Starting my own business

A Few Tips for Safely Docking Your Boat

by Martin Williamson

Pulling your boat into a dock may be a bit more complicated than you realise; of course, you need to be careful that you don't hit the dock, but you also need to be close enough to step off the boat safely. You may also be fighting a current or high winds when on the water. To ensure you manage this very important part of boating safely and easily, note a few tips for getting your boat to the dock.

When the wind is pushing you away

When you have a strong wind pushing you away from the dock, approach it at an angle, until you get close enough to toss a bow line to the dock and secure your boat. Next, put the engine in reverse and steer the backside of the boat toward the dock; being in reverse will pull the boat against the wind and into your slip.

When the wind is pushing you toward the dock

If the wind is pushing you toward the dock, approach it with a sharp angle so the side of the boat cuts down on the strength of the wind. Put the engine in reverse as you approach; this will slow down your approach and you can nudge the front of the boat toward the dock. Keep the engine running in reverse as you secure your bow line. You can then ease up on the brake while keeping the boat in reverse until the wind pushes you into the dock, and you can cut the engine entirely.

In no wind

If you're not fighting wind or strong current, you want to remember a few general tips about nudging your boat into the dock. One is to never approach the dock faster than you're willing to hit it! Remember that your boat's propulsion will carry you many feet or meters forward even after you cut the engines, so slow the boat down well before you approach the dock. Also, no matter how many times you've made this approach, check over the area carefully. A fallen line from a neighbour's boat could easily get tangled in your propeller, or someone may have removed a fender along the dock that would normally cushion your approach.

Remember to turn the wheel before you accelerate so your propellers are facing the direction you want and you won't spin your boat. Use short bursts of power rather than running your engine steadily, as you then won't build up so much momentum that could push you into the dock.

Coming into jetties or docks shouldn't be something you fear if you move purposefully and slowly.