Subject: marina approach tips from the DOCK RATS themselves
(Posted on Apr 25, 2013 at 07:07PM by Colin Jackson)
MARLA & many of our cruising instructors become well known at all the local marinas in the GULF ISLANDS, SUNSHINE COAST & DESOLATION SOUND

its always fun for us to chat to the wharfingers & 'dock rats' - & it is kind of interesting what comes up in discussion!

to share - here are a couple 'rat' reminders as the season heats up:

# 1
marina staff relay that boats coming to the assigned slips do not have fenders & lines ready ahead of time and the staff end up trying to hold the boats OFF the docks to prevent damage and TO the docks while the crew get lines attached (skippers and crew should be more concerned about the boats!)
TIP …. pre-planning is the sign of a great skipper …… as you approach the marina:

* take the time to slow down, bring the boat to a stop in a safe place all the while keeping an eye on approaching traffic and you’re the movement of your own boat

* allow your crew the time to get the fenders set up at the correct height, get the dock-lines attached so they run from the cleats and below the life lines but back onto the boat and out of the water whilst approaching the dock

*brief your crew BEFORE you approach the dock & as skipper, give yourself a chance to look at the set up so you are happy with what you see

# 2

"RATS" also commented that boaters approach docks in gear & with speed increasing the chances of damaging the boats, the docks & with a menacing poke of a boat hook (a-la-'jousting') ….. THE RATS THEMSELVES!

TIP …. it is always easier to handle boats around docks and pylons & other stationary boats, from a position of being in neutral gear sooner rather than later ~boats still slip through the water with MO (momentum)  & as MO decreases, give your self some forward or reverse gear to deliver you in the direction you need to go ….. that’s all it takes ~ in gear & out of gear~ no speed, just movement ~ only as much as you need ~ with finesse!

if you have no idea what we are talking about ~ talk to our office crew about a docking clinic  (asap!)
Subject: boat handling: IN vs ON the water
(Posted on Jan 30, 2013 at 11:06PM by Colin Jackson)
when staring at a boat and wondering how she'll handle, one of the first questions at a basic basic level (the best level to begin by the way) should involve how much of the boat is IN the water and how much is ON the water

large, heavy boats that displace a lot of water are effectively IN the water and behave very differently than lighter boats that sit mostly ON the water

HOW do you use this concept?

as you turn, boats that are ON the water, offering less lateral resistance, will slide sideways MORE than boats that are heavier and offer greater resistance

as you approach the dock, knowing how much sideways distance is involved can mean the difference between docking in style and something that more closely resembles a crash

but even different ends of the same boat will behave differently - in our DOCKING clinic, we show (with certain pizzazz)  the difference between the pointy end and the blunt end when it comes to boat handling - part of the reason it is the fact there is way MORE boat IN the water near the stern and relatively LESS boat IN the water up forward at the bow ~ the bow can change direction far quicker than the stern ~ an asset in certain circumstances & a liability in others  


a BOW THRUSTER and a STERN THRUSTER cannot be the same size on the same boat if you want the boat to move directly sideways ~ why? ~ there's a lot more STERN to push

case closed


catamarans come with inherent efficiency ~ they get stability by something very different than just displacing water - they are more ON the water than IN the water

lightweight RIGID INFLATABLE BOATS (RIB's) gain stability from the pontoons, but also designs work to keep those as much out of the water as possible in ideal condtions  ~ they work to stay ON the water, but when coming off a large wave & not landing directly on centreline, the tubes kick in and hep the boat from becoming further IN the water

at the most extremes lay the submarine - entirely IN the water when submerged - & hydroplanes - working to be as far above the water as possible without losing control at the other end of the spectrum - ON the water

hope you enjoyed this tidbit - we're very keen to show you more out ON the water soon (or IN... not sure, now we're getting confused!)
Subject: docking tip right out of TOP GUN
(Posted on Aug 12, 2012 at 11:00AM by Colin Jackson)
think back to the movie and remember how those f14’s barreled towards the rolling deck of the carrier and came to a sudden halt with the assistance of an cable they call an ‘arrestor’ wire? 
that little piece of imagery can work for you as well
you see boats have gotten wider – especially in the stern – and getting a line off the back corner with some forward pull can spin the boat alongside all on its own
we’ve watched our founder cruising his 64 footer with only his wife aboard and what they work with is basically their own ‘arrestor wire’ ~ two people ~ one gigantic boat ~ 55 years of marriage in tact ~~ how?
let’s say they want to be alongside portside to the dock ~ MR. COOPER gets the port aft corner of the boat safely to the dock and MRS. COOPER steps ashore and ties her one magic knot (well, nothing magic about it ~ just a proper figure eight cleat knot)
once secure, MR. COOPER can put the starboard engine in slow ahead and the boat will pull forward and in alongside the dock ~ it is so effective that if one were to leave the boat this way overnight, providing she has enough fuel, the boat will still be sitting there in the morning ~ lots of time to properly secure the balance of the lines and adjust fenders with ease
this example works for twin engine boats and can be used effectively with single engine boats as well, especially when some rudder angle towards the dock is added to the equation
magic docking ~ be up there with the BEST OF THE BEST!
Subject: Casting off - tip from Bob Doiron
(Posted on Apr 22, 2010 at 08:34AM )
Bob Doiron of Alberta sent in the following tip to share.  He refers to it as a "Jamie Johnson special."  Bob took a course with Jamie a few years back and has gone on to charter and then purchase a quarter share with One 4 Yacht Fractions.

We were taught to pass the lines through the dock cleat, rail or whatever mechanism is there and bring the line back to the boat cleat to tie it off. The trick is to pass it under the cleat or rail from the boat side so when it is released you flop the line on the dock and avoid having the end drop in the drink as you reel it in. If you pass it over the cleat or rail and fop the line on the dock
it wraps and binds. It works really slick and has the following advantages:

    * It is simply easier and quicker to tie off.
    * It can work well when getting assistance from well
      meaning dock hands as you can control the degree to which the bow or stern
      is pulled in because you get them to pass it back to you.
    * It is safer for the crew because lines can be released
      while on board; no jumping on.
    * When you are checking your lines it can all be done on
      board and easily adjusted. This is particularly true under windy
      conditions. (New Years Eve 2008 tied up at Ganges with 60 - 70 KM winds on
      our starboard beam the docks were rocking quite hard as was the boat.
      Having our lines self releasing enabled us to check and adjust as needed
      very safely.)
    * It works equally as well with spring lines as others,
      even with rails, as you are virtually always able to find stops all along
      the rail to hold a spring in proper position.
    * If you must do a bow 'spring off' it is virtually
      essential to have a self releasing line unless you have someone on the
      dock to assist.

In the five years we have boated there have been only a handful of times when we haven't been able to do this because of the dock or lack of cleats. Even if you don't have enough bow line you can release it while on the dock and then board and release the remaining lines in a safe and orderly manner. If there is a line that won't work It's usually the bow line because of the distance from the centre line of the boat to the dock.

THANKS BOB for your submission!
Subject: Understanding Prop Walk
(Posted on Feb 13, 2010 at 11:20AM )
We continue to survey folks about what they would like to know more about and a common thread takes us back to docking.  We're so happy to put more tools in your docking toolbox.  Today we dive into what that propeller is doing for you (or against you).  Knowing some propeller basics will help dramatically.

Prop walk goes by different names, but that's what we call it around here because the P-effect or P-Factor has us sounding less cool.  We say a boat "walks to port" in reverse.  Okay - what are we talking about?

Cut to its simplest element on the 'need to know' basis, does the boat pull to port or starboard when you are going backwards?   Prop walk is best tested in the middle of a wide open space from a standstill (with no wind or with the stern facing what wind you do have).  With the wheel 'a midships,' apply a big shot of reverse and see where she goes.  A right hand propellor will normally send the boat back to port and a left hand will send the boat generally to starboard.

Beyond which direction, prop walk varies by boat based on some set up factors that you can't do much about other than understand.  The angle of the propeller shaft and the size/type of the propeller are two factors that determine how much prop walk you should experience on a particular boat.

What you can control is the timing and location of your use of the throttle in reverse gear.  The higher you rev the engine in reverse, the more you get to experience prop walk.   From a standstill, it's all prop walk.  As you start moving backwards, you will start to gain some directional control as water starts flowing across the rudder.

Behind the scenes, it boils down to discharge current.  In forward, all the engineering is aimed at pushing the discharge current as straight backwards as possible.  In reverse, the discharge current ends up traveling off to one side or the other, based on the rotation direction of the prop and the magnitude depends on other setup variables.


How to you check and get a clue before you go?  Ask someone knowledgeable about the boat OR, with the boat securely tied to the dock, engage reverse power and look for the discharge current coming off the rudder.   If you see a lot of current coming out to starboard, you know the boat will 'walk to port' in reverse.  

With a pair of motors, the reason the motors rotate in opposite directions is to cancel the effects of propeller discharge.  Using more throttle on one engine or another can work in your favour as you understand these effects.

Our crew can help explain how to make prop walk your friend.  Docking clinics and courses can help you master these skills on the water.    

Subject: Docking in Style - Set up for Success
(Posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 08:18AM )
Docking in style depends heavily on setting up early for success.  Not unlike a pilot landing a plane, if the things aren't lining up well early on, best to call a 'missed approach' and head around again.  When teaching docking on a sailboat, we explain how to set up that good angle well in advance.  Based on a phenomenon we refer to as 'slide', a technique develops called 'last movement towards the dock'. 

In other words, because the boat when turned will continue to slide somewhat in the direction it was just traveling, best to use that to your advantage to move 'towards the dock' instead of 'away from the dock'.  Using the simple examples here, you will see that in the 'WRONG WAY' example, the boat 'slides' towards the boat next to it and away from the dock.  Not what the skipper necessarily wants!

In the 'RIGHT WAY' example, the skipper proceeds past the slip and then backs towards it.  As the boat turns into the slip, the slide takes the boat towards the dock and away from the neighboring vessel.  That's one ingredient for docking in style.

Like to learn more?  Take our Cooper Boating Docking Clinic