Use Wind or Current When Docking

The Second of Five Docking Tips

Wind and Current can send immediate shivers down your spine….or you can learn to use these naturally occuring situations to your advantage. And the strength of either wind or current should not lull you into a false sense of security.

A flag or burgee on the bow isn’t just to celebrate your boating club or tell everyone you are pouring cocktails. The burgee can tell you a great deal about which way the wind is affecting your boat.

Driving into the wind sends your burgee straight back. That direction is helpful but obvious. Wind blowing on your beam (side of the boat) may have the burgee flying out to the opposite side from the wind but it could also flap back and forth. Watch to see if it flaps more to one side than the other. 

While a limp burgee can mean no wind it can also mean that the wind is coming from behind. Wind on your stern (back of the boat) can be truly deceiving. The structure of your boat saloon or cabin may block any wind coming from the stern and leave the burgee limp. 

And even a gentle light breeze can effect the way your boat maneuvers in close quarter situations like docking.

And then there are currents which are created by flowing rivers, rain runoff and tide changes. Long before you head in to a marina watch for signs to indicate which way the current is moving. Look at day markers, buoys and other docks to see if there is any current and which way it is moving. Marinas that are near a creek can have unexpected currents just after strong rains. This is caused from the creek as it drains the heavy rain into the water near the marina. Today could be sunny and clear but the past two days may have been steady rain in the next town over.

Wind can be constant or gusting and very obvious. Or, the wind direction can be altered by nearby tall buildings, boat sheds and even nearby boats. These wind obstructions can also be funnels to redirect even the most gentle wind. So, you think you have it covered because the wind is favorable or negligent…and then your boat just won’t cooperate.

When you watch this video, focus on anything and everything around the boat in the few moments before we actually get to the floating docks. After all, you aren’t at the helm so take advantage to be a true observer. 

Once you make the left turn into the fairway you may think that no wind should alter our course. Think again and listen as the helmsman tries to correct his glide using a bow thruster. Some of us don’t have that equipment option so hear the advice Captain Chris offers as he coaches this new boater in a calm and deliberate manner. No chit chat, just descriptive and directive words. There is plenty of time for atta-boys and a full review and debriefing after the lines are secured.

Stay tuned for our next email tomorrow about using Fenderboards.

After receiving all five Docking Tips if you’d like more details, consider ordering our 60 minute Docking Video….or Ask Captain Chris!