What’s The Big Deal About Docking a Boat? Part Three

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This is Captain Paul Foer “From The Foerfront” with more tips to help you safely and more easily enjoy your boating. In the second installment about What’s The Big Deal About Docking a Boat? I laid out a series of helpful hints to avert collisions that may occur in close quarters such as at marinas at slow speeds, and not on the open sea—which are generally more dangerous. And that’s my big point—docking is overrated, especially when compared to a collision between two moving (and faster…) boats. In this third and final installment, I describe the “rules” which you can apply to help you in all about-to-collide docking situations. Meanwhile, if you need help with any aspect of boat handling, seamanship, or are thinking about purchasing a boat, please contact me, Captain Paul Foer at paul@www.nonseaquitter.com or visit www.foerfront.com.

  And now, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but generally very serious, I make suggestions about what to do in extreme situations when a docking collision appears imminent, and you have a choice about what or how to collide. It can happen if you lose control, misjudge the approach, or perhaps lose power, steering and or transmission….so IF A COLLISION IS UNAVOIDABLE, YOU MAY WISH TO CONSIDER THIS HIERARCHY ABOUT WHAT OR HOW TO HIT, in order of most desirable likely outcomes to least desirable outcomes. WHATEVER YOU DO, ALSO CHOOSE AN INAMINATE OBJECT FIRST OVER  HITTING A HUMAN BEING OR AN OBJECT WITH A HUMAN BEING ON IT (especially if it is a lawyer…well, maybe not…) …just kidding!!!!

   Whatever you do, do not get hurt and always have fenders ready where they will be needed!!! And…please beware of boathooks. They are noxious and dangerous devices that can often make things worse—much worse. Use cautiously if you must use one.

  1. If you are going to hit, do not attempt to stop the boat by using your feet or arms or please—not a boathook!!! If you are going to hit…let it hit. Hold on to something, inform the crew and stand back. Use a fender carefully. Don’t get hurt.
  2. If you must hit something, hit a piling before hitting another boat. Don’t get hurt!
  3. If you can’t hit a piling, hit a dock. Don’t get hurt!
  4. If you must hit a dock, make sure it is not a fueling dock, and try to hit wood or a floating dock, not concrete. If you must hit a fueling dock—don’t get near the pumps or fuel lines! Don’t get hurt!
  5. If you must hit a boat, try to hit one with no people on board. Don’t get hurt!
  6. If you must hit a boat, try to avoid its anchor. Don’t get hurt!
  7. It is preferable to hit a sail versus a powerboat? Hmmm….hmmmm, we can discuss that? At least there is less fuel onboard and it is likely diesel. Don’t get hurt!
  8. Actually, it may be preferable to hit a sailboat than a power boat, but such a decision must be determined by the apparent condition and value of the boat in your path (really??) Other than avoiding the anchor, if you must hit a boat, avoid hitting an outboard or stern drive. Don’t get hurt!
  9. If you must hit a boat, aim of course for the rub rail, but usually your choice in a marina is only bow or stern—again, avoid the anchor. Lifelines have some give. Steel or wood handrails have little give. Don’t get hurt!
  10. If you must hit a sailboat, avoid the rigging! Don’t get hurt!
  11. If you must hit a boat, and there are people on board. Don’t get hurt—and don’t hurt them, but do scream or blow your horn and tell them to stay clear! Don’t get hurt!
  12. If you have lost power or transmission, try to steer to allow wind or current to keep you clear or slow you down. Drag a bucket to slow you down. If you are stuck in gear—yikes!! Throw a rope into the propeller. Always try to steer away at the last second if possible—of course! Don’t get hurt!
  13. Do not get hurt.
  14. Do not get hurt.
  15. If you collide—make sure everyone is okay and administer first aid or get help if anyone is hurt. Check for damage—below as well-make sure the rig is secure if you hit a sailboat. Secure the boat. Check your insurance company—do not admit fault or discuss details. Contact marine authorities if necessary. Notify the marina or dockmaster. Take photos and notes.
  16. Do not let anyone see or hear you, cover up the boat’s name, lower any flags, cover your face….and don’t get hurt, or caught—or sued. Just kidding. Just don’t get hurt….please?

   Remember the best way to operate safely and collision free is to invest in training from a professional so you don’t smack your boat! Please contact me, Captain Paul Foer at paul@www.nonseaquitter.com or visit www.foerfront.com and I will be there to help you save time, money, hassle—and perhaps even some grief, while helping you enjoy your boat.


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