Whether your dream summer looks like leisurely days by the lake, fast-paced offshore cruising or water sports action, there’s one skill that will make every adventure better—we’re talking docking!
New and seasoned boaters alike can benefit from a docking refresher, especially since the spring and summer months signal a return to the water in most states. Read on as we share a few of our best tips for smooth, stress-free docking wherever your travels make take you.
Practice perfect docking
Just like learning to ride a bike or getting your driver’s license, it takes some time (and practice) to nail down docking. But it will happen! The best thing you can do is devote some time to practicing the basics in a relaxed, stress-free environment. This might be a less popular docking area at a quiet time of day.
Beat the rush
If you’re boating in a popular area, you know that certain times of day will be especially busy with boaters returning to shore. When possible, you can choose to avoid the rush by starting your day earlier and docking earlier, too. It’s a great way to ensure that you will have a little less traffic to work with, which is perfect for newer boaters (we’ve all been there!) or those who simply want a quieter experience.
All about the angles
One of the biggest keys to smooth docking is knowing your angles. The way you approach a space will change depending on whether the wind is working with or against you. It’s typically recommended to approach the dock at about a 30-degree angle, and then work up from there—when the wind is blowing toward shore, you have to do less angling “work,” and a shallow angle will be all you need. When the wind is blowing from shore, you may find that opting for a steeper angle gives you the added motion you need to get the job done.
Take it slow
They say that “slow and steady wins the race.” Well, it also makes for a smoother docking experience, too! Take your time, and don’t be afraid to get it wrong the first time—you can always circle back around and try again, if needed. Moving slowly, applying more throttle when you need the quick “push” into position, is a good way to ensure that you never approach the dock faster than you’re willing to hit it (a tried-and-true mantra among seasoned boaters!).
Get help from a friend
As you do the work of bringing your boat to shore, your passengers can help you out in other ways. Have them prepare the lines and fenders as you prepare to dock and help guide your position, just like they might with a tight parallel parking spot, for example.
Shut off your engine after tying your lines
You’ve done it! Once you’re in the proper docked position, you probably feel like celebrating—but don’t shut off the engine just yet. Wait in neutral until the lines are tied up, so that you can readjust or make a new maneuver should lines fall in the water, or if you simply need a re-start.
Put your skills to the test
Of course, these tips aren’t just smart for boaters returning to shore—whether you’re pulling up to dockside dining or simply maneuvering a crowded lake, having friends look out for you, being aware of your surroundings and limiting your speed when needed are helpful reminders for boaters of every experience level!
Ready to hit the water? We hope that today’s guide helps you enjoy an even better docking experience on your next Chaparral adventure.