Improve Your Boat Docking Skills

Docking your vessel is often one of the most stressful parts of boating, especially when trying to maneuver in crowded areas or tricky configurations. Take the stress out of it and up your docking game by following these tips.

  • Practice. As with any activity, the more you do it, the better you get. Find an empty or uncrowded dock and spend time sharpening your docking skills.
  • Take it slow. If you hit the dock, you don’t want to be moving fast enough to cause damage. Take it easy and slow as you guide your boat in.
  • Factor in conditions. Wind, current and momentum can all cause your boat to move in unexpected ways. Consider the conditions as you maneuver toward the dock.
  • Use short bursts. Using short bursts of power keeps your vessel from building up too much momentum and allows you to correct mistakes quickly.
  • Turn before powering. By turning your wheel before applying power, rather than during or after, it prevents your boat from moving unpredictably and keeps you aimed at your target.
  • Place fenders strategically. Consider where your boat is most likely to contact the dock and pilings. If you can place your fenders precisely where they are most effective, it makes docking a lot easier.
  • Be willing to retreat. There’s no shame in backing out and trying again if you’ve taken a bad approach. Put aside your ego and be willing to quit a bad attempt to start over.