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Before approaching the dock, one end of the docking lines should be secured onboard; fenders readied and speed reduced. The main factor to consider when planning your vessel’s approach to a dock is the strength of the wind or current.


Wind is onshore (blowing toward the dock)

The boat is brought to a position parallel to the dock and about two feet off. The wind will blow the boat in. It can then be secured by bow, stern and spring lines.

Wind is offshore (blowing away from the dock)

You should approach the dock at a 20 to 30 degree angle. A bow line is passed ashore and secured. In boats with an outboard, or inboard/outboard engine, the engine is turned towards the dock and put in reverse. This will bring the stern into the dock. The boat can then be secured with the stern line.

Procedure for boats with inboard engines.

The rudder will be used to bring the stern in. To push the stern in using the rudder, attach an after bow spring to keep the boat from moving forward. With the engine idling forward, turn the wheel away from the dock as illustrated below. Since the boat cannot move forward and the rudder is pushing the stern in, the boat will pin itself against the dock while you secure the other lines. All maneuvers are more easily accomplished if the boat has twin engines, rather than a single engine. (This will also work for outboards and I/Os.)

  • Prepare lines and fenders.
  • Proceed slowly.
  • Attach spring line.
  • Turn wheel away from dock.

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