About Marina Docking

1. Always be attentive to what’s happening on the dock and try to work with a good dock hand.

2. One of the most common skipper errors I’ve noticed occurs when the dock hand has the spring and it’s wrapped on the dock cleat, but not yet secured because the dock hand will need to let out the spring as the boat moves into place. The skipper then guns far too hard, usually because he he’s inexperienced or panicking or both. This can seriously injure the person handling the line.

3. While each skipper is responsible for operating his own boat, a good dock hand may know things that you don’t know and need to know. This could include information about eddies, what the current will be doing tomorrow morning when you want to leave, and whether nearby tall buildings create a venturi effect with the wind.

4. We all know that some marinas have lousy dock hands who can do more harm than good. But many have very skilled professional people who can really save the day, not to mention your boat and pride.

5. If you’re familiar with a marina you probably know the score about the dock hands before you come in. If you’re not, it pays to politely try to find out.

6. Sometimes you can find out by a conversation on the cell phone or VHF.

7. Sometimes you can find out by asking other boaters who’ve been there.

8. Pay attention as the personnel begin to help; this may give you an indication of how well they’re going to do.

9. I’ve noticed that well established well run marinas will often have better trained personnel. This is one reason (of many) that I come back to certain marinas.

Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale


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