The Virtual Spring Line
Ever tied up to a dock only to find yourself pinned
by the wind when it's time to leave? Unless you're in a 20 footer,
forget pushing the boat off with muscle power alone... it's just
not going to happen and can be even dangerous.
In a twin engine boat, the solution is easy and
painless : use the dockside engine as a virtual spring line to pivot
off the dock.
If your dock has wooden pilings, you really don't
have much to worry about as long as you move the boat up or down
a little so that the pilings don't catch your anchor or bow pulpit.
If the dock doesn't have any pilings you need to protect the hull
to cushion it where it will pivot against the dock. Usually, a pair
of large fenders (round balls work better in this case) are all
you need; just make sure you hang them and the right height and
close to the bow where contact will occur.
Once your lines are undone, put the rudders hard
over towards the dock, the dockside engine in reverse and the off
side engine in forward. Ex... if docked to starboard, turn the wheel
to starboard, put the starboard engine in reverse and port in forward.
That's it ! the boat will pivot its stern away from the dock even
against a strong breeze. Depending on the boat and the wind, you
may need to increase RPM a little bit and you may also need to adjust
RPM to keep the boat from creeping forward or backward.
Once you're at an angle sufficient to back out
without giving a heart attack to the captain of the boat behind
you, just put the offside engine in reverse too and back away while
straightening out your rudders.
The above should also work with twin sterndrive
or twin outboard boats although they generally do not pivot as well
as inboards forcing you to use a real spring line when the wind
If you are running a single engine boat, then
obviously you don't have the luxury of putting one engine in reverse
you have to use a real spring line to get out of the tight spot.