Boating Tips Docking a Boat

Docking a boat is one of the most stressful parts of operating a powerboat, especially for those who are new to boating. However, it can be easy if you follow a few of these simple techniques. 

  • marina with boats docked

    1. Prepare for Wind and Currents

    First is being prepared for the situation. Watch out for environmental factors like the wind and current that might affect the docking procedure. Look at which direction the flags are blown, check the ripples on the water, and check pilings and buoys to see which way the current is flowing and how strong. 
  • 2. Fenders, Lines & Knots - Oh My!

    There are a variety of docks. If you are trying to pull alongside a dock with no protection you may want to position the boats’ fenders at key points on the side you intend to tie-up on. One tie-up a quarter way back from the bow, one at mid-ships and one just forward of the transom. Have your dock lines ready. Once finished, stop and see how the boat is reacting to the wind and current.
  • aerial view of a marina with multiple boats docked

    3. Start Your Engines

    Be sure there is adequate space at the dock. Approach at a 30-degree angle. Use intermittent power to slow the boat and bump the shifter into forward for a brief amount of time, just seconds, to keep your headway. Then turn the wheel away from the dock to position the boat parallel to the dock. If the wind is heading towards the dock start the turn one boat length from the dock. If the wind is blowing away from the dock the turn should be less than half the boat length. After turning the wheel to steer the boat away from the dock, bump the boat into forward briefly and then back to neutral. This may need to be repeated until the boat is parallel to the dock. At this juncture, the wheel should be spun around the other way. When the wheel is fully turned a brief bump in reverse should stop the forward momentum. 
  • Multiple white boats docked

    4. Monitor Speed and Passenger Safety

    Practice is key. Don’t be afraid to try several approaches until you feel confident that you understand your boat. Every boat will react differently, and the conditions constantly change. Always remember, never approach a dock too fast. When carrying passengers, practice the “robbery rules” for docking. Ask the passengers to sit down, keep calm and do only what they are told to do so nobody will get hurt. Do not forget, when fending a boat, never put a body part between the boat and the dock.
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