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Old 09-26-2013, 11:05 AM   #21
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Did I mention this forum is awesome......great insights and advice guys...I will be single handing the vast majority of the time and plan to do extensive cruising so this advice and insight are much appreciated. I definitley like the idea of a fly bridge and realize that the docking etc. will be better accomplished at the lower helm. Obviously access to the deck from the lower helm to both the port and starboard sides would be a greart advantage as well, such as is found in a pilot house design, but the problem I am seeing is most trawler layouts with a flybridge only have access to the starboard side from the lower helm, and as mentioned by Bay Pelican rear visability is an issue with these designs. Are there any manufactures/designers I should look at which meet the above criteria?
Hi Dan...

I'm not sure if you mentioned the size range of trawler you seek??

Over the years... I have quite a few times single handed boats in the 31' to 40' range. My own boats always have a fly bridge, wouldn't be without one, which is where I do 99% of my piloting. I also require a lower pilot station on my boats for redundancy-safety as well as if per chance when traveling real bad weather or too tall seas strike. I have single hand piloted and docked a few times from the lower station in boats other than my own that had no bridge; I was NOT comfortable due to lack of 360 degree visibility. As you mention, the need for visibility is a strong factor... I say especially when single handed and no other eyes to help you see in back while maneuvering tight quarters. IMO 360 degree visibility is paramount to help insure docking safety, especially for back and forth maneuvering if shat hits the fan for any reason and you’re single handed. While cruising with no close quarter maneuverings necessary the lower helm works OK too; but, down below, the pilot simply does not have the expansive views for safety (and visual pleasure IMHO) offered from the bridge, so, the chances of recognizing a dead head to avoid collision become notably reduced.

Therefore... If pilot is considerably fleet of foot and pre sets fenders and lines correctly for docking then accomplishing single handed docking from the bridge is no big deal in calm conditions. Rougher the current and wind gets, more difficult docking becomes, especially single handed. Spring lines are a boat’s (pilot’s) best friend when docking. As long as you can get one or two springs quickly hooked onto the dock in fairly tight accord the rest of line fastenings become paint-by-numbers. If there are persons on dock who know how to assist for spring line tying... all the easier/better for single hand operation.

Our Tolly has two cleats each side that serve for spring lines. They sit on gunnels, spread approx 4’ each from center of boat. By close-fastening either line to dock greatly stabilizes boat to remain parallel with dock and in front/back position on dock. By close-fastening both guarantees boat stays put!!


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Old 09-26-2013, 11:06 AM   #22
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With the stern line on I can then take my time. A midship line will keep me from drifting away, but in a current, the boat will rotate on that line making it difficult to get the aft line attached. So when docking with the current, I get the stern line on first and take my time with the rest as the current pulls the boat into the dock.

...

Also, I rarely try and use spring lines for maneuvering when single handing. It just seems like too many things could go wrong. Another case for having a boat with good low-speed maneuverability.

I think your stern line used this way is partially acting as a spring, anyway?

-Chris
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Old 09-26-2013, 11:22 AM   #23
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many times which line goes on first is more dependent on an approach angle, whether there will be a lot of suction when close aboard, people around to help, whether tying to posts or cleats, etc..etc...

no one situation describes it all....
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Old 09-26-2013, 11:29 AM   #24
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many times which line goes on first is more dependent on an approach angle, whether there will be a lot of suction when close aboard, people around to help, whether tying to posts or cleats, etc..etc...

no one situation describes it all....
Yah, what he said!
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:25 PM   #25
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I single hand the majority of the time, and agree with most of what's been said. However, I don't know that it's that important to have access to both port and starboard sides. My helm is on the starboard side, and that makes it very easy to lean out the door and see how close I am to the dock. As a result, I always dock to the starboard side. If I end up in a situation where I have a port-tie slip, I back in.

I rarely walk the port deck, and now better appreciate some of the asymmetric house designs. Also, I love driving from the flybridge, but have never tried docking from it.

I also mostly agree with the midship cleat. On my boat, I can usually get a line on within seconds of coming to a stop. I say mostly because I'm often docking in currents, and contrary to what you're taught, I find it much easier when single handing to dock with the current. Two reasons. First my boat backs to starboard so with correct rudder position and throttle I can get the stern in and quickly get the stern line on. With the stern line on I can then take my time. A midship line will keep me from drifting away, but in a current, the boat will rotate on that line making it difficult to get the aft line attached. So when docking with the current, I get the stern line on first and take my time with the rest as the current pulls the boat into the dock.

I'm not going to re-open the twins vs single debate. I will say that it is important to have the tools (bow thruster in my case) to dock more precisely. You want to be as close to the dock as possible so that you have more time to do what would normally be done by your crew. Also, I rarely try and use spring lines for maneuvering when single handing. It just seems like too many things could go wrong. Another case for having a boat with good low-speed maneuverability.
I definately am going to make sure bow thrusters are part of the package and as you say not to "re-open the twins vs singles debate", I have decided to stick with a single engine trawler...I am also glad to hear that with proper planning and procedure the single starboard side door at the lower helm is not an insurmountable issue either...
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:49 PM   #26
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Hi Dan...

I'm not sure if you mentioned the size range of trawler you seek??

Over the years... I have quite a few times single handed boats in the 31' to 40' range. My own boats always have a fly bridge, wouldn't be without one, which is where I do 99% of my piloting. I also require a lower pilot station on my boats for redundancy-safety as well as if per chance when traveling real bad weather or too tall seas strike. I have single hand piloted and docked a few times from the lower station in boats other than my own that had no bridge; I was NOT comfortable due to lack of 360 degree visibility. As you mention, the need for visibility is a strong factor... I say especially when single handed and no other eyes to help you see in back while maneuvering tight quarters. IMO 360 degree visibility is paramount to help insure docking safety, especially for back and forth maneuvering if shat hits the fan for any reason and you’re single handed. While cruising with no close quarter maneuverings necessary the lower helm works OK too; but, down below, the pilot simply does not have the expansive views for safety (and visual pleasure IMHO) offered from the bridge, so, the chances of recognizing a dead head to avoid collision become notably reduced.

Therefore... If pilot is considerably fleet of foot and pre sets fenders and lines correctly for docking then accomplishing single handed docking from the bridge is no big deal in calm conditions. Rougher the current and wind gets, more difficult docking becomes, especially single handed. Spring lines are a boat’s (pilot’s) best friend when docking. As long as you can get one or two springs quickly hooked onto the dock in fairly tight accord the rest of line fastenings become paint-by-numbers. If there are persons on dock who know how to assist for spring line tying... all the easier/better for single hand operation.

Our Tolly has two cleats each side that serve for spring lines. They sit on gunnels, spread approx 4’ each from center of boat. By close-fastening either line to dock greatly stabilizes boat to remain parallel with dock and in front/back position on dock. By close-fastening both guarantees boat stays put!!


Happy Boating Daze! - Art
Hey Art...I was thinking about 36' to 42'...really like the layout of the Defever 41...not sure if it is conducive to single handing though, especially since the starboard door is not next to lower helm but out of the salon...
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:51 PM   #27
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Our Tolly has two cleats each side that serve for spring lines. They sit on gunnels, spread approx 4’ each from center of boat. By close-fastening either line to dock greatly stabilizes boat to remain parallel with dock and in front/back position on dock. By close-fastening both guarantees boat stays put!!
My boat also has two near-midship cleats both on port and starboard sides. A spring line is attached to one cleat and the line can be tossed over the dock cleat and the free end of the line is tied to the other midship cleat to initially/temporarily secure the boat against the dock.

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Old 09-26-2013, 02:04 PM   #28
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My boat also has two near-midship cleats both on port and starboard sides. A spring line is attached to one cleat and the line can be tossed over the dock cleat and the free end of the line is tied to the mother midship cleat to initially/temporarily secure the boat against the dock.
You see, Mark - - > That simply proves it! Both our boats are simply some of the greatest toys discussed on TF!!

Congrats to you and me! Happy Boating Daze!! - Art
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:01 PM   #29
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The question of how large of boat can I handle comes up but the real question for me is always how small of a boat can accomplish your mission. Threads like this when shopping for a boat gave me the impression that since I will be able to handle a larger boat why not look for one. Eventually I came full circle and found joy in a smaller boat.
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Old 09-26-2013, 05:38 PM   #30
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The question of how large of boat can I handle comes up but the real question for me is always how small of a boat can accomplish your mission. Threads like this when shopping for a boat gave me the impression that since I will be able to handle a larger boat why not look for one. Eventually I came full circle and found joy in a smaller boat.
I'm with you Craig... regarding "... joy in a smaller boat"; partly due to increased affordability and reduced upkeep effort as well as ease of handling and sheer fun in gunk holing.

A primary reason we purchased our 34' tri cabin Tolly (besides her great build, being in good condition, and priced right) was and still is because it's the smallest boat of that model/style that fits our current needs for self contained and separated yet comfortable onboard accommodations. She easily provides plenty of room for us two as well as a couple or three family members when desired, for multiple overnights on the hook. And, in good weather during the day a party of 10 can find room to lounge and enjoy.

If our future holds annual coastal cruising from Alaska to Mexico, with SF as home base, I will likely keep our boat's size below 50'. I don't need big boat just for the sake of having big boat and I can cruise coastal as well as inland waters very confidently in skinny draft 44 to 50 foot SD or P hull, twin or single screw. Been there done that for years throughout New England on a 38’ SD sport fish sedan. The way I was taught and still always look at it: “Travel with the weather... not against it”!
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:27 PM   #31
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I think your stern line used this way is partially acting as a spring, anyway?

-Chris
Yes, technically you are correct. But it's a really short spring line!

Here's are two other single-hand considerations.

1. Autopilot: Don't leave the dock without one! I use mine all of the time, especially when I'm taking in, or putting out lines and fenders.

2. My galley is on the same level as the helm, and I have good visibility in all directions. With the autopilot, I can easily wash breakfast dishes after an early start, or fix lunch on a longer run.
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Old 09-29-2013, 10:22 PM   #32
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I single hand 99.9% of the time. I am on the Great Loop and with 4,000 miles, over 100 locks, and 100 or so dockings and many anchorages behind me I have a few thoughts.

As always, how and where you use the boat maters. If you have a home dock that you use regularly, then the dock can be set up to make your life easier which makes a larger boat more practical. If you live in an area with limited locks that too makes a larger boat more practical.

Traveling the way I do, my requirements were (and still are);
No larger than 40 feet, my boat is 36'.
Doors on both sides of the cabin.
Walk around decks, all on one level.
The ability to move sideways, twins or at least one thruster (mine has a stern thruster and I like it).
Upper and lower helms.

I have length of the boat lines on all four corners, 24 foot mid lines and enough fenders for both sides. I never know until the last minute which side of a lock or dock I will be on.

I find that my Marine Trader 36 is both comfortable and manageable.

Best of luck and have fun,
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:22 AM   #33
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>I have length of the boat lines on all four corners,<

A line at the bow that can not go overboard and NOT reach the prop might be long enough.
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:53 AM   #34
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FF,
Shorter lines make great sense for most situations. I agree that lines that don't reach the prop would bring peace of mind.

Traveling the way I do, the longer lines work better for me. Single handing through locks, docking to barges, canal walls, etc brings special challenges. I have been down to the bitter end many times.

So, again, it depends on where and how the boat is used. My comment was intended to point out that a single hander often doesn't have the luxury of swapping lines and fenders around like a crewed boat does.

Thanks,
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Old 09-30-2013, 02:52 PM   #35
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I single hand 99.9% of the time. I am on the Great Loop and with 4,000 miles, over 100 locks, and 100 or so dockings and many anchorages behind me I have a few thoughts.

As always, how and where you use the boat maters. If you have a home dock that you use regularly, then the dock can be set up to make your life easier which makes a larger boat more practical. If you live in an area with limited locks that too makes a larger boat more practical.

Traveling the way I do, my requirements were (and still are);
No larger than 40 feet, my boat is 36'.
Doors on both sides of the cabin.
Walk around decks, all on one level.
The ability to move sideways, twins or at least one thruster (mine has a stern thruster and I like it).
Upper and lower helms.

I have length of the boat lines on all four corners, 24 foot mid lines and enough fenders for both sides. I never know until the last minute which side of a lock or dock I will be on.

I find that my Marine Trader 36 is both comfortable and manageable.

Best of luck and have fun,
Arch
Arch,

Thanks for insights...I plan to be single handing less than you...more on the order of 60-75% of the time. My home port and most of my cruising should be devoid of locks etc. (even though I am planning to eventually be single handing the loop), so while a 36 footer may be comfortable and manageable, I would think that if the other requirements you noted were met, then under most circumstances other than high winds, currents etc. a fellow should be able to handle a boat in the 40 to 44 foot range without undo drama...what say you?
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Old 09-30-2013, 03:53 PM   #36
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Old 09-30-2013, 09:33 PM   #37
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Arch,

Thanks for insights...I plan to be single handing less than you...more on the order of 60-75% of the time. My home port and most of my cruising should be devoid of locks etc. (even though I am planning to eventually be single handing the loop), so while a 36 footer may be comfortable and manageable, I would think that if the other requirements you noted were met, then under most circumstances other than high winds, currents etc. a fellow should be able to handle a boat in the 40 to 44 foot range without undo drama...what say you?
40-44 should be no problem...I pretty much single hand my 40 (really a smallish 39) for 2-3000 miles a year up/down the ICW.

If you are good it's not hard at all...even with a single/no thruster. The more inexperienced you are or the less time you have to get better..then the boat has to be set up a little better for you...but still doable.
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Old 10-01-2013, 02:43 AM   #38
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For what it's worth, my feeling re docking short-handed is the benefit of quick access to the docking side through a pilot door, hence not agreeing with Art on this one re docking from the flybridge - too much risk of injury thundering down to secure a line before the boat drifts off, even though I agree the 360 degree vis is handy - it's not essential. Having the right angle and speed of approach and being able to get out there and secure quick is essential.
The other thing is the benefit of getting a roughly mid-ships spring line fixed, so that, and this is the important bit, one can then gently pin the boat against the dock by engaging forward or rearward thrust at idle, while you do the rest. Ie the boat only moves a short distance and it is pinned against the dock. A line that is either too far forward, or too far back, means you can only achieve this effect in one direction, astern or fowards, and you might not have room for that. Just a thought...
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:53 AM   #39
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For what it's worth, my feeling re docking short-handed is the benefit of quick access to the docking side through a pilot door, hence not agreeing with Art on this one re docking from the flybridge - too much risk of injury thundering down to secure a line before the boat drifts off, even though I agree the 360 degree vis is handy - it's not essential. Having the right angle and speed of approach and being able to get out there and secure quick is essential.
The other thing is the benefit of getting a roughly mid-ships spring line fixed, so that, and this is the important bit, one can then gently pin the boat against the dock by engaging forward or rearward thrust at idle, while you do the rest. Ie the boat only moves a short distance and it is pinned against the dock. A line that is either too far forward, or too far back, means you can only achieve this effect in one direction, astern or fowards, and you might not have room for that. Just a thought...
Pete

I agree that being next to pilot door could be quicker access than from bridge for some boats’ layouts. My Tolly allows me to come over side of sundeck after only one step down from bridge to sundeck and then exit to dock through Tolly's full length side railing in just two steps. That said, being fleet of foot is required as there are some twists, turns, and direction changes. In my case and in my boat's layout case it currently pleases me more to dock single handed via fly bridge operations. Additionally, if it became necessary, I pre ready by leaving the salon door open so that if need be I can again board and quickly regain pilot control from upper or lower station. Importantly, before docking I make sure to have all fenders, lines, boat hook... etc well in place before entering into docking maneuvers. I do those make ready actions whether docking by myself or with crew.

Also - I surely agree that via spring line usage a boat can be pinned against dock by idling in forward or reverse. And, I have done this while at helm and crew is in process of attaching other lines. However, I must say, unless the most unusual and stringent of circumstances were to occur (not simple single handed docking) I will NEVER leave my boat in propulsion gear at any rpm or in any direction while I am off board and not ready-at-the-helm to take actions that might become required. There are simply too many unforeseen circumstances that may occur wherein the boat breaks loose. Ramifications of potential calamities with a loose, propulsion engaged boat having no person aboard are simply too high for my liking. I do not recall ever having left a boat in gear while no one was aboard, especially me when I was the sole acting pilot, whether others were aboard or not! That’s simply the way I see it - IMHO
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Old 10-01-2013, 01:50 PM   #40
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Regarding docking: I dock from the fly bridge when I know I have help at the dock. I will also dock from the fly bridge when there is no wind or current or the wind/current are working for me. Otherwise I dock from the lower helm.

When single handing, rear visibility is a big deal. My boat does not have good rear visibility. In a narrow, crowded fairway this can be a big deal especially when everything goes to #%^*. And it will go there eventually.

I never leave the boat until it is secure. In gear, out of gear, doesn't matter. Once I step off the boat onto the dock, I have lost control. Secure will mean different things in different situations and conditions. This is where having long dock lines can make a difference.

Getting back to size. I would rather singlehand a well setup 50 footer than a poorly setup 30 footer. I have watched folks try to get a line on a cleat by reaching through the side curtain on a 30 foot SeaRay and wind up sideways. I have also watched a friend bring in a Fleming 55 twin engine with bow and stern thrusters against a 2 knot current with complete authority. He is also a very skilled helmsman who would tell you that when it all goes to #%^*, his boat is too big to singlehand.

The best advice I received and will pass on is to get the smallest boat that will meet your needs, set it up well, and sleep well at night.

Arch

PS: remember that everything gets bigger, heavier, and more expensive as the boat gets longer.
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