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Old 04-10-2017, 12:27 AM   #1
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Docking question: How do you head straight down the fairway?

So today I headed in to my slip and was coming down the fairway, very slowly. The current was stronger than usual and before I knew it, my bow was being pushed toward the right side of the fairway. I tried a little reverse on the port engine to pull the bow back to center without continuing to drift toward the right. While the bow started to point back to the left, the boat still seemed to be drifting to the right. So at that point I decided to give a pretty good jolt of the throttle (in forward gear) on the starboard engine to gain forward momentum and move the boat to the left.

Anyways, it was a bit hairy. I ended up getting down the fairway without any mishap, but it wasn't easy.

I'm wondering if anyone has any advice here on the topic. Another thought I had was, should I just go down the fairway with enough speed to have steering with the rudders, then slow down once I near the slip?

Everyone says to go super slow, so the above idea doesn't seem like a good one. Although, I'd think it would make it easier to head straight down the fairway.

Little clueless here, so any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Mike
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Old 04-10-2017, 12:33 AM   #2
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That's where a bow and stern thruster come in handy
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Old 04-10-2017, 12:41 AM   #3
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In a cross wind or cross current "crab" into the wind or current as soon as you detect the conditions, don't wait until you drift down wind/down current. Favor the upwind or up current side of the fairway.
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Old 04-10-2017, 12:50 AM   #4
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You will need to watch for current and wind of course as wind will also cause the same kind of trouble.
Watch for ripples around pilings or dock ends, other boats straining against lines, drift junk moving quickly, seaweed streaming, flags a flapping and so on.

In most cases if the problem, wind/current, is strong enough you will basically crab [travel at an angle to your wanted path] down the fairway. You will point the bow towards the current slightly.
If you simply try to go straight you won't and you will get pushed off to the side..

Slow is the best way to learn. If you goof you will do less damage and others may be able to help. ALL fenders down and lines at the ready so if a problem develops you do not have to scramble to move stuff.

As you gain experience you may be comfortable with more speed but even then crabbing will be needed. The speed will get stronger rudder action but at the cost of if anything goes wrong then there will be h++l to pay.

Sometimes the best action is to go away and wait if the current or if the problem is a squall, untill things abate.
I've seen many who insist on fighting their way in when a 10-15 minute wait will drop the current. Often currents, unless you moor in a river, are caused by tide changes and will weaken shortly.

Watch other boaters too and if they appear to know what they are doing ask them.
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Old 04-10-2017, 01:31 AM   #5
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... ALL fenders down and lines at the ready so if a problem develops you do not have to scramble to move stuff. ...
Yes! All ten fenders (five on each side) or more deployed.

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Old 04-10-2017, 02:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB1969 View Post
So today I headed in to my slip and was coming down the fairway, very slowly. The current was stronger than usual and before I knew it, my bow was being pushed toward the right side of the fairway.....I'm wondering if anyone has any advice here on the topic. Another thought I had was, should I just go down the fairway with enough speed to have steering with the rudders, then slow down once I near the slip?
Everyone says to go super slow, so the above idea doesn't seem like a good one. Although, I'd think it would make it easier to head straight down the fairway.
Little clueless here, so any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks!
Mike
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In a cross wind or cross current "crab" into the wind or current as soon as you detect the conditions, don't wait until you drift down wind/down current. Favor the upwind or up current side of the fairway.
I dock in a similar situation, and don't have thrusters. I have also encountered an occasional time when the wind is from the port side as I amble down to the berth finger, and I am always mindful of the fact that when one turns, (like the shopping trolley thing), it's the back end that swings out first, although this is less dramatic if going slow. So, as Island Cessna suggests, work out the wind direction before entering the fairway if possible, then favour the upwind/current side (or if wide enough the middle), until nearing the berth, maintaining enough speed to have good steerage, then slow right down just as you turn in. I have a starboard pilot door, berth to starboard, and the prop-walk pulls us also to starboard, ie, the berth side. So, I aim for the walkway corner of my berth, then when about 1/3rd of the way in, slowly slide her into neutral then reverse, and she just chugs into parallel with the berth finger nicely. Remember, judging all that, and getting it right is all part of the fun.
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Old 04-10-2017, 04:40 AM   #7
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My wife and I have a saying, "current wins over wind", at least that is our experience from South Carolina, to Florida. Some places like St Augustine, FL, city docks, you cannot dock in a slip , till the current turns to slack, the current just, "takes you away". We have seen experienced sportfish commerical captains, put their boats on t-heads, till less running of current.
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Old 04-10-2017, 06:09 AM   #8
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The key to dealing with currents is identifying them. The second key is knowing how they affect your boat. One trick I learned from sailing is to always watch your wake to assess leeway and or current. Next time you enter a narrow channel or the fairway take a good look at the wake trail you leave behind you. As others have mentioned bow waves on pilings and submerged buoys are other clues.
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Old 04-10-2017, 06:22 AM   #9
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As many have said....much of the time it is less about how to deal with the current...as it is to recognize if the current is greater than what you or your boat can deal with.

Better to change your plans or wait it out for the day or place.

With experience you will adjust and probably feel more comfortable speeding up in cross currents. The crab is smaller and the time affecting you is shorter.

My home marina is by far the worst marina for current I have seen from Jersey to Florida. I don't try docking in my slip unless near a slack tide with my trawler. With the single engine assistance tow boat, I could put people in their slips at full running tide. Different comfort zone, yet the same techniques weren't available to me because the nature of the boat and personal feelings.

Usually the only thing you can do to help in a cross current is speed up...and that just takes practice and confidence.
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:46 AM   #10
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The current was stronger than usual and before I knew it, my bow was being pushed toward the right side of the fairway. I tried a little reverse on the port engine to pull the bow back to center without continuing to drift toward the right. While the bow started to point back to the left, the boat still seemed to be drifting to the right. So at that point I decided to give a pretty good jolt of the throttle (in forward gear) on the starboard engine to gain forward momentum and move the boat to the left.

I'm wondering if anyone has any advice here on the topic. Another thought I had was, should I just go down the fairway with enough speed to have steering with the rudders, then slow down once I near the slip?

First... don't feel like the Lone Stranger. Current and wind can both beat almost anyone up, so planning is essential and experience is what (generally) makes things OK even when the plan goes south. You'll get that experience, over time.

Helps to be able to read the current and/or wind in advance, so your original line up the fairway can compensate early. Wind or current from port? Favor the port side of the fairway immediately as you enter. Et cetera.

And then even in most cases where wind or current can be an issue, we simply set the rudders amidships and use the gears -- and NEUTRAL -- to control speed and direction. Drifting to starboard? A little starboard forward... and maybe a little port reverse if necessary. And so forth.

All that usually at well below straight idle speed. Dead slow. Much slower than if either or both engines were in gear all the time. Usually that means most of the time we're in neutral, with short "bursts" of forward or reverse to maneuver the boat. By short "bursts" I mean usually just enough to let the prop start turning, often less than 1 second in gear. Once you feel the prop bite, go back to neutral and judge the effects. Modify as necessary.

Can't do dead slow all the time, of course, but we get by with that maybe 95% of the time...

-Chris
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Old 04-10-2017, 08:36 AM   #11
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Several things:
1) Tide beats wind
2) Do not dock with a following tide if you can possibly help it. You lose steerage at slow speed and that means your directional control is gone
3) It is OK to wait on the fuel dock until the tide is doing what you want
4) It is OK to tell dockhands "no" if you are not comfortable. It is your boat and your insurance.
5) Establish crab on side tide is coming from
6) Pick a place or situation when you can safely abort if needed
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Old 04-10-2017, 08:43 AM   #12
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I had one of those slips early on with a single engine. I was slip #2 out of a lot, so I had to go all the way down between two docks, pivot (had stern thruster), and then dock. I used some speed to get down there, but I really didn't take my boat out much because of the tough parking job at the end of the day. When I went to a new marina, I learned to be very particular about which slip I would take.
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Old 04-10-2017, 08:49 AM   #13
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I don't have twins, but I think you lost forward momentum when you put one engine astern which allowed the current to have more effect in moving you sideways. Your instinct was to apply power to both engines which got you moving forward again and also put more pressure on the rudders. Give yourself a pat on the back - you did great
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:33 AM   #14
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All good information above.

Know that in a narrow fairway it is initially difficult to point your boat at other boats or pilings so you can maintain your course down the middle of the fairway. It is not pleasing to the eye to be going forward with the bow aiming at something hard but force yourself to believe that under the circumstances your boat ain't going where it is pointed.
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:43 AM   #15
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Going slow works well ....
Up to a point.

If you're getting pushed to one side your real course is not straight down the fairway. You're drifting to one side. So you're moving sideways at x speed and down the fairway at y speed. So you need to "crab" (as descrabed above). You need two things. Room to swing your stern in the opposite direction you want to go and enough rudder authority to make that happen. Rudder authority (the ability of the rudder to move your stern to one side) is dependant on two things basically. The size of the rudder and your speed. The size of your rudder is a given but you have control over the speed.

So the advice of going slow is possibly a trap. If you actually are at the limit of control slowing down will just insure crashing into something. Crashing at a slow speed (may be called just bumping) beats crashing at a higher speed to be sure. Experience should tell you if you've got enough room to swing your stern (in the direction you don't want to go) and if you do speed will save the day almost always. If you speed up enough. That's trap #2 ... having the balls to speed up enough. If the wind and/or current dosn't change speed may be the only saving maneuver.
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:29 PM   #16
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Thanks for the tips everyone. I will try the "crab" maneuver as suggested (in a more open space). The early suggestion of using the thrusters is also a good one if they'll save me from hitting something!
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Old 04-11-2017, 02:43 PM   #17
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Thanks for the tips everyone. I will try the "crab" maneuver as suggested (in a more open space). The early suggestion of using the thrusters is also a good one if they'll save me from hitting something!
Crabbing is just a way of traveling in a straight line. In boats, like aeroplanes the direction you are pointing bears only a casual relationship to the direction you are actually traveling.
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Old 04-11-2017, 03:27 PM   #18
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Docking question: How do you head straight down the fairway?

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Crabbing is just a way of traveling in a straight line. In boats, like aeroplanes the direction you are pointing bears only a casual relationship to the direction you are actually traveling.


Yup, I'm assuming that by angling the boat you are using the direction the boat would normally want to track to counteract the effects of the current or wind. In other words, if your bow is pointed to the left, the boat would normally go left, but in this case it might be getting pushed to the right by wind or current. So if you angle it enough to the left, you can counteract the forces trying to push it to the right, allowing you to go straight (with the bow still pointed to the left).

Yes?
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Old 04-11-2017, 03:54 PM   #19
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Docking question: How do you head straight down the fairway?

Yup. You got it.

BTW, that is how and autopilot works as well when you set it to go to a waypoint. They don't care which direction you are pointing (or the direction you are moving through the water) only the direction that they are moving through space.
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Old 04-11-2017, 04:04 PM   #20
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Yup. You got it.

BTW, that is how and autopilot works as well when you set it to go to a waypoint. They don't care which direction you are pointing (or the direction you are moving through the water) only the direction that they are moving through space.


Maybe I should have the autopilot take me down the fairway. :-)
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