By Capt. Katherine Redmond
Try, try again
If you start the docking process wrong, begin again. Many boaters feel embarrassed to back off an improperly aligned docking attempt, so they stay with it, vrooming forward, shrieking into reverse, banging into this, dinging that, haplessly attempting to correct the uncorrectable.
It’s much easier—and more professional—to abort the ill-fated maneuver and start over.
By Capt. Katherine RedmondA student in my Boat Docking Tips Course said he feared entering his slip because he didn’t know how long it would take his boat to stop. This made me realize how scary it would be if every time I pulled into my garage, I didn’t know how far my car would travel after I stepped on the brake.
Before you can dock your boat successfully, you must know how it responds to your commands, while keeping in mind that external forces can alter your boat’s reactions a little or a lot depending upon conditions.
By Capt. Kathrine Redmond
In my next few articles, I’ll share information as though you have just completed your boating safety class and are gathering on-land, theoretical knowledge of the docking process.In my previous column, I mentioned that the helmsperson must stop the movement of the boat in the slip so that the line handler can step off the boat, not jump off. Over the years, I have seen line handlers suffer broken and sprained ankles and have seen them fall into the water when skippers come into the slip too quickly and line handlers attempt to stop the boat by jumping onto the dock to tie a line. This practice is dangerous. The helmsperson’s job is to stop the movement of the boat in the slip!Read More
By Katherine Redmond
In my next few articles, I’ll share information as though you have just completed your boating safety class and are gathering on-land, theoretical knowledge of the docking process.Most boaters would agree that docking a boat is the most difficult maneuver in the sport. It’s amazing to watch adventurers who have crossed oceans become uncomfortable when docking their vessels. If we are to become proficient at docking, we should learn all that we can about the task through on-land lessons and on-the-water skill drills.
By Capt. Katherine RedmondMy favorite story revolves around an experience my husband and I had while travelling on the Intracoastal Waterway in our first powerboat during our first live-aboard experience. (We had previously been sailors.) Having no experience with powerboats and after spending three weeks in a V-berth on our friend’s sailboat, we bought what should have been a houseboat. It had a full-size refrigerator and stove and a large bathtub! It also had a single inboard engine (which, in my opinion, is the most difficult to control, especially in reverse), a shallow keel, and was so top-heavy that a sneeze could cause its 46-foot frame to heel precariously.
By Bill Gesele
- Always make sure the slip isn’t too small or too large for your boat. A too-small slip spreads the poles and may affect the boat next to you. In a too-large slip, your boat could swing past the bow poles and damage neighboring boats.
- Always have your stern lines attached to the cleats before docking. This sounds basic, but haven’t we all been tossed an unattached line while the boat flounders?
- Never (and this happens all too often) allow anyone to stand on the swim platform or outside the boat while docking. One wrong move could put that person in the water and in the path of the running gear.
- Have fenders, not hands, ready to avoid the boat next to you. Fenders and boats can be replaced—limbs, not too easily.
- Keep the engines running until your boat is securely tied to the dock. You may have to give a short forward burst if your boat gets too close.
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