The internet is a great source of entertainment and misinformation—especially when it comes to docking a boat. A 30-second video, just doesn't cover it!
You may have seen the YouTube "how to dock a boat" video of the "show off" Captain bringing a yacht in bow first to a parallel dock and turning the boat perfectly with the hull just inches from the dock. Not a word of instruction of what he is doing at the helm.
Or, the "Yahoo" who comes in at great speed on a sailboat and turns at the last minute with just the right momentum, to come alongside the dock perfectly.
You may also have seen the Captain who instructs boaters to approach at about 45 degrees in a twin inboard flybridge, then pivot so that it slides parallel against the dock, lining up his spring line cleat with the dock cleat, so his crew can step off the side deck with the line and tie it.
They look impressive, but....
can they help you in your boat with your drive system?
It is one thing for them to be able to dock a boat after years of practice on a parallel dock in ideal conditions. They get used to the feel and know how their boat handles.
But, different drive systems handle differently and each boat has a different style and layout that changes the docking procedure. For example;
- What if your boat has no side deck to step off? Then what?
- How do you change the instruction to work for you?
- What if you don't calculate your momentum perfectly and land three feet out from the dock?
- What if you have too much speed and/or momentum and you hit the dock and bounce away?
- How do you determine just the right second to turn the wheel?
- Should you use the wheel?
- Should you use the shifts?
- Should you use both the wheel and shifts?
- When learning to dock, you won't get it perfect the first time or the second. It may take several attempts to perfect the technique. How do you recover if you do screw up while docking?
- What if your First Mate isn't able to step off because she is looking after a youngster in the cockpit or has a bad knee or is too young or old to jump off?
- What if there is nothing to hang on to?
- On larger boats, what do you do if you can't see your First Mate through the superstructure and you don't know if she has fallen overboard in the wind?
- What if you are docking in a slip where this parallel docking technique doesn't work because the slip isn't wide enough or long enough for the approach?
- What if there is a strong wind off the dock?
- How do you get just the right momentum?
- What if you have a twin sterndrive that requires totally different docking techniques than a twin inboard?
- What if?
- What if?
- What if?
Docking a Boat Should be Easy
Docking a boat should be easy with predictable results. You should be able to confidently and safely bring your boat into your slip or alongside your dock AND secure it in any conditions without yelling, swearing, jumping, boat hooks, bionics, dock helpers, guesswork or embarrassment; then tie it appropriately for the situation.
The best instructions are easy-to-follow, step-by-step, for each drive system for different wind directions and dock configurations. They should include handling exercises, docking techniques, recovery procedures and explanations of why what works and what doesn't, so that you understand the whole procedure.
Docking Lessons a Great Investment
Doug Dawson has written individual docking lessons for each drive system (introductory and advanced) from scratch, with decades of first-hand knowledge and experience. Each docking lesson includes handling exercises, and individual docking techniques for dozens of docking scenerios with diagrams, pictures, easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, what ifs and recovery procedures.
Even if you are able to dock your boat, check out Doug Dawson's Docking Lessons for tips and tricks and techniques to make docking easier for you and your crew.
Move up from good docking to GREAT DOCKING!
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