Cooper Boating Tips & Tricks
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Subject: Casting off - tip from Bob Doiron
(Posted on Apr 22, 2010 at 08:34AM)

Tags: Docking, Tips, Boat Student, Casting Off, Boat Handling
Bob Doiron of Alberta sent in the following tip to share.  He refers to it as a "Jamie Johnson special."  Bob took a course with Jamie a few years back and has gone on to charter and then purchase a quarter share with One 4 Yacht Fractions.

We were taught to pass the lines through the dock cleat, rail or whatever mechanism is there and bring the line back to the boat cleat to tie it off. The trick is to pass it under the cleat or rail from the boat side so when it is released you flop the line on the dock and avoid having the end drop in the drink as you reel it in. If you pass it over the cleat or rail and fop the line on the dock
it wraps and binds. It works really slick and has the following advantages:

    * It is simply easier and quicker to tie off.
    * It can work well when getting assistance from well
      meaning dock hands as you can control the degree to which the bow or stern
      is pulled in because you get them to pass it back to you.
    * It is safer for the crew because lines can be released
      while on board; no jumping on.
    * When you are checking your lines it can all be done on
      board and easily adjusted. This is particularly true under windy
      conditions. (New Years Eve 2008 tied up at Ganges with 60 - 70 KM winds on
      our starboard beam the docks were rocking quite hard as was the boat.
      Having our lines self releasing enabled us to check and adjust as needed
      very safely.)
    * It works equally as well with spring lines as others,
      even with rails, as you are virtually always able to find stops all along
      the rail to hold a spring in proper position.
    * If you must do a bow 'spring off' it is virtually
      essential to have a self releasing line unless you have someone on the
      dock to assist.

In the five years we have boated there have been only a handful of times when we haven't been able to do this because of the dock or lack of cleats. Even if you don't have enough bow line you can release it while on the dock and then board and release the remaining lines in a safe and orderly manner. If there is a line that won't work It's usually the bow line because of the distance from the centre line of the boat to the dock.

THANKS BOB for your submission!
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Subject: Understanding Prop Walk
(Posted on Feb 13, 2010 at 11:20AM)

Tags: Docking, boat handling, prop walk, propeller walk
We continue to survey folks about what they would like to know more about and a common thread takes us back to docking.  We're so happy to put more tools in your docking toolbox.  Today we dive into what that propeller is doing for you (or against you).  Knowing some propeller basics will help dramatically.

Prop walk goes by different names, but that's what we call it around here because the P-effect or P-Factor has us sounding less cool.  We say a boat "walks to port" in reverse.  Okay - what are we talking about?

Cut to its simplest element on the 'need to know' basis, does the boat pull to port or starboard when you are going backwards?   Prop walk is best tested in the middle of a wide open space from a standstill (with no wind or with the stern facing what wind you do have).  With the wheel 'a midships,' apply a big shot of reverse and see where she goes.  A right hand propellor will normally send the boat back to port and a left hand will send the boat generally to starboard.

Beyond which direction, prop walk varies by boat based on some set up factors that you can't do much about other than understand.  The angle of the propeller shaft and the size/type of the propeller are two factors that determine how much prop walk you should experience on a particular boat.

What you can control is the timing and location of your use of the throttle in reverse gear.  The higher you rev the engine in reverse, the more you get to experience prop walk.   From a standstill, it's all prop walk.  As you start moving backwards, you will start to gain some directional control as water starts flowing across the rudder.

Behind the scenes, it boils down to discharge current.  In forward, all the engineering is aimed at pushing the discharge current as straight backwards as possible.  In reverse, the discharge current ends up traveling off to one side or the other, based on the rotation direction of the prop and the magnitude depends on other setup variables.


How to you check and get a clue before you go?  Ask someone knowledgeable about the boat OR, with the boat securely tied to the dock, engage reverse power and look for the discharge current coming off the rudder.   If you see a lot of current coming out to starboard, you know the boat will 'walk to port' in reverse.  

With a pair of motors, the reason the motors rotate in opposite directions is to cancel the effects of propeller discharge.  Using more throttle on one engine or another can work in your favour as you understand these effects.

Our crew can help explain how to make prop walk your friend.  Docking clinics and courses can help you master these skills on the water.    

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Subject: Docking in Style - Set up for Success
(Posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 08:18AM)

Tags: Docking, Sailboat, Boat Handling
Docking in style depends heavily on setting up early for success.  Not unlike a pilot landing a plane, if the things aren't lining up well early on, best to call a 'missed approach' and head around again.  When teaching docking on a sailboat, we explain how to set up that good angle well in advance.  Based on a phenomenon we refer to as 'slide', a technique develops called 'last movement towards the dock'. 

In other words, because the boat when turned will continue to slide somewhat in the direction it was just traveling, best to use that to your advantage to move 'towards the dock' instead of 'away from the dock'.  Using the simple examples here, you will see that in the 'WRONG WAY' example, the boat 'slides' towards the boat next to it and away from the dock.  Not what the skipper necessarily wants!

In the 'RIGHT WAY' example, the skipper proceeds past the slip and then backs towards it.  As the boat turns into the slip, the slide takes the boat towards the dock and away from the neighboring vessel.  That's one ingredient for docking in style.

Like to learn more?  Take our Cooper Boating Docking Clinic
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