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Old 10-06-2016, 04:05 PM   #1
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Docking in the wind

I haven't had the boat out for a while, mostly due to high winds, heavy rains and floods over the last few weeks. Yesterday was the nicest day in a while. The sun was out and and the winds changed to a northwesterly. I decided it was time to blow the cobwebs out of the boat.

The wind was blowing at about 15 knots when I set out through the still dirty floodwater in the marina. Within 10 minutes I encountered my first issue, the temperature gauge started climbing due to a blocked raw water strainer. I got that sorted out, and made my way out and away from the plume of dirty floodwater at the river mouth. The wind picked up a bit more, and there was about 4-5 feet of choppy swell at a very short interval. I was single handed and didn't have my jackline set up, so I decided not to go out on deck and raise the sails.

After pushing into the swell for an hour, I turned around and headed back (running with the swell is always a much smoother ride on my boat). I didn't see a single other craft out on the water.

Pulling back into the marina, I was debating tying off at the end slip, as the wind was now a steady 20-25 knots from the NW. I normally point north into my slip, with the finger on the east side.

I decided to give my standard docking technique a try. Spring line from the midship cleat to the end dock cleat. This requires me to leave the helm and loop the dock cleat as (if) the stern passes within reach of the dock cleat.

The first attempt had the bow blowing off the dock finger towards my stable mate. I had to abort the attempt to loop the dock cleat, and reverse out quickly. Rather than give up, or repeat the same mistake, I decided to try something new (to me).

On my next approach I put the stern of the boat directly into the wind. I found that just idling at about 900 rpm in reverse held me fairly motionless. By adjusting my revs slightly and correcting my angle with the occasional forward thrust, I very ever-so-slowly crab-walked at a 45 degree angle towards my slip.

It took me about 5 minutes to move 100 feet, but eventually my bow just cleared the boat next door, and then my stern slowly came alongside the finger at the end cleat. This allowed me to casually loop the spring line over with the boat remaining motionless. I then idled forward taking up the tension on the spring line and drawing the bow into the dock. Still idling in gear, I stepped off the boat and tied off. Too easy!

After plenty of not so gracious docking maneuvers, it feels good to perform a nice one (even if no one is watching).
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Old 10-06-2016, 05:12 PM   #2
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You know the rules - it's always easy to make a perfect docking maneuver when no-one's looking!
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Old 10-06-2016, 06:36 PM   #3
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That's something I've not had a chance to try yet. Makes sense though, because going in bow first is like shooting an arrow backwards...the bow has so much windage it wants to fall off, while going backwards (presuming you can control steerage) should give one more control at slow speed.

Give yourself a gold star for creativity
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:21 PM   #4
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bow into the wind.
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by what_barnacles View Post
bow into the wind.
...works great, unless:

Quote:
Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
...the wind was now a steady 20-25 knots from the NW. I normally point north into my slip...
...your slip doesn't line up with the wind
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Old 10-06-2016, 07:41 PM   #6
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With my boat I always go bow forward in my slip due to my boat layout. As a very beginner I was always afraid of going to fast to hard etc But after 1 season of docking I realise that thrust is the rule and I should not be afraid of putting power on. My slip is always cross wing oriented, either the wind push me on the dock side or push me on my neighbor. I ahve always been afraid of either colliding with the dock or worse with my nice cruiser neighbor. But after many docking I must say that using more power on the screw makes it easier especially when the wind blows. I may be wrong as again I am a beginner but that is what this first season teached me.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:51 AM   #7
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Lou, you're not a beginner if you've learned the judicious use of power when docking.

Beginners are told "never approach the dock faster than you'd like to hit it." That's fine in calm conditions, for learning. It helps you get the moves down, like knowing the pivot points, understanding momentum, and having an intuitive feel for the controls.

But in cross winds or currents, you'd better be quick or you're gonna lose it.

Knowing when to abort and come around again is the mark of a truly competent operator.
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