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Old 05-05-2016, 10:35 PM   #21
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I tried using the stern line to cleat and adding forward power on a hanse 40 with a 8 knot cross wind blowing 10 degrees off the bow. It didn't work! Definitely makes more sense to use the midship cleat. Will give that a try next time out and report back.
I'm not following what you were trying to do. I mean I get you were trying to spring off the dock, I think, just not sure why you were using a stern line. Could you give more detail?
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:46 PM   #22
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GFC--- The bow breast line thing we're describing is simple. Because the stern of the boat is being powered out to an angle of 45 to 60 degrees off the dock, at which point the boat is backed smartly out before the wind can push it back in, it's obvious everyone needs to be on board when you do this.

But the bow needs to be held in place at the dock so the boat won't move forward into whatever's in front of it.

So while the boat is still tied to the dock we untie the bow breast line on the dock, pass the bitter end around the dock bullrail (or cleat) and hand it up to the foredeck where it is cleated off for the time being.

When the boat is all ready to go, engines running, lines on board except for the bow breast line, here is what my wife and I do:

If I'm going to be operating the boat I put the rudders hard over toward the dock, go forward, uncleat the bitter end of the bow breast and use it to hold the boat in place. So the line goes from my hand to the dock, around the bullrail or cleat, and back to the boat where the loop end is permanently fastened to a bow cleat.

My wife then releases the stern of the boat, steps aboard, comes forward, and takes the bitter end of the breast line from me. She also picks up the line with our Big Bertha fender on it and hangs the fender over the side where she thinks the bow might contact the dock when we pivot out.

I step into the cabin, put the dockside marine gear in reverse and the outboard marine gear in forward. This immediately starts the stern swinging away from the dock. If the wind is strong I may add power to the outboard engine to increase thrust against the rudder.

My wife uses the breast line to keep the boat from moving forward (or back) as the stern continues to swing out. The friction of the line around the bullrail means my wife (or me if I'm doing it) doesn't have to put a ton of force on the line to keep us in place. One hand is sufficient.

When I feel the stern has swung out far enough to ensure we're well clear of the boat behind us with no danger of the wind blowing the bow down into it as we back out I signal my wife in front of me on the bow to let go the breast line..

She then picks up the other part of the breast line and pulls the bitter end back to the dock, around the bullrail, and back to the boat. The instant the bitter end of the line is free of the bullrail she signals me and I put the dockside marine gear in reverse and apply power to both engines to back us "smartly" clear.

When we do this we have a big line cutting knife that the foredeck person has on them so they can cut the breast line if it should hang up or jam on its way back around the bullrail or cleat. So far we've never had to do this.

This process is really very logical and common sense so I apologize if I've described this in too detailed a way. I'm sure you could have figured it out on your own in far less time than it took to read this.
It never hurts to explain in detail. Your method is the same one we use to depart against wind or current. However, the idea of having a cutting implement on hand "just in case" will be a great new addition to our procedure. Thanks for taking the time to type it all out, Marin!

Your diagrams were great, GFC. However, with our drone I'm thinking this would make for a a nice overhead aerial instructional video...
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:07 PM   #23
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no, I was trying to spring on to the dock.
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Old 05-06-2016, 12:07 AM   #24
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Make sure your fenders are placed strategically.



A thruster will reduce the need for a spring line for dock maneuvers.
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Old 05-06-2016, 12:31 AM   #25
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Wow, someone dug up this 3 year old thread and ran with it. Good on ya for doing that.


We used a spring line this past weekend to get off the dock. I could have used the bow thruster but the water up there gets real skinny, real fast. I'd rather just swing the stern out and back away from the dock.


Works like a champ and makes me look like I know what I'm doing when I use 'em.
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Old 05-06-2016, 12:32 AM   #26
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Your diagrams were great, GFC. However, with our drone I'm thinking this would make for a a nice overhead aerial instructional video...
Go for it Darren. I'd love to see your finished product!
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Old 05-06-2016, 07:09 AM   #27
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no, I was trying to spring on to the dock.
Short spring won't always work, not enough leverage...but in the same vein, if the conditions are that bad, then good luck trying to get a midship anything to the dock without a mighty heave and someone good on the dock.

In that situation, I but the bow to the dock where the stern will ultimately go and drop a long after bow spring line...and go ahead on it. If that doesn't work, then probably it is so severe nothing will and thrusters won't come close.
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Old 05-06-2016, 07:29 AM   #28
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I learned and used the spring technique while on a 300' steamboat. Didn't know there was any other way to leave a dock. You rightful expressed the critical issue of timing and communications. A good deck hand can make a not so good capt look great.
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:57 AM   #29
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no, I was trying to spring on to the dock.
Ah, in that case either a short stern line or a breast line running aft would work better than a line off the bow running aft. Unless that now line is a long one.
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Old 05-06-2016, 11:30 AM   #30
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This is a great thread. Thanks all for the detailed and clear commentary. I have some experience using spring lines for getting off the dock with larger sailboats, but have been reviewing this carefully to make sure I have the right skills to maneuver my new-to-me power boat. This helps.
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Old 05-06-2016, 12:08 PM   #31
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For me who basically singlehands a lot, especially when working commercial boats, method 1 can be easier to set up and do by myself....

But #2 set up well and with a good deckhand/fender placement will have a higher success ratio with a single engine vessel.
Or you can cut out the middle man.

When alone and having to get out like this, I bring the line back to me in the pilot house door.

Also being alone too much, I will use the midships cleat as it gives me more options, usually to pull the stern in. But single handing, the other big advantage is that the midships line will not allow the boat to go 90 degrees.
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Old 05-06-2016, 04:41 PM   #32
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I just found in severe conditions....you will never get coles enough to the dock to work a midship anything without help...so I am geared towards bow and stern springs as I can always get one of them close...obviously on much larger boats getting to the ends is harder.
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Old 05-06-2016, 05:05 PM   #33
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I just found in severe conditions....you will never get coles enough to the dock to work a midship anything without help...so I am geared towards bow and stern springs as I can always get one of them close...obviously on much larger boats getting to the ends is harder.
yes, but for me with the low rail midships and only steps from the pilot house, it is the one place that is really is severe conditions and I am desperate, I can make a large loop midships and even give it a turn and a half on the cleat.

I walk the end of the large loop up to my PH door, thus the loop is probably 20' in diameter. Thus I just have to get some portion of it over something that's bolted down.
If my aim is good and the wind did not toss the line back in my face, , then I jump back in the PH and do whatever I need to do to kill the momentum and probably swing the stern in.

No, it's not for the faint hearted , but usually by this point I am even more desperate to get out of these seas.
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Old 05-06-2016, 06:19 PM   #34
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See for me, nose the bow up to a cleat where my stern ultimately goes , even 90 degrees to the dock and wind/current forcing me off works....unless the dock is concrete...heck even leave it in gear and run forward and drop a loop over the cleat/piling.

The line should be about the length of the boat, maybe a tad shorter.. Even if the wind/current pushes me all the way off to a taught line....I can still come forward at an angle that the side I want the dock on....the line slowly pulls me in. This type of spring allows the greatest prop thrust with the minimum force on the dock hardware....a stern spring only works if the rudder angle is great enough with prop thrust to overcome the forces.....in my experience most but not all the time.

I have used this method on one boat even in 60 knots of wind single handed....granted it was smaller than my trawler, but out of all the spring line methods, I can't envision one that is going to work better than this..

Unless you can get to and maintain 10 feet off the dock so one can toss a loop to a piling/cleat....and a 10 foot toss in 30 knots of wind to a cleat...then you are a better man than I Gunga Din.
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Old 05-06-2016, 06:55 PM   #35
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I used to use this technique with the sailboats all the time. One thing I found that helped with a dock clear was to run a dock line from the boat to a cleat on the dock. Loop the line through the hole in the center of the cleat and then make a slip knot in the loop and run the bitter end back to the boat. When you go to leave, give the bitter a yank and the line releases and returns to the boat. There is nothing to hang up on the dock or cleat.

Works really for single handing as well.
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Old 05-06-2016, 07:05 PM   #36
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Unless there is a lot of pull on the dock line which will compress the trip line and make it difficult to pull through.

OK for mild conditions...I would beware if blowing or good current.

A simple pass around the cleat is fine and it can be flipped off or just drawn back around.....always the end without a loop hopefully.
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:06 PM   #37
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Instead of sticking the line through the hole in the cleat, why not take 1/2 wrap around the cleat so the Admiral can let it loose when the time is right? The line should start at the "aft" end of the cleat (under the horn that points toward your stern) so when the boat starts moving forward the line won't slip off the cleat.
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Old 05-07-2016, 12:33 AM   #38
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Unless there is a lot of pull on the dock line which will compress the trip line and make it difficult to pull through.

OK for mild conditions...I would beware if blowing or good current.

A simple pass around the cleat is fine and it can be flipped off or just drawn back around.....always the end without a loop hopefully.
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Instead of sticking the line through the hole in the cleat, why not take 1/2 wrap around the cleat so the Admiral can let it loose when the time is right? The line should start at the "aft" end of the cleat (under the horn that points toward your stern) so when the boat starts moving forward the line won't slip off the cleat.
Both good points. I agree that if you have a lot of pressure on the line, it can take a good yank to free it. It is also important to have the right size line for the job. So far, I have never had a problem using this method. I have always been a little concerned about a line having to run around the two horns of a cleat without catching on something if the line is just looped around and then the bitter end released. I have never had that happen, but that has been a concern.

Another thing that I have done is when using a breast line on the bow to kick the stern out (wheel turned towards the dock, engage the engine with the breast line holding the bow) I have looped the bow line over the aft horn only of the dock cleat. Once the stern is out and I start to back away from the dock, the line comes free of the cleat on its own without having the deck hand have to release the line. It helps to have a deck hand watch to ensure that the breast line doesn't loop over the forward horn in the process.

Again, what worked for me on my 40' sailboat may not work on my new boat. Time will tell. At least now I have bow and stern thrusters to use in case the above fails.
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