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Old 04-01-2013, 10:46 PM   #21
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One of the nice things about a pilot house trawler is that you can pull along side a dock, and easily step outside the PH door on either side and secure a breast line to the mid ship cleat. At that point the boat is captured and you have time to tie bow and stern lines. I have single handed the American Tug 34 on many occasions and never been intimidated regardless of conditions.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:57 PM   #22
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Agree. When approaching the berth/dock, I'm normally in neutral except when turning (increases turning rate), to maintain minimal forward progress.
We used to do it that way (neutral) but found that carrying idle-forward right on into the entrance to the slip gives us better steerage and better control over the boat and the wind/current. So we don't move the tranmissions to neutral until we're about halfway in at which point we go to opposing thrust to move the stern right over against the dock and bring the boat to a halt. We enter our slip on a curve so the forward part of the boat is already next to the dock when we go to opposing thrust.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:30 PM   #23
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One of the nice things about a pilot house trawler is that you can pull along side a dock, and easily step outside the PH door on either side and secure a breast line to the mid ship cleat. ...
Especially when one has wide, 360-degree decks and railings.

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Old 04-01-2013, 11:39 PM   #24
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I single hand my single-engined 34 more than 50% of the time. The thing that I find is that you have to be more precise because wind and current will cause you to drift away from the dock faster than you can get lines on. A few inches can make a huge difference when trying to get off the boat quickly. I installed a bow thruster, and use it regularly, but only for one, maybe two, one second bursts. Those are usually just to make sure that I'm up against the dock. It's not always easy to see the dock from the lower helm, and I don't want to try and climb down from the upper helm in a hurry. With experienced crew, I rarely use the thruster.

One other thing that a thruster helps with is backing into a slip. My boat is really easy to dock bow in, starboard tie. Faced with a port tie, I'll back into the slip. The bow thruster is a huge help then.

One of the reasons I selected my boat was because of the walkaround decks. If the dock isn't too low, I can often get a midship or stern line onto the dock without getting off the boat.

I agree that things happen more slowly on larger boats, but it's also no fun trying to muscle in bow line by yourself in a strong wind or current when things get away from you. That's one of the reasons I hate docks without cleats. It takes longer to get a lines secured.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:42 PM   #25
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We enter our slip on a curve so the forward part of the boat is already next to the dock when we go to opposing thrust.
I do the exact same thing with my single engine. I enter the slip on a curve, and when the boat is full in, I reverse, to kick the stern to starboard & when the boat stops, I walk out the door and step off the swimstep on to the dock.

I tried the stop, turn 90 degrees towards the slip method a long time ago but I think my judgement as to the wind, angle and speed is much better by approaching on a curve. Another thing the curve approach does (single engine) is aid the back and fill. Helm hard over, either side, and adjust everything with back and fill. I'm always at idle unless there's one hell of a wind. (Of course my bow thruster is always at the ready for those days that my judgment goes south.)
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:44 PM   #26
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Here's a slightly different version of the question. How far would you go single handing? Solo sailboats cross the ocean on a regular basis. Given a suitable LRC, what's possible? What's been done?
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:01 AM   #27
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Just for a day sail. I can't keep an adequate lookout when asleep.
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:28 AM   #28
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Here's a slightly different version of the question. How far would you go single handing?
If I had no choice but to single hand our GB I would probably get out of this kind of boating. We got into cruising for the same reason I (and then we) got into floatplane flying and narrowboating--- because it's something we really enjoy doing together.

While I have no doubt I could take our GB to Alaska and back by myself if I wanted or had to, I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do that. To us being out on the boat is all about sharing a unique experience.

I'm not interested in single-handing a boat as a way to "prove" something, either to myself or anyone else. I've crop-dusted pineapple fields in Hawaii with sterile fruit flies, something we did about ten feet off the ground under the phone wires. After mastering that, anything else I might want to do to "prove" something to myself would be fairly anticlimactic.

So to me cruising is all about a shared experience and becoming that much richer for it. When I say "shared" I mean with my wife. With a tiny handful of exceptions I have no interest in sharing boating--- or flying or narrowboating--- with anyone else.

Were I on my own I would probably keep using our 17' Arima as I enjoy fishing and this would be an easy and effortless way to stay connected with the inside waters in the PNW and BC that I have come to love more than anywhere else on the planet. But single handing our cruising boat? Not interested despite the fact it would be very, very easy to do.
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:24 AM   #29
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You guys have got me more fired up then ever! I've operated runabouts since I was young and knew early on that guiding the boat was better than controlling it. Sounds like it's the same principle no matter the size (re the title of my first post). Very much the same in flying. Thanks for the advice. No doubt I'll be looking for more in the future.

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Old 04-02-2013, 09:30 AM   #30
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Good point, Bob. Guess I'm most concerned about docking (though most marinas have dock hands I assume) and passing through locks since I've never operated anything over 20'. Most of the comments seem to say with training and planning it should be doable.

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Old 04-02-2013, 11:23 AM   #31
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Good point, Bob. Guess I'm most concerned about docking (though most marinas have dock hands I assume) and passing through locks since I've never operated anything over 20'. Most of the comments seem to say with training and planning it should be doable.

Dave
Don't assume that most marinas will have dock hands, and especially not for your home berth. My experience is that docking assistance is generally available only during the summer cruising season.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:32 AM   #32
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We used to do it that way (neutral) but found that carrying idle-forward right on into the entrance to the slip gives us better steerage and better control over the boat and the wind/current. So we don't move the tranmissions to neutral until we're about halfway in at which point we go to opposing thrust ...
My boat would be going too fast if I did not use neutral. I try to go slow so an unplanned collision with the dock won't damage either boat or dock.
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:12 PM   #33
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Don't assume that most marinas will have dock hands, and especially not for your home berth. My experience is that docking assistance is generally available only during the summer cruising season.
You call us live a boards, we will be there.

I can not comment on hight and draft restiction, but I would not go over 50 Ft and 50 ton. 50 ton lifts are the most popular, and the bigger the slip the hard to find. I alway make reservation as you do not just show up and say, "We ae here!"
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:34 PM   #34
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Current is the real enemy if you have several knots or more where you dock...worse than 15-20 knots of wind often...there's not much coasting to be done with current.

Single handling in strong currents you better be prepaared to pin the boat against a piling and leave it in gear ...and the scary part...leave the helm to get a line on...
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:12 PM   #35
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If you plan on doing a lot of traveling as single-handed operator consider a metal boat. They are easier to touch up the paint and the hulls generally take more abuse with less damage. The fenders on a boat can work against you when are docking single handed. The three problems they present is you bounce off the dock, you have more of a gap at the dock, and they catch on things sometimes. I know it sounds crazy to dock with out fenders but in the right boat it is no big deal. I paint my sides every year for that all better look now. I have people and kids dock my boat all the time that are first timers. The boat is a single screw with an overall length of about 50ft they have very few problems docking it when I talk them through it. I do have the fenders out for this but I don't worry to much about the paint it is easily fixed. I have docked with no fenders out when single handed and conditions where awful and I needed to hit the dock and just stay there long enough to get a line on the dock. A metal boat make this option more forgiving, just something to consider if you are going to travel a lot.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:04 PM   #36
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My boat would be going too fast if I did not use neutral. I try to go slow so an unplanned collision with the dock won't damage either boat or dock.
We go about three and a half or so knots in forward at idle rpm (600). As far as unplanned collisions, that's why we have insurance.

I've seen too many boats here gliding along in neutral because the operator is afraid to carry any power and the wind or current or both take control of the boat and put it into some amazing (and sometimes quite damaging) situations. All preventable had the operator kept some speed on and a bit of thrust acting on the rudder(s).

Entering our marina our transmissions do not see neutral until the boat's bow is sliding into the slip.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:23 PM   #37
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Hi Bob, is it expensive to instal your bow truster?

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Old 04-02-2013, 09:40 PM   #38
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We go about three and a half or so knots in forward at idle rpm (600). ...
Same here (but my idle is 800 RPM). Nevertheless, haven't yet experienced the need to move so fast on the final approach. By the way, my deductible is $5000, equaling my annual maintenance budget.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:56 PM   #39
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Hi Bob, is it expensive to instal your bow truster?

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The price will probably vary quite a bit from boat-to-boat and yard-to-yard. At a minimum you'll have to buy the thruster, fiberglass tube, wiring, and controls. Hard to access areas can drive up the cost (billable hours).

On my installation, electric thruster, I didn't install a separate battery and charger. Instead I have large cables that goes to the house bank. That saved a lot (money and maintenance). I don't regret that decision. If I use the thruster when I leave the dock, the batteries recharge while I'm underway. Coming into a dock, I'll have shore power to recharge. Obviously I don't need to use the thruster if I'm dropping the hook. So, using the thruster doesn't really affect my house battery capacity.

Expensive? I don't remember the exact cost, but I don't view it as expenseive relative to the benefits. It's one of the best additions I made to the boat. The new engine -- that was expensive!
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:10 AM   #40
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My 24-volt thruster runs off the house batteries, and I don't perceive any problem.

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