10 tips for port maneuvers with a single motor boat
If you have had a boat for some time there is a good chance that you have already hit another boat or a dock at least once.
These tips may seem basic for some but a good reminder to succeed in your port maneuvering never hurts.
For boaters equipped with a single-engine boat, here are some tips that make docking easier.
1. Practice port maneuvers on an empty dock
Have you just had your first boat or have a new one? In the same way that you practice driving a car in an empty car park, practice. Nothing makes you more confident than repetitive practice.
2. Pay attention to the wind.
If the wind blows from the dock, approach it at a steep angle, using reverse gear and momentum the worst thing is to be passive and immobile which causes the boat to lose control. If the wind is blowing toward the dock, consider relaxing on the dock or another boat using the wind to push you to the place of your choice.
3. Reduce the surface of your boat catching the wind
On windy days, consider reducing your windage by removing the Bimini, and any other equipment that will offer a good hold in the wind. In this way you will reduce the action of the wind on your boat a little and facilitate your port maneuvers.
4. Go slowly.
Increasing your boat’s motion is a good thing to have control of it but going too fast increases the chances of making a mistake and reduces your reaction time. Do not go too fast or stay still in some cases.
5. Turn first and then use the gears of of the engines
Always turn the wheel just before going forwards or backwards, not during or after. This prevents the stern from tipping properly and thus having the bow of your boat in the right direction.
6. Know the pivot axis of your boat
An outboard or stern drive will be propelled from the stern, while many inboard move from a further forward point closer to the middle of the boat. Learn to recognize the pivoting axis of your boat to determine your ability to rotate in places where the maneuver is tight. This can be done by practicing in a large empty space of the port.
7. Ask for help.
As in sailing, boaters should use all the tools at their disposal. In difficult conditions, there is absolutely no shame to ask for help, on the contrary, between sailor we know very well what it is. And so ask someone from the port staff to join you onboard to maneuver, or if you see someone on the dock, ask that person to grab a line for you and so on…
8. Take into account the pitch angle of the propeller
Each boat reacts differently to the maneuver. In reverse, and with the wheel in the middle some boats will be moving on port side of others on starboard. You need to know you how the boat reacts to present it in front of the berth accordingly. Use this offset to help you combat the action of the wind.
9. Turn straight;)
To counteract the effect of propeller pitch you will need to turn the wheel in one direction or another to go straight backwards
10. Keep calm
This is perhaps one of the most important boat docking tips, mooring a boat on a windy day is a stressful situation. You have to try to keep a cool head and not be overwhelmed by panic. After all, what do you want to happen so bad? At worst some scratches on a hull? Come on!
These 10 tips are a good reminder for any navigator, sometimes we have no choice but to maneuver the boat when there is wind. Wisdom dictates that we do not go out at sea when there is too much wind and therefore do not have to maneuver in the harbor in these cases. Why go for accidents? Postpone your day out to a later day and enjoy a good day on land.
And what are your tips and techniques? Tell me in the comments
See you soon