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How to enter a slip with pilings

ebsail

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Nov 28, 2010
217
O day 25 Nyack. New York
I've recently moved to a slip on the Chesapeake in Maryland, between two widely spaced pilings. The boat is 7-1/2 feet wide and the pilings for the slip are 16 feet wide at the entrance. Stern lines go to the pilings. It seems impossible to pick them both up simultaneously on entering. It's just too wide. Despite owning 10 boats and having 65 years of boating, this is new to me. Does anyone have an easy solution to a set up a better way to get the stern lines picked up as I enter the slip?
Once the stern lines are both cleated on the boat, the two bow lines can be walked to the main dock while the outboard, idling in forward, keeps the boat in place. Does someone have a better way to do this?
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,330
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
I’m not an expert, but when I have found that situation cruising into a new marina, I have put a spring line (from a midships cleat on one of the two pilings, then pulled forward to get a bow line over on the same side. A second bowline on the opposite side, and a stern line to the piling where we attached the spring line, and a second spring line forward on the same side completes a secure mooring without the second piling. All of these lines are fast on cleats on the boat, and tied to the shore off the bow, or looped around the piling. Once everything is secure I might loosen the stern line around the piling, and push off with a boat hook until I get pick up a line or get one around the second stern piling. Usually I just leave well enough (and the second piling) alone.

I‘m waiting to see other, more experienced answers to your interesting problem.
 
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Likes: Will Gilmore
Jan 19, 2010
648
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
The PO of our boat was in just such a location. He left is stern lines on the piles. He'd motor in and back down hard to stall the boat. Had 2 boat hooks at the ready. Quickly and effortlessly he snagged each line, made them fast and went back into forward for a second. Leisurely went forward with a boat hook and grabbed prepositioned bow lines. The trick he said was to get the stbd line first, because that touch of forward moved the boat forward with a tad of prop walk.. It was impressive..
 

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
2,715
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I had my 30' slip when I had my O'day 25 so it was big for the boat.
I used springs lines with eye splices from the stern pilings to the winches. To keep the bow centered I used a V shape bridle.
I'd enter the slip, pick up the windward spring line, turn the outboard to move the bow to starboard and leave it in forward. The length of the spring line allowed the bow to nestle into the V of the bridle and the pull on the spring line kept the stern centered.
Then I'd grab the windward stern line, attach to cleat, go forward and attach the bow lines, then the downwind stern line and downwind spring line.
I would do the exact reverse when leaving the slip.
It took a while to get the spring lines length adjusted just right but when done I could sit at idle in forward for an hour waiting to leave. When ready take off the last, windward spring line and back right out of the slip.

I found working on the windward side of the boat first was critical.
 
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Likes: BigEasy
May 17, 2004
2,742
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Like Don says, pick up the upwind one first. As you approach try to keep the boat as close as possible to the upwind piling. That will make the pickup easy, and since the wind is blowing away from that piling there’s not much risk of touching it. After you get that one you can get either the bow lines or the downwind stern line, depending on which way the wind is blowing (stern first if downwind, bow first if upwind). If it’s calm, or the wind is straight up or down the slip, then know which way your prop walk will pull the stern away from, and treat that as the upwind side. You can use the prop walk to suck the stern to the other one.
 
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Likes: Rick D
Oct 22, 2014
13,057
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
One way to address this issue is to move to a different marina. You can avoid the black tar marks from the pilings and just worry about the concrete sides of the finger slips.
 
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Likes: sailme88
Jul 5, 2011
536
Oday 28 Madison, CT
I once (maybe) had a situation like yours, though not sure 100% analogous. I put my stern line around the piling and tied loosely with a bowline knot. For the spliced end (for the stern cleat) I bought a large screw eye and screwed into the piling and just hung the spliced end on it. In your case, you might have to fetch using a boat hook, but as I said I am not 100% sure if analogous.
 
Sep 23, 2009
1,406
O'Day 34-At Last Rock Hall, Md
Our 34 is in a 45 slip so the end outer piling is far away from our stern. We come in bow first against a floating dock.
The system Ward mentions is great and fool proof but takes some setting up. What gets us in stress free every time is...
One, get a Dock Mate fiberglass pole towards the slip entrance on the floating dock. Two put your forward spring line on it when you depart so all you have to do when you return is pick up the loop of the line off the hook on the Dock Mate and wrap it over a mid cleat. Coast in very slow and the spring line will pull you up firmly against the floating dock, you then can take all the time you want to secure bow and stern lines with gear in forward. Third, on the far side of the boat opposite the floatng pier, run an old line between your boat and the next. Drape dock lines on that side over those lines and pick them up with a boat hook on returning. We only have one line there and it runs from our stern to the outermost piling, first line put off when leaving and last line secured when returning.
Depending on tidal range may work with fixed piers also. Good luck. Remember, any landing you can walk away from....
 
  • Helpful
Likes: Ward H

RoyS

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Jun 3, 2012
792
Hunter 33 Steamboat Wharf, Hull, MA
We use what I call a "No Jump Cleat Snagger." Wife lately refuses to jump to dock with mid-ship spring line in her teeth. Had to invent the snagger. It is an expandable aluminum pole with the spring line running through the pole. On the end is an eye splice held in a loop by a clear PVC hose. "No Jump Wife" attaches spring line to mid-ship cleat and stands ready to snag the cleat at the end of the slip as I slowly drive the boat into our slip. Once the cleat is snagged and the boat brings it into tension wife lets it go and the boat lays along the dock in power at idle. She then steps onto the dock and connects the rest of the dock lines. Lastly we replace the snagger with a regular dock line and open the victory beers.
AB948CAF-3D80-4B77-95B6-3229A3FE7440.jpeg
 
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Likes: Ward H
May 17, 2004
2,742
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Also similar to the “Docking Stick” that Patrick Laine uses -

But in the OP’s case we’re talking about coming back to a home slip, not a visiting slip. In this case I don’t think there’s any reason to take the lines off the dock. Just leave everything at the dock and pick up the lines with a boat hook on the way in. No lasso-ing, jumping to the dock, etc.
 
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Likes: Ward H

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
2,715
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
:plus: That Docking Stick and Patrick Laine video solved my issues with docking single handed.