Leaving A Slip In The Wind

From The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere

Learn five tactics to get away from the dock when the gusts are against you.

5 ways to leave a slip in the windDepending on how your boat is docked, here are five different maneuvers for getting out of the slip. Your boat's hull shape, prop walk, windage, current, and other factors may affect results. Click on image to enlarge. (Illustration: Marcus Floro/BoatUS)

1. Wind Pushing Starboard Side, Stern Out

Step 1: Hard left rudder. Engine forward will kick out the stern.

Step 2: Reverse engine with left rudder, after releasing line and clearing dock.

Step 3: Forward out of the marina.

2. Wind Pushing Away From Dock, Stern Out

Step 1: Engine forward and right rudder kicks out the stern.

Step 2: Engine reverse with left rudder after releasing line and clearing dock.

Step 3: Forward out of the marina.

3. Wind Pushing Port Side, Bow Out

Step 1: Reverse engine, right rudder to pivot bow into the wind.

Step 2: Remove line and steer into wind.

4. Wind Pushing Away From Dock, Bow Out

Step 1: Release bow line first, then stern and power forward with right rudder.

5. Wind Pushing Starboard Side, Bow Out

Step 1: Reverse engine, left rudder to pivot bow into the wind.

Step 2: Remove line and steer into wind.

A challenging maneuver for any boat (power, sail, big, small) is leaving the dock. Slow speed makes a boat less maneuverable because the rudder isn't very effective until the boat's going fast enough for water to flow over it cleanly. Called "steerageway," that efficient speed can be elusive when the wind's pushing you back or when you make turns, which also slow the boat.

Before heading out, check the wind strength and direction, and then plan your tactics. The illustration shows five ways to cast off from a slip and head out of a marina into a head wind. It's a two-step process. First, clear the slip, using docking lines and the engine to control the boat and prevent rubbing against the pier. Be careful, though. The forces can be larger than they appear. Then point the bow as directly as possible down the channel and get going. On that heading, turns will be gradual, which improves your speed and control. 

Article reprinted with permission from — and illustration inspired by Mark Smith's drawing in — The Annapolis Book of Seamanship (4th edition, Simon & Schuster, 2014)

— Published: August/September 2017


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