In this demonstration of the use of a spring line in a bow-to scenario, you are on luxury charter boat Aussie Princess.
On board with us and helping with this demonstration is Lindsay Grenfell, the owner and operator of docklands' Aussie Princess boat charter. By Ned Files
This technique can be of use when the wind is blowing your boat onto the marina; when there are vessels docked close to the fore and aft of your boat; if you need to move your boat off a structure with one engine and/or the bow thruster is out of action.
1. At d'Albora Marinas it is standard procedure that there are fixed dock lines at the wharf. Here, the working spring line is one that is used from the boat to the wharf. The boat is moored parallel to the pontoon on the starboard side, with its working spring line attached to the starboard shoulder cleat.
2. When both engines are in working order, before you engage either engine turn your helm hard to port, then place the starboard engine in forward gear, leaving the port engine in neutral. The boat should now hold alongside and be resting on the spring line. Before releasing any other lines that are holding the boat to the dock, make sure the spring line is taking the load and the secondary lines are slack before your crew release them. It should now be safe to remove all secondary lines, leaving the spring line in place.
3. When you're ready to move away from the dock, gently turn the helm to starboard. This redirects the thrust of the engine, which is still engaged, causing the stern to move gently out and away from the dock. At this point you need to keep a careful eye on the bow. It's likely to move in slightly towards the dock because the vessel pivots from the point that the spring line is secured to the boat. You should have fenders appropriately placed further towards the bow, allowing the curve of the bow to roll against the dock.
4. Allow the boat to swing out stern first until you are far enough out and clear of any obstacles, or about 40-45 degrees to the dock when coming out against the wind. Place both engines in neutral to take the pressure off the spring line, allowing it to slacken enough for your crew to undo the line from the boat and flick the line off the cleat on the dock.
5. Once you have released the spring line, bring the helm back to centre, engage both engines in reverse, and continue moving away until you are clear.
6. Coming back into a dock using the same spring line is a reverse of the previous instructions. Ensure you have a large loop on one end of your spring line (using a bowline knot). Drive gently forward towards the dock at as shallow an angle as possible
7. While remaining on the deck of the boat, your crew member will cast your working spring line to a cleat/bollard on the wharf. While taking up the slack, the crew member will attach the line to the boat cleat with the use of four or more figure 8 turns around the cleat. Once the bow has made contact with the dock (gently as you go), now slowly turn your helm to port, with the port engine in neutral and starboard engine in gear. With the spring line now taut and the helm to port, the stern of your boat will start to move in. If the pace of the stern is too quick, bring the helm back towards starboard slightly and this will slow the progression. Once the vessel is firmly alongside, secure all other lines before placing the starboard engine gear into neutral.
No-one should be stepping on and off the boat. Remember, it will be in gear.
Boarding and disembarking is only to be done when the boat has been completely secured to the dock and the engines are out of gear.
TIPS FROM THE SKIPPER
This will hopefully bring you back to your previous position." All the docking demonstrated in this (and my previous articles in Docklines) should be performed calmly - give yourself time to set up your boat correctly before arriving at or leaving the dock.
This goes for fenders, lines, and crew/guest briefing. All docking techniques I have discussed have been performed by engaging the engines into gear at idle speed or close to it.
Basically, you should find that you'll spend more time in neutral than in gear. Slow everything down and relax.
Take your time and remember there is no-one standing on the dock with a stopwatch timing you.
Four or more attempts and one smooth docking will always look better than a rushed and frantic semi-controlled crash.