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Old 06-18-2016, 06:34 AM   #21
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The best thing loads of practice will do is to teach you that there ARE wind speeds and currents that make it very foolish to attempt to back in a slip.

You do not have to perform seppuku if you decide to go bow in.
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Old 06-18-2016, 09:08 AM   #22
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I learned the basics of backing in using the same youtube video posted above, and just like the others have said practice is everything. I'm for sure a rookie at backing, but it's the only way we go now as it makes getting on/off the boat easier. It's sort of like riding a bike in that once you figure it out.....

Being single screw and with no thruster ( it's in the boat just not connected) I prefer to back to port. Everything is done at idle with my ruder hard over until the boat gets between the piers and we're for sure headed backwards and sort of lined up, then I'll straighten the rudder. The rudder is never touched until a quarter of the boat is between the piers. If the wind is playing a factor, I'll sometimes have to give a kick ahead to get things moving in the correct direction, but 99% of the time, I lay off the throttle.

It took me a while to focus on the fact that the stern of the boat is what's turning which controls the bow. At slow speeds backing, once you straighten the rudder, it has not much effect since the boat's moving so slow, but it does respond. Once the rudder gets straightened, while reversing, point the rudder in the direction you want the stern to go. For us, when we get far enough into the slip we get a bow line on a pier, ( preferably the same side as the finger pier ), and at that point holding her in reverse will bring the stern up against the finger pier, and then we start getting lines where they need to be. Our rule is no jumping to finger piers...have to be close enough to step off.

Every so often all the stars line up and I can get her in on the first try, but I'll for sure abort the attempt and come back around if things are not going smooth enough. I"ll do a standing turn in the fairway to ensure we're going in to port, but sometimes we have to back to starboard, for which because of the prop walk, she's not as easy to massage.

That youtube video was spot on for me in regard as to the fundamentals of this skill, and gave me a good base line for having a mental check list in my mind as I bring the boat down the fairway.... stop the boat...begin turn...put stern quarter on line with pier....forward...reverse....forward...reverse...y ou get the idea. I will say that I'm a happy captain when we're coming into the harbor with the flags pointing straight down, and my neighbor is standing on the pier with waving to me waiting to catch a line.

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Old 06-18-2016, 12:57 PM   #23
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Good point....



I don't have a sitting area aft, and if I did, I might still pull in for a bit more privacy.
I agree, we like our privacy and have a nice seating area aft so I most often bow in, we board from the sides as well as they are low and covered.

We really like looking down the fairway instead of under the dock and up at the dock walkers in the evening.

Thruster so it's not a matter of easier, just what we do.
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Old 06-18-2016, 01:53 PM   #24
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Most power and sailing vessels that I have handled tend to fall-off at the bow when there's any wind. The bow being higher than the rest of the hull, it is exposed to greater force, with correspondingly less underwater mass to dig in. When there's more wind, the bow falls away faster. The most extreme example was a 65' aluminum two-decked sightseeing boat with V-drives, meaning every bit of machinery weight was all the way aft. The bow blew around like a kite if anyone so much as sneezed nearby. In any wind at all, the thing demanded constant vigilance.

As the others here have suggested, the wind and the current are your friends. If you let them, they'll often help you make your boat go where you want it to. Backing the stern close to your intended stopping place, you can attenuate the direction of movement, even with a single with no thruster, by slipping the shifter into forward, putting the rudder hard over in opposite direction that you want the stern to go, and goosing the throttle a few times - not enough to gather headway, just enough to kick the stern sideways. Then center the rudder while shifting back to reverse, and give it enough power to resume sternway for another short distance. Repeat as necessary.

I once had an engine failure on a twin-engined sportfisherman. Due to the dock configuration, it had to be backed into its slip. Naturally, this happened after dark at the end of a long day, and with a fresh breeze on the forward quarter. I did as above, beginning the maneuver slightly upwind of the slip, and treating it as if it was a single-engined boat with feeble running gear. It worked.

As others note, some single-engined power or sail boats can be steered in reverse. That requires gathering enough sternway to get water flowing across the rudder surface. When maneuvering in close quarters, that is rarely an option.
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Old 06-18-2016, 02:58 PM   #25
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Most power and sailing vessels that I have handled tend to fall-off at the bow when there's any wind. The bow being higher than the rest of the hull, it is exposed to greater force, with correspondingly less underwater mass to dig in.
This may be why I have had more difficult with my boat. I am used to the same behavior as you describe. However, I am finding that on a beam wind, the bow isn't falling off like I am used to. If I am facing a quartering headwind, the bow will fall off, but only until the wind is on the beam. With a quartering wind from the stern, the stern will fall off. I am not yet used to it so I don't yet have an instinctual sense of how the boat will respond to the wind.

The other, rather silly, issue is that I am used to sailboats that have wind direction and speed indicators. My boat doesn't. I am also used to steering a sailboat out in the open. In my PH, I not only don't have a wind indicator, I don't feel the wind on my face and neck like I am used to. Again, something that I will get used to, but if I was ever going to commission a new boat, I would definitely have wind speed and direction indicators installed in the pilothouse.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:06 PM   #26
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dhays wrote: "I am also used to steering a sailboat out in the open. In my PH, I not only don't have a wind indicator, I don't feel the wind on my face and neck like I am used to."

Yep, it was similar for me when transitioning from captaining charter sailboats to running a passenger vessel from an enclosed, air-conditioned pilothouse three decks above the water. I quickly learned to read the wave shapes - they are pretty much perpendicular to the wind direction.

Your boat, Kinship, has a nice jackstaff on the bow pulpit. If you fly a pennant there, it'll indicate wind relative direction for you at a glance.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:11 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Blissboat;
Your boat, Kinship, has a nice jackstaff on the bow pulpit. If you fly a pennant there, it'll indicate wind relative direction for you at a glance.
He has one.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:12 PM   #28
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Your boat, Kinship, has a nice jackstaff on the bow pulpit. If you fly a pennant there, it'll indicate wind relative direction for you at a glance.
True. Oddly enough I have found that with brisk, steady winds I have less of a problem than with the variable winds that I get in my home port. Gig Harbor is a small, steep sided harbor. Very nice and protected. However, I learned to sail here when I was 5. Because of the geography, the wind tends to swirl around, changing direction and speed in seemingly random ways. The burgee on the bow is a bit too low and a bit too stiff to be a good indicator in those conditions. I have thought about adding a yarn tell tale to the top.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:19 PM   #29
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dhays wrote: "The burgee on the bow is a bit too low and a bit too stiff to be a good indicator in those conditions. I have thought about adding a yarn tell tale to the top."

Yep, had a similar problem on a big boat with a stubby little jackstaff and a tiny, stiff pennant. There, I drilled into the top of the jackstaff, threaded in a bolt and attached a strip of orange sailboat "telltale" ribbon with a grommet that allowed the telltale to swivel freely around the bolt. Even on a dark night it was helpful.

You are right to note that this can be unreliable in close quarters, surrounded by buildings or other boats that create shifts and backdrafts. Nothing beats a fifty-foot mast with a Windex at the top!
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:21 PM   #30
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Yep, had a similar problem on a big boat with a stubby little jackstaff and a tiny, stiff pennant. There, I drilled into the top of the jackstaff, threaded in a bolt and attached a strip of orange sailboat "telltale" ribbon with a grommet that allowed the telltale to swivel freely around the bolt. Even on a dark night it was helpful.
That is a great idea....
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Old 06-18-2016, 06:38 PM   #31
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Slight OT in Australia we MUST stern in not bow in due to safety issues is this not the same in America ?
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Old 06-18-2016, 07:01 PM   #32
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Slight OT in Australia we MUST stern in not bow in due to safety issues is this not the same in America ?
What are the safety issues?
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Old 06-18-2016, 07:12 PM   #33
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What are the safety issues?


It is 95% easier to mount the dock in forward as apposed to reverse .This rule was made after several bad accidents and as a prevention this rule has been applied .

Australia has become a bloody nanny control country for control on safety issues there is a massive industry formed just to look after safety either work place or----------
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Old 06-18-2016, 07:39 PM   #34
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It is 95% easier to mount the dock in forward as apposed to reverse .This rule was made after several bad accidents and as a prevention this rule has been applied .
I am afraid I still don't understand. "Mount the dock"?
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Old 06-18-2016, 07:57 PM   #35
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Every one has been chiming in with their thoughts which pretty much concur. I will add one more thing to bring into the equation.

You mentioned 'a slip'. It's one thing if it's your slip, with lines ready, and you know where the downwind pile will be. (So you don't blow down on the boat across from you). But you have to make a quick assessment of its a new slip to you if there is any piling between you and the down wind slip, Or if there's 30' of gleaming topside and plexiglass Windows to crack on the neighbor. Each will help you decide whether to try the back in or head in.

Sometimes it's not what your boat can do, but what's around you that makes your decision for you.
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Old 06-18-2016, 07:58 PM   #36
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Bow in works for us for all the reasons stated including dinghy on stern and privacy. Plus it is just darn easier going in and backing out. I have twins now but did have a single previously and finally figured out the prop walk thing.
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:07 PM   #37
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Besides the bow burgee, I check the wind-direction indicators of nearby sailboats.

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Old 06-18-2016, 08:58 PM   #38
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I actually prefer stern in. Have a much better view of what's going on because of my stern docking station. Bow seems to follow wherever the stern goes. Access to the dock is usually better off the swim platform than the pilothouse doors.

If I want privacy on my back deck, I won't be in a marina. Privacy and marina are mutually exclusive terms.

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Old 06-19-2016, 12:59 AM   #39
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My burgee is made of silk, making it a good indicator of wind direction because of its lack of stiffness.

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Old 06-19-2016, 07:46 AM   #40
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Stern To makes getting off and on quite simple , at the price of a total loss of privacy.

One is on display in the cockpit , and many boats have glass sliders that allow a great dock view , almost to the anchor locker.

I think the folks down under should require a professional backing pilot for every marina docking.

Would be even safer.
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