On a calm day I did my first solo docking and undocking with S/V Counterpoint, my Bristol 45.5. I was only going as far as the pumpout dock and there were plenty of folks around who would have been willing to help with lines but conditions were great so I went for it.
These are all techniques I have practiced with crew aboard as well. This is just the first time I’ve done it solo.
As a liveaboard I definitely prefer docking bow in – stern in everyone walking down the dock can glance into my living space whenever they walk by.
My only critique of this is I went for the boat hook a touch too early; I should have gotten the boat slowed further first (or waited for the fenders to make contact – that may have stopped the boat).
I probably left the boat in idle reverse a touch too long: I built up too much speed and got the boat out of alignment with the slip a few moments before the bow was clear of the piling.
Tell me more about the setup of the green bungee
The green bungee is a 1/4 inch shock cord (affiliate link). I have tied it onto the dockline using either a clove hitch or a constrictor knot. The boat end is made off to a cleat using either those same knots or thoroughly wrapped onto a cleat.
It does help to make it onto a cleat on the opposite side of the boat so there is more snap when it takes in the line. The more tension the further from the water the dockline winds up but also the less likely there is to be slack in the line that can get snagged on departure.
I like to use a fully doubled back dockline whenever possible – that setup seems best to keep the lines slack free so they have no chance to snag on something.
What is the setup for looping the cleat?
I use the Docking Stick (affiliate link) to attach the loop of line to the boat hook. The loop in the line is made using a simple bowline.
From the loop that goes over the cleat I lead the line through a midship chock and through a midship cleat; after the turn at the cleat the line terminates at the primary winch.
On my boat I can drape the line outside the lifelines but inside the toe rail. That keeps it out of the water and I can leave myself plenty of slack to work with to get the line onto the cleat.
Patricia K Kowalczyk