How to Dock Your Boat By Yourself (Even If It’s Really Windy)
It’s boat docking time!
Nobody wants to look like a complete newbie in front of a crowded boat ramp…
But unless you know how to dock your boat by yourself when the wind is blowing and the current is ripping, then chances are it’ll happen to you.
But don’t worry — in this video, you’ll learn exactly how to dock your boat like a pro in these tough conditions.
I’ll show you which side of the dock is harder to pull your boat up to, which side is easier, and how to dock your boat on both sides in case you have no choice.
Plus, you’ll learn an easy trick to make sure your boat doesn’t float away when you’re trying to tie it off to the dock.
Docking Your Boat By Yourself In The Wind [VIDEO]
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How To Dock Your Boat On The Easy Side Of The Dock
The easy side to dock your boat on when it’s windy is the side that is upwind.
On days with calm winds and a light current, you can drive your boat right up to the side of the dock.
But on days when the wind and/or current is ripping, it’s a little tougher.
If you’re docking on the upwind side, you just need to make one small adjustment: drive your boat to an imaginary dock that’s 3-5 feet over.
When you get to that spot, the wind will gently take you into the dock and you can get out and tie off your boat.
Be sure to tie down whichever side the wind is pushing first.
In this video, the wind was pushing my boat from the back, so I tied down the back first.
How To Dock Your Boat On The Hard Side Of The Dock
On a busy day, the dock may be full and you’ll have no choice but to dock your boat on the downwind (more difficult) side.
This is more difficult because the wind gives you just a small window of opportunity to get your boat to the side of the dock, get out, and grab the ropes to control your boat.
But thankfully, there’s a trick to make this a lot easier.
Here it is: before you approach the dock, have two lines right next to you ready to grab before you step off of the boat onto the dock.
One line will be connected to the back of the boat, and one will be connected to the front.
Having control of both ends of the boat will make this process much easier.
Now, as you approach the dock, come in at about a 45-degree angle, keeping it in neutral for the most part.
Then, at the last second, do a sharp turn and put your motor in gear to bring the side of your boat right up to the dock.
Grab both of the lines, step onto the dock, and tie off your boat.
The reason you grab both lines before you step off the boat is because it’s way too easy for the front of your boat to swing out if you only have a rope controlling the back of the boat.
Docking your boat in the wind by yourself might seem difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.
But if you plan ahead for the current and wind and use these tips, then it’s actually much easier than you think.
Have any questions about docking your boat?
Let me know down in the comments!
And if you know someone who needs to learn how to dock their boat better, please TAG or SHARE this with them!
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I found this very helpful. Could you do another one, but where the boat ends up facing the other direction on the dock? I keep my boat at a marina where they pick it up with a big forklift, so if I go in bow first, they have to start the engine and flip it around so they can lift it. Since I like to flush out my engine after I come back to the marina, if they have to start it back up to turn it around, it would defeat the purupose of the flushing. My marina is fairly tight and there’s a pretty good current ripping through it most days.
Please dont say “rope”, its a “line” Landlubbers use rope sailors use line 🙂 Great video though I will defiantly follow your instructions next time out appreciate the video thanks!!!
Thanks for making time to leave the helpful comment Jeff!
I have been under the impression that the distinction of “rope” vs. “line” is just based on the utility. So I was saying “rope” when talking about it as basic unemployed cordage. And I said “line” when referring to it being used to secure the boat to the dock. Is that not correct?
Just messing with you. In the small boating world you are correct I would imagine. Aboard ship we would never call anything a rope, even if it was in a coil not being used, you would still addresses it a a line no matter where it was or how it was stored, again just playin!! But for real your videos are awesome, and have helped me learn so much more about inshore fishing then anything I have ever read or watched, you are the man and I appreciate the tutorials very much so thank you
Coming from having 2 engines and good control, this was very helpful and I will have 2 Lines ready when I dock. One on the Bow and one on the Stern; or if you prefer forward and aft. Sorry, my father made me read Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Small Boat Handling at a very young age. 🙂
That new Pathfinder is awesome!
Thanks Thomas! We are absolutely loving the new boat.
I fish alone most of the time and have found that tying off a 15 ft line to the grab rail of my center console I can easily get out and pull the center of the boat to the dock with just the single line.
Thanks for making time to leave the helpful comment Stephen!
Great video. I’m a weekend warrior and tense moments coming in to dock. I dry stow, so would love to see docking stern first versus bow first.
Nail biter for me!
Thanks for making time to leave the nice comment Christy!
Fenders…they really help keep the side of the boat from getting beat up if you come in too hot, wind blows you against the dock or other boat wakes push you against the dock. Easy to loop around cleats through hawse pipes and deploy before you attempt to dock.
Practice…the thing most people neglect and the real key to the whole thing. Taking an hour and just simple practice maneuvering the boat on a quiet weekday with few or no people launching and loading. Then with a little practice you look like a pro on the weekend.
You should also probably do a video on showing how to prepare your boat while not blocking the ramp…ie preparing it in the launching loading area instead while sitting on the main ramp while everyone else gives you the stink eye.
Here’s a helpful tip about boat ramp mistakes/issues to keep in mind when launching: https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/top-5-boat-ramp-mistakes/
Nice video being a trailer sailor till I moved to a Port Charlotte canal home. The only thing I do different is one long continuous line from front cleat to the rear one. That way one end of one of the ropes will not come out of your hand. Tight lines and stay healthy.
Thanks for making time to leave the helpful comment Thomas!
Would it really be so hard to use apprpriate nautical terminology (bow, stern, lines, etc.)?
I went with the more basic working assuming that a majority of the people who need this lesson most of all mostly likely don’t relate to those terms.
I just feel that if the basic terminology is ditched at the level of an elementary lesson like this, folks new to the sport may not learn the language of boating at all, or even come to think that it is unnecessary or elitist. Then they will be unprepared to gather information from standard sources such as boating magazines, the CFR, the NAVRULES or even ATON pamphlets. Fishermen should set the example as competent and safe boaters.
Great video Luke, I think back to the first time I let my (then) teen-age son park our bass boat on the hard side of our slip. I will remember his 35 years ago comment. “Where’s the brake,” he was coming in a little hot, so I told him it was in his right hand (throttle). Many years later fishing with two naval officers on their boat, the Warrant Officer had another comment I will never forget, he said, “It’s impossible to dock a boat too slow.” Thanx chief, looks like Luke pays attention, I know I do.
But, I do enjoy watching the antics at the ramp with the week-end warrior!
Thanks for making time to leave the nice comment!
Hi Luke! Great advice! I would really love to learn docking like this. But before I do, any advice as to how I can buy a Pathfinder? 😉