Video: Casting Off & Docking
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There you are. Hey, hop on board and help us cast off. Whoa! Now, casting off looks easy enough, but before you do that, there’s a few tricks that you need to remember. So let’s run through one at a time. Rule number one, we keep our boat tied to the dock while we warm up the engine and have passengers seated, wearing their lifejackets.
Check. Check. Now, the tricky part about casting off are the factors outside of our control. Wind and current play a huge role in how we do it. So let’s start with casting off in windless conditions.
Casting Off: Windless Conditions
If there’s no wind or current, it’s pretty straight forward. Once we are clear of any traffic, we cast off the bow and stern lines. Then, we shift into forward while slowly turning our boat away from the dock. Simple, right? Well, more often than not, there is some kind of wind. So we have to know how to cast off in windy conditions.
Casting Off: Windy Conditions
So, now, what is your plan if the wind or the current is going like this, away from the dock? Let’s think about it. Away from the dock is the way we want to go. And if the wind or current’s blowing in that direction, we can use an oar or boat hook to keep the boat clear of the dock. Then, we simply let the wind or current carry the boat away from the dock. Once we’re clear, we shift into forward and slowly depart.
But what if the wind or the current is pushing the boat into the dock? Well, then it can get tricky. So there are few things we need to do when casting off to make sure that we don’t get ourselves or our fancy boat in a sticky situation. When the wind or current direction is toward the dock, here’s what we do. First, we cast off the stern line. Then, we move in the bow line and secure it to the dock at mid-boat.
If the dock is not lined with its own fenders like ours is, make sure to move the fenders to the bow to protect the boat. Now here’s the trick. We go forward a little, turning hard toward the dock. See, as we slowly increase speed, the stern and motor move away from the dock. Finally, we cast off the bow line, then back out slowly, until we have enough room to shift into forward and turn away from the dock.
All right. So what do you think? You got it? OK, great. Well, while we’re out here, let’s practice bringing the boat back into the dock.
The same factors to consider when casting off also play a role in docking. You see, we’re drifting just a little bit here, and the wind can be tricky. So here’s the deal. First, we put the fenders on and get the lines ready. When the wind is blowing the boat away from the dock, we need to have the steep approach. So we’re going into the wind or current. That gives us more control to come in at a sharp angle, reverse to stop, then secure the bow line.
Then, we go forward, turning the wheel hard away from the dock, until the stern swings in and we secure that line. If there’s no wind or current or if it’s pushing the boat toward the dock, we come in at a narrow angle or parallel. Just don’t use your arms or legs to try and stop the boat. Bow line secured first, then the stern.
All right. So there you have it. As long as you pay attention to the conditions, then it’s smooth sailing.