How to dock your boat with Alistair McGlashan

Al McGlashan runs over the basics for docking your boat.
Al McGlashan: Now, when it comes to tying your boat up or docking it, people get a bit nervous, but if you follow a simple procedure, you can make it easy. First thing, we want to dock there. It doesn't matter whether you're going for coffee, you're tying up to pull it out, it doesn't matter. First thing you do, assess the situation. Tide, wind, other boats are all factors that can play a role. Now, we've got a run-out tide. You can tell that because the water's flowing down against this edge here, so you can actually see it. So like a plane, you always ... well, like a plane always takes off into the wind. For us, we're going to come in from downstream, so we're going into the current, so pushing into the current and pull up.

The first thing we want to do is the gear out. Now, fenders, get those ready. Secondly, have your ropes ready. Finally, make a plan with your deckhand. Coops, when we come in, I'm going to get you to tie off on this back one here. I'm going to bring it in and then you secure that. As soon as you secure it, tell me, and we'll hold against that.

Coops: Yep.

Al McGlashan: Beautiful. That's your one. First step, get the fenders on. Now, it sounds silly, but decide what side of the boat you're going in, whether it's port or starboard. In this case, current's running out, so we're going to come in on this side because I like it on the driver's side, so I have better control. When you tie your fenders off, tie them off so they're nice and high. Don't let them sink down too much. You want it so it's fending the boat. If it sinks down too much, it'll sit underneath the boat. A couple of half hitches. Three half hitches for good measure, ready to go. Now, your second fender, position it up somewhere mid ship, that it's going to protect the boat. Don't put it too far forward. If it's going to sink in under the bow, you want it somewhere where it'll protect the boat. Three half hitches for good luck. Now, you're ready to go.

As you're coming in, again, keep assessing the situation, keep making sure. There's other boats moving around, there's debris, or in this case we've got a child on the ramp there catching toad fish, I think it is. Trick is come in nice and slow. So you're constantly assessing the situation. Now, we're driving into the current and it's the same with the wind, always drive into the wind or the current, rather than with it because if you're going with it, it's much harder to control. Secondly, in and out of gears, slow is best. Out of gear, the slower the better. Come in pointing the bow in towards it, and you'll let the water naturally pull you in. Coops is ready to go to tie it off.

There you go. Now, we're secure. Now, if it's really rough or it's a bit more dangerous, what we can do is wrap it on here, so then see how just one wrap and I can pull tight on there. That way I can control the boat and it's semi-secured, so you can hold it like that and that way, there can be a bit of pressure on the rope. To secure it off, give it an S, then half hitch, which basically you just roll it over itself, pull down to secure it through the half hitch facing the other way. Then for good measure, do one more.

Grab your other rope.. Now, this is a temporary version. So we just pin her through like that, pin her over. Half hitch, half hitch, one more for good luck. To make it really secure, you want to tie some springers, which will help take the pressure off. Black rope comes down to the back. Again, like that, pull tight. Half hitch, half hitch, and then one more for good luck. That's going to take a bit of pressure off, going from the bow. Then Coops is passing me the other way. To take pressure off coming the other way, we tie the other springer. Same thing, tie off your springer coming forward. Again, two half hitches and one more for good luck. Then just roll it up so that it's neat and out of the way.

Now, your boat can move around, but see how all the different ropes tension at different times. Probably the final touch there is for securing it, is that once you've tied it off, check it. You may need to readjust a couple of the lines just to get it all working properly. Finally, if you want to go one step further, you can tie another rope across from the back stern, across to a cleat there, and another one off the bow as well. So, once you've tied it off, remember, just check your ropes. You may need a little bit of adjusting, but once you've got that baby tied down, she's going nowhere. That is safe boating.