Landing a powered boat into a slip or up against a dock bears one similarity to docking the space shuttle onto the International Space Station: It takes a calculated effort, where a mistake can lead to personal injury, berth damage, or ship (boat) disfigurement. If you have just bought your first craft to store in front of a waterfront house or in a private marina, you need to practice techniques for berthing your boat from day one.

Go Easy

Unless you want to damage new docks or gangways installed by decks and docks West Palm Beach, follow the most important rule: motor slowly up to your dock, disengaging the engine 30 feet before your destination. You should, of course, already be following marina speed limits; you will notice, however, that when you shift into idle your boat will continue gliding forward.

Apply Power Anyway

While it sounds counterintuitive, as you get closer to the berth apply power in bursts. This tactic will serve two purposes: First, it will aid your controlling and maneuvering the boat by using the boat’s own steam to counteract any wind and current effects; second, it will build momentum slowly, making forward force easier to manage.

Steer Based on Engine Arrangement

Either a single-engine or a twin set will power your boat, which you need to take into consideration when turning it. If your is a single-engine craft, turn your wheel before opening the throttle to prevent inadvertently plowing straight ahead. Steer a twin-engine boat by keeping the wheel centered and applying throttle to one engine while reversing the other.

Think Outside the Boat

Because boats are secured using external accessories such as bumpers and tie lines, make yourself aware of yours and those of other boats in the marina. As you come in make sure you do not run over any lines that may be straying from a neighbor’s boat, and make certain your own lines are laid out and ready for use.; you do not want to scramble looking for rope after you have berthed. Also, space out your bumpers to line up with your envisioned points-of-contact.

If you are intimidated by the thought of docking a boat for the first time, consider making your initial attempt only on a day that promises to remain calm until your final approach, and practice maneuvering on open waters before returning. If you combine these moves with established tactics, you will soon look like an experienced pilot to any landlubbers watching your approach.