Docking Against the Wind

Jan 22, 2008
396
Catalina 380 16 Rochester NY
So changing from a 40+ year old Catalina 30 to a 'younger' Catalina 380 has been a challenge. Different systems, MORE systems, more COMPLICATED systems and the fact that I did so much of the upgrading, re-wiring, re-plumbing and fixing on the C-30 over the years didn't hurt.

So each day, I learn something new, refrigeration, AC ....serious air conditioning!!!! lol, dripless shaft seals, Seatalk, Seatalk 1, Seatalk 2, Seatalk NG with a Seatalk 1 hooked up to it via an itc-5 talking to a Seatalk to SeatalkNG converter talking to a blah blah blah.

It has been an exasperating pleasure!!!!!

But now I am facing a dilemma that I am lost on. The boat is so much bigger that my original C-22 and the the C-30.

I am docked on the Genesee River which empties north into Lake Ontario. Normally, winds come from some northern point and a southern wind is always appreciated. It comes with warm air and since we're on the south side of Lake Ontario, there is no fetch and the sailing is perfect.

South..north, east or west, it has never mattered to me with my old C-30. My dock ran North-South and my finger was on my starboard (west side) of the boat.
I would come in, bump the finger, get off, hook my line to the aft starboard cleat, get back on and drive the boat into the dock, leave it in gear and secure the rest of the lines. Even with a heavy west wind, I would always be ok.

Now I am on the river and the finger runs east/west and it is on my port side. So that means ANY wind from the south along with the river's current pushes me off the dock.

I cannot for the life of me figure this out. The port side aft cleat is too far back to work my old method of hooking it up and driving into the dock...doesn't seem to be enough length to make that happen.
If I drive to power straight in, once I get into the wind shadow of docked boats, my rear end is still hanging out and it gets pushed north (possibly into the boat to my starboard).

I have tried to drive in at a 45 degree angle, but, there isn't enough time to do that and get off the boat and even hook the midship cleat.

Each and every time, I have had to back out of the space and try again. The last few times, I just drove the boat into the mud at the end of the dock, get out, hook up the fore lines and then back out of the mud.

I would hazard a guess that isn't the right way. The sad thing is, there is a Yacht Club almost directly across the river and I just know they can't wait for me to come up the river. My next step is just go over and ask them what they think I should do.

I enclosed a pic of the river and my spot (RED X).
I have watched countless videos about cross wind docking, just looking for some wisdom for folks that have seen it all and done it all.

I was going to post on the Catalina 380 site, but I just seem to like my friends here on Sailboat Owners.
Thanks for any thoughts or suggestion!
Chris
 

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Sep 25, 2008
6,312
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
It may be counter-intuitive but speed is your friend. The more water passing the keel and rudder, the greater the control. More wind requires more speed.
 
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Jan 22, 2008
396
Catalina 380 16 Rochester NY
It may be counter-intuitive but speed is your friend. The more water passing the keel and rudder, the greater the control. More wind requires more speed.
I thought about that, just speed straight in and trust that I can get into reverse and slow it down enough to get off and at least hook a midship line?
I thought that maybe also throw a line from the stern onto the dock so that I can hook up midship and then grab the stern line to steady her.
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,429
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
You don't need to "jump off the boat onto the dock" to secure a line to a cleat. I do not allow people (including me) to jump off the boat until it is secured. I sure wouldn't want to leave my boat onto the pier without it being already tied up to something. Its too easy for it to get away from you and then what do you do?


There are "poles" like the Landing Loop where you can hook a cleat on the pier/dock with a midship spring line and power forward controlling the rudder to keep you parallel with the dock and snugged up. I solo sail a lot and do this routinely. There are other devices too. The Admiral has gotten very good with this and like i said, I can do it solo too. Instead of jumping to the dock to hook up a line, I just go onto the deck and hook my spring line to a cleat and return to the helm and power forward to hold the boat against the dock. Then I can use the loop to secure a bow or stern line or just step (not jump) to the dock and finish the tie up.
 
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Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
3,123
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I'm with @smokey73. No one gets off my boat until it is secured to the dock.
I'm often pushed off the side dock by the prevailing wind. I've posted before asking for help. A spring is the answer and finding the "pivot " point for the spring line is critical. Most boats can use a mid ship cleat or even a primary winch. I have a mid ship piling to deal with, which affects the pivot point. I learned to run my spring line much further forward to a block at the forward shroud chain plate.
I use a docking stick, very similar to the "Landing Loop" in smokey73's video, to put my spring line over the stern piling as I approach the dock. As smokey and Don said, once I have the spring line on the piling I put the boat in forward gear and use the rudder against the prop wash to hold the boat's stern in the center of the slip.

How much power in forward is dictated by the amount of wind trying to push the boat off the dock. I have little current to deal with but it would be the same to consider I would think.

Also, as Don said, my approach is counter intuitive to what I was taught, never to approach a dock faster than you're willing to hit it. I need to come in hot to maintain steerage until I'm half way into my slip, than apply hard reverse to stop the boat to put on the spring line, then back to forward to "spring" into the slip. How much forward thrust depends on the wind trying to push me off of the dock.

I do use two dock lines on each corner. One with an eye for the boat cleat end and one with no eye. I always pick up the "eye" dock line and drop it on the boat cleat, then pick up the other line for fine adjustments using a cleat hitch.
 

RoyS

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Jun 3, 2012
1,205
Hunter 33 Steamboat Wharf, Hull, MA
My wife uses an expandable pole attached to the midship spring line also. You are fortunate to have a port side tie up as you can probably use prop walk to bring your stern in to the dock. I made my "no jump cleat snagger" by running a pre-measured spring line through an expandable pole with a loop of vinyl hose holding the loop open. As the spring line stretches out my wife lowers the pole and, once tight, lets go. I keep that line tight by motoring forward while my wife steps off the now stationary boat and walks up to secure the bow line. The bow line has been draped over the lifelines making it reachable from the dock. No stress and no jumping with this system. Note also, we have fenders attached to the dock forthe entir
8AE854FB-821B-45AA-BFCE-4AEED72AFAB2.jpeg
 
Oct 2, 2008
3,583
Pearson/ 530 Strafford, NH
If you have lines that can be left on the dock pre-measured that would help. Tying the spring to the midship cleat on your boat and turning the wheel away from the dock will bring the stern in. Then you have all the time you need for all the other lines by keeping idle speed push water on the rudder. BoatUS has a simulator called Dockit which I would use during the winter to test my skills. The short two burst method has helped me tame our boat along with having the lines arranged ahead of time.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
16,080
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
@Team118 Oh the joy of a new bigger boat. Sounds like you are having loads of fun.
I bring my 35ft boat in solo all the time using this technique. No polls to buy. No leaving the boat and control until the boat is secure. If the dock has a cleat near the end of the berth You can come in and adjust how far you enter the slip by where you pull the line in to the cockpit and secure it. If it is a short slip I use the winch as the secure point if the slip length allows I use my stern cleat. There is 3-4 feet distance between the two points adjusted on my boat near the helm. Control.

I posted this on SBO here.

I use a line to the midship cleat. It is big enough to toss a few feet through the wind to the dock. If I miss I back out and try again. Has worked even in a 20 knot cross wind. Give me a shout if there are questions.
 
Jul 1, 2010
868
Seaward 25, Catalina 350 Erie, Pa
We've tried every manner of using docking sticks, center cleat and prop walk to get onto the various docks. The method that consistently wins hands down for us is the stern bridle method below:

 
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Tedd

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Jul 25, 2013
463
Between Boats near Vancouver, BC
Very nice. I'm going to try that next time I dock where there are cleats.
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,429
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
That seems to work pretty well but notice there appears to be no current and no wind in all of those landings. When there is wind and current and you "miss" the throw (as done on one occasion in the video) things can get out of hand very quickly.

That I why I like the Landing Loop or other similar pole where you can positively place the line on the cleat. I have tried the "throw the line" technique and it works when it works but it can go horribly wrong when it doesn't and there is significant current or wind. Plus a miss with that much slack could get wrapped around the prop and then you are in for a real clusterf^%&. You say, the prop will be stopped when do the throw, but if you miss and have to apply throttle to keep from hitting something or someone you either have to take valuable time to get the line out of the water first or take your chances and apply throttle and hope you don't wrap the line on the shaft. Just my perspective and I've tried both.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,080
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I'm going to try that next time I dock where there are cleats.
Up in Canadian waters they use what is called “bull rails”. Made from the native fir trees that are so abundant. Fir trees love to leave splinters (the size of small tree limbs) embedded in your dock lines or hands.

To address the lack of cleats and desire to reduce the incidence of splinter infections I have opted for this.
6DAE6E60-372D-47CF-A97F-27107C0E6485.png

Collapsable, stored below safely awaiting the moment when called to spring into action. Threaded onto the spring line, tossed at the dock, it tenaciously grabs on. The rest of the docking procedure follows along as you see in the video.

You snug up the line at the stern and move forward in gear at idle as the boat snugs up to the dock.

To avoid entanglement with the prop, I keep the bitter end of the spring line in the cockpit. If the toss misses the cleat we retrieve the line and either try a second toss or since we are on the boat, do a ‘touch and go’ and go around to try again. Perhaps not enough speed to get close enough for the crew toss before slowing for the toss. Both with the help of crew or solo the Stern Bridle docking method has worked for me 98% of the time. If conditions are so bad that getting docked is too dangerous one can always anchor out till conditions improve.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
16,080
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Not much more than spiking it with a Boat Hook and holding on...
1625066195419.png


Then of course there is the always the old ways of assuring you get to the dock...
1625066307275.png
 
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Jan 18, 2016
679
Catalina 387 Dana Point
As said before: midship spring, lasso it as you come in. Reverse to stop, then back to fwd with rudder over will hold you right on the dock.

I've made the exact same boat transition (C-30 to C-387) - and one thing I've definitely had to get used to is the bigger boat wont spin on it's keel nearly as well as the C-30. Lots more mass to turn around. It also doesn't "coast" as well as the C-30 did. I.e. in neutral the 30 was still quite nimble at ~1kt or so, the 387 needs some fwd power over the rudder to turn quickly.
 
Jan 22, 2008
396
Catalina 380 16 Rochester NY
I plan on practicing with the hybrid midship spring/bridle tomorrow. It'll be rainy with a north wind (pushing towards the dock).
This way I can concentrate on technique and I won't have the Yacht Club bunch laughing at me as it will be too rainy and miserable!
@jeepbluetj and @jssailem , thank you for taking so much time to collate information and actually write out some tips. Truly appreciated.
Chris
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,936
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Just an idea, if other options aren't working and the dock is setup for it,
Run a loose dock line from bow cleat to stern cleat with enough slack to hook the dock cleat that is at the end of the finger dock as you come in backwards. This immediately holds you from drifting away. Continue backing into the slip until you get a stern cleat on. As you pull deeper into the slip, the bow to stern dockline will bring your bow in. At least that's how it works in my head.

-Will
 
Oct 2, 2008
3,583
Pearson/ 530 Strafford, NH
Up in Canadian waters they use what is called “bull rails”. Made from the native fir trees that are so abundant. Fir trees love to leave splinters (the size of small tree limbs) embedded in your dock lines or hands.

To address the lack of cleats and desire to reduce the incidence of splinter infections I have opted for this.
View attachment 195758
Collapsable, stored below safely awaiting the moment when called to spring into action. Threaded onto the spring line, tossed at the dock, it tenaciously grabs on. The rest of the docking procedure follows along as you see in the video.

You snug up the line at the stern and move forward in gear at idle as the boat snugs up to the dock.
If you threw it over any dock it would work the same way. (All those James Bond movies are finally paying off).
 
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