There is a saying: “Never approach the dock faster than a speed at which you are willing to hit it,” and if most skippers can remember that, their boat (and the boats of others) will usually remain undamaged. The problems usually arise when the boat driver is applying too much pressure or not enough to the throttle with the combination of wind and currents.
Today’s blog post is all about how to dock your boat in windy conditions so you are prepared for any weather situation…
You should communicate with your passengers what your plan of attack is to dock your boat in windy conditions. Have them place the fenders out for the side you will be approaching. Train your crew in advance. A smooth command of “Fenders out starboard side please” should be all that is needed. Have your crew announce blindspots and how far you are from the dock or pier.
Practice in Calm Conditions-
Plan your docking maneuver in advance and rehearse it on a calm day with minimal current and wind. This will prepare you to handle more challenging docking maneuvers later at your lakefront property. Your technique will vary based on your engine configuration.
- Normally use short bursts of power
- Enough to maintain directional control and steerage
- When a little is not enough
- Sometimes, when it is windy or there is current, you have to add and sustain power to overcome outside forces. In this instance, don’t be passive; you must control the boat.
- If it’s blowing hard
- Feel free to reduce your profile and windage. Take things down that can be taken down like soft biminis.
- Prop Wash and Prop Torque
- Most single screws have a right-hand turning prop. What do you care? Because with a little practice you can “walk” your stern over to port and slip right into a dock space. There are plenty of YouTube videos that will teach you more about this technique.
- Use shifters and throttles
- Remember to not use steering at low speeds
Use the Wind and Tide to Your Advantage-
When thinking about docking into the wind, consider the concept of throwing your boat at the dock, using a spinning motion to skid and slide the vessel into its slip, against the wind. When it’s done just right, the boat will slide into its slip with a rotary motion, coming to a stop at exactly the right spot.
The Secure Feeling-
Don’t relax until you get that boat secured! Make sure your crew knows the game plan… The skills which you will teach yourself and practice will also stand you in good stead in many other boating maneuvers, both in close quarters and on the open water. Practice in lighter winds, and build up to whatever your safety and your comfort level allows, but do practice: becoming more competent and confident in close quarters can only enhance the overall enjoyment you get from boating. Docking your boat in all weather conditions is one of the many talents you will learn with your new lake home. Remember practice makes perfect!
Posted by Scott Freerksen “The Lake Guy”