How to dock your yacht

Experienced sailor, Ben Keys, explains the finer points of docking your yacht, covering planning, responsibilities, assessing the weather conditions, fenders and dock lines.
Ben Keys: I'm Ben Keys at Club Marine TV, and today we're gonna talk about docking your boat. Docking a boat is one of those things that scares a lot of people, but you are gonna have to do it again and again, coming out of your berth. Most important thing is to have a plan, and make sure everyone else on board understands that plan. So, regarding tide, you wanna know the state of the tide as you're coming into your pen. Is the current running in or out, and how much water you've got under your boat.

So, like a lot of things in sailing, docking's gonna involve assessing the conditions before you commit to a plan. Two of the most important things to consider are what the wind is doing and what the current's doing. Based on these two factors, you're gonna wanna decide how you're going to approach the dock, and what lines you're gonna get onto the boat first. As the captain, it's your job to make sure you've got your crew in the right positions and they understand what they're gonna do when you come alongside the dock. As you're coming into the pen, you wanna approach at a speed where you can still maintain steerage, depending on what the wind's doing, and if the current is rushing through your pen. Make sure your lines on board are ready to deploy, or if you've got someone giving you a hand on the dock, make sure their lines are ready to go too. Now, when it comes to your crew, you want to address them firmly and clearly. You want them all to understand what's going on, but you also don't wanna be that guy who's yelling at his mates as you come into the pen.

So what sort of lines are we gonna need? We need a bow line, we need a stern line, and a couple of spring lines as well. The worst thing you can do is be indecisive. If you're not happy with how it's panning out, just get out of there and go around again. Now, something which is gonna make up for your lack of talent in docking is fenders, lots of them. Also make sure they're at the right height off the water and they're securely tied as you come in.

So, once you're in the pen and everything's secure, you just wanna have a last final check. Shoot around the boat, make sure everything's tied off securely on the cleats and all the lines are good length. You want a bit of play to allow for different wind conditions. Once you're securely on the dock, walk around, have a final check, and then you're good to go.

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