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Docking: Questions and Answers

This article is written in question and answer format. The
questions are from participants at past Torresen Marine
Docking and Docklines seminars.

Question: What’s a good way to prevent mistakes in the
docking process?

Answer: The use of a checklist prevents mistakes. Such
a checklist might read:

A. Bow Line Rigged
B. Stern Line Rigged
C. Spring Line Rigged- All cleated to boat, not just
looped over but run through the eye so they won’t
come off and coiled and ready to throw.
D. 3 fenders over at correct height.

Question: How to determine prop walk?


1. Stop Boat
2. Rudder amidships
3. Shift into reverse
4. RH Prop will pull stern to port
5. Really just know which way stern goes when you reverse

Question: How to handle different wind situations?

Answer: For a crosswind, recognize which way the wind will
push you. After determining this, steer into the wind so the
effect of the pushing wind is less.

In a tailwind situation, you’ll tend to move faster.
You’ll perhaps need to use less throttle. Also, an aft
leading spring line will serve as a second break in addition
to your reversing gear.

A headwind is perhaps the best for docking. It comes
over the bow and slows the boat. If heavy enough, you may
need to use more power to push the boat through the wind.

Question: Should I go slowly when docking?

Answer: Going slowly to avoid a hard hit against a dock
seems the logical answer. However, there is as much danger
in approaching a dock too slowly. For your rudder and keel
to aid the hull through the water you must have sufficient
speed. Just as when you sail in zephyrish conditions and the
boat won’t respond to the helm, the same can happen if you
approach a dock under power at .5 knots. To take the
sometimes necessary evasive maneuvers you must have some
speed to control the boat. Remember, power and speed are
your friend!

Question: What advice do you have for docking in the current low water
Answer: For one, keep up on the current water depths. For
another, be aware of your boats location. Try to traverse
dredged channels and fairways. Most marinas are dredging
this spring. However, don’t look for the entire basin to be
a uniform depth. When entering, unless told otherwise,
stick to the center where it is typically dug the deepest.
Stay to the center of the slip. This is dug deepest so your
keel can have depth to avoid grounding.

Question: What about Docking Bridles?

Answer: These are a series of ropes strung along the sides
and front of a slip. The restrain the boat during docking.
While these maybe an aid especially in short handed
docking, they can also have detrimental effects. If you
depend on the bridle at your home slip you may develop bad
habits and have trouble handling docking without one while
cruising. Increasing your skills is preferred to using a

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2004 at 7:26 am and is filed under Special Features, Theme Series Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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