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Old 09-04-2015, 09:07 PM   #1
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Stupid docking decision

Took my parents for a little cruise this morning. Dodged thunderstorms all the way back to the marina, and as I was getting ready to back into the slip the wind really picked up and it and it started pouring.

The wind overcame my bow thruster and blew the bow starboard towards the dock and got me sideways. I aborted the docking attempt, shifted into forward to get away from the dock, and then into reverse to attempt to back out of the fairway (couldn't turn around due to the wind) and figure out my next move.

I decided to try to tie up to the end of the dock and let the storm pass, but as I was trying back around the corner of the end of the dock using the bow thruster to bring the bow around to port, the thruster overloaded and quit, and we slammed into a pole on the dock about amidships. Luckily the pole had some thick rubber on it so it did no damage but the whole experience surprised me how quickly it all got away from me.

In hindsight I realize I shouldn't have tried to round the end of the dock in reverse. I was really leaning on the thruster trying to get the bow around so that's why it quit. I suppose I should have just gotten to the middle of the fairway and held there, or maybe backed out of there completely and away from the dock.

I also suppose when I saw that storm coming I probably should have waited to dock instead of trying to beat it, or maybe should have taken that end tie on our dock before it got bad and waited it out there.

Any suggestions?
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:15 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:15 PM   #3
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Learn from your mistakes. We all make them; the better captains don't repeat them.

Watch the weather till you're back in the slip. Don't wait for it to deteriorate. There will come a point when the first plan is no longer viable. Switch to plan B while there is still time to execute it. Always be prepared to weather a bad storm.

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Old 09-04-2015, 09:21 PM   #4
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Stupid docking decision

Yeah, I had no "sudden squall while docking" plan. That was a first for me, so now I will have an abort plan from now on.

Of course the first thing I did after I got things under control and made sure my parents were OK was look around to see if anyone had seen my shenanigans. 😁
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:29 PM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. 01. No harm, no foul and what would it matter IF anyone saw your maneuvers? Are THEY perfect?....oh, um...unless it was THIS guy...
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:18 PM   #6
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Was the bow thruster electric? Trip a fuse? Another vote for hydraulic if so.


A humble moment. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure others will also develop a squall while docking plan as a result of this post.
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:26 PM   #7
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Actually the issue could have been that the thruster was 12V/24V. These are battery driven and designed for short bursts when docking. They can draw down quickly.

If using the thruster to steer the boat over a distance it may have simply been a case of drained power source.

Let us know what you find cardude, all good info!
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:28 PM   #8
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It must have been a breaker. It started working again later.

Batteries are all new.
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:34 PM   #9
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OK, first get new parents...the ones you have don't trust you anymore. Secondly, a 7 hp or so bow thruster is never going to push a 30,000# boat around in anything above a breeze and thirdly, welcome to the "be there done that" club. I believe it's called 'on the job training'
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
It must have been a breaker. It started working again later.

Batteries are all new.
Some have a 2 minute "overload" to prevent overheating. Most are starter motors which are not designed for long cranking.
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:53 PM   #11
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Been there, done that. Typically if wind is an issue, I will be ready with a very long spring line at the point of my boat I can get closest the fastest and be heavily padded on the side the wind will push me to, but even with the best of planing, sudden wind or current can make you look like an idiot. A 5 HP thruster is almost laughable in such a situation.
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Old 09-04-2015, 11:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
It must have been a breaker. It started working again later.

Batteries are all new.

It's not a breaker. They don't reset on their own. It was a thermal sensor.

My suggestions are (some of, or all of, which you have figured out by now I'm sure.):

Wait out a storm before docking. Even if it means anchoring out for a while.

Learn how to use spring lines properly.

Don't rely on your bow thruster. As you've seen, battery operated ones tend to let you down just when you need them. And can give you a false sense of security and skill.

Don't be afraid to bale out and start over or abort a docking completely.
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Old 09-04-2015, 11:30 PM   #13
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Yep, join the ugly landing club, and with visiting family on the boat. At least you didn't have people on the docks shouting and running for their lives like I did (they did overreact, ultimately I didn't damage anything but my ego). As others have said you don't need advice really, chalk up bad landings to a good learning experience. Ugly practice. Here are some observations I've collected for myself though:

1. I can usually tell the instant I've lost the angle I need and can't be recovered gracefully. I decide to go for it or abort a lot earlier than I did in my greener days.

2. I mentioned this recently in the thread on rudder-less boats: I was taught to never touch the wheel inside the yacht basin or fairway and land by throttles and shifters only, but I no longer follow that rule on windy or gusty days, and my landings are much better.

3. I don't have a bow thruster on Xanadu, but we chartered at least twice with bow thrusters. Maybe it's because I simply don't have enough experience with them, but when the wind kicks up I wouldn't rely on them.

My bad landing was in front of my brother, his wife, and three kids, and I panicked and killed the starboard engine and couldn't restart it. It gave everybody a story to tell.
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Old 09-04-2015, 11:41 PM   #14
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My bad landing was in front of my brother, his wife, and three kids, and I panicked and killed the starboard engine and couldn't restart it. It gave everybody a story to tell.
ooh yeah, he is probably going to rub that one in for a long time - I know I would if that was my brother Hopefully you have a good comeback like, "At least I 'have' a boat"
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Old 09-04-2015, 11:50 PM   #15
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...but the whole experience surprised me how quickly it all got away from me...
That comment reminds me of something that a tactical instructor said to me many years ago as we were doing a multiple adversaries/multiple reloading drill.

In the middle of everything, my weapon malfunctions. My youthful haste to correct and re-engage, combined with the fumbling and bumbling that routinely accompanies said haste, well, let's just say that I was elated that it was just a drill LOL.

When the whistle blew and as the smoke was clearing, I heard the words that stay with me to this day.

The instructor walked up behind me, and in a very low, calm and monotone voice stated..."when it goes to hell, it goes to hell quick..."

This comment applies well to your situation today.

You survived, you passengers survived, and nothing more than a little pride was damaged. All in all a good day and a positive training evolution.

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Old 09-05-2015, 12:22 AM   #16
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We've all been there and won that t-shirt. Anyone who honestly says he hasn't had an ugly docking is a guy who only goes out when there's no wind and heads for the slip at the first puff of a breeze.


I won't comment on your docking procedures but will caution you to take a serious look the rub rail and fiberglass in the area where your boat contacted that post. Those things can do the damndest things that, at first, don't look like any damage, but after a good rainstorm or the first time out in waves you realize that the water is coming in right in that area.


Don't ask me how I know this.
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Old 09-05-2015, 12:48 AM   #17
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Don't be so hard on yourself, 'dude. It's the go around that counts. Recovery from equipment failures are always a challenge. Sounds like you did very well. I bet you won't rely on it so much next time...
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:04 AM   #18
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Good lesson for us all.

Last year I was trying to dock stern in with an extreme current and wind. I announced my arrival via VHF radio so the dock master along with some help where there to assist me. I tried backing in and was getting all kinds of help on the VHF. After 3 tries I knew if I kept trying this I was going to damage the boat, so I disregarded all the yelling on the radio turned it off studied the situation and went over it in my mind and decided I could dock bow in if I did it fast. I did so without damage but at a very elevated heart rate.

30 minutes later a sailboat tried bow in and got himself sideways in the slip. It took 10 people to get him straighten out. Having much greater power I was able to get my boat in the slip before the current and wind got me gummed up.
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:18 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Good lesson for us all.

Last year I was trying to dock stern in with an extreme current and wind. After 3 tries I knew if I kept trying this I was going to damage the boat, so I disregarded all the yelling on the radio turned it off studied the situation and went over it in my mind and decided I could dock bow in if I did it fast. I did so without damage but at a very elevated heart rate.
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'.
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:27 AM   #20
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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.
Agree w Menzies and others...been there done that.

Our current boat has bow & stern thrusters and I love what I can do WITH them...but I also practice Without them.

Have a plan B and maybe C and practice them with your crew...everyone will be calmer and more confident.

That said...you will likely run into a new and different situation...
So learning to overcome the unexpected is always a challenge.

Sounds like you are on the right track...trying to learn from your experiences!

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