Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

How to Dock Your Boat with the 'Crabbing' Technique

by John Jamieson on 25 Apr 2014
Captain John Jamieson http://www.skippertips.com
Imagine that you need to dock your boat in a tight space between two yachts. And, you have a gusty wind to deal with that will make this a tough challenge. How can you combine rudder, throttle and crabbing angle for a smooth sailing solution?

Use this special docking technique when you have the wind on the bow (also called a wind that blows 'down the bow'), and not a lot of approach space. It's always nice to have a lot of docking space, but you'll often be restricted.

In the illustration, we need to dock between a boat ahead and astern. High, gusty winds blow almost parallel to the face of the pier. Let's take a look at this challenge one step at a time.

1. Brief the Crew Each and Every Time
I believe no other single factor blows more dockings than failure to communicate with the crew. It's best not to assume that anyone--new crew or veteran--knows what you intend to do. Give a short, simple brief to assign positions and describe the sequence of events.

Create simple hand signals that keep communications clear--and most important--quiet with no yelling. This will create less stress all around and make docking smoother and easier.

2. Stand Off and Face the Elements
Rule #1 will always be to wait to make your approach in a tight situation (top illustration - left side). Keep two to four boat lengths off the pier. Face the dominant element (wind or current) and use just enough throttle to maintain position. Here we point the bow into the wind and hold position with bursts of throttle as needed.

3. Select a Path of Approach
Choose two points in-line (called a 'transit' or 'range') as an aim-point to guide you in to the selected docking spot. As long as you stay on this line, you will land your boat at the spot you picked.

In the top illustrations, we have chosen a piling and mountain peak that line up. We call this imaginary line an 'aim point'. As long as we keep this piling and mountain peak in line, we will 'sail' down the approach path (the wide gray line) all the way to our assigned 'Dock Space'.

4. Determine the 'First Line Over'
Set up the deck with fenders, docking lines and boat hook. Brief the crew on your intentions; assign positions. Determine the 'first line over' that you will use to spring the boat alongside. Make this choice based on the elements. Once alongside, how will the wind or current cause your boat to drift?

In this case, we will drift toward the boat astern. Our first line over will be a forward bow spring line (close-up spring line illustration). Make sure that all hands are familiar with springs. They are given different names, but I like to go with the two-part name because it always gives the crew two vital pieces of information.

Let's take the forward bow spring that we will use. The first part of the name--'forward'--tells the crew how to lead the spring line from the boat to the shore. The second part of the name--'bow'--tells the crew where to attach the spring aboard your boat.

5. Angle the Boat and Preset the Wheel or Tiller
When docking preparations are complete, turn the wheel or tiller just enough to angle the bow to the wind or current at a slight angle. Once the bow falls off, turn the wheel toward the wind or current (or hold a tiller downwind or down-current). This 'pre-sets' the rudder for use with the throttle (top illustration - right side). Use short bursts of throttle to maintain this bow-angle. Go to the next step.

6. Maintain Approach Angle and Position on the Approach Path
Concentrate on the 'aim point' objects so that your boat 'floats down' to your assigned dock space. In the two top illustrations, note how we keep the pier piling and mountain peak in line to stay on our approach path. Use the throttle to help you stay on the approach path and on your 'aim point'.

7. Spring Your Boat Onto the Pier
Loop the forward bow spring around a piling or cleat ahead of the bow. Bring the bitter end back aboard and belay it to the cleat (close-up spring line illustration). Here, the wind or current will take control--just what you want. Allow the elements to bring the boat flush alongside the pier. Use slow astern propulsion as needed to assist.

Realize that the point of attachment of a spring will be critical in the behavior of a vessel. Attach it too far forward and you may be unable to bring the boat flush to the pier. It's best to use a cleat farther aft--between the bow and beam. If unavailable, ease the spring as much as possible (watch that boat astern!) to help bring the boat alongside. Once alongside, put over the remainder of your docking lines. Adjust fenders and you're done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at http://www.skippertips.com. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!

Wildwind 2016 660x82Hamilton Island LuxuryX-Yachts AUS X4 - 660 - 2

Related Articles

Kids Polarised Sunglasses from Barz Optics
Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Each pair are supplied with a neoprene case and sunglass retainer.
Posted on 4 Aug
Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Bavaria STYLE 46 Australian Premiere at Sydney International Boat Show
For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. Making the most of your time on board, be it with family or friends, is becoming more important. Yacht owners want certain levels of comfort and an onboard living experience coupled with versatility.
Posted on 26 Jul
What to look for when buying a modern lifejacket
There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably. There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably and one of the biggest drivers of this change has been due to personal ownership. Rather than crew relying on lifejackets being on-board a boat, they want to own their own lifejacket as part of their kit bag.
Posted on 25 Jul
The New Bavaria Cruiser 34 - you won't believe this is a 34' yacht!
The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World and Australian Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The new Cruiser 34 offers more space and more comfort than ever before with a bigger cockpit, dual helms and ergonomically designed seating. This is the first time the entry level Bavaria cruiser has been offered in twin helm!
Posted on 19 Jul
Navathome Australia brings RYA Theory to your door
The RYA Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. The Royal Yachting Association Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. Split into a theory and practical syllabus the training modules take you in steps from a Start Yachting orientation through to Yachtmaster for either power or sail.
Posted on 5 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun