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Never approach a dock faster than you are willing to hit it. That was advice that we heard early on in our boat-handling education. That and the mantra “Slow is Pro” stuck with us and we try to operate our boats accordingly when around hard objects and/or other people’s expensive vessels. Unfortunately, not everyone has had the same education.

Over the last few weeks we have watched numerous boat handlers moving vessels around marinas at much too high a speed. Frequently they will come flying into a slip and throw the engines hard in reverse to stop. While that may look impressive to their buddies, it makes them look like irresponsible idiots to me. There are far too many things that can go wrong in that scenario. A failed engine, a strong gust, an improperly secured painter caught in the prop could all spell disaster for the boat they are driving and/or someone else’s property. In addition to that, I’ve learned that the way they throw the engines violently from forward to reverse and back without stopping in neutral can damage the clutch cone, not a cheap piece of kit to replace!

Yesterday afternoon we watched one cowboy bring a Leopard 4600 into the slip opposite to us. It was a complete clusterf#*%! and he barely got the boat secured without smashing something. No sooner was that fiasco over than another boat handler bringing a 4800 into the slip beside us bumped into our boat! Now to be honest, it was only a little bump but it was still hard enough to leave 4 new gouges in the topsides where before there were none. Were we pissed? Yes, but mostly because it could have been prevented with more planning and better line handlers.

Fortunately for us, this was a Moorings employee who did the damage so when we return to Hodges Creek later this morning, they’ll fix the damage. I really hope the bareboaters around here on their charter vacations who are witnessing the careless antics of these guys don’t think that this is the proper way to handle a boat.

Note: The guy that bumped our boat is actually very good and in talking with him, I could tell that he was very upset about the incident. He blamed it primarily on inexperienced line handlers and knowing how important that job is, I could see his point.

Rebecca spent a couple of hours polishing the stainless on One Love. First, Ospho to remove the rust. Then, a fresh water rinse. Lastly, Collonite Metal Wax and buff to a shine. She did a great job!


  1. I’d agree with all that – especially as we had a pretty bad time berthing in Brighton in heavy winds a week or so ago. Accidents can indeed happen.

  2. I remember I hired a skipper to do a similar thing for me while berthing instead of coming alongside the pontoon he hit it head on and ruined the paintwork we did more damage to the pontoon then the boat thank god, steel boats have there advantages

  3. I totally agree with your two principles. And with your condemnation of those who ignore them.

    It can be difficult to follow those precepts in strong winds, strong currents or both! Much more planning is then needed.

    Good luck with your continuing preparations.


  4. Bummer on the dings! On a much brighter note the stainless looks great! What product are you using? Really enjoying your blog and frequent posts! Continuing to learn and dream…

  5. If I could only find a job where I could wear my swimming attire. It wouldn’t go over well in the chip truck!

  6. Am I bad person for feeling a bit of glee when some hot dogger powerboat throws the motor into reverse, screws up and beaches on a spoil island? The boat spent the night there waiting for a high enough tide to pull it off. The antics of their friends the next morning trying to free it entertained me as I sat at anchor drinking my morning coffee.

  7. Mike, a product that might make Rebecca’s efforts less strenuous was mentioned here

    I don’t know any more than it says, but it sounds good.


  8. When you are right, you are right!

    This is the sort of behavior that gives used bareboats a bad name, regardless of the turnover routine.

  9. Thank you for posting. We also live by the “only go as fast as you are willing to hit something” mantra and wish more people would think that way. I am also frequently amazed by how close boats will maneuver near docked boats as they try to talk to their buddies — one quick burst of wind or small mistake could cause big issues.

  10. The other practice that is far under used is a dry run approach, to gauge the wind and current. Often around bulkheads and docks the current is doing something odd as it moves around underwater obstructions and dock structures.

    Perhaps my worse landing ever (no damage) was due to a cross current under a floating dock that I completely underestimated; I got the boat sideways, just where I wanted it, expecting the current to gently take me to the dock… and wham. Since I was sideways, there was nothing I could do but hope for the best. The correct approach?
    a. Go somewhere else. Tell the marina that the slip is not suitable in that tide.
    b. Land nearby and use ropes to move the boat. Requires coordination, but there is time to explain. Winches can help.
    c. Approach as you would leave the slip, in reverse. Tricky and generally a bad idea.

    Perhaps the dumbest line handler I’ve met kept giving the line slack as I tried to lever the boat around a fender near the bow, to mover her in to the dock. Finally he simply cast off the line, guessing I was leaving, placing me in a tight spot in a narrow fairway. I explained ti to him later and he still did not get the principle. Clueless.

    • We have had bad experiences with line handlers too. So much so that I told Rebecca not to throw lines to anyone. We just put the boat alongside and she steps off and does it herself. That was on ZTC of course but we’ll get One Love docking to that level too soon enough.

  11. When I used to captain fulltime I would show boat coming into the dock… It was a great way to add a little bit to the tip… Now that I am a little older and wiser I tend to come in no faster than I am willing to hit the dock.

    Kind regards,
    Wiley Sharp
    561 613 8985
    Denison Yacht Sales

  12. I remember my first charter holiday in the Greek islands and the stress that put on me. I also remember that every time you try and park a boat every other skipper magically appears on the back of the boat to give you the hairy eyeball. I was proud as hell by the end of the week when we nailed an awkward berthing in a strong winds under the gaze of half a dozen skippers. Of course it helped when the German crew next to us screwed it up!

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