How to turn a boat at the dock

Have you been tied up to a long dock on a boat that won’t back up with any degree of certainty with boats sitting on each side of the fairway you could crash into on the way out?

how to turn a boat at the dockIf so, you may be able to turn the boat at the dock within its own length. First, check the wind and current. They don’t have to be completely in your favor, but they should be enough in your favor to allow you to turn the boat and go forward.

First, ready a bow line and a stern line long enough to reach the bow and the dock while turning the boat. Leave one person on board to handle the stern line by bringing it forward to the bow on the opposite side of the boat from the dock. You can do this without a person on board by bringing the stern line forward to the bow and having it available as you turn the boat.

When all is ready, push the stern off from the dock and walk the bow down the dock to where the stern was previously located. You can do this with the bow line or by holding onto the bow pulpit. The wind or current will push the stern around to the previous bow position as you walk the bow down the dock. If the wind or current is in the perfect direction, the stern will come against the dock with little or no help. If not, the stern line can be used to pull the boat into position against the dock. You have now turned the boat in its own length at the dock even with boats ahead and behind you.

If the wind is in the opposite direction, you can still turn the boat by pushing the bow off and walking the stern to where the bow was with the long line on the bow. –Jerry LeCocq


This article first appeared in Boulder Beacon, the newsletter of Boulder Valley Sail & Power Squadron/30.

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