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Old 07-19-2021, 06:30 PM   #1
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Pinned to the dock

Hi everyone. Northwind is a 34í CHB. I have enjoyed skippering her with only one engine and no thrusters for about 7 years. I have had a few issues but nothing that we couldnít deal with. Recently though, this has changed for the wife and I. She is 70 and I am 75. We get around OK but I would say we are challenged when strength is a necessity. In the past year Iíve been pinned to the dock by the wind twice, not even a strong wind but 10-15 kts. When moored on the stbd side trying to move forward, the stern pushes us into the dock and the bow follows. If we try to move in reverse, the prop crawl pulls the stern into the dock. Weíve been lucky enough to have willing hands push us off the dock both times, but Iíd much rather know how to get off the dock myself. Iíve thought of tying off a line to the stbd aft corner and backing but Iím afraid Iíll damage the corner of the hull and/or the swimstep. Thanks for your good advice.
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Old 07-19-2021, 06:35 PM   #2
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There are exterior bow thrusters that can be retrofitted. Depending on the size you need, the cost just may be worth it for you. Between $2,500-$4,000
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Old 07-19-2021, 06:39 PM   #3
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Thrusters are nice, but all you need is a good understanding of spring lines.


Find a knowledgeable person and have then help you through the actions.
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Old 07-19-2021, 06:58 PM   #4
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Turn the helm towards the dock, shift into forward and give a shot of throttle. Immediately chop throttle back to idle and shift into neutral, short pause then into reverse. If your stern is less than 20 degrees off of the dock, you will need to repeat. If you are over 20 degrees, just leave it in reverse and back away from the dock.

Having a bow truster installed may run $12-15k but it may very well be worth it to provide a couple more years of boating while lowering your stress levels. Stern thrusters are cheaper to install but are not as benefitial. Your budget, your life, your decision, but you do have options. An external bow thruster is another good option and cheaper than a tunnel thruster.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:06 PM   #5
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Thrusters are nice, but all you need is a good understanding of spring lines.


Find a knowledgeable person and have then help you through the actions.

I agree that using a spring can help get you off a dock in many circumstances. However, with enough wind and current, that can still not be enough. Of course the same is true with thrusters. I've been in situations where it required both spring lines and thrusters to get me off.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jlhegland View Post
Hi everyone. Northwind is a 34í CHB. I have enjoyed skippering her with only one engine and no thrusters for about 7 years. I have had a few issues but nothing that we couldnít deal with. Recently though, this has changed for the wife and I. She is 70 and I am 75. We get around OK but I would say we are challenged when strength is a necessity. In the past year Iíve been pinned to the dock by the wind twice, not even a strong wind but 10-15 kts. When moored on the stbd side trying to move forward, the stern pushes us into the dock and the bow follows. If we try to move in reverse, the prop crawl pulls the stern into the dock. Weíve been lucky enough to have willing hands push us off the dock both times, but Iíd much rather know how to get off the dock myself. Iíve thought of tying off a line to the stbd aft corner and backing but Iím afraid Iíll damage the corner of the hull and/or the swimstep. Thanks for your good advice.

Were you docked with your stbd side to the dock or the port? I am assuming that your port side is to dock (port tie) since you said that your prop walk pushed your stern into the dock.


David's suggestion is what I would do with the assistance of a spring line. You would need conveniently placed cleats but I would have a line from the port bow to a cleat that was preferably just forward of midships. Have some fenders forward on the bow. Do as David described and with the helm hard to port, go forward with the throttle. This will swing your stern to stbd and your port bow in towards the dock. Then go into reverse. The bow will swing to port as the boat backs off.



The only really tricky part of it is to release the line from the dock. This will depend on if you are solo or have a deck hand and where the cleat was in relation to your boat. Sometimes just looping the line around the after most horn will allow it to slip off the horn as to back up. Otherwise using a slip through the center of the cleat allows you to free it with a firm jerk from the boat.


I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to do it as well, but I've always found it easiest to get the stern out and back off the dock.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:26 PM   #7
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Chapman's has a good chapter on using spring lines.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:32 PM   #8
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I agree that using a spring can help get you off a dock in many circumstances. However, with enough wind and current, that can still not be enough. Of course the same is true with thrusters. I've been in situations where it required both spring lines and thrusters to get me off.

I have tied up in 60 knot winds, single, no thruster.


I doubt any thruster usually mounted in the boat I was on would have come close to handling the wind.


I will bet springs work long after the typical thruster can match the job.


Now I am not saying thrusters are worthless...but knowing springs well can be the difference in going home or riding it out or going some place else.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:32 PM   #9
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Yes, spring lines will work in most cases. Sometimes they donít work so well. Thrusters will probably be very helpful. Nothing wrong with them. They may enable you to boat for more years than anything else you could do. I have taught boat handling for 30 years. We are trying to buy a new to us boat. The bow access isnít the greatest and my wife is fairly clumsy. We will add both bow and stern thrusters to the boat so she doesnít have to go onto the bow any more than absolutely necessary, hopefully never. Some people will try to denigrate your boat handling skills if you want thrusters. I realize that our strength and agility is not what it used to be and will only get worse as the years go by. That is why we will put the thrusters on. If it extends our boating life then it is worth it. Just make sure that you put on thrusters that are large enough to work when the wind pipes up. Good luck.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:44 PM   #10
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Please don't misinterpret what I said about thrusters...but with a spring...you have the full power of the engines to help (assuming there are attachment points strong enough).


I have used springs in storms far greater than what any thruster I have ever used could handle...heck, most thrusters had problems with the current at my last marina and only springs would get the boats against the dock.


Having thrusters is great and makes recreational boating way easier...but knowing springs well can make the difference in a pinch.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:47 PM   #11
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Agree that spring lines work great, but as people get older thrusters are greaterÖ
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:52 PM   #12
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Agree that spring lines work great, but as people get older thrusters are greaterÖ
maybe Hydraulic thrusters but the 12v are anemic .
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:54 PM   #13
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maybe Hydraulic thrusters but the 12v are anemic .

Agreed. That is what I have. I wish they had been upsized. Still, most of the time they are more than adequate.
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:16 PM   #14
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Spring lines work but boats can get battle scars. It also requires some agility and timing with the release of lines. I look at thrusters just like GPS, radar, refrigeration , etc. it’s a vital part of a single engine boat when cruising in comfort. I will never own a boat without them. Just too old too run around and too stubborn to ask for help
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:33 PM   #15
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What I guess I am missing is that once good with springs, there is no panicy running around, just smooth, determined actions that involve forces the average thruster just isn't going to handle.


I admit these situations are rare...and you never have to dock when everything is against you...


And again...I am not against thrusters at all...just saying get pretty good with springs and if the thruster ever fails or can't handle the job....you are still able t d what you wanted to.


Sure I see people using springs and it is a clown show...but it doesn't have to be. Also...sure there might be a nick or scrape using them...but again....comfort and knowing what you can and can't do will keep you out of the insurance claim arena.
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:37 PM   #16
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maybe Hydraulic thrusters but the 12v are anemic .
Not if you size them correctly. Our stern thruster would move the stern in 25 mph winds. More than that and I don’t want to be docking.
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:45 PM   #17
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maybe Hydraulic thrusters but the 12v are anemic .
Wrong. I can push off in a 20kn beam wind With no effort. Itís all about proper installation.
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Old 07-19-2021, 09:19 PM   #18
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Can you dock port side to instead? Use prop torque to your advantage to pull the stern away from the dock in reverse.
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Old 07-19-2021, 09:28 PM   #19
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You can put a 24vt thrust on the boat provided you automatically put the batteries in series. Did that on my N46. I had 8D batteries.
On my AT34, I had installed a wireless DockMate. You can control both bow and stern thrusters at idle fwd and reverse of the engine.
The weak part of any 12vt thruster usage is the health of the batteries. I discovered on my AT, the bow thruster was on the start battery and the Cummins QSB 5.9 will shut down when the start battery voltage drops to about 10.8vts. I moved the bow thruster to the 3X4D house batteries along with the stern thruster.
General observation: The thrusters assist in normal docking.
General observation on spring lines: I agree, study that section of Chapman's book and practice before you actually need to use them. The use of them is very impressive. Might want to add one or two proper placed fenders too. No need to scratch up your boat. SMILE
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Old 07-19-2021, 09:31 PM   #20
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Not if you size them correctly. Our stern thruster would move the stern in 25 mph winds. More than that and I donít want to be docking.
Curious how much current you have to deal with?
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