Tips for docking

Well-practised docking techniques take the stress out of tying up.

Dale Stott:Hi, my name's Dale Stott. We're here on The Fox, my Riviera 6000.

Quite often we want to go into a marina on our coastal cruising trips. So part of that process, if you want to do there, is generally you have to ring ahead. Not all marinas will have berths available for you, so it's something that you need to look up their phone numbers, ring ahead and find out whether you can get a berth. Then what they'll do is they'll generally ask you to send through a copy of your insurance policy. They'll want your vessel's name, your contact details. They'll want your size, as in your length, your beam, your draft of your boat. This is all the sort of information you'll have to provide to the marina prior to going in.

Key pieces of equipment for docking are to have your docking lines ready, have your fenders ready, and this is all best to be done prior to going into the marina. We've got all our mooring lines all set up. We want to do this in a calm environment before we get into close to the dock where there's other boats and that. It takes all the pressure out of it. We've got everything set up. We've got our ropes set up, our four ropes along the boat, and we've got our fenders. We're making sure that our ropes are well clear and tied up out of the way so they don't get anywhere near fouling with propellers, but we've got everything set up ready to go before we head into the dock.

Pull up out the front. Understand which side of the boat you're docking on, whether you're port or starboard side. Set your fenders, set your lines all up ready to go prior to going in. Most marines won't have lines there ready for you. You'll need your springers, your front and your rear. You'll need your bow and your stern lines. Let the crew know which direction we're going to be going in, so they know which lines to pass first. Make sure everybody understands what the plan is, so that nobody hits a panic and gets themselves in a panic position because they're not sure what to do.

So when we're coming in, we just always ensure that we come in nice and slow. If we do everything slow, in a controlled situation, we'll find it takes a lot of pressure off. If you're coming in, it's easy to reverse the action if you haven't got too much speed on. If you come in and you feel it's not right, you can go back, reassess and start again. Just remember, when coming in, we don't want anybody jumping off onto the dock. It's very dangerous. If you were to slip and drop in, we've got propellers running. We don't want to get you involved in any crushing incidents close to the dock. Just wait until we've got the boat settled against the dock before stepping across.

Wind is always something we need to watch out for. Wind is one of our enemies, with windage on the side of the boat. So if you can reduce the windage by folding up your Biminis on a smaller boat or using the wind where you narrow the boat by coming in either straight into it or in reverse, that will always help you with your docking process. It's always good if you've got extra crew or people on board the boat. You can use them as spotters, one at the front, at the bow, and one at the stern to watch out for kayaks, people swimming, small boats. If you're on a boat such as this, it's hard to see the far side of the boat, so utilize the extra passengers on your boat to help spot so you can dock nice and safely. If the wind and current is on your bow, ensure that you put your bow line on first to secure it. If the wind or the tide is on your stern, ensure you put your stern line on first.

When we're on a fixed structure, we need to allow for the rise and fall of the tide. We need lots of length in our ropes to allow for the boat to go up and down without holding the boat against the jetty. Obviously you have the problem of the boat moving forwards into potentially other boats, or leaving it too far away from the structure that we're unable to get on and off safely. Never switch your engines off until you've got all your lines done up tight in the right position, ensuring that your boat's not going to move anywhere prior to switching your engines off.

Different boats will have different techniques for docking. This particular boat's fitted with pods. We're lucky enough to have a joystick so we can move the boat forwards, backwards, sideways, swivel it. We can basically put it in any position using our joystick. If you've got a bow thruster, they're a very handy piece of equipment to have on a boat. It gives you the ability to shuffle the nose across, or the stern if you're lucky enough to have a stern thruster as well.

If you're not confident with your docking, it's best to practice. Go to a marina where there's no other boats around. You can put your fenders out on both sides and you can take your time, and keep practicing it until you feel confident with it. It takes all the pressure off of going into a marina when there's lots of other boats around and getting into a panic situation. There are other videos on Club Marine TV on showing you how to dock.

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