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Old 09-05-2015, 07:36 AM   #21
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That would be my only addition too this discussion. Why try to dock stern in when the conditions are adverse? Having only a singe and no thruster, I always dock bow in, and no weather has ever managed to prevent us getting in. In fact, I still often wonder why so many try to dock stern in anyway, however many engines and thrusters you have. Unless the boat is longer than the berth and you can't get ashore from the swim-step, why would you bother? It is so much more private having your cockpit, and therefore saloon door, not open to the 'street'. Just sayin'.
I'd agree on all counts. The only time I'd suggest backing into the slip during difficult conditions would be if a 25 knot+ wind is blowing the boat directly into the slip, and you are using forward prop thrust to slow & control the approach.
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:38 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Peter B View Post
That would be my only addition too this discussion. Why try to dock stern in when the conditions are adverse? Having only a singe and no thruster, I always dock bow in, and no weather has ever managed to prevent us getting in. In fact, I still often wonder why so many try to dock stern in anyway, however many engines and thrusters you have. Unless the boat is longer than the berth and you can't get ashore from the swim-step, why would you bother? It is so much more private having your cockpit, and therefore saloon door, not open to the 'street'. Just sayin'.
Wouldn't hesitate to dock bow in, but there are lots of older boat slips with short finger piers that can make it all but impossible to get off the boat when docking bow in.

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Old 09-05-2015, 07:49 AM   #23
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I have had a number of docking challenges, and some where conditions were perfect too when I first bought PASSAGE! Including leaving the slip as well.

And as an example of learning from experience, it took me three or four scary moments to realize that I needed to know where my rudders were before leaving or entering the slip. I just couldn't understand why trying to correct my position with the engine was actually driving me more the wrong way into pilings and, in one instance that I had to pay for, the stern of another docked boat.

I don't have rudder indicators. Even though you believe your rudders were straight when you last docked, there are many ways a rudder changes after docking - including adults and children up top absent mindedly playing with the helm.

What brought it home to me was once, on leaving the slip and turning into the fairway, I looked at my daughter sitting on the fore deck ready to bring the fenders in, and she blessed herself. I asked her "did I just see you blessing yourself!!" She was a bit embarrassed at being "caught." We still laugh about that 14 years later!
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:58 AM   #24
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You don't need any suggestions, you just learned some more of how your boat responds to prevailing conditions. Sit and think about it some more and then give us some education on what options you had and what you would have done differently given hindsight.

No one, apart from yourself, can Monday Morning Quarterback the situation you found yourself in.

Looking forward to your additional thoughts.

Yep, agree. This is one where you (cardude) play it all back in your mind, work out alternatives appropriate to that exact situation (and other similar situations if appropriate), and end up teaching yourself how to handle it better next time. Learning from your own experience = priceless. Our learning from your own experience and after-action analysis = useful, too.

So... not suggestions... not able to say whether relevant to your episode or not...

But I can tell you when we ran a single-screw boat, we had no bow thruster. Used the wheel and prop-walk to line up the boat. Without bow thruster experience, but from reading about electrical versions and thermal sensors and so forth... I'd assume it's use is best limited to slight corrections rather than wailing on it to steer the boat. (We have a couple local guys here who apparently don't eve remember they have a steering wheel. Not sure they understand -- or have even ever heard of -- the fundamentals of prop walk, etc...)

And then we routinely used spring lines for docking, maybe 70-80% of the time in "destination" situations, and "sometimes" in our home slip if wind or current mandated. Can't usually do this easily with untrained crew, of course. Anyway, because of that background, we will use spring lines often, even with our current twin-screw set-up.




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What brought it home to me was once, on leaving the slip and turning into the fairway, I looked at my daughter sitting on the fore deck ready to bring the fenders in, and she blessed herself. I asked her "did I just see you blessing yourself!!" She was a bit embarrassed at being "caught." We still laugh about that 14 years later!
What a hoot!

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Old 09-05-2015, 09:03 AM   #25
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Wouldn't hesitate to dock bow in, but there are lots of older boat slips with short finger piers that can make it all but impossible to get off the boat when docking bow in.

Ted
Exactly.
Also my electrical hook up is on the transome and when bowed in very difficult to get the dog off. In my case as described above, after bowed in I had to lower the dinghy to get the dog ashore.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:31 AM   #26
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Definitely too much reliance on the thruster I realize now. Trying to get to end tie in that wind was a bad idea in hindsight (especially in reverse).

I don't know if my elec cords will reach bow in, and my bow pulpit is so long it would hang over the dock I think, so I never really thought about that.

Another issue that complicated things is my 80 year dad was trying to help out and kept asking me questions and that made it harder to concentrate. I usually work better alone.

After sleeping on it I think my best course of action would have been to just hold in the fairway and wait it out using reverse to hold against the wind and the thruster to correct the bow. The fairway (and marina entrance) is so narrow there is no turning around with strong winds.

Now I know if a storm is coming and there is any chance I can get caught docking in it I should just wait it out before I enter the marina. Just not enough room to maneuver in a blow once in there for my skills/boat.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:54 AM   #27
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Not sure how that boat handles backing up, but with that barn door rudder, maybe it can be steered after you get going a knot or so. At least twice, I recall looking down a narrow fairway and deciding to go stern first down into the fairway. In reverse, my boat steers just like a car when I get going a bit, and if I start to loose it in wind or current, I'm already headed out of trouble and back up the fairway, bow first. I actually do practice going in reverse, using bow thruster hits and rudder to direct the boat through surrounding canals to keep up on the skill. One canal we have here is a twisty, narrow thing that doesn't have sufficient width or depth for two boats like mine to pass. If you meet in the middle, one boat will have to back up a couple hundred yards to let the other pass. The skill may be necessary one day if neither boat is using radar.
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Old 09-05-2015, 10:03 AM   #28
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Good idea. I've never tried to back up any real distance and so don't really know how it maneuvers.

I need to practice that...
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Old 09-05-2015, 10:31 AM   #29
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Lots of good ideas. Some may work for your particular boat and conditions, some may not.

The only suggestions that work for all boats and conditions are:

Be Prepared, & Practice.
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Old 09-05-2015, 10:56 AM   #30
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I always dock bow in, and no weather has ever managed to prevent us getting in...... In fact, I still often wonder why so many try to dock stern in anyway...... It is so much more private having your cockpit, and therefore saloon door, not open to the 'street'.
Amen, brother....it's very gratifying to know that I'm not the only one who subscribes to this.
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Old 09-05-2015, 11:08 AM   #31
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Wouldn't hesitate to dock bow in, but there are lots of older boat slips with short finger piers that can make it all but impossible to get off the boat when docking bow in.
Yeah but...
If in existing conditions, bow in is the easiest and SAFEST maneuver, why not? Even if you can't get off, it is a more comfortable and secure place to sit it out than in the fairway or on the outside.

You have all the comforts of home right there.

Cardude just reminded us that reading and listening to others, while it plants good ideas, always comes second to hands on.

At the beginning of every season, either biking or boating, I go find a place to practice all the basics and "what ifs." One loose rock in a parking lot can dump a bike, one corner of a finger can hole a boat.

One of the best moves cardude made was bringing it all here.
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Old 09-05-2015, 11:09 AM   #32
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In fact, I still often wonder why so many try to dock stern in anyway, however many engines and thrusters you have. Unless the boat is longer than the berth and you can't get ashore from the swim-step, why would you bother?

That's pretty much it; short fingers, can't get ashore when docked bow-to. Pretty common in this area...

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Old 09-05-2015, 11:21 AM   #33
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Stupid docking decision

I think I will experiment with bow-in docking next time just to see if I fit, how to run cords, etc. That way I will have that option next time stern-in isn't ideal.
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Old 09-05-2015, 12:32 PM   #34
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I like to bow in so I have a view out the slip from my cockpit and more privacy from folks walking the dock. We have full length fingers and most everyone on my covered dock bows in, except the boat in the background. (I've never seen it move or anyone on that boat in my 2 years at this marina.)

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Old 09-05-2015, 12:49 PM   #35
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I always dock bow-in. Visibility and boat control is best, and with mid-ship boarding gates, access is excellent. Besides, the wind is almost always forward of the beam at home berth



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Old 09-05-2015, 12:53 PM   #36
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That would be my only addition too this discussion. Why try to dock stern in when the conditions are adverse? Having only a singe and no thruster, I always dock bow in, and no weather has ever managed to prevent us getting in. In fact, I still often wonder why so many try to dock stern in anyway, however many engines and thrusters you have. Unless the boat is longer than the berth and you can't get ashore from the swim-step, why would you bother? It is so much more private having your cockpit, and therefore saloon door, not open to the 'street'. Just sayin'.
I have to back in because my bow pulpit would hang over the dock, plus my electrical connections are at the stern.

When I'm assessing what the wind will do to my boat I'm also assessing the angle that I back in.

If the wind is blowing from the slip to the boat I back directly upwind, aiming the stern toward the slip opening. As I get the stern toward the slip I add a little power to the engine that will pull the boat around to align it with the slip. When it's all lined up properly I go back to idle and back in.

If the wind is blowing me toward the slip I just position the boat so I can back downwind, using the shifters only to keep the boat on a proper line toward the slip. When the stern gets aligned with the slip and is starting to enter it, I give a little throttle to whichever engine is necessary to slow the movement aft and bring the bow off the wind. As the boat is entering the slip I might use the bow thruster a bit to keep the boat lined up right.

Slow is the key, no matter which direction the wind is blowing, and planning your approach to the slip well before you are positioning the boat is very important.
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Old 09-05-2015, 01:43 PM   #37
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I don't have rudder indicators. Even though you believe your rudders were straight when you last docked, there are many ways a rudder changes after docking - including adults and children up top absent mindedly playing with the helm.
I have a rudder indicator on my autopilot, but its display is not easily seen from either of the two wheels. I went old school and tied a turks head around the starboard wheel at the 12 o'clock position. This is easy to see, plus your hand can feel the position without looking.

I have had some spectacular docking fails in my current boat. I learn a little more each time. I expect that most of you are a lot better than I at docking a boat. cardude01 it sounds like you already figured out what went wrong and how to avoid it under the same conditions next time. If see and wind conditions were always the same, and we always docked at the same place in the same way, docking would be simply a rote exercise. It is the dynamic nature of the environment that makes it challenging.

Back in the day I was a private pilot. Looking back, there was never a difficult crosswind landing that ever gave me as much concern as some docking maneuvers do now is adverse conditions. Maybe because a go around in an airplane is a whole lot easier to do that sometimes bailing out of a docking gone wrong?

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Old 09-05-2015, 01:49 PM   #38
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Old 09-05-2015, 01:51 PM   #39
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I actually do practice going in reverse, using bow thruster hits and rudder to direct the boat through surrounding canals to keep up on the skill.
I should do this myself, great suggestion!

I feel am I reasonably good with backing my boat up, but I think I still could use more practice. Lots of weekends we spend at out of the way, quit, yacht club outstations. Great chance for me to practice backing around and making a variety of approaches.

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Old 09-05-2015, 04:35 PM   #40
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Most boats will weather vane with the bow down wind or semi down wind. Hard for a thruster to oppose that. Twins might allow turning the bow up into the wind but forst you need some room. Yes thrusters are designed for short bursts and the thermal cut off will occur before it gets too hot.

In those situations allow the wind to push the bow down if there is room and back into the wind the bow will stay down wind while you get control.

Practice driving the boat in reverse, its not hard.
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