Just a few days ago, while browsing Facebook, I saw a quick note from a lady who had, for the first time, docked her sailboat HERSELF! She was so excited and happy to have been able to do this, in front of a lot of people. I remember the first time I did this on my boat, all myself, and how totally empowering it was. After that I always wanted to be, and did become, the helmsperson on our boat!
What Andy taught me to do is so simple and easy, that I want to share it with you in case you have never used your aft spring line when coming alongside a dock.
To use the aft spring line for perfect docking all the time, you will need to practice a few times going alongside a dock to find your boat’s pivot point. On my boat it is about where my rudder post is located. This is important because you will want to attach the aft spring to this pivot point position on your rail by using either a cleat, or snatch block, or a soft Dyneema cleat like I use on my perforated toe rail.
You need to know where that pivot point is on your boat to successfully use the aft spring. This will allow you to come alongside a dock, put your aft spring around a piling or cleat on the dock as you pass it, and take up on the aft spring as you ease your boat into a slow forward speed turning your helm just a bit away from the dock and locking the helm with the engine in forward very slowly.
Even if your boat is a few feet, or many feet, away from the dock, if the aft spring is attached to the boat’s pivot point, as soon as you take up the slack from the dock your boat will inch its way alongside as if you had a side thruster. I keep the end of the aft spring led to the cockpit near the helm where I can steer and secure the aft spring around a winch once it is secured on the dock. The boat will remain steady alongside the dock as long as you have her in slow forward and the helm turned just a bit away from the dock and locked into place. Your boat will not move, it will stay right there alongside the dock while you slowly without hurry or fuss get your bow and stern and forward spring secured.
It is wonderful, no matter what the current, what the wind, or who is there on the helm or aboard your boat. This is safe and easy and always makes a perfect landing possible for a crew or a single handed person!
Try it, it works, and let me know how this little trick changes your ability and attitude when coming alongside a dock!