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Old 19-06-2021, 09:09   #1
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Helm control while docking

I'm currently stuck ashore awaiting a replacement bowsprit, and I got to thinking about the one maneuver that continues to pain me - docking!

My boat is a Tashiba-31 and as you can see in the attached, it has a full keel with a cut-away forward and the prop in the middle of the rudder. I think I have pretty good control in general - for instance I can spin the boat in mostly it's own length in most winds. Docking is an issue and I'm wondering if my issue is with with rudder placement.

The big issue with docking is that as soon as I give her a shot of reverse to slow/stop forward motion, the bow will swing to port. When coming in to my berth the rudder would generally be either centered, or slightly to a port turn.

I sail solo, and docking technique is to turn into the slip so that the approach is mostly straight in, then capture the end cleat and allow forward momentum to pull me into the side of the dock. If I catch the cleat on the first try, then all proceeds as planned. If I miss, then all hell tends to break loose. What happens when I miss is that I need to do a quick pulse in reverse to stop forward motion. This causes the bow to swing to port and now I'm in danger of touching my neighbor. I do place fenders so that we don't touch hull to hull, but still...

Any suggestions on improving my docking plan?
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Old 19-06-2021, 09:41   #2
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Re: Helm control while docking

1. Keep it slow
2. Put rudder to starboard turn just before you back down, and leave it there.
3. When bow swings port, give a short forward pulse on throttle to swing bow to starboard.

Just think of the propeller wash on the rudder as a way to move your stern when you are in forward gear, but not in reverse gear. This is especially important in going backwards at low speeds.
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Old 19-06-2021, 20:49   #3
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Re: Helm control while docking

Maybe don't go astern to stop.

You don't say how you are trying to catch the cleat but there maybe a way to catch it first time and at the same time avoid going astern at all.

Take a long(ish) line, attach it to the midship cleat.

Run it outside the sanctions and round, or though the stern cleat and back to a winch. I like though rather than round because it's more secure.

Reach over the top of the lifelines and pull a big loop pack onboard.

Approach the dock slowly, take the boat out of gear, throw the loop over the first dock cleat and winch in the slack but not too tight. This will arrest your forward motion and is MUCH easier than try to lasso the dock cleat any other way.

Before your bow can swing out, engage forward gear at idle.

That might be all you need or you might need just a little throttle and/or right rudder, but she will stop with your stern cleat level with, or just in front of the dock cleat. You effectively have stern line and a midship spring balanced against the forward thrust of the engine. She’ll sit there all day while you make fast.

Since I was shown this, I use it almost every time. Biggest problem is trying to stop helpful people grabbing your line. And it doesn’t work if you are trying to leave your stern sticking out from a short dock.

It's best to figure out how much line you need before you leave the dock, but be a little generous - too long isn't usually an issue but too short.... ooops. You can also practice on a long dock where it doesn't matter if it goes wrong.

BTW, some people refer to this a using a stern bridle, but to me a stern bridle is a bridle across the two stern cleats.

If you try it, I think you'll like it. I did.
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Old 19-06-2021, 21:16   #4
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Re: Helm control while docking

I'm not sure I explained it very well but a quick google found this



Excellent explanation but two thoughts after watching it:
If you approach slowly enough, you don't need to stop the boat completely but if you do and your bow starts to swing out, you can easily "pull" it back in with throttle and rudder.

I would not recommend using a block, as some examples on the video do. I used to just that until a hockle in the line caused a jam.


Hope that helps.
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Old 19-06-2021, 21:25   #5
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Re: Helm control while docking

Sounds like you may be going in too fast. Many years ago when I sailed a Downeast 38 I learned, as donradcliffe says, go very slowly and don't count on reverse until the end and as little as possible. Since, in your case, this is a last resort, you have to give it a good blast right? And I am not surprised that that will tend to pull the bow around. In my own experience, and I was lucky to have an upwind slip, I just had it idling in reverse going in and the rudder could still compensate for any prop walk. You might just buy a couple more fenders too.
I hope many current owners of similar boats will chime in too!
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Old 20-06-2021, 03:56   #6
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Re: Helm control while docking

Try midship spring. Have your fenders out & mid spring led back to steering position before you try this single handed. / Cheers-Len


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Old 20-06-2021, 05:43   #7
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Re: Helm control while docking

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmksails View Post
.......................
............... I can spin the boat in mostly it's own length in most winds.

............... The big issue with docking is that as soon as I give her a shot of reverse to slow/stop forward motion, the bow will swing to port. .....
I had the identical underwater profile on my ketch; however the behavior of your boat seems counter to what I would expect. When you say that can "spin" the boat in mostly it's own length, I'm assuming this is done to starboard or clockwise while viewing from above. This is typically done with alternating forward and reverse. Since the prop wash is only deflected by the rudder in forward, the rudder is usually left to make the starboard turn in forward and not moved during the reverse pulse when the prop walk would move the stern to port. This results in the vessel pivoting within little more than it's length.

The puzzle comes with the second part of the quote when it's said that the bow swings to port during the reverse pulse. Most all single engine vessels back to port with the prop walk and this results in the bow swinging to starboard. Unless you have an engine with the opposite from standard rotation, the behavior of your boat seems very unusual.
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:03   #8
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Re: Helm control while docking

My boat is reverse of yours, backs to port and bow swings starboard.

When you turn into your slip, are you making a right hand, or a left hand, turn? That will make a very big difference. I find that I can easily dock making a right hand turn, but not so much making a left hand turn.

In your case, the difficult direction would be a right hand turn. But there is a way, with practice - back in. Approach your slip going forward, but turn away from it, to the left, as if you were entering the slip across from you. 2/3rd through the turn, reverse. Prop walk will complete the turn, and you will back straight in.

I was very nervous the first time I did it, and had 4 people on the dock waiting to help, and I ended up not needing any.
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:12   #9
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Re: Helm control while docking

All the above ideas are great, but an alternative yet blasphemous approach is to put a dock fender where your bow would hit. Come in slow, if you miss your lassoo, let her bump to a stop.
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:14   #10
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Re: Helm control while docking

Sounds like you're describing prop walk. Are you docking to port or starboard side? Google "prop walk and docking" for ideas.

I've learned to come in at an angle to the dock (more angle with more wind away from the dock) so the burst of reverse straightens the boat by pulling the stem toward the dock. After the spring line is attached, slight forward power keeps the boat in place.

My boat has a right hand spinning prop which pulls the stern to port (and bow to starboard). I prefer to dock port side to the dock for this reason.

When leaving I push the stem away from the dock then use the prop walk and bursts of power to straighten the boat whiling backing.
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Old 20-06-2021, 07:15   #11
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Re: Helm control while docking

I operate a charter boat with a similar profile to yours and similar characteristics under power. Morgan Out Island 51. Backs to starboard (i.e. stern sucks in to starboard and bow swings to port). Question: which side is your dock on? Port side or starboard?

Prop walk on the Morgan is very pronounced, and for that reason I basically never dock port side to. We approach the dock, then helm to port and stick the bow pretty much over the dock. Then a good blast astern to straighten her out and take the way off. Midship spring goes on first. With that I can make the boat do whatever I want.

Those who say "come in slowly". Well, it's not always an option. The cutaway forward means there's very little to prevent the bow from falling off with the wind, and when it goes it really goes. The only solution is to keep way on. The more wind, the faster and more aggressive the approach.

If you're having to dock port side to the dock then I can only say you have my sympathy! You basically have to then do everything with lines (as you are) because going astern will pull you off the dock. In that case maybe negotiate for a different berth?
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Old 20-06-2021, 07:32   #12
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Re: Helm control while docking

Our boat swings the now starboard in reverse. When in the slip and Needing to stop, turn hard to port just prior to popping into reverse.

Although lately Iíve given up bringing the boat into the slip now first. Our current slip itís a lot easier for me to come in stern to.
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Old 20-06-2021, 08:37   #13
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Re: Helm control while docking

Let's get an answer from those saying that, by prop walk, they back to starboard and the bow swings to port in reverse. Does this mean you have engines with left-hand rotation? That's the only way that I can make any sense of this.
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Old 20-06-2021, 09:14   #14
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Re: Helm control while docking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson Force View Post
Let's get an answer from those saying that, by prop walk, they back to starboard and the bow swings to port in reverse. Does this mean you have engines with left-hand rotation? That's the only way that I can make any sense of this.
Yep. My old Volvo engine did exactly that. When I changed the engine, I also changed my berth.
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Old 20-06-2021, 09:33   #15
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Re: Helm control while docking

For 14 excellent pointers on docking, try Attainable Adventure Cruising's website. It is the only sailing website I actually pay to subscribe to, mainly because most of the boats involved are similar to mine, doing some of the same things, are all very experienced sailors and sail some of the same areas. It is a great resource. ( P.S. No affiliation and nothing to be gained by suggesting this site.)
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