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northoceanbeach 06-09-2015 01:22

Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I've finished most of the refitting I had and now it's sail time! Had a great sail today. 18 knots, singlehanded. Went great. Still getting used to things and all but no problems to report.

Except getting in and out of the slip. It's damn near impossible! It's a full keel. It has a feathering max prop that is supposed to help. The slip is almost dead downwind. Maybe 15 degrees off. I park bow forward.

It's pathetic because there are really large fairways at the marina here. I don't know what I would do in a marina that has smaller ones like a lot I see.

So I really made a show for everyone tonight. I turned too late and missed my slip then desperately tried to reverse and swing the stern to the side, but it just reversed straight back, then I wanted to just get out and turn around and come back but it went straight forward. I couldn't get any momentum to turn almost at all? I ended up running to the bow to fend the dock off, jumping on the pier and grabbing the stanchions and pulling my boat into the slip, but not without considerable bumping. I hate bumping. I don't see a scratch but if I don't get better I'm screwed.

So how do I do this? I can't have one shot to make the turn and if I miss I have no recourse. It is windy in the harbor. How do I drive and dock a full keel?

It's unsafe to keep the speed in the marina necessary to be able to turn, it's too windy to turn anyways, it pushes the stern around, I need speed for steerage, and I don't know how people do this.

Fin keels are so easy.

Even when reversing from the slip with the rudder all the way over it still reverses straight back.

GILow 06-09-2015 02:37

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Sounds like fun.

I too have a pen that often has the wind blowing into it, though I have a very hard port turn to get in. Likewise I am single handed, but modified full keel, with a lot of weight and a lot of windage. No feathering prop, but I have heard they reverse better than a fixed prop. (Feathering, not folding)

So, the thing that works for me, so well that now I barely worry at all on approach, is to come in a lot faster than seems logical. Used to crawl in at 1.5 knots, now I am closer to four. Come in fast, turn hard to port later than you'd think, lined up with the starboard side of the pen, at the last moment put the helm to port more so I am now pointing in at the port forward corner of the pen at about ten degrees out of line with the pen. Put her hard in reverse and two things (hopefully) happen. First, the prop walk starts to pull the stern to port so now the whole boat is moving sideways to the port side of the pen, and second, the speed should drop off quickly. Do it right and I end up actually giving the port side of the pen a good nudge on the fenders, with no forward velocity. Step down to my preprepared springer, drop it on the midships cleat so the wind can't blow the boat forward and from then on it is a leisurely stroll around the dock to pick up the other lines.

If I lose reverse or the engine stalls I am going to damage the bow, though it should only be cosmetic as it is all stainless steel up there. But the faster approach is much more controlled, you can manage wind gusts so easily when you have some speed up.

yMMV

Matt


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GILow 06-09-2015 03:30

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
As for getting out backwards... Don't ease out. Come out with a good solid prod of power. The trick is to get reverse motion before the prop walk can build sideways momentum. Then I cut the power, no more prop walk, just reverse motion, so the rudder can do its thing. Once the boat starts to respond to the rudder, stern swinging to starboard, bow swinging to port, another quick burst of power can be applied if needed.

I used to hear boats coming and going, working their engines pretty hard, and I'd shake my head, make tut tut noises and generally sneer at their clumsy lead footed approach. I now realise they were wiser than me.


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FamilyVan 06-09-2015 04:31

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I too have a 35' heavy displacement boat, with the wind abeam to my slip as well as about a one knot current. Its a tight slip, but I have lots of room to turn, but this is my fourth permanent slip for this boat and each one has had something annoying about it.

It sounds to me on a quick read that you may be working against your prop walk (transverse thrust). This is very difficult to do. In my experience, the solution has always been the same, turn the boat around to work with your prop walk, in other words- back in.

The other practice that was mentioned into your post that is always a bad idea, is leaving the wheel to fend off, jump off or dance the can can while single handing. If you're fending off, who's driving the boat. Maintain positive control over the boat at all times when maneuvering. You're in charge, not the wind, current or boat.

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Nicholson58 06-09-2015 05:43

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Same problem on our 58 Nicholson 36 tons, long keel & skeg rudder. Learn to go very slowly, massive patience, use your prop walk, use prop wash, anticipate the wind to your advantage. On your length boat, there are thrusters available that can be added on as you need it, like a trolling motor but with practice, you should be able to master your vessel.

TJ D 06-09-2015 05:59

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I also tend to come down on the 'pro-speed' approach. Water flow over the rudder is important, particularly in a wind. Watch commercial boats come into a dock sometime. Those guys are moving fast, almost without exception. Speed gives a positive measure of control.

Of course, if you make a mistake, or reverse fails, you've got a lot more inertia working! It takes some confidence in yourself and your equipment, that's for sure.

I call it our standard 'Captain Ron' docking. We really don't have a choice on our goofy twin-ruddered boat.

Good luck!

TJ

Kokanee 06-09-2015 06:29

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
A few suggestions.

First of all, get to know what your boat will do in the conditions you will be docking in. If there is an open stretch of water, motor in the direction you will be approaching your dock, then turn full rudder as if you would be pulling into your berth. Note what the turning circle is.

Try this at various speeds; in neutral, under power. Experiment.
Every boat is a little different. Currents and winds have different effects.
What others suggest may or may not work for you.


Then have a try at your dock, armed with some basic knowledge and confidence of what to expect.

If singlehanded, and you have a full length finger pier, use a spring line from your midship cleat to loop over a stern cleat on your dock. Once that is looped you are home free. Just idle in forward with the rudder turn hard to pull the bow away from the dock. In that position you can let it idle in gear and calmly step off your boat and tie it off.

wolfesmy 06-09-2015 07:31

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Totally agree with Kokanee.
In the harbor is not the place to experiment with docking. As a sailing instructor one of the first things students learn on water is how the boat performs under power and how much way the boat has at different speeds. Do figure 8's in forward and reverse. Drop a buoy or 2 in an open area and try different approaches from different wind directions. Practice 3 point turns to help you manage in tight spaces (or if things go wrong). Practice using you propwalk. Lots of good videos on YouTube for reference.
Bad things can happen to boats when they approach land. It's much safer on the water.
Good Luck

W3GAC 06-09-2015 07:44

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I singlehand a Cal 46' cruiser, but with a modified full keel which of course helps. During my 10 yrs in NYC marinas which are very tight in/out (cost of real-estate) I had some tense moments too. I chose bow-in because while I could decide if I should backing out on a windy day... you can't always decide when you have to come back in. Backing was touch because you can't roar out a 46' boat in a 50' wide fairway! There is that point where you must transition from backing to forward and in those few moments (15 seconds or so) the wind quickly starts having get way. By the second year of sitting out beautiful (big windy) days because of concern getting out I installed a bow thruster when I hauled. But I learn as others have said 90% of boat handling is confidence! Once I had the extra insurance and put the petal to the mental I didn't need the thruster! I bet I only have actually used it (versus just exercising it) 2-3 times in following 10 years. That being my experience, perhaps try to get another experienced skipper onboard to let you try a few things with your insurance policy aboard and see if you can get over the hump. That said... full keel boats are harder. Be careful not to staw the rudder in reverse... half may be better than full.


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hamburking 06-09-2015 07:54

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by northoceanbeach (Post 1908280)
Even when reversing from the slip with the rudder all the way over it still reverses straight back.

Sometimes full helm just makes the rudder into a barn door brake. Try a little less helm, maybe 1/2? You might find this actually gives you some steerage in reverse. Try this away from your dock first, to see what works. A good exercise is to do a figure eight in reverse. Try different amounts of helm and different amounts of throttle till you find something that works.

Also, any chance you can get a head to wind slip? I was on a wait list for years to get one at my marina. Now I can come and go in all conditions easily.

FamilyVan 06-09-2015 08:06

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Or better yet, keep your rudder midships in reverse and only steer with bursts of throtlle in forward, then back into reverse once you've pointed your stern, like a tugboat.

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W3GAC 06-09-2015 08:21

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I singlehand a Cal 46' cruiser, but with a modified full keel which of course helps. During my 10 yrs in NYC marinas which are very tight in/out (cost of real-estate) I had some tense moments too. I chose bow-in because while I could decide if I should backing out on a windy day... you can't always decide when you have to come back in. Backing was touch because you can't roar out a 46' boat in a 50' wide fairway! There is that point where you must transition from backing to forward and in those few moments (15 seconds or so) the wind quickly starts having get way. By the second year of sitting out beautiful (big windy) days because of concern getting out I installed a bow thruster when I hauled. But I learn as others have said 90% of boat handling is confidence! Once I had the extra insurance and put the petal to the mental I didn't need the thruster! I bet I only have actually used it (versus just exercising it) 2-3 times in following 10 years. That being my experience, perhaps try to get another experienced skipper onboard to let you try a few things with your insurance policy aboard and see if you can get over the hump. That said... full keel boats are harder. Be careful not to staw the rudder in reverse... half may be better than full.


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Russ 06-09-2015 09:04

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
For what it is worth I , too, have full keel 55,000 steel cutter and I ALWAYS Back IN. I have aft cockpit, I can see better, the prop pulls to Port so I can judge what's what. I learned this from my wife who always backed our Suburban into a parking space. Made getting out sooo much easier. Same with boat plus added advantage of being aft and up close to the dock as you confront it. Russ

Capt Phil 06-09-2015 09:06

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Kokanee and Wolfesmy suggestions are great! Find a bouy in open water and get used to how your vessel performs under different speeds in a breeze and in reverse. Before you know it you will become more confident and not panic or be concerned when attempting your docking exercise. Also, talk to the dock master or marina manager and secure an upwind slip!
I used to singlehanded my Transpacific 49 in and out of the slip regularly. She was full keel with considerable prop wash. It ain't rocket science... Phil

OS2Dude 06-09-2015 10:11

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Another option is to learn how to use spring lines to maneuver the boat in a slip. I use one to leave if the wind is unfavorable. Not so good at using them upon returning, but am trying to learn. (Harder when single handed then when leaving.) It is amazing what one can do with a line when used the right way.

Terra Nova 06-09-2015 10:50

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Get some lessons on docking maneuvers.

Steve Bean 06-09-2015 11:04

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I recommend a little book called "Dockmanship" by David Owen Bell. I got mine from Abebooks. com for under $5.00.

Ded reckoner 06-09-2015 11:24

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Does your prop walk to port in reverse? This suggests you will have an easier time entering a slip going clockwise. And vice versa. If you have a choice in slip orientations, take advantage of your boat's preference.

Otherwise, you've gotten some good suggestions about being patient (read slow), not turning the helm to the stops in reverse, and also how to minimize prop walk by bursting. I would point out that once you've established reverse and are at a steady speed, there's nil prop walk and you should have good steerage in reverse; unfortunately, this often doesn't help docking.

Here's a suggestion from a delivery captain I thought was counter-intuitive until I saw it practiced when I crewed on a friend's Orion 50. You have good steerage going forward. So use that. Practice turning the boat in a circle within a boat's length by turning the helm hard over in the direction you will enter the slip. Give it a burst forward and keep the throttle up until she turns. Then, before she moves forward much and while she's turning, put her in reverse to stop her forward momentum. When doing all this, don't move the helm at all. As soon as she just starts to move backward, repeat the process. All your turning will come from the forward action.

northoceanbeach 06-09-2015 11:24

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I agree you shouldn't leave the helm singlehanded, I just didn't know what to do, I wasn't making any progress and thought I was going to ram the dock so I went forward to fend off, it was only then I thought e best way was to jump to the dock and manoever in by hand. Still not a good idea.

What is this prop walk of which you speak? It is my first inboard engine, that's one reason I can sail but not park, I had all outboards and those were so easy, if you had to, you could even pivot the outboard to turn.

Mithril Bham 06-09-2015 12:28

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
I've had heavy, full-keeled, boats all my life with lots of prop-walk. Good suggestions above. Practice a lot. Consider backing into the wind. Surprising how many people don't get this. Reduced prop-walk and gives a lot of control using the wind as a break.

Mithril Bham 06-09-2015 12:31

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Obviously I meant "brake". Practice turning the boat in it's own diameter around a buoy.

FamilyVan 06-09-2015 12:53

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by northoceanbeach (Post 1908660)
I agree you shouldn't leave the helm singlehanded, I just didn't know what to do, I wasn't making any progress and thought I was going to ram the dock so I went forward to fend off, it was only then I thought e best way was to jump to the dock and manoever in by hand. Still not a good idea.

What is this prop walk of which you speak? It is my first inboard engine, that's one reason I can sail but not park, I had all outboards and those were so easy, if you had to, you could even pivot the outboard to turn.

Terra Nova is correct, you might benefit from lessons and learn the basic principals.

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Mithril Bham 06-09-2015 13:14

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Here is a thought. You are heading into the dock and determine that you will strike the dock no matter how hard you turn. What do you do? The first reaction is to hit reverse which will turn the boat into the dock. What I do is to turn away from the dock, give it a good burst of forward, then immediately into reverse with another good burst which will rotate the boat away from the dock.
Same principle as turning the boat in it's own diameter. Can be dangerous, however. Think several steps ahead.

Splash of Lime 06-09-2015 13:30

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
No doubt practice make for more confidence. My big slug (sold it now) was a Hardin 45' ketch. I did adjust to coming in kind of fast, then into reverse and lots of juice and had a lot of control, slow was usually never good for me, except where there was lots of room. I used to be able to have it headed it in the right direction and could have turn the engine off if I want and let it gently slide up to the dock. Step off and tie-er down. I used to teach boat handling in Oxnard Calif. I used to teach you to take control of the vessel not the opposite, sounds good right. Not the easiest to do but lots of practice and with the proper knowledge of how-to then you can do it with ease?

I hated when people on the dock wanted to help me dock and grab lines, I never want that. I control the vessel and then just step off, etc. I have had marinas put me in many really tight places and the Hardin Ketch is a heavy boat and scary at first to dock over 50'. But I would practice a lot at first different ways to come in. I taught that you take control of the vessel before you dock, how to counteract the wind, the tide once you are in control then you can proceed at whatever speed. If coming in fast and your engines dies scary, just be calm and restart the engine and reverse, many scary ha ha ha times for me but always worked out and never crashed, ever.

I would bring the vessel down from Santa Barbara to Mexico single handed and many tight slips as not a lot of choices. Not always easy when everything wrong, wind, current, tide. But the more you use your vessel and the more you practice coming in. Find a nice dock that has plenty of room even if is not yours, and come in and out many times, fast slow, you can control your vessel. Good luck..

northoceanbeach 06-09-2015 13:37

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Another good thing about my marina is each slip has a finger pier on each side, so no neighbors to share it with. I will probably find one of the slips away from everyone and just practice over and over.

Steadman Uhlich 06-09-2015 13:51

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Anyone serious about becoming good at docking their boat in the slip needs to watch this video. Golden idea contained inside. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qHdPhkSSNQ

Freemind 06-09-2015 13:59

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by northoceanbeach (Post 1908660)
Snipped

What is this prop walk of which you speak? snipped

Walking The Prop - Sail Magazine

rhirwin 06-09-2015 14:43

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Were you trying to turn in reverse to starboard? My boat will not reverse to port (CCW) due to prop wash w RH turning Max Prop. Its a 44' 38,000 lb displacement full keel boat but will rotate in its own length i.e. do "standing turns" all day long CW i.e. turn to starboard.

Sorry for the alternative perspective but the idea of going fast in close quarters is not recommended, rather the abs. minimum speed that allows some boat control. Ask a container ship container why they dock at 1/2 knot vs 1 knot and the answer is they do half the damage at 1/2 knot.

1) learn to do a standing turn well under different wind conditions
2) approach the turn to slip from the side that exploits prop walk reverse and prop wash to advantage.
3) Learn to use a spring line which if the proper length when cleated off mid ship can prevent you crunching the bow into the dock (assuming bow in)

Stu Jackson 06-09-2015 14:49

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Kokanee is right.

Plus all those who suggest practice, practice, practice.

Terra Nova 06-09-2015 17:13

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
rh--good post.

1st rule of yachting: When a collision is unavoidable, aim for something cheap.

Mithril Bham 06-09-2015 18:07

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Absolutely on the slow. A perfect landing is stopping the boat with the dock line but the reality is when blowing 25 and a six knot current that doesn't work. Maybe a good time to anchor.

northoceanbeach 07-09-2015 22:12

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Well, I did go out and practice learning how the boat handles. It's very strange. Reverse is crazy.

I wanted to see which way it prop walked. I have been told most go to port. At first after coming to a stop, then engaging reverse, with the tiller centered, I started swing the stern to starboard. It's actually just drove around in circles like that. It was very hard to change. But after that, reversing, it was a little more controllable and I couldn't get it to repeat its starboard walk performance. So at this point I vote it doesn't prop walk.

Who knows though, there are currents from tide changes and wind, although it was pretty much slack and the wind was dead, lol. I just don't know!

I set myself up by a channel marker then, and practiced what in a car would be a three point turn. The marker was so I knew where I was.

It went well and I got back in my slip without incident.

GILow 07-09-2015 22:30

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Prop walk is most evident when you don't have clear movement of water over the rudder. So, if the boat is stationary, and there is no current or wind to confuse things, putting the boat in reverse with the rudder centred as you did will usually quickly demonstrate the direction of prop-walk if it is present.


Once the boat starts to actually move backwards through the water it gets a LOT harder to know what, if any, prop-walk effect you are experiencing. This is because once the boat is actually moving, the rudder starts to be able to do its job, either holding the boat in a straight(ish) line or deflecting the stern one way or the other. Also, once moving all sorts of other factors such as air movement and residual rotational momentum make it hard to figure out what is causing which movement.


But here's something to try that might help you understand how your prop walk might affect your docking technique:


In calm water, preferably with little or no wind, try getting the boat moving forwards under light engine power, maybe two or three knots, once it is moving in a perfectly straight line, hold the helm in position, put the engine in neutral, give the gearbox a moment, then put engine in reverse with a moderate amount of throttle. What you will probably find is that the stern moves to one side or the other as the boat slows, depending on the nature of your prop walk. And given the shape of your boat, I reckon it is going to move pretty positively one way or the other, I don't think you will have trouble spotting it.


Then, depending on whether you subscribe to the fast or slow approach to your pen philosophy, you will be able to factor in that prop walk as part of your solution.


Matt

MarkSF 07-09-2015 23:13

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
The easiest way to determine the prop walk is to simply look at the water. Best way is with the boat tied up in the slip. Put it in reverse. You will probably see a lot of water being ejected sideways, in line with the prop. If a lot more water is going to starboard, than to port, it is easy to figure out that you have port prop walk in reverse, and why.

GILow 07-09-2015 23:24

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MarkSF (Post 1909705)
The easiest way to determine the prop walk is to simply look at the water. Best way is with the boat tied up in the slip. Put it in reverse. You will probably see a lot of water being ejected sideways, in line with the prop. If a lot more water is going to starboard, than to port, it is easy to figure out that you have port prop walk in reverse, and why.

Depends on the shape of the boat I reckon. Ours shoots water out sideways on both sides when in reverse, as it has to escape the rather blunt keel face. Just a bit more to starboard than port, the only way to detect the difference on ours is to see which way the boat moves.

I suspect on a modern flat bottom boat with the prop well clear of the keel it would be easier to tell using this technique.

northoceanbeach 07-09-2015 23:47

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Ok, ill try again of course. It was fun. I probably looked like an idiot doing figure eights backwards for a half hour but whatever. At least I got into the slip.

Thank goodness I have finger piers on both sides and big fairways. Thank you harbor gods. I seriously would be screwed otherwise. It should be a rule that marinas have to be like this.

Like Sausalito Mark? I couldn't get into that place.

Is it possible because of the max prop I don't have prop walk? It's basically just random and uncontrollable in reverse. It goes whichever random way it wants, regardless of if the tiller it port or SB and spins in circles.

The thing I learned is how to spin in circles almost in place going forward. Like the advice given in this thread was very helpful. Short but powerful burst of spee forward, and pushing the title the way I want to turn, that does make the boat turn the way I want it to. Then short powerful burst in reverse so I don't actually go forward, the. More forward bursts.

I think after today I could,turn around in my fairway if I overshot the harbor and try again, u line before when I didn't know what to do, plus I got a better feel for the boat.

MarkSF 07-09-2015 23:57

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Didn't go all the way to Sausalito, just down the channel a bit.

I actually like the prop walk now I'm used it it. It is a very useful tool if you use it to your advantage, rather than fight it.

David_Old_Jersey 08-09-2015 02:26

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Practice, practice, practice! (Ideally away from other boats - or anything else to hit!).

The good news is that you seem to have certainties to play with. If she only goes straight at slow speed in reverse then only turn going forward - at the price of a 12 point turn! Works for me.

For turning going forward you simply have to learn what speed she needs. And sounds like that faster than currently seems comfortable. But practice (and success!) will breed confidence.

Also fenders give confidence, a gallic shrug also useful for the less than perfect dockings....plus knowing when your answer to a docking is "no".

David_Old_Jersey 08-09-2015 02:31

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by northoceanbeach (Post 1909682)

I set myself up by a channel marker then, and practiced what in a car would be a three point turn. The marker was so I knew where I was.

I didn't read the entire thread before my last post......that way of practising is IMO the best way for the reason you stated. Plus less to hit!

Can do a lifetime of dockings in a few hours.

IdoraKeeper 08-09-2015 04:53

Re: Trouble getting in and out of slip
 
These difficulties are why time and schedule are your enemies. As DOJ says sometimes the answer is NO. For some boats, (mine being one) a tight slip, a narrow fairway and adverse wind or current or both reduces the probability of a successful outcome to the degree that its unwise to attempt the landing. Some places and conditions will not allow escape if things go poorly. Conditions that afford one chance which if missed leads to a collision prompt me to anchor and wait. The standard should be "never in doubt". Certainly there are tricks and techniques that help but each has it's limit. That means you need time...always an issue in a scheduled world. A full keel boat is a joy to me but the "shrug" after a less than perfect landing happens more often than on a fin keel boat. :)


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