Spring lines and their magic capabilities

Sailing an ocean can sometimes be easier than berthing in a tight space
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Manoeuvring in close quarters can sometimes frighten an ocean sailor more than an approaching gale. For instance: Two powerboats are docked flush against the fuel dock. The dock master says to fit between them - there'll be about a foot on each side spare. How can you do it? Here is some excellent advice from Captain John Jamieson, using those magic aids, - spring lines.

Using springs to aid berthing
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Aim for a spot aft of the forward boat, equal to about 1/3 of your overall length. Be sure to include any projections like a bowsprit or anchors in your calculation. Point your bow toward this 'aim-point' on your approach (see illustration).

Here's an example.
Let's say you have a 30 foot sloop, with 3 feet of bowsprit and anchors. You would aim about 11 feet (1/3 x 33) aft of the forward boat. Once the bow reaches the aim-point, use an after bow spring to hold your position and work the stern in to the pier. We will talk more about wind and current approaches in Part IV of this e-book. But for now, we will make our approach with no influences from wind and current.

Estimate 1/3 of the overall length of your small cruising boat. Include bowsprit or anchor projections. Use this to locate the 'aim-point' (yellow star) along the pier.

Docking and Un-docking Steps:
Once your bow arrives at the aim point, pass the after bow spring around an aft piling.

Then follow these steps: (Figure below shows the four types of spring lines)

Spring lines - the four types
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Docking:

1. Turn the sailboat wheel hard away from the pier (or hold the tiller toward the pier).

2. Shift into idle ahead and use minimum throttle.

3. Watch the stern. Keep an eye on the bow to make sure you stay in position.

4. Pass over the rest of the lines when done.

5. For temporary stops, leave the boat in idle forward propulsion with full rudder.



Un-docking:

1. Rig an after bow spring so that it loops around an aft piling and back to a boat cleat.

2. Turn the sailboat wheel hard toward the pier (or hold the tiller away from the pier).

3. Shift into idle ahead and use minimum throttle.

4. Watch the stern. Keep an eye on the bow to make sure you stay in position.

5. Once the stern projects into the channel, cast off the spring and pull it aboard.

Back out into the channel.

These tips might be good, but there's a host of others from Captain John, about the secrets of predicting wind and current effects, and how to make decisions about which of your four springs to use for perfect landings in any wind and current. As a SkipperTips member, you will receive fresh articles and videos to your inbox every week about a wide range of subjects. You might want to check out his website for all it has to offer at www.skippertips.com.