Coming Alongside (Docking) in 4 Easy Steps

Being in beautiful places like this snug harbour in Nova Scotia, where there's no space to anchor, is just one of the many payoffs for having good docking skills.

In the last chapter, which, if you missed it, you will want to read before this one, we introduced the magic aft-running spring line. Now let's look at how to use it to make coming alongside easy in both motorboats and sailboats.

One note before we get started: If your boat is not set up with a fairlead or cleat in the right place for an aft-running spring, and many (maybe most) boats aren't, it's still worth your time to read this chapter since most of it will still apply.

And, in the next chapter, not only will I explain how to determine where that fairlead should go, I will also cover work-arounds that will let you get many of the handling benefits I explain in this chapter, even if you decide that installing a new fairlead is not for you.

On with the show:


Let's start off with a short video showing the magic aft-running spring in action and then I will fill in the details with text and diagrams.

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 25 years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 20 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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