Put the "ing" in your Boating

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Once boaters figure out how to change docking from "a challenge" to a "team sport", they enjoy rather than fear it.

One boating couple, Fran and Joe (names have been changed), told me they were ready to give up boating all together because "docking was too difficult". This is their story.

Fran and Joe's Story

We had only had our boat a week and already decided that boating was too nerve-racking to be enjoyable because docking and undocking was a nightmare.

 After consulting with our friends and the internet, we figured we knew how to dock our Twin I/O and started out with all the confidence in the world. "I'll come in on a 45 degree angle to the dock, you tie the bow line" Joe said. I was perched on the bow of our 30' cruiser with bow line in hand, confident and as proud as a peacock. We were following the instructions to a "T".

 

"Tie the bow line" Joe shouted as he brought the boat to the right position. Then, I started to panic. Why?

 

Because there was no one on the dock to hand or throw the line to, our bow was 4' above the dock and about 3' out. "How am I supposed to do that? fran-jumpThe wind is blowing us away?" I cried out. "It's impossible. My arm isn't long enough and I'm afraid I won't make it if I jump".

 

Then, Joe started to panic. It went downhill from there. "Try reaching with the boat hook" I heard Joe call out. In my flustered state, I scrambled to get the boat hook from the cabin side and still hold on to the bow line.

 

I hooked the line on the end and reached out to pass it around the cleat. But, instead I dropped the boat hook overboard and got even more frantic and the damn thing sank.

 

sesame-says-ropeAlmost in tears, I retrieved the line and remembered the "throw the line" instruction.

With lightning fingers, I coiled the line and threw it out at the cleat like they told me, with a bit of a twist hoping that it would miraculously go around the cleat and come back to me like a boomerang. It didn't.

 

 

 

 

joe-jumpsThat's when Joe decided to jump. He took a flying leap to the dock and said "Throw me the line". He fought with it and finally managed to pull the boat in and tie it.

 

It shouldn't be this hard we both agreed but couldn't seem to master docking. The weekend we decided to put our boat up for sale and consider a motor home, we found www.BoatingWithDawsons.com . It said docking was easy and boating was fun. "Huh" we both retorted. But, we read further and decided to download the "Docking Your Twin Sterndrive" e-Lesson just to see if what Doug Dawson said was true. Maybe there was still hope for us.

 

Within minutes of reading through the e-Lesson, we could see why our attempts and previous instructions had failed and his method using a Stern FLIPP Line made a whole lot of sense. We mentally went through a docking scenario following the e-Lesson and Joe said "This makes so much sense. I think we can do it".

 

Armed with new information and new confidence to dock and tie as a knowledgeable team, we gave it one more shot. Lo and behold, we docked perfectly-the first time. And, just like Doug said, Murphy's law was at work and there wasn't a single spectator to witness this great achievement.


We've been boating now for a whole month (we decided to keep our boat) and have no trouble docking in our slip. There's no shouting, no jumping, no worry, no fear. We come in confidently and tie to the pier. Boating is now fun.

 

The step-by-step instructions in the e-Lesson are so easy to follow and not too technical. Joe and I have recommended our friends get the e-Lessons too, so they can take the fear out of docking and improve their skills.

 

We know there's more to learn and we are ready. Advanced Docking, here we come.

Frantic Fran and Jittery Joe

Docking

 

docking_ad

 

There are many ways to dock boats-some better than others. The dictionary definition of "docking" is "To maneuver a vessel into or next to a dock."

Doug's definition of "docking" is

"Confidently and safely bringing your boat into your slip or alongside your dock AND securing it to the dock in any conditions without yelling, swearing, jumping, boat hooks, bionics, dock helpers, guesswork or embarrassment.".

You don't have to be a professional Captain with a professional Crew. You need to know how your boat operates and handles, and how to bring it into any dock and tie it easily in all conditions. Most importantly, you should know how to do it without dock helpers.

Since different drive systems require different techniques, you need to get the instruction that applies to your boat; otherwise, you could end up even more frustrated.

Docking a boat shouldn't be difficult, challenging, stressful or embarrassing. A golf pro can teach you the techniques required to play golf. By following the pros' instructions, you can play a good game of golf. The more you practice, the better you get.

Hands-On Training

Likewise, with docking a boat. A boat docking pro can teach you the techniques required to dock your particular boat and drive system. Then, the more you practice, the better you get.

The trick is finding a good instructor in your area who can teach you on your boat.

Practice only makes perfect when you practice the correct technique.

So be sure to check out the instructor's credentials. Make sure he/she knows the design characteristics of all the boats and drive systems, can competently drive and handle every type of boat and drive system and has the ability to teach others. You could also ask for referrals and talk to others he/she has taught before hiring.

OR

e-Lesson Training

An alternative is to buy Doug's Boat Docking e-Lessons at a fraction of the price. They are not books or worrysome novels, but a series of downloadable, easy-to-follow, step-by-step lessons -- with NO hourly rate.

Download, print and take with you on the boat. It will be like having Doug with you whispering in your ear-no one will know you are taking lessons but they certainly will notice the improvement in your docking skills. You and your First Mate will learn how to "Dock like a Team" and be the envy of your dock neighbors.

happy-face-thumb-upBoat Docking is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

  • Get the right instruction
  • Learn from the right instruction
  • Practice the right instruction

Then you too can dock like a pro.

For more information on Docking e-Lessons, both Introductory and Advanced, see

http://www.boatingwithdawsons.com/boat-docking-lesson.html

We'll cover some "docking aids" in a future newsletter to further simplify your docking procedure.

by Brenda Dawson

Comments (4)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Docking houseboats has to be one of the most stressful for beginner and inexperienced boaters. I totally agree that the "team work" mentality is important, and also important is to HAVE a DOCKING PLAN. You can even have Plan A and Plan B just in...

Docking houseboats has to be one of the most stressful for beginner and inexperienced boaters. I totally agree that the "team work" mentality is important, and also important is to HAVE a DOCKING PLAN. You can even have Plan A and Plan B just in case. My wife and I enjoy working together while we dock or undock our houseboat, and it is always fun to see the faces of folks nearby when we maneuver into tight spots. We do have great communication together, since it is not a "one man show". We're a team, and docking is preferably a team sport. On our houseboat website, we get to answer many questions from folks who are new, beginners, or have just bought themselves a houseboat and are nervous or afraid of taking their boats out in anything but ideal conditions. Again, there's plenty of great info in the e-Lessons. IAN from http://www.all-about-houseboats.com

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Brenda Brenda
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

1. if the boat is not close enough for the crew to step off the boat then try again.
2. use a spring line! you should never ever be on the bow of the boat trying to put a line on a cleat. the first line should be from the waist cleat (slightly...

1. if the boat is not close enough for the crew to step off the boat then try again.
2. use a spring line! you should never ever be on the bow of the boat trying to put a line on a cleat. the first line should be from the waist cleat (slightly forward of the actual mid line of the boat) leading aft so you can pin the boat to the dock then the stern line goes on then the bow line and then your forward spring line. this is how it works for a port side dock finger: the spring line will pull the bow into the dock face as long as the boat is moving forward then all you do is kick the rudder to stbd and it will tuck the stern in. sometimes you might have to throttle up a little bit but usually not unless you have either a strong current or wind blowing you off the dock. practice it a couple times and bobs your uncle. don't run, don't yell, don't panic, and don't listen to those beggars on the dock giving advice while you are docking. just get it in and tied up. then sit down if you had trouble and go over what the trouble was. stressing while docking will only make things worse as you over compensate. learning how your boat works with its lines can get you into and out of places you would not be able to maneuver with engines alone. its a true mark of good ship handling.

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Brenda Brenda
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks Ernie. You are quite right in number one and your advice about no running, yelling or panic while docking. Your suggestion to use a spring line will work in certain circumstances; for example, on a sailboat or on a power boat where the...

Thanks Ernie. You are quite right in number one and your advice about no running, yelling or panic while docking. Your suggestion to use a spring line will work in certain circumstances; for example, on a sailboat or on a power boat where the side deck is the same height as the dock. When the dock and deck height differential is great, it is often dangerous for the First Mate to be exposed on the side deck trying to tie a spring line. Some boats like houseboats, are easier to dock with a bow line first because of the positioning of the helm and flat foredeck. It depends on the boat and the dock. Our Docking e-Lessons teach boaters how to not only bring their boats smoothly to the dock but also how to easily and safely tie it—without the need for dock helpers—regardless of dock/deck height differential and weather conditions. We have compiled Docking e-Lessons for each drive system as each requires different techniques. See our lessons on our site under e-Lessons on the menu bar.

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Brenda Brenda
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Doug

Bought your docking book, think it saved my nerves, our boating and my marriage. Being new to everything boating, it was very intimidating indeed. Read your book, practiced, and now I'm pretty confident docking in wind and tide. So big...

Hi Doug

Bought your docking book, think it saved my nerves, our boating and my marriage. Being new to everything boating, it was very intimidating indeed. Read your book, practiced, and now I'm pretty confident docking in wind and tide. So big thanks.

However, the wife doesn't like fishing, therefore sometimes I want to go out on my own. My question is how to unload my 20ft dual console, outboard from my bunk trailer on my own? I already do most of it, but powering the boat off the bunks the wife normally has a bow line in hand on the dock. I'm thinking of tying off the bow line to a dock cleat, giving enough free line to be clear if the trailer, then backing off with the motor pointing straight, then angling toward the dock as I back up, the bow line pulling taut, should control the bow and the stern should pull toward the dock where I can get a stern line on the dock cleat. Is this a good plan??

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