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 Docking made easy
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dmpilc
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
4506 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  07:47:23  Show Profile
Our dock lines stay at the dock, and we have spares in the starboard locker for raft-ups, etc. When we come in to the dock, a crew person (me when the admiral is on board) will be standing at the shrouds and step off onto the dock, grab the spring line and place it over the bow cleat. Then walk back and place the stern line temporarily over the winch or cleat behind the winch. If I'm by myself, I'll step off and put the stern line over the winch first, then walk forward and do the spring line. Our slip is about six from the end of the pier, and I've learned that most days I can go to neutral as I pass the end of the pier and easily coast gently into the slip.



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Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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USA
5485 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  08:28:58  Show Profile
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by dmpilc</i>
<br />...I've learned that most days I can <u>go to neutral as I pass the end of the pier</u> and <u>easily coast gently into the slip</u>.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></font id="quote"></blockquote id="quote">

That's the key to easy docking. Time your approach to the slip so that the boat will stop by itself when it gets there. Take it out of gear early and let it coast into the slip. Have your boathook ready-at-hand so that, if it stops too soon, you can use it to pull the boat in the rest of the way. If you're hitting the dock, or if you have to jump off the boat to stop it before it hits the dock, you're coming in way too hot.

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John Russell
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
3444 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  11:53:19  Show Profile
True, Steve. The exception might be when docking against any significant wind, tide or current I only assume the latter two since I have neither to deal with. If the wind is stiff enough, the high freeboard on my 250 gets pushed around pretty good. Even if I compensate for the wind, once stopped I can be easily pushed off the dock. That's when it helps to keep the motor in gear and counter it with my "Dock-o-Matic" while attaching the bow and stern lines. Of course, I run the risk of missing the first cleat and it getting pretty ugly.

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dlucier
Master Marine Consultant

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Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
7583 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  12:34:06  Show Profile
One of the keys to successful docking is slip selection.

At my marina, most boaters prize those slips that are on the perimeter or face open water because they don't have that many twists, turns, or manuevers to do to get into their slips, but this leaves them more vulnerable to the wind. I on the other hand, prefer slips that are in the interior where I'm surrounded by wind shielding boats. Additionally, I choose my slip so the prevailing wind is on my nose.

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Nautiduck
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
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Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  14:47:48  Show Profile
At our club is is tough to get a slip with the wind on your nose so we opted for a slip close to the end of the dock. No turning involved - a straight shot in and out. Being on a lake we don't have issues with currents, waves, etc.

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delliottg
Former Mainsheet C250 Tech Editor

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USA
4479 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  17:04:11  Show Profile  Visit delliottg's Homepage  Click to see delliottg's MSN Messenger address
I'd love to be able to change slips to a downstream one from our current upstream one. It has it's conveniences, though, it's the first finger slip at the end of the ramp, but on the whole, I'd much rather have the current pushing me sideways into my slip instead of into my neighbor.

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Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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USA
5485 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  18:16:59  Show Profile
Keep in mind that, if you're going too fast when you enter the slip, you don't have an effective way of putting on the brakes, but, if you're going too slow, you can always put the engine in forward gear and give it a little shot to drive it in the rest of the way. When entering a slip, too little speed is almost always better than too much speed. You'll never hit a dock too hard if you approach it with too little speed.

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delliottg
Former Mainsheet C250 Tech Editor

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USA
4479 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  19:09:13  Show Profile  Visit delliottg's Homepage  Click to see delliottg's MSN Messenger address
While I'd generally say this is good advice, in my case unless the tide & wind are on my side, I've been in situations where backing down on my engine has only slowed my forward progress to about 1kt (admittedly I wasn't running at WOT in reverse). If I don't maintain steerage, I'm screwed.

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Dave Bristle
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
10005 Posts

Response Posted - 11/05/2008 :  21:59:09  Show Profile
David... I probably don't have a precise picture of your situation, but I've dealt with many combinations of slips, tidal currents, and wind...

First, I determine whether wind or tide is going to affect me most--that varies every time I approach a slip. I look at the current coming off pilings, and judge the direction and speed of the wind (which might be opposing the tide) to estimate how I'm going to be pushed around.

Next, if I'm going to be pushed sideways to my orientation in the slip, I make the final approach and turn up-wind or up-current--whichever is going to affect me. Then, as I enter the slip, I drop the pre-set spring-line onto a midship cleat or winch, and let the boat coast to a stop against the spring-line, which pulls it into the finger-dock. (I might use the engine to slow the boat further before it hits too hard against the spring-line.)

Now, if the wind/current is pushing me away from the dock, I put the engine back in gear (at idle) to hold the boat against the spring-line, step off onto the dock, and set my bow and stern lines on that side. (My 8 held Passage nicely--my 225 practically flattens the fender against the dock!) Then I can kill the engine and set the down-wind or down-current lines. It's all a very relaxed procedure once you figure it out.

Remember also the effect of your prop whenever you juice the engine--in reverse it pulls the stern to port, and in forward it pushes the stern to starboard. Out of gear or at idle, the boat generally goes where you point it. All of that can work into your approach strategy.

But never forget: Never approach a dock faster than you're willing to hit it!

Edited by - Dave Bristle on 11/05/2008 22:07:12
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dlucier
Master Marine Consultant

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Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
7583 Posts

Response Posted - 11/06/2008 :  08:38:41  Show Profile
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by delliottg</i>
<br />I'd love to be able to change slips to a downstream one from our current upstream one.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></font id="quote"></blockquote id="quote">

Virtually all of the slips, the lucky one's anyway, on docks up and down the river from my family's cottage, even the people/car ferry docks, face upstream because it is sooo much easier to manuever heading into a current than any other direction, especially downstream.

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ClamBeach
Master Marine Consultant

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3072 Posts

Response Posted - 11/06/2008 :  09:16:13  Show Profile
The only answer to successful docking is experience.
Experience either comes from doing it live... or practice.

If you're new to this and want to gain confidence, pick a 'quiet time' to practice port and starboard approaches, backing the boat in... etc. (hang plenty of fenders)

A C25 is really easy to dock if you can turn the outboard motor.
Having the outboard in fixed position can be a bit more challenging.

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delliottg
Former Mainsheet C250 Tech Editor

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USA
4479 Posts

Response Posted - 11/06/2008 :  11:56:44  Show Profile  Visit delliottg's Homepage  Click to see delliottg's MSN Messenger address
Dave, Don & Bruce (Clambeach),
Thanks for the encouraging words, I'll try to give you a sense of what I face each time I come in, first off, [url="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=113410289865331465424.000001136417780cb2a5c&ll=47.569639,-122.349844&spn=0.002805,0.004828&t=h&z=18"]here's my slip[/url]. The red "push pin" is SL (and it's finally actually our boat).

As you can see, I have to traverse the entire fairway to get to my slip, and there's nowhere left to go at the end of the fairway except into the 43' ketch parked at the very-very end. Also notice the dock shape behind the ketch, which limits how far I can go straight out or into my dock.

The current from the river is generally north up the fairway, unless the tide's coming in, in which case it's mostly nullified or even reversed, depending on the size of the tide. The wind can come from either north or south. If I come in on an incoming tide & have a northerly wind, I'm golden, if on the other hand it's an outgoing tide & the wind is out of the south, it makes for an interesting landing. On an outgoing tide, the current of the river is compounded by the ebb and I can be headed downstream with basically no helm available to me, I've actually had to approach my slip in reverse, then kick it ahead to make the turn, immediately reverse to bleed speed & hope Rita gets the midships line onto a cleat the first time, otherwise we're fending off of Totem (the 43' ketch). Tom, the owner has hung a big fender on his starboard quarter to help the situation, and we've never actually touched his boat, but it's been a near thing on a couple of occasions, and twice when he wasn't there, we blew the approach completely & ended up in his side of the slip. My theory on how we've only managed to blow the approach when he's not there is that I'm not so worried about hitting him. This isn't a good state of mind to be in, I should strive to make it every time, but that's what practice is for.

This was all somewhat easier when the old engine was hardlinked to the tiller, but I haven't figured out how to do the same with the new engine, the geometry is all different, and I've gone through & tossed three completely different designs so far. And I don't have another good idea yet. Right now, I simply reach down & manually turn the engine with it's tiller handle.

I've watched the ketch make his approach, but with his deep keel & lots of windage, he can hardly fail to make his slip, all he has to do is be in the right place and the forces at play will push him right into it.


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Dave Bristle
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
10005 Posts

Response Posted - 11/06/2008 :  21:59:41  Show Profile
Ahh, yes... I remember this one--we've looked at it before. I think that's the trickiest slip in the entire marina, since you have no way to orient yourself up-current for your move into the slip. The answer is probably lotsa fenders!

Now, I'm noodling on a "system"... I'm starting to imagine a block at the inside corner of your slip, a line through it, with both ends led back to the end of your finger dock, with a loop on one end. You ease up to the finger (maybe in reverse, with crew on the foredeck), drop the loop onto a bow cleat, and then start pulling on the bitter end as you make the turn, so the bow is being pulled into the slip and held toward the finger dock (against the current). Use a winch if necessary. The engine should be able to control the stern--maybe in reverse until you've gotten to 90 degrees, and then in forward, pushing toward the finger. Drop a spring-line onto a midship cleat, tension the spring-line with the engine, and you're home.

Whew!

To get out, you could reverse the procedure--the last step being to leave both ends of the long line at the end of the finger dock for your return, and then backing down the fairway.

Edited by - Dave Bristle on 11/06/2008 22:12:15
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Prospector
Master Marine Consultant

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Canada
3159 Posts

Response Posted - 11/07/2008 :  08:13:10  Show Profile  Visit Prospector's Homepage
At our marina its kind de-rigeur to leave the lines on the dock. A forward spring line can be left at the dock in such a way that as you pull in to your slip, the first mate can grab it and attach to the bow cleat. The spring will pull the nose of the boat in as you get into the slip. Not sure whether this would work for your situation, but it is what most of the guys who dock on the "far side" of our docks do. Seems to work well.

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DaveR
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
2015 Posts

Response Posted - 11/07/2008 :  08:20:32  Show Profile  Visit DaveR's Homepage
One thing is for sure David, 999 of 1000 other slips will be a piece of cake for you!
I also approach the dock nice and easy. Have figured out just where to shift the outboard in to neutral and just glide right in. I keep my lines on the dock with an extra set on board for docking elsewhere. As I inch forward on my dock I slip the aft line over my stern cleat, cut the motor (on calm days), exit the boat amidships, grab the bow line, cleat it, then the forward spring line and lastly the aft spring line. Of course this all changes with a windy approach. I don't have a dock-o-matic but <i>it would</i> take the work out of the windy ones.

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dlucier
Master Marine Consultant

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Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
7583 Posts

Response Posted - 11/07/2008 :  08:42:44  Show Profile
David,

If I were you, I'd make finding a better slip a priority. Who knows, these economic times may open up a spot or two. When I first got into my marina 13 years ago, they had waiting lists and lotteries because there were more boaters than slips. The last few years have been different story though. This past season, I'll bet around 25%, maybe more, of the slips at my marina remained vacant.

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delliottg
Former Mainsheet C250 Tech Editor

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USA
4479 Posts

Response Posted - 11/07/2008 :  20:07:29  Show Profile  Visit delliottg's Homepage  Click to see delliottg's MSN Messenger address
With my old slip on Lake Washington, I was right in the middle of a set of slips, and there were no currents or tides to deal with. I learned pretty quickly where I could simply shut my engine off and slide right in making corrections if necessary with my tiller & rudder to scull with. Not so here, I wouldn't call it white knuckle to get in, but I do pay a LOT more attention to what I'm doing and while I think I could get the boat in by myself if I absolutely had to, I'm glad Rita's there to help. I also pay lots more attention to the wind & tide than I ever did, simply because a favorable tide and/or wind makes the landing SO much easier.

Getting out of the slip has never been any problem, other than getting kind of close to "Boy's Toy" simply because I don't have much in the way of steerage yet, but I just crank the engine into a gradually increasing port turn & I easily clear him as well as Totem at the bow, then straighten it out to back all the way down the fairway. The only real problem is when I make the turn to starboard at the end to get out into the basin. If I don't remember to put the outboard's tiller down into the transom cut out to stop it from twisting, the engine will torque all the way over into a hard port turn, exactly opposite the way I want to go. So far this has only happened once & it was easily corrected, if a bit scary.

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windsong
Captain

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USA
318 Posts

Response Posted - 06/22/2009 :  12:02:00  Show Profile  Send windsong an AOL message  Click to see windsong's MSN Messenger address
Gee, I never thought of using a winch as a midship "cleat." Don't I feel dumb! I added cleats to my jib tracks, which I have been using for docking on a spring line, as you all have described so well in this thread. (Wish I had read it a lot sooner). My question: Would you use the winch or the cleat on the jib track as your midship cleat? (There's something about putting all that lateral force on the jib track that has given me the creeps, though I do it every time I dock.)

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Nautiduck
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
3704 Posts

Response Posted - 06/22/2009 :  12:59:42  Show Profile
We no longer use the winch as the cleat for the Dock-A-Matic. I moved the Lewmar 17STs to the coaming and replaced the starboard winch with a Lewmar 7C. The 7C is not as robust as the 16ST and has more plastic instead of metal for structural elements. I decided not to put the load of stopping the boat on it (Bear in mind, though, that we are moving VERY slowly when we deploy the spring line). Instead we use a cleat on the jib track. It works fine. The jib track is secured in multiple loctions and the linear stress from the spring line is well distributed.

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DaveR
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
2015 Posts

Response Posted - 06/23/2009 :  06:22:01  Show Profile  Visit DaveR's Homepage
I think that it would take a heck of a blow to make one fail, but that a jib track is more likely to fail than a decent winch, just by the nature of the connection between the cleat and the jib track. I may be wrong but that's my gut feeling.

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tinob
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
1883 Posts

Response Posted - 06/23/2009 :  08:22:54  Show Profile
Great device Randy.
I use a different, less complicated set-up that works well for me. Essentially it requires that the dock lines form an X in the middle of the docking area. You then motor into the X and it captures you. Once tried many additions may be added to fit your situation. The X will secure you til you tie-up.

Val on Calista # 3936, Patchogue, N.Y.

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millermg
Navigator

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159 Posts

Response Posted - 06/23/2009 :  08:42:44  Show Profile
Ok, this is a tangent, but how many of you prefer to dock in reverse? To scrub the bottom, I started having to come in stern first so I can get both sides, and I began to realize that unless the wind is blowing hard, the boat handles very nicely in reverse. Two other benfits I find- you can actually see where you are going, and the boat stops much faster when you slam the motor into forward to slow your progress.

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Merrick
Navigator

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USA
192 Posts

Response Posted - 06/23/2009 :  14:58:40  Show Profile
With our parellel parking situation, we get to back in with an outgoing tide and go in forward with an incoming tide. Doing a crappy job about 75% of the time. A simple finger dock would be so nice.

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dmpilc
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
4506 Posts

Response Posted - 06/26/2009 :  06:11:54  Show Profile
My slip has a cleat at the midpoint of the finger to which my spring line is cleated with a loop at each end. One end drops over the bow cleat and the other end is on the jib sheet winch.

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Charley Sheets
Deckhand

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5 Posts

Response Posted - 01/31/2010 :  15:18:06  Show Profile
Gentlemen, It seems that all cat 25 sailors are like minded when it comes to making things easy. I also discovered the easy docking method while single handing. The first time i used my boom preventer which was rigged to port. I have a metal clip on the end for attaching to my boom when sailing wing on wing. I also have the sliding cleat on my jib track which is always located just forward of my center stanchion. My preventer has a block with a clip to attach to the cleat or stanchion base. the tail line goes around the winch three times and cleats there. I leave enough slack to reach back to the cockpit gate. I step off drop the loup around the center cleat on my finger pear and slow the boat with a little tension on the line. After the bost stops and is pulled up against the fenders i step back into the cockpit and pull the line tight and cleat it off. If i have two people onboard it is even easier. Setting the spring lines up at my leisure is a really good feeling. A ten not wind across my dock is no problem with this method. I simply winch the boat to the pier. I had considered a pole myself. I have often had to back into my slip with really strong winds and on occasion have had to back all the way out of the dock area to get mt bow to swing around. This is not a permanent dock line only a docking method that gives me much relief, as the Hunter 336 next to me is really taking up a lot of space between us. Charley #2458

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