Docking Boat in a Current

Learn to dock a boat like a pro when you make smooth and easy landings in current. Follow these fast and easy sailing tips and in no time, you will be “wowing” the folks at your marina with your docking skills!

Enter any marina and you will deal with wind or current. Face the current with your bow or stern for maximum control. You will start to lose control when the current strikes the boat on the side of the hull, nearer the beam. This vital factor will help you understand boat docking in any current or wind. In this article, you will learn how to dock a boat in an open space alongside a pier or seawall.

Look for Clues

Prepare your boat with docking lines and fenders on both sides before you enter your marina or any other marina. Why both sides? What if your engine dies all of a sudden and you need to slide over to a pier to port or starboard? Or the dockmaster changes your berth assignment at the last minute? Get your boat ready for the unexpected for peace-of-mind and worry-free docking.

Observe how the current sets when you first enter a canal or channel that leads to a marina. Look for “current tails”, or tiny streams of water that flows past pilings, day beacons, finger piers, boat hulls, or pier bases. Use that current direction to line up your boat for maximum control to approach the dock.

Stem the Current

Current sets–or flows–in one of four directions relative to the dock: parallel to the dock from ahead, parallel to the dock from astern; off the dock (perpendicular); onto the dock (perpendicular). In any approach, turn to face the current with your bow if possible. If not possible, turn to face the current with your stern.

Use forward propulsion to maintain control against a bow current. Use reverse propulsion to maintain control against a stern current. In both cases, use just enough throttle speed to maintain control.

Perpendicular current can be more tricky to deal with. Face the current with your bow if the current sets off the dock. Face the current with your stern if the current set onto the dock. Use your engine to regulate the speed of your approach. Use forward propulsion to maintain control against a bow current. Use reverse propulsion to maintain control against a stern current. In both cases, use just enough throttle speed to maintain control.

Parallel Approach with Current Ahead

Keep the current as close to the bow as possible as you approach.. Use forward propulsion to control the speed of approach. Keep your speed to a crawl. Allow the current to help keep speed to a minimum. As soon as you are alongside, put over a forward bow line first to keep the boat in her position at the dock. Then, put over the rest of your docking lines.

Parallel Approach with Current Astern

Approach the dock from down-current at a narrow angle. Use reverse propulsion to control the speed of approach. Reverse your engine to slow or stop the boat. As soon as you are alongside, put over a stern line right away to keep the boat in her position at the dock. Then, put over the rest of your docking lines.

Perpendicular Approach Technique

Approach the dock at a perpendicular angle for maximum control. This keeps your bow or stern headed into the current.

Before you approach, line up the boat so that your bow faces a dock piling or dock cleat. Your crew will loop a spring line around the dock piling or dock cleat as soon as your bow reaches the pier. Make up a spring line near the bow. Cleat off one end of the spring line. Coil the remainder of the spring line and assign one crew to work the line.

Use absolute minimum speed to approach the pier. If your bow faces the current, use forward propulsion to regulate your speed of approach. If your stern faces the current, use reverse propulsion to regulate your speed of approach. Protect the bow in both cases with fenders (or have a crew hold a large fender on a line to cushion contact points.

Stop the boat when one or two feet off the pier. Use your engine to maintain this position. Loop the spring line around the dock piling or dock cleat and bring it back aboard to a boat cleat. Turn the wheel away from the pier (or hold a tiller toward the pier). Use minimum forward propulsion to bring the boat flush alongside the pier. Remember to use fenders throughout this maneuver to protect the hull. Once alongside, put over the remainder of your docking lines.

Learn to dock a boat like a pro in current with these easy sailing tips. Gain the confidence you need to master the art of docking–wherever in the world you choose to go sailing!

Tips When Picking Boat Charters

David Hackert, president of Prestige Yacht Charters, says nothing beats boat charters when it comes to celebrating your special day, whether it is a birthday, an anniversary or a wedding. “Think about the weddings you have attended in the past. You celebrated, danced and went home,” he explains.

“A wedding on a yacht, however, could offer panoramic views, imposing skylines or even an exploration of serene inlets and coves. It would be an occasion your guests would remember for the rest of their lives.” There are many decisions to make when it comes to selecting from the diverse pool of luxury yachts but the benefits far exceed the initial effort.

Do you want to be a skipper? This is one of the first decisions to make when considering private a boat charter. If the answer is “yes,” then be prepared to hand over your boating resume to the charter company, which includes several years of experience sailing the size and type of boat you intend to charter. At Ebare, you can take an assessment to see if you are ready for smooth sailing and to see what your options are if you are not quite prepared.

You may need to take a few boating and safety courses before being allowed to hold supreme power aboard your private yacht. On the day of your charter, some companies may take you out on a demo cruise, where you will demonstrate your knowledge. If you flunk the demo, then the company will place a captain aboard your vessel. If, on the other hand, you pass your demo, then congratulations! You will be commanding your first bareboat charter.

If you are not sure about sailing the high seas on your own just yet, then a flotilla is one of the better intermediate boat charters you can take. In a flotilla, a fleet of 8-10 private yacht charters band together on an unforgettable adventure. A captain, chef, engineer and activities planner will sail on the lead yacht, offering assistance to anyone in the fleet who needs it.

You will essentially sail your own ship for the most part. Each morning you will be briefed on optional activities and group meals for the day, as well as where to meet for nighttime docking. Many travelers say this is the ultimate party, offering some of the best off-the-beaten-path experiences, with none of the anxiety of going it alone. Greece and the British Virgin Islands are popular places to link up with a flotilla.

The cost of boat charters is entirely up to you. Many beginners choose to hop aboard sailing yachts with a handful of other couples to offset the cost. Affordable trips can also be taken in a flotilla fleet, which offers a good middle-ground for relatively inexperienced sailors who still crave the privacy of their own boat. Smaller boats, sailboats and off-season trips all offer deep discounts.

Choosing an all-inclusive sailing vacation is a good way to prevent overspending on port stops, food or other unanticipated expenses. As you travel more and more, you will soon be ready to command your own boat, sail on luxury yacht charters or throw an extravagant party aboard a crewed yacht charter!

How to Sail a Boat Better – Three Tips to Remove a Jammed Line From a Sailboat Winch

You and your sailing crew are short tacking up a narrow channel with shoals to the left and moored boats to the right. You get your crew ready for the next tack, come about–and the head sail sheet jams onto the sailboat winch! What would you do next?

Jammed turns on a head sail sheet winch-called “overriding turns”-are caused by a sheet line that leads at a downward angle to the winch drum. When this happens, the wraps on the drum can bunch up so tight that they are almost impossible to remove. Use one of these fast, easy methods to remove an override:

1. Luff Up Method

a. Point up into the wind for a few seconds to luff the head sail and take tension off the sheet.

b. Remove the turns by hand.

c. Fall off the wind and build up speed for the next tack.

2. Line and Block Method

a. Tie a rolling hitch onto the jammed sheet between head sail clew and winch.

b. Mount a snatch block aft of the jammed winch.

c. Lead the line to the snatch block and to an open winch.

d. Grind on the winch to remove all tension on the jammed sheet.

e. Remove the override by hand and re-wrap the sheet onto the winch.

3. Emergency Method

a. Cut the jammed sheet forward and aft of the winch.

b. Lead the bitter end of the cut sheet through the block and around the sailboat mast.

c. Tie a rolling hitch onto the leeward sheet. You can tack with this rig until you clear all dangers.

Prevent Future Sheet Jams

Avoid future overrides by leading head sail sheets in an upward direction to the sheet winches. Use one of these easy techniques:

* Reposition each Genoa block along the track to bring it closer to and lower than the sheet winch.

* Insert an intermediate block between the existing Genoa block and the sheet winch.

Sailboat winch overrides are part of life on any small cruising or racing sailboat. Learn how to sail a boat better than ever before by planning for the unexpected with fast, easy techniques like these.

Tips on Buying a Boat: Seven Tips on What You Should Look For When Investing In Watercraft

I discovered sailing many years ago and found it to be a wonderful way to enjoy time with friends and family as well as a way to get away from the office and become totally entranced and absorbed with a world that I did not know existed. I love to sail, so much that I became a certified American Sailing Association Sailing Instructor.

It has been 30 years now that I’ve sailed the Chesapeake Bay, East Coast U.S.A. and the Caribbean Islands and I’ve been fortunate to have owned a number sailing vessels, currently two Beneteau sail boats.

I’m often asked by my students what to look for when making an investment in a sailing vessel. I often share the following seven tips and hope that you too may find some value in them.

  1. First carefully examine where you expect to use your boat, long term. Will it be on the Ocean, trans-Ocean, near the shore, in a Bay, on the Caribbean or all of the above. If you plan to sail Ocean or trans-Ocean then be sure that the construction is class “A” or rated for extended off shore passage making.
  2. Beware of the buying philosophy “I’ll buy a smaller boat now and get a bigger one later.” If you’re buying new you will suffer two large depreciations. If buying used, the money you put into the first boat to bring it up to your own personal standards and needs will go a long way to paying a down payment or many monthly payments on the second boat. You will be upgrading the second boat anyway. Buy now what you expect to own for 5-10 years.
  3. Take into account the area where you will be sailing and who you will be sailing with. Decide on the type of berths that will be suitable for you, your family and your guests. For example, aft doubles aligned with the axis of the boat or an aft double that runs across the boat port to starboard. Although the latter tends to be larger and more comfortable in the slip it is definitely not a sea going berth. How easily does the main salon table convert into a berth and is it sturdy enough to do so repeatedly? In a pinch or in good weather can any one sleep in the cockpit?
  4. What is your likely cruising range? If just 2-4 days then water and diesel tankage can be respectively 20 and 80 gallons or less. If it is 5-10 days then a minimum would be 50 and 160. If you buy a boat with say 100 gallons diesel and 2-300 gallons water then the designer will have given up berth space to accommodate the tankage. Depending on the size of the boat the left over space may not be well utilized until you reach say a 50 ft. long boat. Look for living and storage space that is well utilized. Odd placement of the main salon settees, chart table and galley may indicate poor utilization of space and hence you may be paying good money for little advantage.
  5. Boats that are heavy displacement, say 28,000 lbs for say a 42 ft. boat rather than say 17,800 lbs for a medium displacement, 42 footer will need 10- 15 knots of wind to develop any kind of “feel” at the helm and in many locations such as the Chesapeake Bay with winds typically 5 – 15 knots in the summer you may have purchased a very nice well equipped power boat. However these heavy displacement cruisers are excellent for extended off shore passage making and live-aboard sailing either in the Caribbean or the U.S.A..
  6. One of the best tips, If you are a first time sailor and want to buy a boat in the 25 to 50 ft range, is to sail with someone who knows how to sail, take a sailing class and then charter a boat in the length range that interests you. Picking a boat with out sailing a boat of similar size is risky although many have done it successfully. Keep in mind that many of the modern designs of the last 10 years are designed specifically for two people to sail easily whether in the Bay or in the ocean.
  7. Lastly, do insist on a survey. If the boat has any of the defects listed below find out the cost to correct them if you are expecting the boat to pass the insurer’s surveyor. Insurers have their own requirements. Your insurance agent and the surveyor should be working hand in hand. This is where a purchaser of a used watercraft can suddenly be faced with unexpected costs. Costly defects include but are not limited to:
    1. Soft or cracked gellcoat on the deck.
    2. Deck leaks around windows, masts, caprail, traveller or through deck fittings.
    3. If the engine that has stood idle for more than 6 months diesel may be contaminated with bacterial sludges, have pistons seized, injectors blocked and electrical system contaminated with water. Insist on at least a 2-4 hour run in the water at cruising speed. Check for undue vibration, overheating, proper charging of the batteries and that the engine can come up to its cruising rpm.
    4. If the boat is more than 6 years old have the surveyor check that the engine mounts are OK and particularly that all mounting bolts are intact. Two can be broken without any obvious signs or effects. When #3 breaks the engine is loose! This is a common problem on older boats that encounter rough waters while under power and can easily be overlooked by the surveyor.
    5. Obviously you will need an out of the water inspection. Check for blisters, gellcoat cracks, soft spots, shaft play in the cutlass bearing and loose rudder bearings, hull integrity around through hulls and the gap between the hull and the top of the keel which should be filled with sealant else corrosion of the keel may have caused the keel to separate from the hull.
    6. Rigging should be checked by a rigger and all running rigging must be overhauled end-to-end to detect hidden chafe.

Hope you find these tips helpful. Best wishes to you on your investment, maybe I’ll see you on the Chesapeake Bay or near the British Virgin Islands sometime, I’ll either be sailing on Majjik II or Majjik III.