Home > Tips > Docking and undocking maneuvers: the critical moment when I rent a sailboat -part I.

Docking and undocking maneuvers: the critical moment when I rent a sailboat -part I.

Whenever a ship maneuvers near solid structures like another boat, rocks or within a port, it requires a certain commitment to the vessel that requires attention and expertise not only from the captain but as will also from the whole crew, as everybody must contribute at this moment to maneuver.

And now imagine how it will be on a boat with a captain with a little experience, and a crew fully inexperienced which do not know the depth in a port where they first enter. That is the typical situation when someone rents a boat and often in the docking and undocking maneuvers is where the captain feels most inexperienced. To try to help in these situations TOPSAILINGCHARTER has prepared a brief practical advices and hopes you find them useful. We divided the article into two chapters now published in two parts. Let us begin with the maneuvers:


General advices:

As noted above, the crew must help in the maneuver. There is work for everybody: this is not the time for relaxing and everyone must contribute. Those who don’t have a specific job must be allocated around the vessel to protect the hull from any possible collision. Also it’s a good idea to equip one or more of the crew members with a fender.

Remember that maneuver not only involves you and the boat engine. The wind, current and inertia also take place. Considering these factors always help. Also to lower the risk we should dock upwind and with the minimum speed necessary to maintain the vessel.

When a maneuver that you have already started seems will not go as expected, try to avoid rectifying. It is much better to abort the maneuver and start it from the very beginning. Think that if a maneuver is difficult, a countermove is always more.


Docking advices:

This is the typical situation during refueling. First of all, you must know on which side your boat will drift. That is, knowing which side the stern will drift when switching from neutral to backwards. So, if the stern falls on port you should dock the starboard side and vice versa. As we will see later, this is especially important to prepare a good undocking.

If you dock another boat, first of all you may ask permission. Finally we will end up using their boat to go ashore and courtesy is the key .

And one last thing: while mooring the boat be careful not to tighten the bow mooring line, because if we do so the boat will not be parallel to the dock. And although it seems obvious, it is surprising how often we see this kind of error.


TOPSAILINGCHARTER wishes you a nice and safe holidays and hope to see you soon.




Robert Llorens

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