HOW TO: BERTH US­ING ONE EN­GINE

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents -

Our guide to safely com­ing along­side if you have lost an en­gine

Last month we tack­led how to turn a twin-en­gined boat if you lose one of the en­gines, this month we’re look­ing at how to berth it safely, too.

A nice large space is al­ways wel­come, how­ever, if the only avail­able ones are smaller or you want to try to get it back on your home berth then it’s ad­vis­able to run through this be­fore you need to do it for real.

Gen­er­ally it’s eas­ier to berth on the op­po­site side to the work­ing en­gine, so if your star­board en­gine is work­ing, aim to berth port side to. As usual the el­e­ments also play a ma­jor part and the wind blow­ing you onto the berth might seem like the eas­i­est op­tion. How­ever, with only one en­gine work­ing, your steer­age op­tions are lim­ited. If you don’t get it right first time your chances of get­ting away again for a sec­ond at­tempt are dra­mat­i­cally re­duced. That’s why I pre­fer to aim for a berth where the wind is blow­ing the boat off the berth as it gives you more con­trol over your ap­proach speed.

Last month I ex­plained why us­ing the rud­ders to turn the boat in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to the way in which the one work­ing en­gine wants to push it gives you the best chance of com­plet­ing the turn. Now that same skill will al­low you to po­si­tion the boat with much greater con­trol than just al­low­ing the wind to berth the boat.

Hav­ing worked out which berth you are go­ing to at­tempt, the first step is to get the boat nicely bal­anced against the el­e­ments, with the work­ing en­gine fur­thest from the pon­toon. This will al­low you to make a con­trolled ap­proach, al­though you may find you need to keep the speed and mo­men­tum slightly higher than on your nor­mal berthing rou­tine in or­der to main­tain steer­age. If you are choos­ing a blown-off berth this slightly higher speed is off­set by us­ing a steeper an­gle of ap­proach. This means that if you do mis­judge your speed slightly, a burst of power astern will not only slow the boat but, be­ing the en­gine fur­thest away from the pon­toon, will straighten it up too.

The tech­nique in our im­ages works well with twin shafts, out­drives and even IPS drives, which ac­tu­ally steer re­mark­ably well with only one en­gine, but you have to use greater an­tic­i­pa­tion and a lot of helm. Hav­ing a bow thruster and even a stern thruster as well will make it eas­ier, but don’t rely on them; prac­tise us­ing just the en­gine and helm as you will learn a lot about how well bal­anced – or not, your craft is by us­ing the el­e­ments and con­trols to best ef­fect. With a bit of prac­tice you should even be able to do it sin­gle-handed.

1 the prepa­ra­tion

Fen­der the boat well and try to find a berth that you can ap­proach into the el­e­ments. Take a fairly coarse an­gle of ap­proach that keeps the work­ing en­gine (star­board in this in­stance) on the out­side and use the rud­ders to over­power its nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion to turn to port.

2 the ap­proach

With the boat nicely bal­anced against the el­e­ments, and us­ing nudges of ahead on the work­ing out­side en­gine with star­board helm to coun­ter­act its nat­u­ral bias to port, you should be able to hold a steady line as you ap­proach, al­low­ing the crew to lasso a cleat with the bow line.

3 get­ting a line on

With the bow las­soed, re­move most of the slack from the bow line and make it fast. Now ei­ther gen­tly en­gage astern or let the el­e­ments move the boat astern un­til the line be­comes taut.

4 tuck­ing in

Once the line is taut leave the work­ing out­side en­gine in astern so that the prop walk and off­set from the cen­tre line grad­u­ally pull the stern of the boat in to­wards the pon­toon. You won’t need to move the wheel.

5 mak­ing con­tact

Leave the en­gine in astern un­til you al­most touch the pon­toon. That con­tin­u­ous ten­sion will keep the boat walk­ing to­wards it. If you go into neu­tral too early the boat will move away again.

6 at­tach the stern line

Just be­fore you touch, go into neu­tral for a mo­ment to cush­ion the con­tact with the pon­toon then back into astern to hold the boat firmly along­side. You can now step off and at­tach the stern line.

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