Friday, December 03, 2010

Getting off the Dock in a Current

We like ebbing currents...OFF the dock.
So this morning we had an interesting situation.  We were tied to a dock in Beaufort, SC (thanks Uncle Al!) with our stern to an oncoming ebbing current which was going about 5-6 knots.  We learned that getting off a dock in that kind of current is not only really, really hard - but really, really scary (thank god for our 53 horses!).  We tried several times to reverse out, but each time we were pushed into the dock with an incredible force.  We scratched our heads - tied up again and thought and thought.  What to do?  Scott finally said, "I'm going to go forward with the current and turn around to get our bow into it".  Sounded simple enough.  I was on the dock, fending off and all of a sudden - he puts the boat in gear and off he goes - toward several docked boats.  I have never seen our boat move so fast and my heart stopped as I saw the current just take her away like she was a cork.  "Turn! Turn!" I yelled (I was still on the dock) and finally Scott maneuvered a tight turn (again, thank god for 53 horses!) and got back control of the boat and did a little touch and go to scoop me back up.  Yikes.

If any of you boaters out there have any suggestions for dealing with a situation like this that will not cause our heart rates to sky rocket to an unnatural high - we'd love to hear it.  We are sure there is some sort of combo of spring lines and maneuvering that could have helped this situation, but we have yet to learn it.  That was a little too close for comfort for me!

Brittany & Scott


Brett Anderson said...

Welcome to my world! I get tidal current through my slip either pushing me into it or pulling me out of it at 3-4 knots every day. Its good for keeping the bottom growth down, but sucks for single-handing in/out of the slip! This is a good instructional video for springing off a dock:

Anonymous said...

Britt and Scott
You know from past experience I'm a great believer in the power and leverage that can be gained from spring lines. I wasn't with you guys, my loss, so I can't be sure this would work in the conditions you were experiencing, but often I use an aft spring to get out of just such a situation.
Here is the drill, locate a fender forward, by the bow pulpit on the dock side of the boat to spring on to. Double back the spring so it can be released from the boat, if you do not have anyone on the dock to help. Remove the forward spring, the stern and any other dock line that is not holding the boat. Motor up on the spring with the rudder kicking the dock side stern quarter away from the dock. This well push the dock side bow, with the well placed fender, into the dock and the stern away from the dock. This creates valuable space. When you are as faraway from the dock as you can get, put the rudder over to back away from the dock let go the spring and hit put the coals to the engine in reverse. High pucker factor here, however if it doesn't work you drift or blow back int the dock.
Again I wasn't there but many times this works in a situation such as you described.. There is a great chapter in Chapman's that addresses similar issues and the use of spring lines when docking and getting away from the dock. this also works when the wind is pushing you into the dock.
This little trick was taught me by an old Bahamian friend and skipper Cecile Lockhart, who has long changed his residence to "Fiddlers Green".
Love ya

Dan N Jaye said...

Yikes! When tied up in places with strong current, we usually come into the dock bow-in; then at the first slack tide, turn ourselves around so we point outward and can leave at any time. Otherwise we must wait for the current to subside (slack water is usually about 45 min after low or high tide in the part of the world you're in now) Some places we even need to stand off the marina until the current softens! (but then we have a rudder like a big barn door and we *don't* have 53 horses...

Anonymous said...

Dad's right - had to do the same type of thing at the bitter end dock on virgin gorda.

Last Paradise said...

we second the spring lines. I'll see if Jeff can explain it in an email but he often will tie a line from the bow to a strong cleat or piling and thengo forward on it until we're free. Its hard to explain how it works, but it does! I was amazed when he single handed our big heavy LP off a dock in a tight area with 30kts pushing us onto the dock... all this to get his preggo wifey a meal ashore :)

Last Paradise said...

Ahh, just reread the anonymous comment- your dad :) He explained it perfectly. We did actually have to use this many times with LP. GO Dad!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Britt and Scott - What I have learned is that Chris and I need a whole lot more horses under our companionway before even considering the spring line configuration...Woo, those currents...Ok, one more thing on the list to research...Glad you all made it w/o a mark. Wishing you good sailing days as you work your way South...

Gretchen s/v Alchemy

clubtrax said...

Your Pappy is the BEST!! Love from Uncle Tom

Windtraveler said...

Yep. My dad IS the best. :)

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