Just like parking a car can cause stress for some, so can docking a boat, especially if you’re a new boater or purchased a new boat. But close quarters don’t have to mean scratches and scrapes on your boat. Take a look at these tips to help you keep your boat in good condition when you pull in and out of the dock.
As you approach the dock:
1. Use your VHF ratio to get mooring directions from the dockmaster before you approach the dock.
2. Identify the wind and current directions and understand how they will affect your boat’s positioning as they can push you faster than you expected or help you dock slowly and easily.
3. Have a backup plan in the event your first approach needs to be aborted.
4. If possible, approach the dock against the current, which will give you more control over the boat’s motion.
5. Ensure thrusters and/or joystick piloting controls are on and ready for use. Try testing them prior to entering the marina.
6. Approach the dock with a plan, communicate it to those onboard, and clearly delegate any tasks you would like them to perform. Assign these tasks – like who will handle each line – and the order in which you want them done well in advance. Ensure your crew can hear you from where you will be giving commands.
7. Take it slow and steady. That way, if you accidently hit the dock, you’ll do so gently.
8. Make sure your passengers understand that arms and legs can get pinched between the boat and dock – so they should keep them inside the boat while docking. If your boat is coming in faster than planned, use the fenders – not your passenger’s hands – to protect your boat.
9. Keep all passengers in the boat until the docking is complete and the boat is secure. Jumping out of the boat before it’s secure can cause the boat to turn abruptly and you may miss your docking spot.