Boat Handling Basics: Docking in Breeze

Using your boats lines to help manuever around docks gives you ultimate control. especially in a breeze.

The day-long parade to the dock of boats unloading equipment at the end of the season got my attention. It was a windy day, and many skippers had trouble getting  alongside since the wind blowing them off the dock. Even the boats endowed with twin engines and bow thrusters had problems; it seemed that the more complicated the equipment, the more they struggled. The solution to this common test of seamanship is a simple one: your spring line.

Use a spring line as your brake, and warp in against it with your wheel hard over to kick the stern into the dock.

With the wind blowing you off the dock, coming in with a spring line prepared can save the day. Once the spring line is dead-ended on the dock, power forward with the rudder hard over (away from the dock). Ease out the boat end of the line until you are positioned appropriately and then make it fast. The combination of spring line and propulsion wash off the angled rudder will keep you alongside the dock until your other lines can be made fast.

Spring lines can also be used for getting off docks where the wind is pressing you alongside. Release all other lines except the forward spring (the one that leads aft), turn the rudder toward the dock, and power up until your stern is kicked far enough off the dock to allow you to back out, retrieving the slackening spring as you go.