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Old 04-27-2015, 02:09 PM   #41
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"Originally Posted by Chris Foster View Post
So I'm curious about how folks here got good at getting their boats back into the slip.

It seems that all of the printed material and books out there concern getting single engine boats alongside docks using spring lines.* There doesn't seem to be much of anything about getting twin engine boats into slips beyond "center the rudder and use the shifters."

I agree practice is key BUT - you have to know what to practice and how you should be doing it... kinda like golf - if you don't know how to correctly swing the club all the practice at the driving range will likely only perpetuate bad practices.

So key in my mind are:
- Learn about how your type of boat handles (single, twin, thrusters etc) by reading, looking at videos online and talking to others w/ similar type of boats that seem to be doing it well - go with them on their boat and ask them to explain what they are doing and WHY.
You should be familiar with things like...
* where is the pivot point when turning? going fwd? going Rev?
* how much prop walk & what direction do I get in rev? in Fwd?
w/ single or for each engine when using only one

- Then go practice w/ your boat - in open water - to get a feel for how it handles when trying the things you've learned you should be doing.
Get familiar with your boat...
* where is the pivot point when turning? going fwd? going Rev?
* how much prop walk & what direction do I get in rev? in Fwd?
w/ single or for each engine when using only one
- Get someone experienced to come aboard your boat to observe and later offer constructive comments / suggestions.

Repeat above to improve!

I absolutely agree having a plan and communication are key -
2bucks in post #29 summarized the communication issues extremely well - know your limitations and develop ways to compensate for the "weaknesses"
also have a plan B - if / when that doesn't work what are we going to do. I strongly recommend the "pull out" get time to regroup, replan & communicate is not done frequently enough.
Talking an runabouts & smaller boats is probably OK - hand signals are probably req'd on larger vessels and we have and sometimes use headsets that allow 2 way communication without yelling, screaming etc. they are not all that expensive and if you are learning a great way to reinforce the right moves and "gently" correct improper ones.

Sometimes watching what others do wrong is a great learning experience - Admiral & I have sat & watched other teams lock and/or dock and observed what happens when one crew member fends off from bow or stern thinking they are doing the right things but never sees the big picture where the reaction swings the other end of the boat uncontrollably and to the point the Capt had a hard time or couldn't compensate. Having my admiral observe "from afar" & comment about the reaction was more valuable than anything I could have said or done.

My Rules agreed to W/ the Admiral (& any other crew aboard)
  1. Have lines attached ahead of time when coming in to a dock even if you have permanent ones secured to the dock that you use - if something goes wrong you can toss a line to someone ashore.
  2. No one jumps off to dock / shore etc - wait until Capt gets the boat close enough to step off - or stand by and wait
  3. No hands, legs or body parts between boat & dock, etc - scratches & dings come with the territory and are not the end of the world - paint, gel coat etc can be repaired - no damage to bodies!!
  4. Capt responsible to Communicate the plan & test for understanding - if it's not done correctly it's the Capt's fault - either didn't communicate well enough or didn't train well enough ahead of time
  5. If others are on the dock assisting be clear ahead of time what you want them to do AND not to do - and who (capt or mate, etc) will be communicating with them
  6. No yelling, screaming allowed - and it never helps during the situation - calm constructive conversation after is allowed and encouraged

Finally thoughts on spring lines... when docking
We have one permanently attached to our dock and it's the first line to go over a cleat - don't worry about fully attaching it the correct way to the cleat - just drop it over - and if someone is on the dock to help we instruct them to put that line on the mid cleat. We are now attached to the dock... We can pull us closer - others can pull us closer if needed and it keeps us from backing in too far and it brings us closer to the dock automatically.
- I have yet to throw a spring line to someone ashore and have them do with it what I would like done - they don't know my plan and may not have any idea what it is even supposed to do so... I prefer to throw someone ashore the eye end of a line and instruct them which cleat to place it around - I then - myself or trained crew - can use the spring as we have discussed / planed and can agree to abort if/when necessary
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Old 04-27-2015, 03:00 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Chris Foster View Post
So I'm curious about how folks here got good at getting their boats back into the slip.
In my opinion, 25% of operating a boat successfully is knowing your boat, how it responds to rudder, power, and inertia. 25% is simply doing it, experiencing different situations, dealing with them, learning, and practice.

The remaining 50%, and I can be convinced it's actually more than 50%, is logic and common sense.

So over the years we have gotten to know our PNW boat very well. We know how it responds to power on both or individual engines, we know how it responds to rudder, and most important, we know how it responds to inertia and what it takes to overcome it.

But every docking, even in our own slip, is different. The wind is always different, the current is different, the lighting is different, the space at the dock is different, the adjacent boats if there are any are different, and these things combine to make each experience just a bit different. So in our opinons, it's not a matter of learning how to do it. It's a matter of learning how to judge it.

Once we have determined what we're facing, we can then call on all the techniques and practices we've been learning over the years to match the best ones to each individual situation.
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Old 04-27-2015, 03:16 PM   #43
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But every docking, even in our own slip, is different. The wind is always different, the current is different, the lighting is different, the space at the dock is different, the adjacent boats if there are any are different, and these things combine to make each experience just a bit different. So in our opinons, it's not a matter of learning how to do it. It's a matter of learning how to judge it.

Once we have determined what we're facing, we can then call on all the techniques and practices we've been learning over the years to match the best ones to each individual situation.
Good points, and that's a good distinction, about learning to judge. Then apply technique to that judgement, with further corrections as necessary when the circumstances evolve.

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Old 04-27-2015, 03:38 PM   #44
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I have been following this thread and I would also add that no matter how many times you do it there is still a bit of flutter until you are tied down.

I would also add that I purchased 2-way radios for my wife and I. They are called "marriage savers" literally. They really do reduce the anxiety as we can talk to each other without yelling! I can't see the back of the swim step where she jumps and it is nice to know she made it
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Old 04-28-2015, 12:37 AM   #45
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I used to be pretty good with a single and a bow thruster. But now I am even better with twins variable speed bow and stern thrusters and the whole thing hooked into a wireless remote Yacht Controller unit hanging on my neck. I single hand and dock a 52 ft LOA boat often backing into tight slips standing on stern side deck or bow or walking all over the place including the dock I go where the visibility and position is most critical.. I can step ashore tie down stern walk forward on dock keeping boat under control and tie the bow its an amazing improvement in single hand control.
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Old 04-28-2015, 06:44 AM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
I operate singlehanded at least 50% of the time, and use a spring line for docking my single screw boat.

I have to leave the helm as I pull into the slip to drop the spring line onto the dock cleat from the cockpit. This all works well as long as I am within reach. If I am too far away I have to rush quickly back to the helm and hit reverse, abandoning the docking attempt.
Last week I installed a small flexible flagpole next to the cleat, which enabled me to know exactly where it was at all times. Also it showed me the wind direction at the dock. It seems like it will be a big help in being sure of my positioning without an extra set of eyes.
Can I suggest Aus, (from personal experience, and taking note of Marin's method as well), next step is fix a hook onto said pole and leave a stern to midships spring line fixed to the dock, with the loop for the midship cleat over the hook. Then all you need to is grab the loop off the hook by hand or boathook, slip it over your midships cleat as you glide slowly in with prop in reverse to pull the stern in, and Bob's your uncle, like in Marin's post, (32 on P2) you are home and hosed, (as we say). We do a similar thing, and it's great for any docking, but especially if solo. Admittedly easier if you have a pilot door on the docking side, but maybe you could lean out with the boathook and grab that loop and slip it on the cleat. Otherwise you'd need to zip out back to do it, but probably still easier than trying to slip a looped line fixed to the boat to a dock cleat.
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Old 04-28-2015, 07:06 AM   #47
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One problem with docking with only one method, or relying on lines to get and keep the boat alongside.....is you are setting yourself up for failure when cruising as all the tricks in the book need to be practiced regularly.

But the real trick is to be able to get your boat to where it needs to be without lines. Then having them available in any combination makes the final steps easier.

Sure there are some situations where only expert spring handling or thrusters will get you in without manpower hauling on long lines....but it's your choice to dock there at that moment usually, probably not an emergency situation.

Any technique that gets you into a home slip easily and safely...that is great but realize it may only work some of the time while traveling. If you have the luxury of always going to floating docks and tying alongside, a couple techniques will probably take care of most docking situations.
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Old 04-28-2015, 08:34 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter B View Post
Can I suggest Aus, (from personal experience, and taking note of Marin's method as well), next step is fix a hook onto said pole and leave a stern to midships spring line fixed to the dock, with the loop for the midship cleat over the hook. Then all you need to is grab the loop off the hook by hand or boathook, slip it over your midships cleat as you glide slowly in with prop in reverse to pull the stern in, and Bob's your uncle, like in Marin's post, (32 on P2) you are home and hosed, (as we say). We do a similar thing, and it's great for any docking, but especially if solo. Admittedly easier if you have a pilot door on the docking side, but maybe you could lean out with the boathook and grab that loop and slip it on the cleat. Otherwise you'd need to zip out back to do it, but probably still easier than trying to slip a looped line fixed to the boat to a dock cleat.
I've considered that, Peter; I can reach out the helm window to grab the line, but my midship cleat is about 2 meters foreword. Slipping the line on there is probably more difficult than reaching the dock cleat.
I was going to move the cleat further back but the aft end of the boat doesn't pull into the dock nearly as well.
Another option I am thinking of is using a heavy carabiner type snap hook at the end of a 2 meter line from the midship cleat, and clipping this onto the fixed dock line.
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Old 04-28-2015, 08:59 AM   #49
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I'm still docking by braille.
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Old 04-28-2015, 12:31 PM   #50
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I can also highly recommend Charles T. Lowe's book on boat handling. Very useful.

Can you please share the title of this book. I can't find it - and I've been looking all over with Google - with just the info you've described.

Thanks so much!
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Old 04-28-2015, 12:48 PM   #51
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Try this:

Boat Docking (Close Quarters Maneuvering for Small Craft): Charles T. Low: 9780968232705: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 04-28-2015, 12:59 PM   #52
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My aha moment was when I came to the realization that my single engine trawler with a tiny rudder was always gonna handle like crap until I did something about it. I modified the rudder from from about 354 sq inches to 609 sq inches and installed a bow thruster. The boat now handles like a dream. Don't buy into the "you will get used to it" philosophy. I don't want to get used to bad things. I want to make them better. In my younger days I bought a truck that did not have power steering. Only took about a month till I took it to my mechanic and he put power steering on it.
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Old 04-28-2015, 11:57 PM   #53
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Don't buy into the "you will get used to it" philosophy. I don't want to get used to bad things. I want to make them better. In my younger days I bought a truck that did not have power steering. Only took about a month till I took it to my mechanic and he put power steering on it.
Fair comment. I did the same with a used Chrysler Valiant years ago which did not have power steering, and it was to be my wife's car. But we got the power steering set from a wreckers for almost nothing. Fitting it cost a bit, but worth it because ones uses a vehicle every day.

But boat bits cost a lot, especially bow thrusters, so often what you can do is dictated by the do-re-mi, and I don't mean the musical kind…and if your vessel has decent rudder and steering...in the end you do master it, take it from me...I had to.
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:18 AM   #54
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Mid-ship cleats are necessary. So necessary I paid several hundred dollars to have two more installed. The builder said that wasn't necessary, but, as the customer, I prevailed. ... On the commissioning voyage, the builder used the extra cleats. I asked "why?" He said because "they were there." ... I use both all the time for my spring lines, a single line on both port and starboard sides from one mid-ship cleat to dock cleat (both, if available) and to the other mid-ship cleat. That's almost always (usually the starboard/helmsman side first) the initial tie-up. Bow and stern lines come later when docking, and those bow/stern lines are the first to be released when departing.


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Old 04-29-2015, 01:36 AM   #55
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I'll throw my buck-fiddy in the ring.
I read on the 1st page, how someone used a brick, rope and milk jugs, to make a target of sorts to work on maneuvering the boat.

When I was contract instructing, we used something similar, set up in a star design, then have the student pull forward and back down at various directions. This helps learn how your boat handles in close quarters.

We also procured some larger pieces of Styrofoam, tied them off with weighted lines, and formed "docks."

We used these to practice coming along side, docking, bowing up, backing down, etc. All without damaging your boat or risking a dock

Students became very proficient handling their boats, especially knowing that there was really no way to damage anything if they screwed up.

HTH

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Old 04-29-2015, 01:59 AM   #56
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Except a rope round the propshaft maybe - sorry, just being the devils advocate. At least there is not that risk coming into a real dock. But I agree your method has merit.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:38 AM   #57
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Speaking of practice... I'm cleaning stuff on the bridge, watching one of the new Fleming captains getting his tuition. He's been in and out of those slips and up near the fuel dock about 25 times this morning already, and still working it.


Part of their deal is that rearward visibility sucks unless they have the alternate station installed at the rear quarters of the boat deck. This one apparently doesn't have those, so it looks like (probably) the new Admiral is very involved in passing up feedback. I can't hear 'em all that well, al the time, but it sounds like she's got it down.


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Old 04-29-2015, 01:00 PM   #58
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Except a rope round the propshaft maybe - sorry, just being the devils advocate. At least there is not that risk coming into a real dock. But I agree your method has merit.
Lol yeah that's definitely a possibility, especially in the star formation. In that one the weighted lines are free hanging just below the float.

The Styrofoam docks had the weighted lines on the back side. By the time you hit the line, you've ran all over the "dock." Lol.
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Old 04-29-2015, 01:29 PM   #59
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I used to practice docking using the simulator on the Chapman's Piloting CD. Later I used the cd to teach docking in boating classes. No one ever wanted to try it in front of the class.
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Old 04-29-2015, 02:50 PM   #60
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Sounds pretty cool
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