How to dock your Albin

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jcollins
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Wed Dec 09, 2009 6:39 pm

Every few months the question comes up; "how do I back into my slip?" This post from Ric Murray will become a permanent sticky, much like Chief's winterization list, for everyone to read and understand. It works. Take your time.
I have written about this here before, but as the topic has come up again I'll free to bloviate further. I have found that the trick to handling these boats is to separate (at least mentally) rotational force and momentum from forward and backward force and momentum. I never use the wheel when docking, turn the helm hard to port and leave it alone. When you want counter clockwise rotation, a kick with the throttle forward will start the boat moving forward and rotating counter clockwise around it's center of gravity (the engine). A brief burst of reverse will counter the forward motion, but not kill the rotation as the rudder is useless when moving backward through the water, and the prop walk will pull the stern to starboard, slightly re-enforcing the counter clockwise rotation. Once you get the hang of this you can turn the boat 180 or 360 degrees in a little more than her own length, just by nicking it carefully back and forth from forward to reverse, IF the tide and the wind are not carrying you. What about if you want to go clockwise? Don't bother trying, it don't happen. Plan your docking maneuvers to involve only counter clockwise rotation, even if it involves a 90, 180, or 270, to get lined up. Add the bow thruster to the above equation, pushing the bow to port with bursts and you can rotate this boat in a way that will make all other captains envious.

Once you have the boat sort of lined up with the slip, start applying reverse in short bursts. Reverse will kill the rotational momentum and the boat should move backward in a more or less straight line. If you keep reverse engaged you will indeed get prop walk to starboard, which is why I just kick it into reverse for a second or two then back to neutral. If the prop ain't turning, it won't walk. Neutral is your friend. Anxiety and the need to "get this over with" is your enemy. Xanax can help (you or the admiral). There is never a reason to have the boat in gear and the thruster running at the same time. Use the thruster and forward (with the helm hard to port) to achieve rotation, then reverse to kill rotation and slide, stern gracefully, into your slip. Forward or reverse motion negates the effect of the bow thruster. Use the thruster to get lined up, then power to move the boat forward or back.

Docking a single screw boat is a mental exercise above all others. Physics, psychology, sociology, all wrapped up together.
For inspiration:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdI3-LHiCng "

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RicM
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Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:14 am

John:
I am honored indeed! :o :D Immortalized on AOG!
Ric Murray

Big Time, 42' 1993 Jersey Sportfish
Formerly owned Time After Time, 2003 28TE
Wickford RI

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RobS
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Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:41 am

Well written Ric.

The starboard stern walk should be your tool, not an annoyance. Always go for a starboard tie at a fuel dock, pump-out station, raft-up, etc. I wonder if Albin considered this when placing the fuel fill and waste on the starboard side....doubt it. The waste had to be starboard due to the portside aft bunk so the fuel fill probably just followed suit.

I have to approach my slip on the port side, and dock stern in, thus requiring 90deg of clockwise rotation - a real chore without the thruster.
Rob S.
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Cummins 6BTA 330B's

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"TOY-RIFIC" 2000 28TE, 6LP, Hull 408

Luck is the residue of good design.

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dkircher
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Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:40 pm

John,

I found your post, based upon Ric's advice, incredibly useful. I experimented the other day as I was leaving a slip in Seattle and quickly confirmed the counterclockwise motion to be an asset. I back into my slip now at my home marina and the starboard walk is very helpful with the starboard tie. I now ask for starboard side ties when I visit other marinas and that has been a blessing, especially when I am by myself.

Fortunately, the marinas/fuel docks I have visited are protected from wind and current. Not sure I am looking forward to ones that aren't.

Your post, reading and advice from my very experienced captain friend from South Carolina (who visits the NW at least twice per year) have increased my confidence. His advice: go slow and Ric's advice: neutral is your friend are always on my mind. [as well as docking is a continuous learning experience!]

Thanks again to you and Ric.

Dave Kircher
Andiamo
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RicM
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Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:08 pm

Dave,

I always say that docking a boat was the hardest thing I've ever learned how to do (as an adult). It's a lot like trying to parallel park a car on ice, with no brakes, on LSD. I tried that once and gave up. The problem is that few of us do it often enough to really learn and become confident at it. Docking once or twice during the weekend then not touching the helm again for 5-6 days means that it's hard to accumulate enough experience if you are, like me, strictly a weekend warrior. I'm glad the tips helped you. Dock early, dock often and you will get smooth in no time.

Ric
Ric Murray

Big Time, 42' 1993 Jersey Sportfish
Formerly owned Time After Time, 2003 28TE
Wickford RI

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RobS
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Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:15 pm

One thing I would also like to mention about docking: It has become routine for me to fully open the pilothouse sliding windows on both sides. This allows wind to pass through the pilothouse, thus reducing the sideways pushing effect of any crosswind. Hey, why not, it's free right!
Rob S.
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Cummins 6BTA 330B's

(Former Owner)
"TOY-RIFIC" 2000 28TE, 6LP, Hull 408

Luck is the residue of good design.

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jcollins
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Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:13 pm

Rob, you are correct! Normally I would have a smart-ass comment saying I always have my windows open. 8)
But, this time of year when I have my canvas up and curtains in, I can feel the difference when I'm backing in with a cross breeze. Then again, it's back into the high 70s this weekend. No curtains!

See you on the Bay!
John
28 TE Convertible "Afterglow" is for sale

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RicM
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Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:10 pm

Gonna have ALL the windows open tomorrow, heading To Block Island for 2 nights with Bluesbreaker and Betsy B. I need some striped bass for the freezer! PLUS the closing party at Mahogany Shoals is killer... they empty ALL the bottles for free after about 10PM. Best party on the Island all year.
Ric Murray

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Formerly owned Time After Time, 2003 28TE
Wickford RI

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DougSea
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Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:56 pm

RicM wrote:Gonna have ALL the windows open tomorrow, heading To Block Island for 2 nights with Bluesbreaker and Betsy B. I need some striped bass for the freezer! PLUS the closing party at Mahogany Shoals is killer... they empty ALL the bottles for free after about 10PM. Best party on the Island all year.
Hey Ric, Kathy and I are over a Champlin's for the next few nights. Is Miss K coming with you? It would be good to have a drink together. We'll be doing our dinners at the Oar so we'll be over near Payne's each evening.

Hope the wind lays down for you, our ride up here...sucked!

I'll send you a PM with my cell number, call if you'd like.
Doug
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robonurse
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Tue May 24, 2011 5:24 pm

I can honestly tell you that my wife can manage a clockwise rotation and back right down the middle of the slip and does NOT need the bow thruster. When she wanted to learn, I insisted that she do it without the thruster in order to learn the handling characteristics of the boat. Barring excessive wind or current, she is now able to put the boat anywhere she wants it. She has become somewhat of a legend at our marina and often has an "audience" when we return and she is at the helm.

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jcollins
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Tue May 24, 2011 9:27 pm

robonurse wrote:I can honestly tell you that my wife can manage a clockwise rotation and back right down the middle of the slip and does NOT need the bow thruster. When she wanted to learn, I insisted that she do it without the thruster in order to learn the handling characteristics of the boat. Barring excessive wind or current, she is now able to put the boat anywhere she wants it. She has become somewhat of a legend at our marina and often has an "audience" when we return and she is at the helm.
My wife said "you want me to do what"? :lol:
John
28 TE Convertible "Afterglow" is for sale

Alan_Douville
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Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:55 am

Oh I so wish I could back into a slip! My Albin is on the St Joe River in Michigan, and the water is cranking this year. Docking for me, is a hard to port, no fear, commit and go... When the current catches her nose, you need to be hard over and driving into the slip, the thruster is used to control the crash landing against the pier. Without the thruster, I could not even imagine the risk as it is the only way to steer going in.

BUT the fishing has been great on Lake Michigan, so the risk is worth the reward, it will be boring when the current finally slows down.

Alan
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jrjr
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Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:50 pm

I love my 28' Albin, but finding this post increased my love exponentially. I haven't used the bow thruster since learning this.

Thanks for the info,

Jrjr

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Capt Ron
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Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:19 pm

One, and only one, thank you for the storm Sandy. I got a move off a stationary pier to one of the new floating docks. No more climbing ladders and hoisting gear six feet during low tides! But another advantage is, I now am on the opposite side of the dock. With the left pitch of the wheel I can now back into the slip without the use of the bowthruster if I have to. The prop walk now is in the correct aspect to the slip.
Owner of 28' TE

Paddy
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Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:46 pm

Well, I brought the Albin home last night. Going from a 28' single screw cabin cruiser with a Bravo 3 to a single screw inboard with a bow thruster, I said, "how hard can it be?" Holy crap! I need some practice, plus I ended up taking it home in a down pour with 20 MPH winds out of the east. The admiral kept me calm and all along I was reciting JCollins instructions to her, but the sucker would not rotate in the wind. I tried not to use the thruster, I told her real boaters don't touch the thruster, but by the time I got back to our slip, I was on the thruster like a crack addict on a pipe. Lot's to learn, but as of now, at least she is safely in the slip.

Overwhelmed but excited to own this boat, she's a beauty.
Rob

2004 28TE

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