Dock like a pro
Plan ahead to make docking easier
Like most boaters, I get nervous when docking at unfamiliar marinas. Here are some tips to help us all be better at docking.
Locate your slip before you arrive. The website marinas.com has five or six aerial photos of each marina in the United States. This means you can actually see where the dockmaster has put you, and you can have a visual road map at your helm to your berth in the marina.
Put lines and fenders out well in advance. Before you enter the marina, make sure your fenders and lines (bow, spring and stern) are at the ready. Lines should be set up for quick access. The bow line should be secured at the bow, threaded through the bow chock, and carefully laid out on the deck or catwalk amidships so you can grab the bow and spring lines at the same time.
Study the currents and wind. Before docking, find out what the predicted tide will be at your docking time as well as the strength and direction of the current, so you can use them to your advantage. If the wind is keeping you away from the dock, you can tie up at the gas dock until the wind changes. Patience and good docking skills go hand in hand.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. One time when docking, I looked to my right and saw a 45-foot blunderbuss of a boat flailing about just off my bow. When the captain couldn’t get it into his slip, he gunned it to spin around in a narrow channel between the docks. Instead of going out and coming back in for a second try, he ended up bumping into nearly every boat. When you find yourself in an impossible docking situation, it’s best to start all over again with a fresh approach.