Smart DockingPublished: Fall 2013
When docking, it's important to have lines and fenders set up on BOTH port and starboard sides of the boat, before approaching the dock. You may have been instructed for a bow-in port tie in error, and it ends up being a starboard tie. Or the slip you are assigned is occupied and you get reassigned. Being ready either way only takes a minute and reduces unwanted anxiety when the plan changes at the last second.
If you're new to boating and nervous about inching into a slip or alongside a busy dock in current or wind, put the boat in neutral well BEFORE turning in, assess what effects the elements are having on you, then add those effects into your plan. And don't panic. If you feel it's all going wrong, just abandon the approach and start over. Much easier than trying to correct or compensate.
When You've Got One Shot
My wife is handicapped and can't run from one end of the boat to the other with lines when we're coming into our slip. Here's a trick we use to get our boat secured. All we have to do is get one line over the piling.
Hold The Line
As a first mate, never toss a line to a dockhand until the captain has given you the word or signal. Maintain control at all times if possible. When a line is given, it should be a spring line, ideally a midships line, with instructions to secure it to a cleat immediately to halt forward motion.