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Old 06-05-2020, 02:46 PM   #1
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Marina pinball

Our old Silverton is our first powerboat, and first boat in a slip. When we got it 2 years ago an old salt pointed at the flybridge enclosure and said, "you got a big sail there.", and ive been mindful of that. During the seatrial we were instructed about using the twin screws to manuever the boat in and out of the slip, and I've practiced and watched training videos etc. But after 2 seasons I've yet to execute what I'd consider the perfect landing.

The other day we returned from a cruise down the river and when I came in a 10 knot breeze was setting me toward the slips. I struggled to stay away but the breeze kept pushing the bow and it was almost as if i had no control. By the time I was abeam of my slip and turning to back in, the wind and maybe some current swept me into a couple other boats. People rushed over to fend me off and I eventually got her in. But not without total humiliation. No damage done but it pretty much ruined my day.

I know I need to be better at reading the wind and currents but I'm at the point where I just dont trust my skills, and I'm hesitant to venture out again.

I feel like im destined to be the ooh ooh captain from the Boatniks.
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Old 06-05-2020, 03:32 PM   #2
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Well, it happens to us all at some point. It's just a matter of time. I'll never forget my first crash landing.


From what you describe, it might be worth some time with a training captain. They can probably point out some tricks and would otherwise take you a long time to discover on your own.
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Old 06-05-2020, 03:35 PM   #3
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On top of some hands-on instruction, on a somewhat windy day, find a spot with an empty end slip or other place with plenty of room to maneuver and a target to maneuver the boat to. Just play around and practice, try different things, and get a feel for how the boat moves from the combination of your inputs and wind. That'll give you a better sense of what works and what doesn't but without the confined space stress.
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:18 PM   #4
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Nothing to be ashamed of- call it a rite of passage

You've been given some excellent advice- there's no better teacher than time on the water...
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:31 PM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. s. I will NOT regale you with MY "war stories" but keep at it. Even after 30+ years of maneuvering, I still have the odd "oopsie". As mentioned, nothing to be ashamed of. No-one hurt, no damage, no problem.


My first mate knows not to try to fend us off IF it puts her in the least amount of danger. Rub rails, hull blemishes and bent stuff can be repaired. A broken hand is NOT worth any damage to our boat. PERIOD!
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:42 PM   #6
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Same here. I have several battle damage scraps and dings in the hull. I, like you have an enclosed sail. Sometimes it will take me several times to get to the dock and I am not shy to abort and try again.

If backing into your slip is the way you do it and the wind comes up, bow it in instead of sterning in. You can change it later. Bow into the wind is always easier in the wind, if possible.

Find a dock and practice. But remember this and you will be fine:

"Approach the dock/slip as fast as you want to hit it!"
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:45 PM   #7
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Can you avoid backing in?
Even an experienced boater with twins will have difficulty backing into a slip when there is a cross setting current or any wind over a very light breeze. The problem is that your control is only at the stern of the boat. Once the stern is trapped in the mouth of the slip, the current and/or the wind can push the bow away from the finger and there is no way, without a bow mounted thruster, that you can push it back.

If the adjacent slip is protected by a second finger, there may not be boat to boat contact, but many marinas are designed with 2 boats between every pair of fingers. In that event, that side of your boat must be well fendered, so that pushing against that adjacent boat will not result in damage to either boat.

If you can go in bow first, it is much easier to back out, as you have a pair of propellers to control the side forces put on by the current or the wind. Remember that in reverse, especially at docking speed, the rudders have no effect, so set your rudders for when you need to put one or both engines in forward to correct too much side drift. Use your prop walk in reverse to pull the stern to one side or the other. Remember that prop walk always pulls towards the centre of the boat, ie Stb in reverse pulls the stern to Port, P to Sb.

As mentioned, nothing improves your ability as much as practice.
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:48 PM   #8
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Don’t take this personal but this post is why I always recommend a small boat for a first boat. You were lucky that there was no damage to the other boats. Wind, current, tides, knots, maintenance, expenses, rules of the road, etc all apply to small boats as well as large. It’s a lot easier to fend off a 18 ft boat than a six ton one.
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:53 PM   #9
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Nothing to be ashamed of I had the same issue. I did hire a captain and he took me to a marina with few boats and many open slips and we spent a few hours over 3 days docking and leaving in various conditions. Even 4 years later I check the winds as I come in so I can make a docking plan.

Practice is your friend
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Lollygag1 View Post
Nothing to be ashamed of I had the same issue. I did hire a captain and he took me to a marina with few boats and many open slips and we spent a few hours over 3 days docking and leaving in various conditions. Even 4 years later I check the winds as I come in so I can make a docking plan.

Practice is your friend

I agree. getting some one-on-one training will help. Don't yell at the admiral.

Know your weather, wind, wind direction, wind gusts and current before entering the marina. Try not to over react (that's the hard one)

A little trick I use is looking at flags on boats and at the marina. Look at you burgee on your bow for wind.
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Old 06-05-2020, 05:05 PM   #11
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Yes use the flags of other boats. Also work on good communication w the Admiral. Folks on the dock next to us have a large Silverton and experience the same issue. However they have become much better as they gain experience.
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Old 06-05-2020, 05:35 PM   #12
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Maintain steerage
Neutral is a gear, use it.
Coming in hot, bow first, use reverse to slow down.
Coming in hot, stern first, use forward to slow down.
Single engine right hand turn prop, put rudder over port to approx 30 degrees, reverse, slowly.
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Old 06-05-2020, 05:47 PM   #13
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I teach twin screw handling in three steps.

First, learn to spin using just the clutches. This is probably enough 80% of the time, and until you practice using the clutches there will be moments of confusion where you forget which way is which.

Next, learn to add throttle to one side or the other, to increase or decrease the rate of spin or any forward or aft momentum. This helps you approach a little faster so the wind or current doesn't effect you as much.

Finally, and only occasionally, add some rudder. The rudder responds to whichever side is going in forward, and you really have to understand how the pivot point from rudder action is different from the pivot point from splitting the clutches. But it can help in a crosswind or cross-current situation.

I don't usually even discuss prop walk, although on some boats it can become a factor which must be compensated for.
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Old 06-05-2020, 05:55 PM   #14
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Twin screw often has to be discussed in I/O and outboard....twin inboard gas (small props and rudders), twin inboard diesel, and twin inboard in tunnels.

They all have their little tweaks.
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Old 06-05-2020, 05:57 PM   #15
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As I come around the tip of the island my marina is located in I start looking at the flags/pennants on boats around my slip to see which way the wind is blowing.
The typcal wind is from the SW so I set the boat up so I can back upwind toward the slip. That slows me down as I'm backing and gives me more time to adjust the position of the boat.

If the wind is pushing me toward the slip I try to keep the bow pointed directly upwind and back downwind, using the shifters to keep her pointed into the wind.

Either way (backing or going forward) when the stern of the boat gets to the opening of the slip I stop my progress and use the shifters to get the boat aligned with the slip, then just ease it back in.
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Old 06-05-2020, 06:25 PM   #16
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Lots-o-good advice

Here's another tip;

I have a piece of yarn tied to the bow rail, which tells me which way the wind is blowing on the bow. Sometimes going down the fairway the bow can be pointed 15 degrees upwind (actually pointed at boats in their slips) but our boat is moving straight down the middle of the fairway. I believe this is called 'crabbing'.

I find the yarn is invaluable because our marina is tucked up beside a mountain. Wind, so I've found out, flows like water. If there's a wind moving straight up the channel, against the mountain the wind is following the shoreline and is a full 45 degrees off the main channel wind, which is only a couple hundred yards away!
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Old 06-05-2020, 06:51 PM   #17
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A wise skipper will realize that sometimes ... You can't get there from here .... and pick an easier slip
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Old 06-05-2020, 07:01 PM   #18
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A wise skipper will realize that sometimes ... You can't get there from here .... and pick an easier slip
We've been talking about moving our slip. Another bad aspect of it is that having a piling to our stern and another piling at the end of the finger dock, im having to keep 2 spring lines taut to keep from bumping one or t he r other depending on wind and current Its really too small for our boat.
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Old 06-05-2020, 07:12 PM   #19
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One of us drives the boat, the other has a fender in hand, ready to place between us and __________.

We did a lot of " we'll just hang out in a transient slip until conditions improve" when we were in the high current marinas of Georgia.

It gets easier, and then, when you get good, docking starts to be fun. I'm not going to say we're "good" at it, but the challenge has become more of "how to streamline" and less " how to not make a scene"....
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Old 06-05-2020, 07:42 PM   #20
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My first mate knows not to try to fend us off IF it puts her in the least amount of danger. Rub rails, hull blemishes and bent stuff can be repaired. A broken hand is NOT worth any damage to our boat. PERIOD!
Excellent policy!
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