Docking without motor

Moderator: GreenLake

Docking without motor

Postby GreenLake » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:36 pm

Bob Hunkins, who used to run this forum, recently wrote:

For those of you who feel uncomfortable using your boat without a motor, I suspect a lot of it comes from the ability to dock. Consider the video in this link. I have not used a motor on my Day Sailer. I removed the motor mount that was originally attached and never looked back.
https://asa.com/online-sailing-course/docking-made-easy-videos/?utm_source=announcement&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2016_12_DockingMadeEasy#returning


The video he linked shows the easy case, docking upwind. Now, the DS does some pretty tight turns, I've been able to make U-turns at launch ramps that are about the width of about 4 trailers side-by-side without gaps. That allowed me to turn a downwind docking into an upwind one.

I also always have a paddle at hand; stuck vertically into the water it makes a great emergency brake. And, of course, it helps if you come to a stop a few feet short...

As for approaching or leaving the dock under sail, the channel is 4 boat lengths wide, five where there are gaps in boats moored along the side. I find that that is plenty of water for tacking in or out.

What are your experiences?
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Docking without motor

Postby K.C. Walker » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:00 pm

Well, if only I had a dock like that to land, I would use the sails. 90% of the time when I dock it's at the same spot. It's actually difficult for me to dock the Daysailer even with a motor sometimes.… And I have a lot of experience docking with a powerboat. A couple of times a year when the conditions are just right I will dock without the motor. Though, most of those times it's sailing under bare poles. I've got lots of granite boulders around and I need to pull up the board before I even get to the end of the dock. With the powerboats docking at this dock we bring up the outdrive units just before docking. Fortunately, when the conditions are too strong for docking the Daysailer, even under power, I have an alternate dock on the opposite side of the island I can go to… where the options are even tighter, but there is usually not much wind.

The public dock that I use for saltwater is not protected and often has a strong onshore breeze. It has an ill-defined and not marked channel with lots of submerged granite boulders to avoid. There really is not room to tack out of the channel safely, especially at low tide.

For me, I consider a motor on the Daysailer a necessary safety device for docking and leaving the dock. Aside from that, I love the freedom of being able to go long distance without the worry of being becalmed.… there are so many times that I jump in the boat because there's a bit of breeze… head out a mile or two to have the breeze go calm. It seems to me pure luxury to be able to just pull a cord and have the motor bring me home for breakfast. :-)

Obviously, if I was racing and had access to a sailing friendly dock, I would definitely leave the motor off.
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Re: Docking without motor

Postby GreenLake » Tue Jan 03, 2017 4:02 pm

In the video they show an end-cap with clear approach. The more typical situation I encounter is a dock with other boats tied alongside and a gap to fit into. I occasionally rent boats (a tad bigger than the DS, but not all that dissimilar), and they are sailed off a dock and have to be returned under sail. (None of their sailboats have any motors).

We have a few obstacles, but they are more "friendly" than submerged granite boulders....
1851
and, except in the summer, there's enough depth to extend CB and rudder all the way; that definitely helps. In the summer, the CB needs to be raised until we are clear of the dock. I think it's a case mostly of bumping into a gravel bar caused by powerboats gunning their outboards when driving back onto their trailers..

The biggest risk in tacking in a channel like that is stalling the foils and drifting into one of the boats along the sides...

"Unfriendly" docks are those that are exposed to wakes and simultaneously allow the DS to slide under
874

They are usually designed for powerboats with tall flat sides that can hang a fender at the right height. The challenge there is less how to get to the dock, but how to secure the boat at the dock, so it cannot be smashed to pieces. My preferred technique is the rope around a piling; sometimes the wind will blow from a good direction so I just leave a lot of slack in the dock lines (while not moving out of sight of the dock).

One day I had planned to visit a restaurant with private dock that is a bit exposed. That day the wind was blowing directly on shore, square onto the dock, where there was a single small "parking space" left. I experimented with heaving to and drifting into the free spot. Not perfect, on the first attempt, but we ended up where we wanted without damage to any boat. This is the theory:
1016

We had a nice lunch and later sailed off the dock without any problems. (Don't remember the details, could be that the boat in front of us had left and that gave us a bit of a "runway").
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Docking without motor

Postby talbot » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:27 pm

The main thing is to have an escape route if your approach doesn't work. Ideally, in a tricky situation you can do a couple of touch-and-go passes to get a feel for wind and current before you commit to a landing.
Sometimes there isn't an escape route, as described by K.C. Fortunately, a small boat can often get away with a controlled crash, where we let the wind blow us onto the approximate place we want to be, as per Greenlake's hove-to landing.
But not always, and not in a larger boat that could cause major damage. Sometimes you just have to wait for conditions to change, or try to land at an alternative spot. The Pilgrims are supposed to have ended up in what is Massachusetts because their captain felt it was too dangerous to try to make it to their intended landing farther south.
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Re: Docking without motor

Postby GreenLake » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:18 pm

+1 on the escape route.

If you don't stall the foils on your DS, it will (almost) turn on a dime, so more often than not you can make a turn or U turn and abort. I remember misjudging that once at an unfamilar dock (less distance than I thought, or I caught the wind at the wrong moment or ended up stalling my foils, can't remember) with the end result that I couldn't complete the turn and T-boned the dock at a good clip (I had intended a hooked approach). Afterwards I was surprised that there was no appreciable damage. Cheap insurance is to have your crew on the bow and ready to fend off - that's the fun of sailing small boats - they are much more forgiving.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Docking without motor

Postby K.C. Walker » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:18 pm

Sometimes I've used the three point turn in situations where I needed to turn but stalled my foils.… Or, I got myself into a tight spot and needed to back out. Of course, only if I had some headwind. Pushing the boom out and throwing the rudder over while backing up will turn this boat pretty quick.
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Re: Docking without motor

Postby talbot » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:02 pm

That's actually one of the things you are supposed to demonstrate in order to pass your ASA Basic Keelboat exam.
However, I would suggest not trying it in your basic keelboat. At least not in my basic keelboat. It's one thing to pass the exam. It's another to pass the boat next to you far enough astern to avoid taking her motor off.

Another situation where it's better to be in a Day Sailer. (Cape Cod Shipbuilding should adopt that as a motto--It's Better to Be in a Day Sailer--along with a collection of close-call stories that involve docking, beaching, careening, rowing, and self-rescue.)
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