The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ.
The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.
When we first launched Nauti Duck we knew, right way, that docking would be harder than with our old C22. The extra mass and added freeboard made our first docking experiences, well, hilarious. So we got some good advice from this forum about spring lines. God bless the spring line! This simple tool establishes a pivot point between your boat and the dock and makes docking easy.
The trick is getting the spring line attached! Some people leave the spring line attached at the dock and use some sort of arm or whip to hold up the boat end for retrieval and placement on a boat cleat or winch. The only trouble with that method is it only works at your dock, not at transient docks you may visit. So we chose a method that will work anywhere there is a cleat on the dock near the open end.
The key component is the exclusive Nauti Duck Dock-A-Matic line. Here it is:
There are three main components. First is a smaller loop, which we place over the winch. We have found the winch is a strong and well-balanced point on the boat end. By the way the line is Stay-Set X 3/8". The second component is a snubber, which absorbs any shock of docking when the line stops the boat. The third component is the large loop, which gets placed over the dock cleat. This loop is inside a 1/2"OD clear tube which is 3/8"ID. Placing the line in the tubing keeps it round, even in high winds, makes it easy to place, yet the line still stretches to conform and hold onto the dock cleat.
Here is the line on the winch. We like this placement.
Here is the Admiral hooking the dock cleat. This is a staged photo hence the rear dock line is already attached! We usually motor in closer than this for the hookup. The Admiral has never missed the hookup. We use a dedicated 4' boat pole for this purpose. At this point we are still moving forward slowly.
So, the sequence is:
Motor in Forward at idle (1-1.3MPH) steering with wheel/tiller. Go to Neutral about 20' out aiming at the dock end Nearing the dock the Admiral calls out closer, further, whatever is needed. While kneeling on the cockpit seat she cleats the line. If good she says "got it". -----If she misses she says s**t and we reverse and try again. She never misses! I put the outboard in Forward at idle and the spring line pivots us right up to the dock. Admiral steps off and attaches bow and stern lines. I turn off motor - which has been in Forward until all dock lines are secured - and step off to the cheers of onlookers.
Should the bow move out after the spring line is attached just turn the OB counter-clockwise and in the bow comes. Vice versa for the rear. OB straight ahead keeps the boat secured to the dock. Higher winds use a bit more throttle. It doesn't take much.
We use the spring line when leaving the dock too. Attach the spring line. Start the OB and idle in Forward. Admiral removes all dock lines, steps on the boat, I reverse the motor and she picks up the spring line off the dock cleat as we back by it.
This system works and is portable and is easy. The key is the long-honored spring line. My enhancements to the spring line just make it easier for us old folks to do it!
We cannot direct the winds but we can adjust our sails.
Very well done. A picture is really worth a thousand words. As you know, I've been promoting this in many discussions, and have recently learned one very important thing: NOT all folks have dock cleats. I finally noticed this in the Pacific Northwest, and am reminded that many folks back east only have telephone poles at their docks. My only solution was to replace your "great expanded loop" (which is a superb idea) with a grappling hook!
Seriously, will have to give it a try with modifications since we don't have any dock cleats, only telephone poles. Rebecca and my docking evolutions still sound much like your first one- entertaining. (and to think we used to dock our old Flying Scot under sail alone - no motor).
This is really great Randy. I'm going to make myself a Nauti-Duck-Dock-A-Matic soon. How long should this apparatus be?
Oh, and I found a solution to the NorthWestern docks (where I'm going to sail this summer). For added safety (because I am very conscientious) I will carry a megaphone to warn the people standing on the docks to stay clear.
Edited by - Steve Blackburn on 06/17/2007 17:01:42
I wove a 18" length of #12 AWG solid into (between the three strands) the slightly over-sized loop at the shore end of our forward spring line. It worked really well and allowed the shaping of the loop to your best advantage. The admiral preferred a flat bottom on the oval - it provided the largest opening at the bottom. The pressure was on her, as we faced into a solid, 10' high bulkhead. If she missed the grab, the front pulpit was toast if I couldn't get reverse to bring us to a quick reverse course!
I just bought some tubing that looks exactly like what Randy used. Mine is also 3/8" ID for use as chafe protection on my bow lines. I got it at the local hardware store. Just ask for plastic or vinyl tubing at Lowes or Home Depot.
My brother was the one who taught me this one on his C34. He does it a little bit different. He has a hook that has that spring line hanging in reach half way back on the dock. As the boat comes in the person on the bow, grabs it and puts it over the cleat. he keeps the boat idling and in gear. Once the line starts to tighten, he puts the helm over slightly so the stern moves towards the dock. Doing this pulls back towards the dock and the spring line pulls the front towards the dock. He usually leaves it like this a little bit while he gets things in order. One problem he has noted, is trying to keep people on the dock from helping out. The problem with this is the fact that most of them want to stop the boat or grab lines. Good intentions, but a hindrance.
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Chris Z</i> <br />One problem he has noted, is trying to keep people on the dock from helping out. The problem with this is the fact that most of them want to stop the boat or grab lines. Good intentions, but a hindrance.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></font id="quote"></blockquote id="quote">
Amen to that! My slip neighbors, who always jump to help others dock, don't even attempt to help me out anymore because they know I much prefer going it alone and when I have guests aboard, I politely decline offers of help while docking because it would just complicate matters.
Chris, your brother's idea is a good one. We thought about a similar idea but it only works on your home dock. We wanted a solution that would work on any dock. Our cruise in the San Juans let us use the spring line at many docks and it always worked. If you stick to one dock then your brother's idea is even easier and is a great solution.
Kevin, we got the tubing at a big home improvement center in Eugene called Jerry's. It a local version of a Lowe's or Home Depot.
After a season of using the Dock-a-matic I am sold on it. No more trauma at the slip, not more jumping off the boat. No one gets off the boat until it is stopped and then maneuvering the bow and stern in and out for docking lines is easy too. That's really a great part of it. When the spring line is set you leave the OB in idle in Forward and you can move the bow and stern in and out by turning the OB. It is sweet. We now politely refuse help from bystanders.
I love my dock-o-matic. I haven't done the upgrade with the plastic tubing cuz I spliced in the loop before Randy shared the upgrade and I wasn't smart enough to think of it myself. But my lasso makes stopping at the slip a one step process. Slip the loop over the end piling or cleat as we float by. Surprises the bystanders every time.
An aside for Mark: Practical Sailor just did some serious line and splice failure tests and found that heat generated by loading was evident in all failures. Cycling loads not only abrade, but more importantly, melt rope fibers with subsequent failure. They strongly recommend traditional chafe protection to allow cooling water to reach the line.
When you used this set-up, was the small loop of the spring line attached to the winch on the same side of the boat as the dock? In other words, if you were docking on the starboard side, would (1) the short loop be attached to the starboard winch and (2) the larger loop would ultimately be attached to a cleat on the starboard side of the boat?
You used this technique before you moved your winches back to the helm area, right?
With the outboard straight ahead and in forward gear, did you find that the stern would swing away from the dock (and the bow would swing in) as the dock-a-matic line became taught?
Martin, yes the small loop went on the starboard winch and the large loop on a cleat on the dock (starboard side) near the end of the dock.
When I moved the winches to the coaming I added a cleat to the jib track and moved that cleat all the way aft on the track. We now tie the boat end of the Dock-A-Matic to that cleat.
I reach the dock at about .3MPH or less - very slow. I am in neutral when we reach the slip and set the D-A-M. We are good enough now that upon setting the D-A-M on the dock cleat we both quickly exit the boat over the starboard coaming. The Admiral goes forward and ties the forward dock lines and I secure the aft line. All is done in about 15 seconds from the set of the D-A-M.
When we used to take longer - and I stayed on the boat - I found that once the D-A-M was set I could move the bow in and out (ditto the stern) by turning the outboard. All while in Forward at idle. This uses the D-A-M as a fulcrum. Next time you are at the boat just set the D-A-M and and use the outboard in Forward at idle to move around a bit. Great control.
Randy, Have to tell you about our first experience using "auto-dock". I had the boat directed perfectly and we were just coasting in. The Admiral says: "How do I hook this thing up?" I said "Just loop the part with the plastic tubing over the cleat on the dock." Back at me: "Then what do I do?" I say: "Just let the boat come to a stop." She says: "How does that make it stop?" Getting annoyed and putting the outboard in reverse, I say: "The loop will stop it once it tightens." She turns around holding the "untied" loop and says: "There is no loop!" S**t is all I could come up with. I had meant to tie the loop tighter once I had it sized properly, but you know how that goes.. the Captain forgot. So she is standing there with a loop over the winch and no loop on the other end. Luckily, we stopped the boat without incident other than me looking a little sheepish.
Don't feel bad, Mike. I had my Dock-o-Matic attached to an adjustable cleat on my jib track and the large loop ready to go over the piling at the end of my dock. I dropped it off nicely and waited for the boat to stop. Instead, the cleat slid all the way aft and ..... well, let's just say my language was as colorful as yours. I was still moving forward. Fortunately for me, no one was watching. I've learned to double check the cleat lock.
Hanging around you guys is making me smarter all the time! Thanks a heap for the Dock A Matic idea! I understand it well, except - what kind of powder does the gun take? Does the recoil tend to alarm the admiral?
Another dumb move (and learning experience) Did the approach and spring line similar to system described although no dock-o-matic. Our spot at the dock gives us about 3 ft clearance fore and aft to the next boats, so can be tricky with tides. So we hooked the line just right puttered up to the dock and relaxed due to our great landing. Then cut motor. but unfortunately hadn't hooked any other docklines. Drifting backwards and out, holding off the boat behind us by hand and our neighbor has to rush over with a boat hook and pull us back in place. I hate that. Docking for Dummies: Don't cut off the motor until you get the dock lines attached!
Notice: The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ. The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.