How to Spring into a Tight Space on a Dock

Posted by Director of Education on January 27, 2017 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Maneuvering your gorgeous sailboat under power in the marina is one of the more important skills to learn. Wind, current and tight spaces can be very intimidating and not knowing all the tricks can lead to expensive mistakes as well as serious ego damage.

NauticEd‘s new paper book titled “Maneuver and Dock Your Sailboat Under Power” is now available on Amazon for just $9.91. We highly recommend it.

The book is loaded with all the scenarios you will encounter and covers topics such as: momentum, prop walk, tight turns, using spring lines, leaving the dock, returning to the dock, high winds and current, and the elusive Mediterranean Mooring.

We have extracted an excerpt that will help you get into a tight space on a teehead.

Springing On and In

Coming up to a Tee-head is a situation where you need to spring on. The need for accuracy in your maneuver is heightened when the space is tight. Here is an animation of a boat doing this.

Spring on Animation

Spring on Animation

And here are the forces and moment diagrams.

Spring-on Force Diagram

Spring-on Force Diagram

After you make your plan, ensure dock lines are made ready and (very important) that the crew are told exactly which direction to cleat the boat when they get off. In high winds things can go south very quickly. Ensure dock lines are prepared outside of the life-lines. This is a common mistake and a huge time waster at a critical point in the maneuver.

Plan to get the bow of the boat cleated to the dock as shown, and then spring the boat in.

In this exercise to spring in means; once the bow-line is cleated to the dock, you simply turn the wheel away from the dock and apply forward thrust. The water force on the rudder moves the aft of the boat laterally to the dock.


The innovation that we like in this book is that throughout the book are QR codes as shown in the image above. When reading the book you simply scan the QR code with your phone. The book then comes alive with real animations and video.

NauticEd Maneuvering Under Power Book

NauticEd Maneuvering Under Power Book

Buy NauticEd’s Maneuver and Dock your Sailboat Under Power on Amazon for $9.91

UPDATE: For Now Amazon has sold out of this book – here is the link to get it on Barnes and Noble

View all the NauticEd Sailing Books here

Angular Momentum When Backing into a Slip

Posted by Director of Education on August 24, 2015 under Bareboat Charter, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Backing into a slip is indeed an art form. But once you learn it you’ll be proud of it and your crew will be impressed.

If you like this little tidbit of information, LIKE us on facebook – over there ———->

Here is a situation that comes up when needing to make a tight turn into the slip. During the turn, your boat gathers angular momentum. Meaning once it starts the turn it wants to continue the turn and it will ding you into the slip sides, and at a minimum, chip your gorgeous gel coat and develop gnarly scratches.

Watch the animation below.

The best way to experience this is to take the NauticEd Maneuvering Under Power course. It leads you through dozens of real exercises on the water so that you can gain experience perfectly maneuvering your boat.

Don’t look like a dufus in front of everyone. Become an expert for $39 now!

How to ferry your boat into the dock

Posted by Director of Education on May 17, 2015 under Bareboat Charter, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Ya gotta love this one. LIKE it on facebook please to spread the enLIKEnment.

Another Maneuvering technique for your bag of tricks.

This is a great trick we learned in the Bahamas last week when doing our ICC license with Mark Thompson from Yachting Education. Mark has been instructing students for 30 years and has an enormous bag of tricks to teach. This one was cool. South of the dock was a shallow area and so we could not drive up to the dock in a normal fashion. Instead we “ferryed” the boat across the wind.

Play the animation now.

This is just the one of the many tricks we have put into our Maneuvering and Docking a Sailboat Under Power Course.


NauticEd Maneuvering Under Power Course

Take the Maneuvering and Docking a Sailboat Under Power Course Now!

The Maneuvering under power course is a required course to gain the Skipper Rank.

Here’s the video


Posted on our facebook page  NauticEd – Online sailing courses on Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Catamaran Sailing Confidence Clinic

Posted by Grant Headifen on September 9, 2009 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

Hot of the press today: We just launched the new Catamaran Sailing Confidence Clinic written by Nick Harvey of Lagoon Catamarans and Captain Grant Headifen.

If you want to learn to sail a large catamaran, this is the sailing course for you.

Here is an excerpt from the course.


And if there wasn’t enough advantages to sailing a catamaran here is another.

The mainsail traveler on a catamaran is significantly longer than on a cruising monohull. Thus you can take real advantage of this. The mainsail can now be adjusted in 2 different ways: using the traveler line or by adjusting the mainsheet.

When sailing closed hauled on a catamaran in heavier air, move the traveler up wind (on the opposite side of the sail) and let off on the main sheet. This will allow the boom to rise a little and “twist out” the top of the sail. Twisting the sail allows you to let some of the top part of the sail “deflate” in case of slightly stronger winds. In light air, make sure that the top of the mainsail is not “loosing air” meaning, keep the traveler close to the center and tighten the mainsheet pretty good to make sure the main cannot open up at the top.

As soon as the breeze kicks up, bring your traveler up a bit more and ease the mainsheet so that the boom does not come past center point.

Lagoon 420 with traveler pulled to windward

Lagoon 420 with traveler pulled to windward

Once out sailing you’ll be able to dispel one of the biggest “myths” surrounding catamarans because modern cats actually do do point pretty well!!

The flatter the water, the better they will point and it’ll be possible to sail in the high 30’s degrees off the wind and if you cat has the genoa tracks up on the coach roof, you will have a nice tight sheeting angle allowing you to go upwind comfortably.

As soon as you bare away from the wind slightly, you will want to bring the mainsail traveler down to leeward and start easing the mainsail (similar to a monohull).

Catamaran sailing on a reach

Catamaran sailing on a reach

The Catamaran Sailing Confidence clinic retails for $39 but for a limited time it is priced at $27. Please enjoy.

Leaving the Slip

Posted by Grant Headifen on February 24, 2009 under Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

This is the first in a series of blogs on how to leave a slip or end tie. Some combinations of wind and current can get complicated and some are easy. The first shown below is the easiest. Stay tuned to this series and we’ll show all.

For all scenarios – Prior to push off:

  • Start engine and ensure it is adequately warmed.
  • Ensure everything is stowed
  • No dock lines are in the water to tangle the prop.
  • Center the wheel.
  • Guests that do not have assigned jobs should be seated.
  • Give clear instructions to each crew member on their coming tasks.
  • Assess the wind and current direction at the slip so you can be prepared to keep control of the vessel under the prevailing conditions.

The following diagrams show you how to use wind and current to your advantage.


(1) Wind pushing you away from the dock

Leaving and end tie

Leaving and end tie

This is the simplest scenario

  • (A) Once you are confidently ready, release and stow docklines, then allow the wind to push the boat clear of other obstacles.
  • (B) Engage the gear lever
  • (C) Use enough power to overcome the effects from the wind. Head out to enjoy the day.

(2) Wind coming from behind

leaving an end tie wind from behind

leaving an end tie wind from behind

This is a little more tricky. If you try to go out forwards the wind could potentially push you into other boats. Additionally as you turn the wheel to head out, the rear of the boat will swing around towards the dock and other boats. therefore it is recommended that you reverse out using a spring line.

  • (A) Once you are confident of your plan,
    • appoint a crew member to use a fender at the front of the boat to prevent the boat from touching the dock.
    • Release and stow the dock lines but leave one spring line from the dock near the center of the boat attached to the front of the boat.
    • The spring line should be arranged so that it is attached to the forward cleat, runs freely around the dock cleat and returns back to the appointed crew member. In this manner the crew member can release the line and retrieve it by letting it slip around the dock cleat. ENSURE that there are no knots in the line to get caught on the dock cleat as it runs through.
    • Turn the wheel towards the dock and engage forward gear.
    • This will have the effect of pushing the rear of the boat away from the dock.
  • (B) Once the boat has turned out from the dock, engage reverse and have your forward crew member release and retrieve the spring line.
  • (C) Continue backing out to be completely clear before engaging forward gear. Remember the rear of the boat will swing back towards the dock once you engage forward and turn the wheel to windward, so ensure there is plenty of room.

Docking a boat

Posted by Grant Headifen on December 20, 2008 under Bareboat Charter, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

Docking, maneuvering, handling, parking a boat while under power is an easy skill to learn. Many people are intimidated when entering the marina and with good cause – that is where 99% of damage to boats occur. But with some practiced skills, the intimidation changes from fear to excitement to see how close to perfect one can dock their boat.

Given a perfectly calm day (altho why would a calm day be perfect for a sailor?) I still see sailors with that nervous look on their face docking a boat. And it’s understandable, I remember those days my self.

The day when I was able to replace the nervous look was the day I picked a buoy in the middle of the lake and just started maneuvering the boat all around it pretending that the buoy was the dock. I’d back the boat up to “dock”, park next to it, spin around it. Then I started doing donuts in the boat to see how it handled under full power, low power. On other days when the wind was howling strong I’d do the same.

maneuvering docking handling a sailboat

maneuvering docking handling a sailboat

All this lead me to be able to develop and teach a maneuvering under power course and looking high and low there is no other course out there quite like this one. But even if you don’t take the NauticEd maneuvering under power clinic, just doing the above will keep you out of trouble.

So get out there, and learn to dock a boat in any marina by learning how a boat behaves under power. Soon you’ll be grading yourself a 9out of 10 on your docking skills.

Similarly this will give you a huge boost of confidence when chartering a sailboat in the Caribbean, Pacific or Mediterranean. Usually when chartering we go for a bigger boat than we’re normally used to and so docking and handling a sailboat skills become important. And besides it’s just plain embarrassing when you hit something right in front of the guy who just checked you out on the boat. There is an unwritten competition rule to make a perfect docking maneuver when bringing the boat back after a week. and the way to do that is to do some maneuvering as above on your own boat before you charter a sailboat and once you are there practice it again with the charter boat next to a mooring buoy or something but make sure other boats are out of the way.

In the Maneuvering under Power clinic there is a printable set of exercises that you can take out to the boat with you to practice with. These exercises will simulate almost everything you’ll need to know when docking a sailboat perfectly.