Before a single handed docking in heavy wind…..

windIt was perfectly calm when Derek left the harbour to go out for a peaceful afternoon cruise all by himself. Relaxing on the water didn’t last long though. Calm became chop when the wind came up out of nowhere. While heading back to the harbor, the chop tuned to waves and white caps as the wind intensified.

By the time he got back to the harbor, the wind was really howling offshore.

He had stored all his fenders and stowed all his lines, before heading out and now it was too rough to prepare them for docking.

Being alone, he knew he would never be able to dock his boat single handedly. He feared the worst and was ter

rified at the possibilities of all that could go wrong.


Derek had mastered our Docking e-Lesson and was confident that he could dock in the wind. He just had  to figure out how to get his fenders and lines on first. Then, Derek remembered a tip in our Docking e-Lesson, that d

he modified to help him in this situation.

The fear drained out of his body as he prepared to “Hang Out in the Wind” while calmly preparing fenders and lines for docking.

When you are stressed and rushed, chances of things going wrong , are almost always guaranteed. Isn’t that one of Murphy’s Laws?

Here are my instructions to give you lots of time to calmly prepare your fenders and lines for docking; instead of idling around the harbor in a heavy wind, running around like a madman continually re-aiming the boat trying to keep from hitting something:

  • As in all bad weather, start by putting on your pfd or life jacket.
  • Pick an empty dock or pier, where the wind is blowing off of it.
  • Attach one stern line to a stern cleat by putting the eye through the cleat and over the horns, so you know it will not jump off on you.
  • Back in to the chosen cleat, post or mooring ball. (preferably the port corner because you can see that corner better from the helm).
  • Once close enough for you to reach the dock cleat, shift into neutral.
  • Carefully and quickly, step onto the swim platform and flip the Stern Flipp Line over the cleat or post. Be sure to hold on with one hand to a rail or handhold at all times for safety.
  • Tie the bitter end back to your boat’s stern cleat. (Leaving enough slack that your boat hangs well clear of the dock.)
  • Now, you can take your time to secure all your fenders and attach all your dock lines to your boat cleats, because your boat will hang in the wind like a windsock–Hang out in the wind here, as long as you need to.
  • Before you untie your stern line and head for your dock, check your cockpit sole to verify there is nothing to trip on.

This simple procedure is also a lifesaver, when you need to hang out in a storm. Just secure your bow or stern line (depending on the boat) into the wind. The stern or control end is usually better and safer because of the visibility and accessibility from the helm. See the docking e-Lesson for detailed instructions.

So, if you ever find yourself in this situation,
don’t panic.
Just “Hang Out in the Wind”!


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