Figure 2. Leaving the dock stern first.
fender between the stern and the dock. Now you’re ready to spring off
the dock, which you do in three steps as shown in Figure 1.
1. With rudder amidships, start the engine and put the transmission into reverse. When the boat comes up against the forward spring
line, all of the other lines should be slack and can be retrieved. The
only line left holding the boat to the dock is the forward spring line.
2. Have the stern crew take the fender and place it between the
boat and the dock, holding on to the fender’s line. With the engine
still in reverse, steer as though to back down into the dock. The boat
will want to back to port, and prop walk will exacerbate that, but the
spring line will prevent the boat from moving backward and pull the
stern into the dock. Apply gentle power astern. The bow will slowly
pivot out, away from the dock, and the stern crew’s job is to keep the
fender deployed properly.
3. When the bow has fully cleared the boat ahead, bring the rudder amidships and shift into forward as the stern crew pulls in the
spring line. Steer to starboard if necessary to clear the boat in front of
you while the bow crew stands by with the fender until you are past.
If it’s the stern of your boat you need to move out first, the technique is the same but now you pivot on the aft spring line. Prop walk
can make a big difference. If the boat is lying starboard side to (with
the dock on the right), the prop walk on most boats will swing the
stern away from the dock, accentuating the pivot around the spring
line. But if the boat is lying port side to with the dock on the left, the
prop walk will pull the stern into the dock, and the spring line may
not be able to overcome the prop walk to swing the stern out. So
when you’re docking, think ahead and try to put the dock to the right
of the boat. Figure 2 shows how to leave the dock stern first.
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