Docking your boat!

Nothing is more intimidating than docking your boat. You are at a dock with other boats in close proximity, with people on the dock probably watching your every move. How do you successfully dock your boat? CAREFULLY. And very slowly. Chuck told me many years ago that you never want to approach the dock faster than you are willing to hit it. NO ONE on the dock will mind if you are slow. It gives them all a sense of security knowing you won’t plough into their baby!

Our procedure is pretty simple, and quite effective. As this website isn’t really intended to teach you how to captain your boat (that is the captains job – you are the first mate!), it is intended to tell you how to best assist the captain and make his/her job easier.

We approach the dock straight on. When we get close to the dock, we turn the boat to starboard or port, whichever side we will be tying up to. In the video we are turning to starboard, putting our port side against the dock. Make sure you have your fenders down and dock lines attached to the boat at bow and stern. As the boat approaches the dock, when it is close enough, step off the stern onto the dock. Wrap a quick dock line around the cleat nearest the stern. The Captain can then use the forward power of the boat to gently pivot on that cleat, swinging the bow in toward the dock. Once the bow is close enough to reach, you can grab the bow line and cleat it off as well. If necessary, go back to the stern and make a final adjustment to that line. (You will notice that I am wearing a self inflating life jacket. Each and every time I am on the bow of the boat while its underway, I am wearing that life jacket. Should I fall overboard, hit my head and knock myself out, this life jacket will save my life!). This method works well in wind as well. Once you have the stern secured the boat really can’t go anywhere and it is simple to complete the tie-off process.

When leaving the dock, simply reverse the procedure. DO NOT RELEASE THE DOCK LINES until the boat is under power. You do not want to have the boat unsecured and have an engine failure! Untie the bow line and remove the line from the boat. Then untie the stern line, push off a bit from the dock if necessary, jump on board and stow your lines.

The final step is to raise all your fenders. Nothing says rookie more than a boat in open water with its fenders down!

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