SPRINGING AROUND THE END OF A DOCK
YOU’VE ENTERED THE AISLE where you’re berthed and need to make the turn to enter your slip and tie up on starboard. The wind is pushing you down the aisle and will blow you away from the dock once you’re alongside. Your slip
neighbor’s new trawler is tied up in the berth next to yours. Be careful, or the wind will
induce some embarrassing paint swapping. Figure 4 shows how to handle this situation.
1. Have a crew member set up a forward spring line at the midship cleat on your starboard side. The line shouldn’t be cleated off but passed under the horns of the cleat so
the crew can control it. Heave the other end of the line to someone on the dock. Have
that person cleat it to the outermost cleat alongside your slip at the end of the dock.
2. As you approach the dock cleat, your crew should take up the slack in the line without putting any pressure on it. When the cleat on your boat is near the dock cleat, have
the crew member gently snub off the spring line as you turn into the slip and gently
apply some throttle.
3. As the bow swings around and points into the dock, your crew can control the boat’s
movement with the spring line, slowly letting it out to allow the boat to move forward
into the slip. You will need to apply more throttle to keep the boat moving forward if
the bow starts to blow off. Once in the slip, have your crew cleat off the spring line
while you continue to power against it. You may need to steer as if to turn the bow
away from the dock to keep the wind from blowing the stern off. The boat will remain
in position long enough for your crew to put out additional lines.
to a slip.
help swing the stern in, apply gentle throttle. Finish tying up at your
leisure with the engine and spring line holding the boat in place.
You and your crew need to learn to coordinate the use of the
throttle and the tension on the spring line to get the boat to move
in the direction you want. Your first few attempts may not be pretty.
Airplane pilots spend a lot of time practicing “touch-and-goes” to
improve their landings: At the moment the wheels touch the runway,
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they apply throttle and take off again. You can do the same thing at a
quiet dock. As soon as you’ve successfully come alongside the dock,
head back out. Once you understand the principles, you’ll find other
ways to use spring lines to make docking less stressful.
Greg Jones lives in Massachusetts and is preparing his 1979 Gulfstar 37
for full-time cruising. His plan is to head south in the fall of 2013.
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