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anchoring - page 6

5.6 Alongside mooring

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There are some marinas that the alongside mooring is allowed. Check carefully the instraction of each before you try any kind of anchoring. You can either go alongside a dock or if it is busy you will need to moor alongside another vessel. Try to pick one that is the same size or larger and of a similar type. Sailing yachts do not sit well alongside most motor vessels because of their different shapes.


Before coming alongside it is normal to ask permission and to brief the crew on what is expected, especially if you are arriving in the middle of the night! A good crew can moor to another vessel without waking them up.

During busy times I will have worked out when I intend to be leaving the next day, then it may be possible to pair up with a vessel leaving at the same time.


The steps for alongside mooring:

Step 1: Line Up Your Approach. Check your propeller walk. If your propeller rotates counter clockwise while reversing then you should go alongside with the port side.  Prepare the fenders and four mooring lines (photo 5.6.1). When approaching the space on the dock where you want to come alongside, first judge wind and current. If the wind or current will be pushing you toward the dock, a shallow angle will help you keep control and not strike the dock with the bow of the boat. If the wind and/or current are conspiring to keep you off the dock, as so often seems to be the case, you'll need a steeper approach to carry enough momentum to get you into the dock. Start with a 30- to 45-degree angle as you learn what works best for your boat. Aim your bow toward the center of your landing point (photo 5.6.2 - position 1).

Step 2: Come In Slowly. There's an old saying, "Never approach a dock any faster than you're willing to hit it." Bump the boat in and out of gear to maintain slow progress toward your chosen spot. 

Step 3: Time your swing. When your bow is within, say, half a boat length, swing the wheel over hard to starboard (away from the dock). This is where knowing your boat becomes important, particularly regarding where it pivots. Turn too soon, and you won't end up parallel with the dock (photo 5.6.2 - positions 2 & 3). Too late, and bang. With the wheel hard over, bump the engine into gear for an instant to kick the stern to port. This will also swing the bow away from the dock (to starboard) so you won't hit it.

Step 4: As the boat glides toward being parallel with the dock, swing the wheel all the way back to port, and kick the engine into reverse (on twins, use the engine farthest from the dock for maximum effect). This will simultaneously stop your headway and pull the stern of the boat to port and closer to the dock. When the boat has stopped moving forward, put it in neutral. The boat should continue side-slipping right up to the dock, allowing you to simply reach out and grab a line or piling.

Step 5: Drop the stern line (D) first out followed by the bow line (A). At the end tye up the rest two spring lines. 


A - Bow line

B - Forward spring line

C - Aft spring line

D - Stern line 

Photo 5.6.1

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Photo 5.6.2

How to spring off a dock

Assuming you are landing port side to the dock (photo 5.6.3). To spring off the dock, use the same spring line from the forward on the boat (bow) to a cleat or piling aft. Now turn the helm hard left and apply power. Once the stern kicks out, release the spring line and back out.


Note:  Assuming there is no one on the dock to help, use a "clean" spring line. That means there can be no knots, loops or anything that will catch on a cleat, dock or whatever. The spring line goes from the boat, around the cleat and back to the boat (slip line). Once the boat is sprung off the dock, release the bitter end and pull the clean line through the block and back to the boat.) You are then clear to move about the country.

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Photo 5.6.3

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