Boating — The Great Escape

Boating is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Boating is a family recreation enjoyed by millions for family fun, entertaining, relaxing, exploring, fishing and just escaping out on the water.

Boating Georgian Bay
Boating Georgian Bay

Now, more people around the world are getting into outdoor sports, as a result of the new distancing requirements. Boating certainly satisfies the need to get outside and enjoy life, while following all the guidelines.

Life truly is better on a boat.

As with all activities, for example; tennis, musical instruments, driving a car, operating a computer, or yes even handling and docking a boat; you can fumble through on your own, learn from a friend, OR be taught by a Pro.

The results always tell the tale! Onlookers easily spot someone who has taken boagting lessons from a pro versus someone who hasn’t. Unfortunately, new boaters who don’t get any lessons, but try to figure it out themselves, don’t realize what they don’t know. Too very often, they run into difficulties—especially in the confines of a harbor.

Current Boaters

For boaters already enjoying boating, now may be a good time to invest in a lesson to improve your handling and docking skills. You may be comfortable with your docking ability; but, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a safer, better or easier way. Learning just one or two new techniques, could make the difference between your good docking and great dockings every time, which translates into a happier First Mate and crew; thus, more fun on the water.

Even seasoned boaters can benefit from a refresher lesson to share with their family and friends who change to a different slip locations with different wind directions; or choose to back into their slip instead of docking bow first; or have another family member wanting to take the helm, or upgrade to a boat with different drive system.

Each drive system requires different handling techniques; so, for those who have traded their boat from a Single Sterndrive to a Twin Inboard, or a Single Outboard to a Twin Sterndrive for example, or any drive system change, your old docking methods will not work. Get instructions from a Docking Pro for your new drive system to avoid frustration and possible mutiny by your crew. It will be worth the investment.

New Boaters

For those who are new to boating, just purchased your first boat, or are looking to purchase one in the near future, we would strongly recommend that you shorten your learning curve. Learn “Right” from the start—how to handle and dock your new or “new-to-you” boat. Don’t waste years with trial and error, or getting the wrong instruction.

Don’t let bad dockings add to the stress that you are already under!

How do you find the right Instructor?

As in all things, there is good and bad. Docking instruction is no different.

Unfortunately, docking instructors have varying levels of expertise—both hands-on instructors and written instructions in a book or on the internet. Some have very limited knowledge and experience with only one drive system and assume all boats dock the same way—as theirs. The biggest docking mistake is assuming that all boats dock the same way.

A good boat docking instructor will:

  • Know the design characteristics of all the boats and drive systems
  • Know the difference between the handling characteristics of each of the different drive systems and have different instructions for each, because they definitely do not handle and dock the same way
  • Know how to drive and handle all drive systems
  • Know how to dock all drive systems
  • Know how to teach others with clear easy-to-understand instructions
  • Leave you with step-by-step instructions, so you can practice what you’ve been taught by reading it repeatedly. Verbal, long, complicated instructions tend to blur and get lost in memory.
  • Share their exemplary credentials, testimonials and references to backup their docking skills
  • Discuss their insurance coverage with you. As a paid instructor, is he covered to be aboard your boat?

Dawson’s Docking Lessons

Dawson’s docking lessons are downloadable books. They are recipes that you can follow for a successful outcome. They include many diagrams and pictures with step-by-step instructions.

The lessons include how your boat responds to the wheel, shift(s) and throttle(s); on-the-water exercises; and step-by-step lessons for docking in wind, port and starboard side docking, left and right approaches and lots of “what-if” explanations.

The lessons also include when, where and how to hang fenders; which line to use for each docking scenario; where your First Mate should stand with the lines depending on your boat’s configuration; how to adjust your approach in all wind conditions; when to go beyond and back; how to make a piling your friend; bow first and stern first docking; gas dock shuffle; FLIPP Line “Step-Off” and “Stay-Aboard” procedures; non-verbal communication and much, much more. The lessons are complete and easy to follow.

Doug Dawson (5th generation in the boat business) has combined his training and lifetime of experience demonstrating and testing thousands of boats. He has sold and taught new boaters to handle and dock boats since he was a kid.

Doug is the author of 17 Boat Docking Books to help boaters around the world confidently and safely maneuver their boats into a slip or alongside a dock in all dock configurations and weather conditions without the need for yelling, swearing, jumping, bionics, boat hooks, dock helpers, guesswork or embarrassment.

So, now is a great time to take advantage of this “stay at home” opportunity to shorten your learning curve or try out some new techniques to remove the docking stress and make your “great escape” in the boat a much more enjoyable experience for the entire family—especially in these trying time.

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