Docking at a Fuel Dock Against the Wind

fuel-dock-wind-offWay too often, boaters find that docking is a difficult task. So much so, that First Mates and Crew are reluctant to go boating again or, if they do, they don’t enjoy coming back to the dock.

Last summer, I watched a twin sterndrive cruiser attempt to pull into the low floating fuel dock. The wind was blowing hard off the dock, so he was coming in against the wind. He pulled up parallel to the dock and stopped so that his First Mate could perform a miracle—securing an amidships line to the low floating dock cleat from the high side deck. You guessed it, before she could do anything, the boat was blown away from the dock.

The Captain put his outside motor in forward to bring in the bow, then neutral. Next he pulled the outside motor in reverse to bring in the stern, a maneuver that helped the wind blow him further from the dock.

As most boaters know, when you screw up, there are “experts” everywhere telling you what you should do or should have done. The five “expert” advice tips he got that day from the five coaches on the picnic table, are:

  1. You should buy a bow thruster. That will solve your problem.
  2. You should come in “hotter” (faster) to counteract the wind.
  3. You should have more crew.
  4. You should have come in bow first (into the wind) then secure a bow line and pivot against it.
  5. You should have come in stern first (stern into the wind) then secure a stern line to pivot against.

A bow thruster, as suggested by expert #1 would probably help in a future docking but not necessary. Learning how to dock in all winds is by far the better choice, and is much cheaper than installing a bow thruster.

Coming in “hotter” (faster) to counteract the wind, might work if the First Mate was positioned at the same height as the dock for quick securing of a stern line.

Having more crew might work if they are agile and trained to quickly secure the lines before the wind blows the cruiser off the dock.

Expert #4 says to come in bow first and secure a bow line. How can you do that when the bow is several feet higher than the dock? Even if your First Mate did manage to lasso the cleat and tie it, pivoting on that line could be a real problem if the space you are in isn’t long enough.

If he came in stern first as suggested by Expert#5, his First Mate would have to be positioned on the swim platform wherever she could hang on with one hand and tie the line to the low floating dock cleat with the other. With wind usually comes rough water making falling a real possibility, so hanging on is a must.

How would you come in to this fuel dock with your twin sterndrive and why?

Send us your best solution for docking a twin sterndrive parallel at a low floating fuel dock when the wind is blowing you straight off the dock.

Keep in mind that there is only enough room between the two other boats to fit your cruiser plus about 10′ of wiggle room.

Docking should be easy and not feared.

There should be no yelling, swearing, jumping, boat hooks, bionics, dock helpers, guesswork or embarrassment. Obviously, there are different ways to approach and tie to this fuel dock—some are easy, but most are difficult and may require several attempts.

Docking Your Twin Sterndrive” e-Lesson , covers docking in detailed, step-by-step instructions, in all wind conditions with pictures and diagrams to show you how to dock easily and safely. Once you have learned the techniques in ” Docking Your Twin Sterndrive “, you will be able to approach and tie at a fuel dock like the one in this scenario with an off dock wind, without any problem.

Master Doug Dawson’s proven docking techniques and you and your crew won’t fear docking, you’ll dock with confidence and be the envy of your boating friends—even the “expert” coaches on the picnic table.

 Docking is Easy or Difficult−it’s your choice!

For all other drive systems see  Docking e-Lessons

Doug Dawson

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