“I know what I’m talking about!” said Colonel Sherman T. Potter from the popular MASH TV series from 1972 until 1983 when he was debating with the other doctors.
I’ve been docking boats and debating with others about which methods work best for decades.
I have to admit that I’ve wanted to echo those same words as Colonel Potter when I see the docking chaos.
I’ve been in the boat business for five generations and watched 1000’s of boaters mess up their dockings. The chaos is so predictable.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid for less stressful dockings for you and your family:
Distractions = Chaos
Distractions don’t help you to dock your boat when you come back to your slip after a day on the water. You really need to concentrate when docking especially during bad weather or at night.
Captains and crew need to shut down all the distractions, so the Captain can concentrate on the immediate task at hand—docking. Many Captains feel they need to leave all the electronics on until after they’re tied up.
I’ve seen helms and cockpits with:
• Stereo blasting
• VHF radio squawking
• Radar flashing
• GPS beeping
• Cell phone ringing
• Baby crying
• Dog barking
• Teenager texting
• Canvas obstructing visibility
• Guests partying
• Wife crying or shouting orders
- Eliminate the distractions and chaos.
- Concentrate on docking.
Bow Thruster Killer
Bow thrusters are aids to docking—not a total means to dock. They are intended to nudge the boat the last couple of feet sideways to the dock, not to push it 20’ or 30’. It certainly isn’t meant to steer the boat in the fairway.
No twin engine boat requires a bow thruster in my opinion. Whereas, big single engine boats like trawlers, sailboats or houseboats with a lot of windage, can be docked easier with the aid of a bow thruster.
Boaters should be able to dock any boat under 40’ no matter what the drive system, without the assistance of a bow thruster.
The thruster is one more lever to add to the already stressed brain, as you approach the dock. You don’t really need it, so why complicate the docking process?
In many cases, boaters have become dependent upon their bow thrusters and use them as a third gear shift to power the boat around 90 degrees, instead of using the shifts. Then, they can’t figure out why the poor little thing burned out. They killed it!
If you are challenged and think you need to waste $20,000 to $30,000 on a bow thruster, I highly recommend our Docking Lessons.
Download the Introductory docking lesson (only $39) and the Advanced docking lesson (only $69) for your drive system. You’ll find that you likely won’t need a bow thruster.
Our lessons really work as evidenced by the hundreds of testimonials on our site. Think of all the money you will save. Think of all the repairs and insurance claims you will avoid.
- Don’t Kill your bow thruster.
A Tip for Captains to eliminate chaos
Captains, does this sound familiar? Have you experienced or witnessed either of the above scenarios? Docking should be easy and it is when you know how. If there is any of the following involved in your dockings, it is probably time to improve your docking skills.
- boat hooks,
- dock helpers,
- guesswork, or
If you are an expert at docking, please forward to your marina buddies who need to cut the distractions on their boats. They too can learn to dock with no chaos, no thruster and no stress in the last 100 feet to the dock.