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Old 08-07-2017, 10:15 AM   #1
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Docking and Handling Single Engine Trawler

I have always had twins, so this has never been an issue.

We are considering a 43 ft. single engine pilothouse trawler as we near retirement to do a lot of day boating, as well as cruise the West Coast.

We leave the dock a lot during the summer, four times a month and at least once or twice a month in the off season. This includes anchoring in congested areas within the typical SoCal areas. I also run the boat myself quite a bit.

A few questions for the single Engine trawler owners;

How is docking a 45 ft on a windy day?

Will bow and possibly a stern thruster provide enough force to move the boat laterallly a few feet if needed on a windy day?

Anchoring in a crowded area, or picking up a moooring ball on Catalina on a windy day also gives me pause. Issues?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:44 AM   #2
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I have only ever had singles without any thrusters and sometimes that means a compromise where you dock. No issues picking up a mooring ball though. Its just another type of skillset to add to your life.
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Old 08-07-2017, 10:50 AM   #3
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I have only ever had singles without any thrusters and sometimes that means a compromise where you dock. No issues picking up a mooring ball though. Its just another type of skillset to add to your life.
X2.........
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:06 AM   #4
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As you will be transitioning from twins to a single, it's natural and right that you think about your comfort level in various situations. Compared to a relatively heavy single engined vessel, almost anything with twins feels a lot livelier and more user-friendly. (There are trade-offs, but those are discussed ad nauseum elsewhere on the Trawler Forum)!

For me, the bottom line is that you can do just about anything with any boat if you plan, prepare and practice - and if you approach the evolution with patience, allowing enough time and space to let the wind and current help you. It's true that there are conditions of wind and current that make a certain maneuver risky. That's also where being patient helps. Sometimes you really ought to wait for things to become more favorable before doing what you have in mind. Just because a dock or a mooring ball is there doesn't mean you have to use it right at that moment.

As to the utility of a bow thruster, of course it's a handy tool and can make maneuvering a piece of cake, under normal conditions. But a thruster has limitations, and a strong wind or current are not what you should consider "normal" conditions in which to depend on the thruster. I've seen (and experienced) boats with a thruster that were nevertheless pinned against a dock. I've also experienced a boat caught in a combination of a gusting puff of wind and unfavorable current that totally defeated the best efforts of the bow thruster. Finally, a thruster can become fouled, or trip a fuse, or otherwise break down, and the one ironclad guarantee I can offer in life is that when it happens to you (and it will), it will be at the most inopportune moment you can imagine. Bottom line: appreciate your bow thruster if you have one, but don't put yourself in a situation where you're depending on it.

I moved into power boats from sailing, meaning I cut my teeth on anchoring, docking and maneuvering boats that had a lot of windage and were hopelessly underpowered by a single engine. As a result, when I first got behind the wheel of a trawler-type yacht with an ordinary single diesel and no thruster, it felt like the height of decadence! So, my suggestion might be to just pretend you've got a 45' sailboat, and everything should fall into place. (Or you could look for boat with twins).
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:10 AM   #5
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It has taken me a while just got to plan your moves and go as fast as you can aford
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:20 AM   #6
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A few questions for the single Engine trawler owners;

How is docking a 45 ft on a windy day?

Will bow and possibly a stern thruster provide enough force to move the boat laterallly a few feet if needed on a windy day?

Anchoring in a crowded area, or picking up a moooring ball on Catalina on a windy day also gives me pause. Issues?

Ours was a 34. Wind could be an issue, usually mitigated by prior planning. And spring lines and warping techniques.

No direct experience with thrusters... but I've read there are thrusters, and then there are thrusters. I suspect most issues, potential deficiences, can be solved or at least mitigated during the shopping (for thrusters) phase. HP, batteries nearby, voltage or maybe hydraulic, etc.

Anchoring or mooring balls, no issues. FWIW, we usually pick up a mooring ball pennant from the cockpit and walk it forward... no matter how many engines we have.

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Old 08-07-2017, 12:04 PM   #7
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A few questions for the single Engine trawler owners;



How is docking a 45 ft on a windy day?
I have a 43' single with bow and stern thrusters. I have owned it for just over a year and came from a 40' sailboat with no thruster.



Quote:
Will bow and possibly a stern thruster provide enough force to move the boat laterallly a few feet if needed on a windy day?
Depends. My bow and stern thrusters will overcome a 20 knot crosswind for short periods. Mine are 12v and I believe they are 75kgf in size. The key is SHORT periods. If you run the thruster too long a thermal cut off will shut it down, then you are stuck. I've not had that happen to me yet, but I generally use them for only short pulses. I did have to enter a slip once with those 20 knot cross winds. I had to go down the fairway downwind, then turn to starboard for a starboard side tie. The thrusters were just barely able to hold me off the boat to my port side.



Quote:
Anchoring in a crowded area, or picking up a moooring ball on Catalina on a windy day also gives me pause. Issues?
I've never been to Catalina but I believe they use a pennant on their mooring balls. This shouldn't be a problem. You would do it the same as I imagine you would use with a twin. Approach the mooring from downwind. You can use thrust and rudder to keep you aligned and if needed the bow thruster can help keep your bow from falling off.



It isn't hard, but it is different.
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:09 PM   #8
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I often get accused of having twin engines.
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:22 PM   #9
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Our Albin-25 came to us with an Operator's Manual which includes a couple of pages by the Designer, Per Brohall, with diagrams showing how to control the single screw, low power boat.

However, a more important point is that wen we decided to transition from cruising sail to power, I wanted to do it in a boat bearing some resemblance to Maine Lobster Boats, which really impressed us Midwesterners on a couple cruises along the Maine Coast.

We're still learning, but it's been fun.
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Old 08-07-2017, 02:31 PM   #10
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I'm most comfortable with a single and no thrusters. Just what I'm used to. There have been a few times when in challenging situations I can't get a twin with thrusters to do what I want. So I shut the thrusers down, grab both levers with one hand, and get her into the dock with ease. It's all about experience, you'll get good at whatever you have.

As mentioned by others, plan ahead, get your lines and fenders ready. The biggest difference without twins and thrusters is you can't hold her to the dock on power alone. it takes a line or two. And, just like wind and current, each boat springs and warps differently. Experience.

A common error I've seen many make, no matter how many engines and thrusters, is to approach a slip / dock / mooring ball from up wind / current. If you have the option approach from down wind / current. You have excellent control of your stern, let mother nature turn your bow the way you want it to go. And you will be going slower over the bottom and relative to the dock, slip, mooring ball. Trying to stop when approaching down wind / current means you not only have to stop relative to the immovable objects, but you have to make stern way (or oppose the turn) with a force equal to the wind / current.

Sometimes it's not clear which will have the greater effect. Wind or current when they are not from the same direction. To find out get near your 'target' stop and drift for a bit. Back away and make the final approach with better knowledge.

On thrusters. If you want to plan on using them every approach and plan on moving the boat sideways spend the $ on hydraulic thrusters. They won't trip out and are much more powerful.
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Old 08-07-2017, 03:35 PM   #11
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My boat is a single screw 30 feet with a bow thruster that I barely use. It is there in case of emergency but I prefer to practice how to handle her without the thruster, and I must admit that with time and practice it is becoming less and less useful.
With a single screw I would advise you to choose your home berth wisely taking into account the mostly dominant wind, if you go bow first or stern first and considering your prop walk. If you can choose your berth it will ease a lot. Mine is perfectly located for my boat. When I reverse my prop walk bring the stern to starboard putting me directly in the right direction to go out. When I go in the mostly dominant wind is pushing me toward my dock so most of the time it is pretty easy.

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Old 08-07-2017, 05:52 PM   #12
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My single GB 32 came with an hydraulic stern thruster. I'm reasonably good at maneuvering a single in close quarters, but the stern thruster makes life easier, for sure. Not sure (yet) how well this one would behave in a really strong wind. Installing a stern thruster is probably somewhat cheaper than a bow thruster, and being hydraulic there are no worries about how long you can run it before it overheats and shuts down. If you are interested, check out Dickson Stern Thrusters.
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Old 08-07-2017, 06:09 PM   #13
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This may sound odd but after 15 years with a Grand Banks 36 single and no thrusters, the transition to our GB 46 with twins (no thrusters) was difficult and at times confusing. I missed the single. With practice I have mastered the twins and that's the key---practice. You'll get the hang of it.
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Old 08-07-2017, 06:10 PM   #14
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Thanks for the feedback. I also spoke to another TF member on the phone this morning and he had similar comments.

Having been around twins since I was young, it is a mindset thing I need to overcome...to admit, it has been difficult but I am getting there.

Regarding picking up a mooring at Catalina Island, they are tight and you don't get to choose the direction of approach. Some you must approach from the west, and other harbors from the east, regardless of what the wind is doing.

I was there last week with our boat, trying to visualize doing it with a single and got a cold chill. But I get it, practice...
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:51 PM   #15
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Regarding picking up a mooring at Catalina Island, they are tight and you don't get to choose the direction of approach. Some you must approach from the west, and other harbors from the east, regardless of what the wind is doing.
That makes it more challenging. Keep in mind that most singles will turn in place to starboard just by backing and filling. Add a bow thruster to that and you can really spin the boat in a hurry. You can use this when approaching a mooring.

There are times when it is easier and faster for me to 270 degrees to starboard than it is to turn 90 degrees to port.
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:29 PM   #16
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Look into adding a fishtail to your rudder. It can make a world of difference, definitely the biggest bang for the buck.

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Old 08-08-2017, 10:11 PM   #17
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Most useful thing for me and my single has been learning to spring off from the bow. Practice that and it has a world of utility.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:56 PM   #18
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My most gratifying dockings were with a 30-foot sailboat without using the engine.
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Old 08-08-2017, 11:01 PM   #19
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That makes it more challenging. Keep in mind that most singles will turn in place to starboard just by backing and filling. ...
Also keep in mind that there are both left and right handed propellers, so the opposite can be true.
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Old 08-08-2017, 11:04 PM   #20
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My boat is a single screw 30 feet with a bow thruster that I barely use. ...
I use the thruster every time I take the boat out, if nothing else than to "exercise" it and to confirm it continues to work.
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