Boating should not only be FUN, it should also be SAFE for the First Mate and crew. After all, this is a time for you and your family to escape from the hustle and bustle and spend some relaxing time on the water with your family and friends.
You have probably taken a Power Squadron course to learn all the basics, attended seminars at boat shows and no doubt, you’ve picked up a lot of boating information from the internet and fellow boaters.
But, you may not have learned about the things you should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER do…..
A number of boaters have told us stories of dangerous practices that they have witnessed. “I have seen so many near accidents around my marina docks and boat ramp” Richard explained. Roberta told us “I lost a finger trying to hold the boat off the dock in a strong wind. My hand got caught and my finger was severed from my hand”. Several boaters had seen crew members actually fall into the water—some suffered bruises and scrapes and a big scare, but others had more serious injuries and had to be hospitalized.
NEVER step off until the boat is completely stopped
One example was observing a boater docking his boat, and while still moving, his crew jumped to the dock with the docking line. This may work most times, but it is a very dangerous practice that could lead to serious injury. It only takes a second to trip or miss the dock or slide on wet dock boards and the resulting injuries could be extremely serious.
A total miss could result in a fall into the water between the moving boat and the dock—with disastrous results. The captain may not see where she has fallen in the water, and end up squashing her against the wall; she could hit her head and be unconscious in the water while the captain prepares to rescue. How can he dock and rescue at the same time? Bad weather further complicates the situation.
You don’t get out of a moving car and you shouldn’t get out of a moving boat either.
NEVER turn off your engine until tied to the dock
When docking your boat in your slip or at a dock, never turn off your engine, until you have come to a full stop at the dock and at least some lines have been secured. Why?
As long as your motor(s) is running, you can still recover if someone screws up. You have no control once you turn off the motor. You may need to adjust the position of the boat, because of wind or current, or you may have to compensate for a dock helper or crew member letting go of a crucial dock line. You may need your motor(s) to hold your boat in place in wind or current to give your crew time to tie your other lines.
NEVER Jump from the boat to the dock
When docking, you should always wait until the boat is alongside the dock and fully stopped, so that First Mate or crew can step off safely onto the dock.
If it isn’t safe, First Mates should stay put and wait for the captain to abort and try again. If this takes two or three tries, then so be it. Be patient and safe. The consequences are the same as above.
NEVER use a body part to fend off your boat
Never put your hands/arms or feet/legs between a moving boat and a dock/post or even another boat. As a friend of ours said, “You can lose a finger, hand, foot or leg, AND it happens soooo fast”.
Stay safe. Just don’t do it! The boat is repairable. Body parts are not replaceable.
NEVER use both hands to do a job
When moving around the boat, tying lines, standing on the platform etc., always hold on with one hand for safety so that you don’t fall or slip overboard—especially if the captain suddenly accelerates or slows down. Learn to tie lines with the other hand. A passing boat could throw a wake causing you to lose your balance, but if you are holding on, your chances of falling are greatly reduced.
How to Avoid these NEVERS
These are only a few of the dangerous practices that boaters have been seen doing but should NEVER do.
For a high percentage of boaters, docking is the scariest part of boating. Some boaters are hesitant to go out for a day of enjoyment on the water with their families, because they dread coming back to the dock. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a better way to dock.
You should be able to bring your boat into your slip or dock in all weather conditions without the need for yelling, swearing, jumping, boat hooks, bionics, dock helpers, guesswork or embarrassment.
If any of the above is part of your docking procedure, it’s probably time to improve your docking skills. Many Captains believe that practicing their old docking procedure will result in a different outcome. But, in reality, you usually need to change the proceure before practicing, to get a different and better outcome.
Get the right lesson for your boat, then practice to become safe and confident when docking your boat.
Dawson’s Boat Docking Lessons are all about:
SAFETY for the crew,
CONFIDENCE for the captain and
FUN for families.