Docking From 6′ Out

Pic0smHave you ever pulled off the perfect parallel docking at a long gas dock, but 6 feet out with no one in sight to throw a dock line to?

Tom experienced this recently in his twin sterndrive and emailed this question:

“Your lessons say I should ‘abort and re-approach’ which I did, but I wonder if you have any advice to recover instead”?

 Tom, I’d try walking your twin sterndrive cruiser sideways the six feet. Some Twin Sterndrives are mounted too close together for this maneuver, but for most it will work. Try and practice this ahead of time, to know your boat will do it.

Here’s the setup.

  • 30’ Twin Sterndrive
  • Boat stopped
  • Starboard side parallel to dock, that’s about 6’ away.
  • About 10 feet of empty dock, as wiggle room both fore and aft.
  • The fenders hung and dock lines tied fore and aft
  • No wind and No current
  • Alone, so no help

Step 1

Turn the wheel hard to the dock.

Push port into forward for 5 seconds, then neutral.

Bow swings in.


Step 2

Turn wheel hard away from the dock.

Push starboard into forward for 5 seconds, then neutral.

Stern swings in.


Step 3

Turn wheel hard to the dock.

Pull port into reverse for 5 seconds, then neutral.



Whole boat moves in towards the dock with the momentum created by 1, 2 and 3

Repeat 1, 2, and 3; if necessary.


I would recommend you try this on a calm day and practice, so you will be able to do it if ever required. Other boaters can do it regardless of drive, so try it out. You have nothing to lose. If it works for you, it’ll let you walk your boat sideways on those days, when you end up parallel but 6’ off the gas dock.

Have fun. Send me your story.

Doug Dawson



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