Docking a Boat Secrets - Are You Really in Control of Gusty On-the-Dock Winds?

Have you had the experience of docking a boat with high, gusty winds blowing onto a marina dock? Did you feel that you were in control? Or did the wind or current take over as soon as you turned beam-to-the-wind? Learn this secret method used by the pros that puts you in command every time!

Keep the bow or stern into the elements (wind or current) as long as possible for best control. If you must turn to one side or the other of the wind or current, do so at a narrow angle. Use this secret in any boat handling maneuver.

The more you turn your beam to the wind or current, the greater your loss of control. This puts the wind or current in control==not you! Use this secret to plan your maneuvers so that, if you must turn beam to the wind, you do so at the end of the maneuver (see below).

Practice before your approach

If you know that you will dock with a heavy wind or current onto the dock, practice boat control in an open area first. Take the time to do this and your docking will go much smoother once inside the marina.

* Turn so that your stern faces the wind.
* Shift your engine in idle reverse to stop the boat.
* Take the engine out of gear for a few seconds. Allow the boat to drift forward.
* Shift the engine into idle reverse to stop all forward motion.
* Repeat these steps until you are confident that you have positive control.

Follow these five simple steps to success:

1. Approach stern to wind

Make your approach to the dock with your stern into the wind or current. Use the same steps you practiced to maintain boat control. Rig boat fenders along the docking side. Send one of your crew up to the bow with a roving fender.

2. Pick an "aim" point

Steer toward a point on the dock about 1/3 of a boat length back from where you want the bow to end up. Keep your boat lined up with the wind or current astern and the "aim" point ahead.

3. Use bare steerageway

Creep toward that point with just enough steerage (forward momentum) to maintain control. Imagine that eggs are lined up along the pier and you want to lay your boat alongside without cracking one egg. Great boat handlers use this mind-set all the time.

4. Angle the bow

Turn the bow at a slight angle toward the wind or current when you are within two to three feet of the dock. Cushion the point of contact near the bow with the roving fender.

5. Pass a bow line

Have your crew loop a bow line around a cleat or piling and back to a bow cleat. This will hold the boat in position as the stern blows onto the pier.

Follow these tips from the secret files of the pros when docking a boat in a stiff, blustery on-the-dock wind. Become master and commander over your small cruising boat in the toughest weather conditions wherever you choose to cruise.

Captain John Jamieson shows small boat cruising skippers how to reach their sailing dreams today! Get his popular free report "Small Boat Cruising Guide - How to Estimate Provisions Needed for your Cruise" at

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Article Info

John Jamieson
Boat Handling
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