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Old 31 October 2014, 09:37   #1
Country: UK - England
Town: London
Boat name: Quench
Make: Fairline
Length: 10m +
Engine: Volvo
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 32
Operating single-handed


Apologies if this has been done before. I'm coming to the end of my first year of boat ownership and have been out a couple of times single-handed. Coming back alongside single-handed has been the part that has me in trepidation.

After reading the "top 5" thread someone mentioned a double-shackle 5m rope, and i've got no idea how exactly this would be utilized (or even what it looks like), so wondered if all you old hands could help me out with some tips.

My technique so far has been to use a line mid-ships first, allowing me to keep attached to the killcord when getting it somewhat secure, then go into neutral and stick the stern line on... this bit is my least favourite because drilled into not having engine on without killcord (even with throttle lock etc), but don't want to find myself floating away and needing to go through a full restart before being able to shift position. Lastly i'd shut the engine off and get the bow line on as i often cant reach the next appropriate dockside cleat with it whilst on the boat (probably could faff about a bit and throw it with a bowline on, but with the other two lines holding the boat fairly close in it doesn't seem worth it so tend to dismount)

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Old 31 October 2014, 10:05   #2
Country: USA
Town: Oakland CA
Length: 3m +
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Well, I typically tie up with 2 lines. My helm is at the rear of the boat, so I snag a cleat at the stern first, then depending on water/wind conditions, use the motor against the stern line to hold the boat against the dock (Crank left a bit and idle speed.) Get the bow line on (generally, I shut the motor down before going forwards unless there's a strong wind or current), shut down if needed, and then adjust lines as necessary. Not really moving, so I don't worry about the kill cord too much.

If working against a wind trying to blow you off the dock, I find approaching at a 30 degree angle at a higher-than-seems-correct speed, then a big shot of reverse with the motor cranked towards the dock puts you parallel to the dock with the stern pretty much in place. Takes a bit of practice though.


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Old 31 October 2014, 10:11   #3
Country: UK - England
Town: Leicester
Length: 5m +
Engine: 135hp Mercury
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 762
I spend a lot of time single handed & I just use a length of line tied to a convenient point amidships which I tie onto a suitable point on whatever I've come alongside.
At that point if your knots are good the boat isn't going anywhere & no reason why you can't get on & off as you wish.
I've toyed with the idea of fitting a large carabiner clip to one end of the line - either to clip onto something convenient or to clip back over the rope after looping the rope round the 'convenient object' but never bothered doing anything about it. (Although I can see the advantage of a length of line with a clip at each end as you can attach one end to any point on the boat quickly, so you don't need to mess about with fixed bow & stern lines)
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Old 31 October 2014, 10:17   #4
Lee argyle's Avatar
Country: UK - England
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Make: Stingher
Length: 10m +
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If I'm solo I run a line amidships and as soon as alongside and semi-secure then worry about the stern and bow lines, practice, practice.......
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Old 31 October 2014, 10:22   #5
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Country: UK - Scotland
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Make: Ribcraft
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Originally Posted by Lee argyle View Post
If I'm solo I run a line amidships and as soon as alongside and semi-secure then worry about the stern and bow lines, practice, practice.......

I do the same only difference is I use a buoyline from Bradshaws gives a little 'give' which sometimes is handy

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Old 31 October 2014, 11:57   #6
Country: UK - England
Town: Surrey
Boat name: Fugly & Rokraider 1
Make: Pac 22 & Porter 6.5
Length: 6m +
Engine: Ford 250 & jet,DT140
Join Date: Jun 2008
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I am running single handed most of the time. I have 2 heavy bowlines with carabiners attached to my samson post. 2 amidship lines and 2 heavy stern lines. My driving position is at the rear, so it can be a bit frantic trying to run to the bow to pick up a buoy, especially in a 5 knot tide, so I have long bowlines that come back to around 2/3rds the length of the boat and have them laid out ready to clip onto the mooring buoy , which means I position the Rib into the tide alongside the mooring buoy and only have to get just in front of the console and reach over the tube to attach a line. Once I have one connected The pressure is off and I just need to attach rhe second bowline. I like the ease of a carabiner, but do not trust them totally, so I usually tie one of the bowlines with an old fashioned knot as belt and braces.
Alongside a jetty I do the same into the tide and use an amidship line initially and once secure on that , then run a bowline and stern line.
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Old 31 October 2014, 12:38   #7
Country: UK - England
Town: gloucestershire
Length: 4m +
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 342
amidships for me to as first tie point, others after if needed.
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Old 31 October 2014, 13:26   #8
Country: UK - England
Town: Mighty Penryn
Boat name: Little Joe.
Make: Avon Searider
Length: 4m +
Engine: Honda BF50
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 8,840
Depends on conditions, if calm, come along side, faff about, notice that the boat is drifting away from pontoon, grab pontoon timber with finger nails, pull back along side and continue to faff.

If less calm, come along side (fendered), fling a loop over a shore cleat amidships, make fast then hop onto pontoon and make good fore and aft warps inc. springs if required.

Using carrybeeners and pre-made stuff is just gay.
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Old 31 October 2014, 13:32   #9
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A decent boat hook is always handy when single handed .
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Old 03 November 2014, 10:20   #10
Country: UK - Scotland
Boat name: Wildheart
Make: Humber/Delta Seasafe
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Jumping back to the OP for a moment........... I also run single handed most of the time, and also got for the "rope midships then sort the rest" approach. Granted your boat is at least 1m bigger than mine, but I suspect the theory still holds- even if my "to hand" warps might not work with your extra length.

I have found through experience that for 95% of places I tie alongside, a 2m Warp is usually more than enough. (for others I drift off & sort the longer warps out before I come alongside). To that end I have 2x 2m lines permanently (like Eye spliced) round the A-frame & tied off to one of the many hand holds my boat is fitted with just behind me. Ditto the painter which I usually lead aft & tie off near the seat.

Once the mid rope is on the pontoon etc, I can get to the others without too much movement round the boat. The midrope is also handy for rafting up for lunch if you are cruising in company!

I understand your concern about the deadman. I reckon if I'm tying alongside and away form the console, what are the chances I go over the side while the engine randomly overcomes the neutral latch at the same moment? - I'm more likely to fall in & get crushed between the boat & the pier by the next wave!

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