Tricky marina berths made easy
Six boat-handling techniques to use when the wind or tide are acting against you
With the current running from aft, we spring out the stern to get the assistance of the current acting on the keel. With the engine running smoothly in neutral, we’ve taken off the stern spring and the bow line, doubled the bow spring and stern line so we can slip them from the deck, and fendered the bow heavily. Check all lines for potential snags or kinks.
Note again that the spring is outside the fenders, you only have to look at the second photo to see why. Once the skipper is happy with the setup and the crew has been briefed and is ready, he lets the crew know the manoeuvre is about to start, releases the stern line and engages forward with a good dose of port rudder to push the stern out. Agreed hand signals are useful so you don’t have to bellow over the noise of the engine.
The skipper increases revs until the stern starts to move away from the pontoon. The crew’s main task is to keep an eye on the bow fender to make sure that it’s doing its job. If it pops out, signal to the skipper to cut power, let her drift back in, add more fenders and start again.
Once the skipper is happy that the stern is far enough out into the stream to clear the boat astern (don’t forget to factor any prop kick into your deliberations), and looks around to make sure there’s enough space, engage neutral and signal to the crew to release the bow spring.
Once the crew confirms the line is clear, engage astern with a lively burst and you’re off. The bow spring comes aboard snag-free as the skipper takes her astern.
The crew checks the bow is set up for a smooth slip. With the bow fendered and the bow spring doubled outside the fenders, the skipper slips the stern line and engages forward
With the wheel over to push the stern out, the engine's power drives the stern off the pontoon and into the wind. The crew shuffles around a roving fender to protect the bow
Once the stern is far enough out to go astern without hitting the boat behind, the skipper checks the traffic, waits for a gap then orders the bow spring to be slipped
As the skipper gives her a good burst of astern to get steerage way, the crew's job is to make sure the bow spring comes aboard snag-free. That earlier check has paid off