Put the "ing" in your Boating

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Call: 1-519-538-2887

First Time Docking a 43 Footer

Doug, I wanted to share with you my story about how your twin inboard houseboat docking lesson helped me last summer.

boat-drift-2I decided I wanted to live aboard. I live in the Charlotte area, but found an old 43' Harbor Master in Tennessee that I really liked. I traveled out there to have a look, and decided to buy it. Mind you, I've never driven a boat anywhere near this size, much less with two inboards. I scoured google for tips, and ran across your PDF lesson, which I purchased. I gave it a good read, and the methods you showed were nothing like what I expected. Prior to reading your lesson, I thought I would be using the wheel the whole time, using the engines for simple forward and reverse power only. The whole "Jolly Green Giant" thing had never crossed my mind, and it made a lot of sense.

So the next day I paid to have it hauled out and surveyed. The owner showed up to get the boat to the lift, and then had to leave. After the survey was complete, the surveyor drove off, the marina put the boat back in the water, and said "Ok Mr. Hatcher, she's all yours.". What!!? Not only was it my first time driving something like this, I had no first mate.

The slip was in a difficult place for me - if you think of the dock as a big "H", the slip was on the inside bottom left, almost to the middle. I had to worry about other boats on 3 sides. Remembering what I read in your lesson, I got a little forward momentum, made sure the wheel was centered, went in gear at 900 RPM, and (mentally) duct taped my hands to the gear levers. While nerve wracking, it responded exactly as you described, and I was able to slowly nose my way into the slip with very little trouble.

I can't imagine how different that experience would have been if I didn't run across your lesson the day before.

In fact, after having the boat shipped and put in the water in Charlotte, I drove it to the marina that would be its new home. The slip was the very inside slip, on my port side. So I had to drive past the finger, and pull hard port up against it. I made a flawless first entry, all the while using the lessons you taught me. One of the marina workers was standing on the dock as I pulled in.. when I stepped off to tie up, he said, "The man knows how to drive a boat!". I got a good laugh.. if he only knew it was my second time and my heart was racing :)

Thanks a lot for sharing your years of experience. I wanted to let you know how it helped me, and that I really appreciate it!

Bill Hatcher, SC

Dear Brenda and Doug:

So cool that you We're the ones who actually did the review on this boat almost 25 years ago! Things come full circle.

Thanks for the details on the hull and what happened to the molds with World Class Catamarans.  I got the boat last year and the engine died right away, and I'm just re-powering it, so I haven't had a chance to use it on the Mississippi much yet really.  Researching what I could about it, I think it may be my favorite boat ever.Like a lot of us I enjoy learning the history about my boat!

I had already checked out your website and had already decided to get the book on docking the boat, so will be sure to get the pontoon version. And even though I'm an Eagle Scout and thought I knew in my knots well, I've already also decided to order the book on knots!   It sounds like you've developed a lot of great resources!

Peace and Love

Tom Schreiber


Brenda, "Nice job by you and Doug, I really like your common sense approach to handling a boat with easy time for the first mate." Thanks again.

Bill, 'a fan'.


Y'all are the best! Downloaded it, saved it, printed it--now all we have to do is master it! Thank you so much.

Natalie Redyk

For trailered boats, make sure the drain plug is on your checklist!  It wasn't on mine and I mistakenly expected that the shop who summerized and delivered my boat had installed it.  They didn't, and I didn't check for it, and didn't realize it wasn't there 'till I got back to my backyard dock and saw the water coming up thru the ski well.  I'm now known as "soggy-boy" after falling off the boat into the lake while trying to install the plug from above; would have been a lot easier on the launch ramp!  Fortunately, nothing was damaged but my pride . . . Cheers

Dave Keyser, Soggy-boy

Thanks! Always great to receive your monthly newsletter. Well done and appreciated!
keeep up the super good work.....


17 Questions to Ask About Boat Docking

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