Coming Alongside (Docking) in Canada, and Matthew

Seriously, we have a lot to be thankful for here in Canada…like having the world’s best looking head of government.

No, really, seriously, we are very thankful, particularly when we think of those devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti—a country that just can’t seem to catch a break—Cuba, The Bahamas, and the Southeastern United States.

Each year Phyllis and I give a part of our annual charitable giving budget to the Canadian Red Cross to help out with recovery from a natural disaster. Looks like it will be for Matthew this year.

Not a lot more to say about that, without resorting to platitudes.

Regular programming returns to AAC tomorrow.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

9 comments… add one
  • John Frankiss Oct 8, 2016, 8:54 pm

    We have been in Lunenburg since April, mainly the back harbour and it is true you have to beat the locals off with a stick they are so nice and helpful. Its just a great place to be.

  • Bob N Oct 9, 2016, 4:45 am

    Spent some years in Canada in the 60’s (amongst other things in the coastguard on the west coast) and traveled across the country but never got east of Quebec. Perhaps my loss.

    Query. How do you cope with potential theft of the expensive nav. gear under your dodger?

    • John Oct 9, 2016, 7:45 am

      Hi Bob,

      Yes, you should definitely visit Atlantic Canada, a wonderful place.

      We have locking covers for both pods of navigation gear. They are also alarmed. They wouldn’t stop a determined thief with a crow bar, but they seem to do the job…so far. Also we have not spent a lot of time in places where theft is a big problem.

  • Robert S Oct 9, 2016, 8:42 am

    Beautiful video (I’m moored just off the Zwicker’s Dock); I’ve been alongside several times overnight, and never had an issue with theft. ‘Love Lunenburg

  • Ernest Vogelsinger Oct 9, 2016, 11:24 am

    This is the first time I have the chance to see MC in action actually from outside the boat – its a wonderful and impressing one. You had announced the video before to explain how you got her at this location – it looks (and probably is for you) quite easy to manoever her alongside in forward, but what is not shown is how you got her into the slot in reverse before while saying that she is incredibly unwilling going straight backwards?

    • John Oct 9, 2016, 1:04 pm

      Hi Ernest,

      That will be the subject of an entire chapter, with detailed video—this was just a fun outtake—of an entire online book on close quarters maneuvering and particularly coming alongside that we have been working on over the last two seasons.

      Look for it in the late fall and winter.

  • Eric Klem Oct 10, 2016, 2:13 pm

    Hi John,

    I love the video with people trying to be helpful. I have always had good experiences sailing in Canada, both in the Atlantic and Pacific. It is quite the service when the customs people take your lines, then pass you the fuel hose which I have seen on many occassions. I once had a customs person in Head Harbor on Campobello who refused to go down the ladder and wouldn’t let us dinghy them out leaving us in a stale mate but they eventually just cleared us without coming aboard. I have twice had the experience in Canadian waters of having a fishing boat “hunt” us down in the fog where they mimic’ed any turn we made until they just barely popped out of the fog then quickly turned and sped away. It was a very strange feeling both times watching them track us on radar and I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on but they clearly wanted to see who we were.

    It took me quite a while to learn how to effectively pass a line to people on a dock looking to help. There are way too many examples of damage due to passing a bowline over and having the bow pulled in quickly and the stern ending up out in the stream. Not to mention always wanting to pass over a loop so that you have control. On commercial boats, we usually sent one of our crew ashore in a small boat first unless there was someone known to be knowledgeable to help us out.


    • Marc Dacey Oct 10, 2016, 2:55 pm

      With helpful but inexperienced people, I say over the PA (I’m steering from the pilothouse until I install a throttle shifter at the sailing helm) “please don’t pull unless asked to do so”. The psychology of humanity seems to favour listening more attentively to a voice coming from an unclear origin than from a guy speaking from the tiller. Of course, more experienced line handlers know to take the line and to do nothing unless asked to do so.

  • John Oct 10, 2016, 3:03 pm

    Hi All,

    This is just a fun series of outtakes from a full set of videos and chapters that we will be doing on coming alongside (docking) so please hold your comments on the subject until we publish those. This post won’t make it to the archives and so comments here will be lost, so I really don’t want a conversation on docking to get going.

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