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Seamanship - Getting Off a Lee Shore Dock in a Crowded Fairway With a Strong Tide

February 13, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 192

Seamanship schools tend not to teach this, unless they are based in crowded tidal estuaries themselves.

You are lucky enough to be moored to the outside of a marina pontoon, with no more fingers between you and the open fairway. However, a fresh breeze is blowing you hard against it.

The classic 'foolproof' way of getting off is to lay a kedge upwind and pull the boat off before motoring up to the kedge and recovering it - but try that in Cowes or the Hamble River. There is a solid line of boats moored to the trots about three boats' lengths to windward, and a steady stream of boating traffic. You can't get far enough off to lay a kedge, it would almost certainly foul something if you could, and there wouldn't be a fifteen minute gap in the traffic to allow you to obstruct it with your kedge warp.

We need a different solution, and there is a clue in the Boat Handling & Seamanship section of the Jan 2009 issue of the UK cruising magazine Sailing Today, which deals with docking rather than getting off the dock.

Our goal is to get the boat aligned at an angle to the dock, so that applying power will move it out into the stream. First, let's see what else can affect our options:

A strong tidal stream with or against the direction the boat is facing.Other boats moored to the same pontoon close ahead or astern.

A strong tidal stream makes it easy. Just cast off the upstream line and let the tide pivot the boat about the downstream line, then cast off the other line and motor out into the stream (ahead or astern, depending on which end of the boat the stream pushes away from the pontoon).

If there is no tidal stream, or one which is too weak to push the boat out against the wind, we can try using the motor to pivot the boat about a mooring point. Ahead or astern? Think about it.

Astern can only push along the centreline of the boat - you can only steer astern if you're moving through the water.Ahead, you can use the rudder to deflect the prop stream even when the boat is stationary

In theory, you could cast off the bow and motor hard astern against the stern line, but you would need a stern line attached to the transom, and the crushing force against the dock wouldn't bear thinking about. In any case, there's a much easier and safer way.

Cast off the stern line and tighten the bow line until it is trying to swing the stern outMotor hard ahead with the helm over so that you push the stern away from the pontoonWhen the stern is a far is it will go from the pontoon (which will depend on the wind strength), go hard astern and cast off the bow line. You'll need a good bow fender, because the bow will get pushed against the pontoon by the wind.

What if there's a great fat motor cruiser ahead or behind you on the pontoon, with its heavily-flared bow pointing your way. Quite common on the outside berth.

If you can't get your stern really well out before casting off your bow line, don't risk it - ask the marina to get a workboat to tow you off. Otherwise you could get blown under the flared bow, scratching the gin-palace and damaging your rigging. Embarrassing and expensive - and puts paid to your weekend cruise.

Are you passionate about sailing boats old and new? Do you enjoy honing your seamanship skills? Do you like to hear about people who challenge themselves on the open sea? You'll find all that and more on New Freebooters Take a look. It's free. You don't even need to sign up for anything.

Source: EzineArticles
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