boat hook Marina Mooring graphic

Docking Tips and Instructions

Boat docking can be a very nerve racking procedure for the novice boaters and even season boaters in bad weather. Nothing can replace experience but there are some common sense tips that can be helpful.

Preparation: Check all fluid levels and visually inspect engines.

  1. Make sure fire extinguisher is good and all Coast Guard gear is aboard.
  2. Start engines and check all gauges.
  3. Run engines for a few minutes until they are warmed up.
  4. Check idle and test forward and reverse.

Docking Stern Drives and Outboards (Inboards see below)

Observe flags or stop to determine wind direction.

Place the boat in neutral from a safe distance and see how the wind and tide affects the boat.

Sometime the wind, some time the tide. Some time they will cancel each other out and some times they work together to produce something unexpected.

It is essential to know which direction the boat will be pushed and how fast when placed in neutral.

If possible always approach a dock against the force created by the combination of the tide, current and wind. This will make the approach speed much slower and when the boat is put in neutral it will drift away instead of drifting into the dock.

If not possible to approach against the force go past the dock or slip and back up against the force, this method also makes steering more natural since the boat turns from the stern which steers more like a car. You will also get the same benefits as above [speed will be much slower- drift away instead of drifting into the dock].

Unlike Inboards, Stern Drives and Outboards can be steered into place using the steering wheel.

Once the boat gets between the slip pilings have a mate reach out with a Line Shark Magnetic Boat Hook and the dock line will jump to the yellow magnetic tip. With a conventional boat hook the lines are often missed and dropped in the water. Your boat is free to be pushed side ways by the wind or current and there is little you can do to stop it without connection to the mooring lines. This is when damage or injury can occur. Never use a boat hook or your hands to try to position the boat, this can cause injuries. Use the dock lines to position the boat, some times you may have to wrap them on the cleat if the force is to great, use the lines and the cleats not your hands and the boat hook. Always get the dock lines as soon as possible [The Line-Shark will make this a fast sure job every time no more dropping or fumbling lines which can lead to drifting into other boats causing damage].

Like learning to Parallel Park a car take a couple of buoys out in open water on a calm day and practice. Once mastered on a calm day try it on a windy day. This will get you used to the controls and technique plus give you the confidence needed. Remember to stay calm and if what you just did produces bad results just do the opposite and it will usually undo the mistake.

Docking Inboards

The above tips are just the beginning for Inboard captains. Single Inboards are not recommended for the inexperienced. Single Inboards only steer in one direction in reverse. To get the opposite direction pull forward using the steering to get the angle needed then continue to back in. This may take several times to get the right angle.

Twin Inboards are much easier. At slow speed using the engines to steer is much more efficient. Before enter or leave a slip using Inboard engines MAKE SURE YOUR RUDDERS ARE STRAIGHT. If your boat does not have a rudder angle gauge, a piece of tape placed on the steering wheel marking center is helpful. Tturn the steering all the way to one side and count the turns to the other side then divide by two, this will give the center wheel position usually about two and a half turns. Knowing how to verify the center wheel position is critical. Once verifying straight rudders and approaching against the force of current, wind, and tide combination use the engines to turn the boat into the slip. The boat can be rotated left or right by putting one engine in forward and one engine in reverse. To rotate clockwise place the port engine in forward and the starboard engine in reverse. To rotate counter clock wise place the starboard engine in forward and the port in reverse. When backing in some captains like to turn and face backward to get a natural prospective. I would recommend just looking over the shoulder at first. To back starboard stern use the starboard engine and to port stern the port engine. Straight back use both engines. Bumping engines in and out will make the job more controllable but in high wind or current you will have to be more aggressive.

Once the boat gets between the slip pilings have a mate reach out with a Line Shark Magnetic Boat Hook, just get within a few inches of the dock line rope ring and it will jump to the yellow magnetic tip like magic. It is critical that the dock lines be retrieved on the first try without delay. When partially in a slip, maneuvering the boat with the controls is extremely limited. This is where the true value of the Line-Shark Magnetic Boat Hook can be recognized. With a conventional boat hook the lines are often missed and dropped in the water. Your boat is free to be pushed side ways by the wind or current and there is little you can do to stop it without connection to the mooring lines. This is when damage or injury can occur. With the Line-Shark this a fast sure job every time no more dropping or fumbling lines which can be frustrating and can lead to drifting into other boats or objects causing damage.]. Once lines are retrieved use the dock lines to hold or pull the boat into place, never use hands or boat hooks to pull or hold a boat in place.

Like learning to parallel park a car take a couple of buoys out in open water on a calm day and practice. Once mastered on a calm day try it on a windy day. This will get you used to the controls and technique plus give you the confidence needed. Remember to stay calm and if what you just did produces bad results just do the opposite and it will usually undo the mistake. Check back we will be adding more docking tips. Good Luck!

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Deep Water Mooring

For Information on how the Line-Shark boat hook can help you dock or moor your boat safer and easier go to:

www.linesharkboathook.com or Call 1-800-554-2679

Copyright 2015

Design Mechanics Line-Shark®

Protected by U.S. Patent
# 6,978,730

Please send comments, suggestions or additions to:

info@linesharkboathook.com