Boating presents many challenges for new operators. One particularly tricky procedure to master is docking your boat. You want to be able to get your boat positioned in a slip reasonably quickly and without doing damage or hurting anyone, so learning how to do this task is important for safety as well as for financial reasons. The fine people of Norfolk Marine have helpfully provided this brief list of our best tips for docking a boat to help you get your boat into the slip safely and securely. If you have any further questions, come chat with us!

Pulling Into The Dock

After your day out on the water, you’ll want to get yourself into the right frame of mind for docking your boat as you come to shore. Scan the slip you plan to pull into. Just as you wouldn’t drive a car blindly into a parking space in a lot, you don’t want to pilot your boat haphazardly into its slip without looking for obstacles first and slowing down. Check for ropes or lines that might get entangled with your boat’s propeller or any debris in the water that might damage your boat as you pull in. Since your stern moves first, you’ll want to focus your attention on it to prevent it from getting wildly off-course as you adjust the rudder.

Maintaining Even Speed

As you head for the dock, try to maintain an even speed. While you definitely don’t want to blaze in at top speed with no regard for anything in your way, you also don’t want to move so slowly that you end up simply floating far away from the dock. Experienced boaters have had plenty of practice to help them determine exactly the right speed at which to come in, but a novice might bump the dock a few times as they try to steer, which is why it’s important to slow down as much as you can. Stay on your engine’s lowest setting and use small bursts of speed to maneuver your boat carefully into the slip.

Docking In Windy Conditions

Several factors will impact how you dock your boat. One of the biggest factors is wind. High gusts can throw you off your game completely, even if you’re not on a sailboat. Obviously, a boat with sails will struggle more to dock in windy conditions, but any style of boat will be buffeted about by high winds. Be more cautious in these circumstances and let the wind do the majority of the work if it’s blowing towards the dock. Pull into the dock at a parallel angle, sticking as close to the pier as you possibly can, then allow the wind to guide you in completely.

When the wind is blowing away from the dock, then you’ll have your work cut out for you. You will have to create a sharper angle with your boat to combat the wind, as steep as 20° or 30°. Rely on momentum more than you rely on the wind and be prepared to tie off your boat as soon as you’re close enough to the dock to do so.

Once you get some practice in, you’ll find that docking a boat isn’t nearly as difficult a task as you might have previously thought. Don’t be afraid to take it slow and ask for help if you need it! Are you still searching for a great boat for fishing, cruising or entertaining purposes? Visit our Norfolk showroom today to see our full selection of new and used boats available for sale in many styles. Norfolk Marine serves the cities of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Hampton, Virginia.