Doing the Bump

Docking a boat is one of the most stressful parts of operating a power boat. Especially for those who are new to boating. It does not have to be if you follow a few simple techniques.
  • yacht captain pointing out instruments in cabin to another man

    Preparation is Important

    First is being prepared. Assess the situation. Check for tell-tales for the wind and current that will affect the docking procedure. Look to see which way any flags are being blown, check the ripples on the water and check pilings and buoys to see which way the current is flowing and how strong. There are many types 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 a quarter way back from the bow, one at mid-ships and one just forward of the transom should suffice. Have your dock lines ready. Once prepared, stop and see how the boat is reacting to the wind and current.
  • row of yachts docked at marinemax

    Slow and Steady

    Approach the dock at a 30-degree angle. Use intermittent power to slow the boat. Bump the shifter(s) into forward for brief amount of time, just seconds, to keep your headway. Judge when to turn the wheel away from the dock to position the boat to be parallel with the dock. If the wind is heading towards the dock start the turn 1 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 nearly 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 and with the wheel turned so the engine is pointed towards the dock it should kick the stern in.
  • Kid tying the boat to the dock

    Practice Makes Perfect

    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 conditions change. Always remember never approach a dock faster than you would want to hit. 
  • several boats lined up along a dock

    Keep Your Focus

    After gaining confidence when carrying passengers practice the “robbery rules” for docking. Ask the passengers to sit down, keep their hands to themselves, not talk (shut up), do only what they are told to do and nobody will get hurt. Also, when fending a boat, never put a body part between the boat and the dock.
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