Reducing Dock-Approach Anxiety

Here are some great docking tips from Quantum Cruising Consultant, Jack Klang…

Every skipper knows “the feeling” when entering a harbor. It isn’t the anticipation of a restaurant meal ashore, the excitement of visiting quaint shops in a small town, or even the anticipation of seeing old friends. “The feeling,” even among seasoned skippers, is centered around the “What Ifs.” What if I have difficulty docking? What if I encounter boat traffic in the fairway? What if the wind or current catches my boat broadside? What if I loose control of my boat and hit another boat?

The key to reducing docking anxiety and making a smooth entry is gathering essential information about the marinas you are visiting as well as learning the best ways to handle your boat in various docking situations. Following are a few pointers to help put you at ease and in control.

1. Learn all you can about the physical layout of the marina. Check harbor guides for aerial photos. Navigation charts will show aids to navigation and water depths for your approach.

2. The Coast Pilot® will tell the opening hours and duration of lift bridges you will encounter. Make note of the horn signals used and/or VHF channel monitored by the bridge tender.

3. Contact the harbormaster for a dock assignment (slip number). Although VHF radio has been the traditional communication tool, now cell phones are used most of the time along coastal locations. Marina office phone numbers are usually published in harbor guides.

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