Docking Techniques in Boating

By Thomas Holley

While the docking techniques in boating are always going to be dependent upon the weather conditions, there are a few simple things that you should always keep in mind. First of all, in this particular case practice makes perfect. Although we can provide tips, please remember that the docking techniques in boating are going to be something you will have to personalize to your experience, your particular boat and of course, the dock itself.

Secondly, the most common mistake boater’s make when attempting to dock their boats is to try and approach the dock in a straight line. By approaching the dock from an angle, however, it will much easier to get close without scraping and to hit the spot you're aiming for. Thirdly, the speed at which you come in to the dock must be controlled. Anything you've ever been told about the best docking techniques in boating probably mentioned that it requires you to run your boat in at the slowest possible speed.

This however, is not as easy as it sounds. Often, even idle speed on a boat is too fast. Coasting, however, as a docking technique in boating, causes problems in and of itself. Coasting reduces steering capability, which makes it even more difficult to accurately line up with the dock. The best way to counter this problem is to alternate between power for steering (short shots of forward gear) and coasting for speed control. Being able to use the best docking techniques in boating is not automatic.

You'll have to practice this one over and over. As you get closer to the dock, the best docking techniques in boating will tell you to start to turn the boat. It is at precisely the same time, however, that you will also need to decelerate to a stop in reverse. Again, the deceleration reduces steering capability. When approaching the dock, you are going to have to rely on the momentum of the boat to get you over this obstacle.

Momentum and speed, however, are not the same thing. Momentum is simply the forward motion of the boat that will actually carry you into the dock. You will need just enough momentum to get into the dock and that will allow you to smoothly make the shift to reverse so you can stop. Once you've actually mastered this task, you'll probably agree that the best docking techniques in boating were the ones that you learned by trial and error. None of the docking techniques you'll read will ever be a better teacher than practice, practice, practice.

The best advice that one could ever receive when looking for information on the best docking techniques in boating would be to take it slow, don't get nervous or discouraged and most importantly, remember that every time you try it, will make it a little easier the next time.

Thomas Holley is owner of

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