In 2020, Americans bought nearly 320,000 new boats, up 13% from 2019. Experts say boating sales will rise for years as boating and fishing are the most popular outdoor recreational activities. 

If you are a new boat owner, you must learn about correctly docking a boat. While going boating is a blast, you don’t want to damage your new boat after all that fun.

Even if you aren’t new to boating, buying a boat is a considerable investment, so you want to take good care of it. That includes docking the boat properly. 

Read on to learn how to dock a boat without causing damage. 

1. Lower the Throttle

As you approach the dock, you want to reduce your speed. It’s easy to lose sight of how far away the dock is; if you’re going too fast, you will slam into it. 

Ideally, you shouldn’t exceed 20 RPM when docking. Yet, the exact speed you should maintain depends on the docking conditions and size of your boat. For example, you’ll need extra caution if it’s a windy day and the water is choppy. 

Additionally, if the dock is hard-to-reach or you’re trying to fit in a tight space, you’ll need to go slower. 

Since boats don’t turn quickly, you want to line your boat up for a near-straight course to the side of the dock. You may need to make minor corrections based on the conditions. 

2. Prepare the Fenders and Lines

Before arriving at the dock, you want to rig your fenders and lines. The fenders are your bumpers. They will prevent damage from occurring if you do run into the dock. However, they won’t prevent damage if you’re speeding, so this is why it’s essential to go slow. 

The fenders should hang just above the waterline. They should not touch the water. You want to have at least three fenders in these positions:

  • On the bowline
  • On the stern line
  • On the spring line 

As you approach the dock, you want to ensure all your lines are ready. There should be no knots or tangles. 

3. Throw the Line and Secure the Boat

If you have help on the dock, you can prepare to toss the deckhand a line.

Most of the time, you want to throw the spring line first. The spring line helps prevent your boat’s movement forward and backward. It also reduces banging. The spring line is especially helpful on windy days when you cannot get as close to the dock. 

The deckhand can secure the spring line around the cleat closest to the docking point. Once the spring lines are secure, you can wrap the bowline around its respective cleat. 

If you don’t have help, you can secure the lines yourself from the boat. In this instance, you should tie the bowline first, then the stern dock line. When docking alone, reduce your speed even further. 

4. Kill the Engine

Once the boat is secure, you can turn off the engine. You never know when you’ll need to reposition the boat, so it’s best to wait until the boat is completely docked before turning off the engine.  

Docking a Boat Made Easy

When you follow these four steps, docking a boat is a piece of cake. Now you can enjoy your new boat and sail the day away without worry!

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