Securing your boat to a dock typically has a routine that you can learn like the back of your hand if you do it often enough. However, certain conditions like waves, currents, wind, tide, and wake can sometimes make such a straightforward affair a challenging task. Even when the water conditions are right, we know that even the tight squeezes can be enough to make docking an experience you wish was easier.
It is quite simple to say that practice makes perfect. The thing is, it’s also difficult to practice docking without any scratches on your (or your neighbor’s) boat. That’s why these following tips might just make your experience of docking easier.
1. Relax while you communicate
The last thing you or your crew should do while you’re boating is to panic. That statement is even more relevant when you’re going into the dock. The first tip on how to secure your boat on the dock is to remain calm. Communication is key, but if you are screaming at someone, you’re only going to make things a lot tenser than they need to be.
Whatever you do, do not lose your cool as you’re approaching the dock. Communicate and do so with a calm demeanor that helps everybody stay on the same page and think clearly while you dock the boat.
2. Easy on the throttle
You need to be gentle with your throttle. You know and understand what it takes to make your vessel go to certain speeds. You should never have the boat even close to half throttle when you’re docking.
Taking it easy on the throttle will help you reduce the chances of damaging your vessel (or of your neighbors). It will also minimize the damage in case there is contact.
3. Right accessories at the ready
One of the most important tips to dock your boat is always to have your accessories ready. Make sure you have the fenders and lines rigged before you reach the dock. You should be aware of where the fenders should hang. Typically, they should be slightly elevated from the waterline and not touching the water.
In terms of accessories that can help you make docking your boat an easier affair, you should have at least two to three fenders (preferably more), a stern line, a spring line, and a bowline.
4. Travel lines
Whenever you set out with your boat to sail, you should make sure you have travel lines. You never know when you might need to make an unplanned stop, need to replace any lines you might have forgotten or lost at other docks, or in case you require a tow. Bring two bow lines, stern lines, and spring lines. Always make sure that they’re longer than what you use at your home dock.
5. Never short tie
The lines you use for docking should be long enough to compensate for any extremes, whether they are strong currents or high and low tides. The lines need to have enough slack to prevent any stress on the lines or causing it to break.
Using the right equipment, having the right mindset, and the ideal techniques can make a world of difference when it comes to securing your boat on the dock easier. Keeping these tips in mind, the practice can make perfect. Best of luck!