5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

Some of the scariest moments in boating are when you depart from or approach a dock. This simple five-point checklist will help you evaluate most situations so you can maneuver safely when you leave a dock.

, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

1. Wind

Both sailing and power vessels are affected by the wind direction when you return to a dock.

In advance, it’s important to figure out if the wind will blow you toward the dock or away from the dock. Then plan accordingly to either fend off or come in close and pull dock lines in tight.

, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

2. Wheel

Whether on a sailing vessel or power; you need to plan ahead which way you will position your helm for either backing or moving forward into your slip or dock.

Sailing vessels often back to port, so a bit of starboard helm is necessary to counteract that movement in order to back out straight.

To back a sailing vessel to starboard, full starboard helm might be necessary in order to make that turn possible.

, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

3. People

For each person, crew of passenger, a plan is needed to make sure each of them is ready to transfer from the boat to the dock.

Position crew where needed, and made sure to communicate your expectations to them when you are ready to approach a dock.

, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

4. Lines

Rigging dock lines in advance is a good practice. Make sure they feed outside of any stanchions and lifelines.

Coordinate line handling with your crew. Communicate expectations on if you want them to step off and move forward or aft to secure the boat.

, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

5. Traffic

Look ahead for approaching or departing vessels. Plan accordingly to avoid meeting them while maneuvering in close quarters.

Inspect all around your slip as you approach for lines, divers, manatees, water hoses – anything that could get tangled in your propeller when you return to your dock.

, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

6. Speed

I don’t include this in my arrival countdown when I leave a dock. Always, I’m operating in a very safe speed.

However, it’s worth mentioning that as the rpm’s increase, so does the blood pressure. Maintain idle speed.

Due to wind; you may need to increase rpm’s to replicate calm-day idle speeds.

, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

Need to Find A Dock?

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, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

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, 5 Elements to Evaluate Before You Return to a Dock

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