretty girl than when sitting on a very hot stove". There are other variables that adjust the size of the boat. These include "confidence", "value of your boat multiplied by value of crunched object", "time since last painted" (this is inversely if you wish to make your boat smaller when coming into a strange dock then dont have a gleaming finish, but if it attracts extra attention because of its shabbiness then it will grow again.) And probably the greatest size adjuster is relegated to single males with a prospective "evening partener" on board. In this situation pre-emptive comments like "you watch I bet we bump when we go in..but its no big deal" will take a few millimeteres of the boats beam. The variables are endless and most are well documented. It is however important to remember that other fact, the magnetic attraction between hire boats and yours.........

Reality Check 19-08-2007 10:02

slomo.... that should be an addition to Every sailing / seamanship book or article.

Hats off. Great entry!!!

BTW, After a few drinks, I'll probably steal it and claim it is my own.. sorry!!!

knottybuoyz 19-08-2007 14:16


Originally Posted by Inkwell
The sailboat is temporary docked between hugh motor yachts. i am waiting on a slip to become available next month or so, but leaving and returning the dock has me puzzled. There is little current, but I have to deal with wind. Any advice of getting out and in easy. I usually single hand.

Spring line maybe? Get your arse end out then let it go. Tricky to do single handed but possible. When all else fails ask for help.

Charlie 19-08-2007 17:14

While I do agree with the answers above I just read a very well written article by E. Estanger (sp?) in crusing world or practical sailor. It explained how to take a boat into and out of a slip shorthanded. I will try to give you the highlights but think you should track down the article itself. While at dock attach a block to the midships of a boat and run a line from a cleat near the stern of the boat thru the block and then back to a primary winch. adjust the block till with the engine set to move the boat at 1 to 1.5 knots the boat will rest against the bumpers aside the dock. One of the problems with docking is coming in too slow make sure that you have good enough speed ggoing to keep up steerage.

So you are set up with the dock line in the block and around the primary you line the boat up with the dock and then leaving the engine in gear and running step off the boat and tie the stern spring line off on the dock. With the engine running the boat will come to rest against the dock.

There are important items that need to be looked at such as if you have a right or a left prop and such . . . but try and find the article it is well worth reading.

Inkwell 19-08-2007 19:30

What a great bunch of guys and gulls. Thanks for the input. Got out today, no problem. Wind blew me off the dock. Got back OK, call the dock master for an assist with the lines. Angled in problem. Life is Good. Great sailing today off St. Simons Island, very few boats out. I am glad I could make it.

MysticGringo 20-08-2007 07:07

My theory to good docking includes many fenders... and enough boat hooks for everyone on-board.

AnchorageGuy 20-08-2007 12:00

That would be one boat hook for a singlehander.

Ex-Calif 20-08-2007 18:16

Curmudgeon mode here - If my boat were next in line and someone was trying to dock a 38 foot Hunter, single handed, in a wind, I'd be PO'd. The success of this operation, single handed, starts well away from the dock when returning and well before boarding when leaving. Success may be defined as not going or finding somewhere else to tie up when coming.

If the wind comes up while you are out you may have to find an alternate place to tie up until the wind dies down.

Please don't let bad decision making damage my boat.

slomotion 20-08-2007 19:04

As a former master of the curious phenomenon of prop walk on a Hunter 34, I can safely say that ........well, I 've pretty much given up on docking. I recommend mooring or anchoring. However, beware of the quantum theory of anchor dragging.

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