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).