Single Handed Docking of a Twin Inboard Trawler

defever-44-morning-sun-jeffersThanks to Bill Jeffers in Georgia for his suggestion to write an article, on single handed docking of a twin inboard Trawler. Many boaters, like him, want to be able to take their boats out for a cruise without crew and then be able to dock it on their own, when they return to their slip.

In this article, I will answer Bill’s question and cover single handed docking of a Twin Inboard Trawler. These instructions won’t work for other boats. Each drive system and type of boat requires different docking instructions and each is covered in detail in Dawson’s Docking e-Lessons. Single handed docking of all other boat styles are covered in the “Advanced Docking e-Lesson for each drive system.

Bill’s suggestion:

“As I was single handing my boat and operating from the bridge helm station, I had dressed the bow, stern and spring lines along the railing before coming so the dock hands could just reach up and take the lines. I think hints for single hand docking of a twin inboard with only the Captain aboard would be a great topic for a future article.”

Bill, you are quite right, preparation is the key. The following procedure for docking your Twin Inboard Trawler, requires that you come into your slip using the techniques explained in Dawsons “Docking Your Twin Inboard” e-Lesson.

  • Because you are docking a twin inboard Trawler, you will use an Amidships FLIPP Line™. Unlike an express cruiser or yacht, your lower helm is forward inside the salon and your easiest/fastest access to the deck is through your side door.
  • This crucial FLIPP Line™ should be pre-rigged, while still at the dock.
  • Start by securing the eye of this line through and over your amidships/spring line deck cleat.
  • Stretch out the line on the dock to reach around the cleat or post at the very end of your dock.
  • Tie a very large bowline about 2’ to 3’ diameter around the cleat or post. This line should be snug from the boat to the dock, because it is now your FLIPP Line™. You will reach out the side door, and lower it over the cleat or place it over the post, as you re-enter your slip. It must be short enough to stop your boat, before the bow reaches the shore end of your slip.
  • OK, so your FLIPP Line™ is prepared and ready. When you leave your dock for your solo cruise, just lift the bowline loop off the cleat or post. Coil it loosely on the side deck aft of your side door for convenient pick up upon your return.
  • Remove your other lines, as you normally do and coil on the deck.
  • When you return from your solo cruise, while still in the fairway, prepare your dock lines.
  • Run your line from the bow, outside all the stanchion posts, aft to your side door gate. Loop loosely over the sheerline for easy pick up from the dock.
  • Run your line from the stern cleat ahead a few feet and loop loosely for easy pick up from the dock.
  • Hang your fenders at the correct height for your dock.
  • Next, decide on your plan. Clear the path from your lower helm (not the flybridge because distance and stairs take too long) to your side deck and full length of the side deck just in case. Make sure there is nothing to trip on.
  • Walk through your plan out loud to yourself. (you are alone so no one will hear you) “When I get into the slip, I am going to…. Second I am going to…. Then I am going to …..”
  • Re-locate any dock lines etc. that your verbal walk-thru revealed should be moved to prevent a fall/disaster.
  • Now that you are sure you are ready, enter your slip according to the detailed instruction in Dawson’s “Docking Your Twin Inboard” e-Lesson. Note: The FLIPP Line™ procedure won’t work using other docking methods.
  • As you inch your way slowly into your slip, step out your side door, pick up your prepared FLIPP Line™.
  • Hold the bowline over the side, and hook it over the cleat or post at the end of your dock. Lower the excess FLIPP Line™ clear of the other cleats and continue sneaking into the slip to take up the slack.
  • When the FLIPP Line™ is snug, push the shift into forward, then steer slightly away from the dock. Leave the motor closest to the dock in forward.
  • Once the FLIPP Line™ is fully engaged, your boat will stay glued to the dock for hours. You now can take your time, stepping to the dock to tie all your dock lines. Pick each dock line off the side deck, from where you had previously loosely looped them. No need for dock helpers.
  • Step back aboard. Shift back into neutral. Turn off the motors.
  • Walk ever so confidently to your foredeck or aft deck (your choice), look 360 degrees around the harbor for an admiring audience.
  • Now, the most important part. Remove your hat. SMILE. Lean forward in a long prolonged Shakespearean bow—stage left, then stage right.
  • A photo of your performance bowing would be “a hoot” to post on our site.


Dawson’s FLIPP Line™ is a temporary docking aid to simplify docking by allowing you to choose your boats pivot point and secure your boat to the dock/pier. Once secure, your boat should be tied appropriately for the situation. The FLIPP Line™ procedure is explained over several pages in step-by-step detail in all Dawsons Introductory Docking e-Lessons.

The Amidships FLIPP Line™ outlined for docking Bill’s boat only works on Trawlers. Other power boats would not use an Amidships FLIPP Line™. FLIPP Line™ procedures are explained in step-by-step detail in all Dawsons Introductory Docking e-Lessons.

For More Information

Docking a Twin Inboard Power Power Boat e-Lessons are available on our website. It contains 139 pages with over 100 diagrams and pictures of step-by-step instructions specific to twin inboard boats. The Introductory Lesson covers boat handling–how the boat responds to the wheel, shift and throttles, close quarters maneuvering and docking coming into the slip bow first. The Advanced Lesson covers single handed docking, backing into a slip and other neat maneuvers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap