Docking with single screw vessel

Not model or forum specific.

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Joined: Tue May 04, 2021 10:03 am
Home Port: Palatka, FL

Hello all, I am Darryl, I recently purchased a '05 35CB in the past year. I have enjoyed privately chatting with Nancy, who is enjoying a sister vessel in Lake Champlain. Most of the stuff has been about maintenance and such but she mentioned that we should take our questions and answers to the Forum, since other members may have similar experiences and questions.

One quick question she asked me was concerning my singlehanded docking experiences. Let me say that my experience with single screw vessels has been almost exclusively sailing vessels. In fact, over the past year I have mostly singlehanded this fine vesseI because of lack of crew availability! So I sat for a moment this morning and crafted a fast reply to her with worthwhile links.

Last Friday, after an extended maintenance period ashore, I picked up our Cypress Moon, Albin 35CB at Sadler Marine Jacksonville, FL) late in the afternoon. I single handed the boat right away to Florida Yacht Club, about a four mile run where She Who Will Be Obeyed was waiting, with a glass of wine at the bar...

Nobody was available for docking assistance, so I found a wide open spot to gently approach and placed my ready rigged spring lines around a piling while moving very slowly forward, pinning the boat gently on the dock. turned off motor and placed all lines (stern, forward spring and bow) on the appropriate cleats.

My general habit is to approach the intended dock at the appropriate speed that I would like to hit, which means v e r y s l o w l y, adjusting angle and pulling out of gear often.

Here is a link to an old List Server that I review every so often;

Another useful link to study; ... -prop-walk

A key quote from the passagemaker link is as follows; "A word of warning: Sometimes an overzealous line handler will get a bow line to the dock while the boat is still moving forward during this maneuver. If he or someone ashore then snubs up hard on that line, the boat will stop short, the bow will abruptly smack into the dock, and the stern will swing out, ruining the approach. Instruct your crew beforehand to keep dock lines (other than an amidships-aft spring line, perhaps) on board, or at least slack, until the boat has come to a complete stop alongside."

Here is a video of Albin 28

I found that our vessel does not have any noticeable prop-walk, although it should be to starboard due to the left turning prop. I like to back in using the low-powered bow thruster as a sort of rudder control, I stop rear-ward progress often by a quick bump forward, put throttle in neutral, adjust with bow thruster, bump backwards, just a bit, neutral, thruster, bump backwards, etc. Confidence in being able to stop the boat is important. I try to explain that I move slowly, take note of windage, current flow and anything that affects my progress to my destination, and don't be afraid to try a second time.

Maybe I will be able to afford one of the small battery powered stern thrusters over the next year. Until then, any and all comments on this subject would probably be well received by the rest of the forum. I know I still have lots to learn since I have only been boating 34 years!

Looking forward to hear back from everyone interested.

Cypress Moon 2005 Albin 35CB, docked at Palatka FL.

My resume; Sailing: Sovereign 7M , Watkins 27, Morgan '43, San Juan 28, San Juan 23, and Newport 30.

Power: Marine Trader SD40, Nova Heritage East SD 40, Grady White 25 , Albin 35CB

Education: I am a current Power Squadron JN. Past; 50 Ton Master, UK RYA Coastal and Offshore Yachtmaster.

Cruising Experience: London UK to Jacksonville, FL via West Coast Europe to Caribbean. Later: Cook Islands to Australia, via Beveridge Reef, Niue, Tonga, Fiji.
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Home Port: Lake Champlain

Hi Darryl -- thanks for this great write-up. Yes, two of my mantras are "neutral is your friend" and "don't go faster than you want to hit anything." I was able to put our 28TE anywhere I wanted it - single-handed - with or without bow thruster.

I'm pretty much fine with the 35CB with someone on deck...or at least someone waiting on the dock. By myself, it feels like a long way between the deck and the helm even when the boat is stopped.

It feels especially far from the helm to the port side midship, which is where the forward and aft spring lines lie waiting in perfect position on the finger pier of our home slip. I think it would be easier to dock starboard side to, but our air conditioner discharge water hits the wood support of the finger pier and splashes back onto the hull leaving terrible brown spatters in a huge area. So we're stuck with port side to.

If there is any wind blowing from the north (our port side) the bow tends to blow off before I can get to the port midship and pick up the first spring line. I like to pick up the forward spring first because it prevents the swim platform from hitting the dock astern. But that line alone doesn't keep the bow from sailing to starboard. The pole at the starboard bow holds the bow away from our neighbor to starboard, but in any north wind, it's not easy to pick up the spring lines. It's possible to end up with the stern port quarter against the dock and the port bow pinned to the pole, and then have to pick up the spring lines with a boat hook and pull like h#!!.

I should probably perfect my technique with a south wind (blowing me against the finger pier) or no wind. :shock:
2005 Albin 35CB
Yanmar 6LYA-STP 370

Former boats
1995 Albin 28TE, Cummins 6BTA5.9 250, 2012-2022
1978 Trojan F32, 1998-2012
1983 Grady White 241 Weekender, 1988-1997
1980 Wellcraft 192 Classic, 1983-1987
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Location: Alexandria VA

I also have ready-rigged spring lines, Port and Stbd, on the outer pilings of my permanent slip. I have placed crab-pot floats on them sliding from about half way to the loose end, which I find useful. Said loose end is placed on a sturdy open hook screwed into the inner piling. Like Darryl I also do a lot of single-handed docking, this hook enables me to do one thing: grab the spring as I reverse in, before dropping the loop over the midships cleat. Once this is done I have one line out, and can easily put out the others as needed, and in unhurried time, starting with crossed stern lines, then the two bows and finally the opposite spring (yes, I like 2)
I should perhaps say that my slip is subject to changing tides, and winds from all four corners, and, most annoyingly, prop wash from a number of large water taxis and tourist boats (including a stern wheeler) which use the adjacent docks.

My mantra is that if you have one line secured you ain't going nowhere you don't want to.
Doug and Georgia
"Mazboot" - 1984 27 FC #142
Lehman 4D61
Tribe 9.5 yak
Jackson STAXX-11 yak
Alexandria City Marina - F-03
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