Sail into Slip if Engine Fails?

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Returning to a typical marina slip with a dead engine is likely in every sailing career. I keep a permanent bumper, or pad, in the slip to ram if necessary.

slip bumpere text.JPG

A hull can take quite a hard blow without injury. My ram pad is one of those old flat fenders, but heavy carpet would do. Roller fenders applied from the deck by the crew are less effective. We want the boat to hit about one third back from the stem and stop dead, not roll.

My slip has a windward approach but is about 8 boats into a restricted lagoon. Plan A is to see if there's an open dock-end so I don't have to enter the lagoon. There usually isn't. I then enter the lagoon under jib alone, luffing a little, and ram the pad. I'd rather have too much headway than not enough. I've done it twice without incident or damage: once due to engine failure, once for practice. I now think practicing is a dumb idea, and thinking it through is all that's required.

Other techniques and thoughts?
 

1911tex

Member III
Christian: All 60+ sailboats at our marina each have a single large common double ended 26" fender held with ropes strung centered between left and right piers (like yours) about 4-5 feet before the main dock (about where your further chocks are located) and permanently tied to dedicated chocks. The sides of the piers have flexible rubber bumper material (no metal fittings exposed) the full length of the piers. If a boat enters a little too fast, it will hit that centered fender, or on either side of the piers, they will slide along the flexible bumper material and then bump into the 26" fender. Maybe hard to visualize: I will take a picture and post it here on my next trip to the marina later this week.
 

supersailor

Contributing Partner
My slip is cross wind with a dead downwind approach. It makes sailing in about impossible unless the wind is light. The brakes are terrible on the 34. I would do the guest dock or the customs dock if I had to sail in. It's always good to have alternatives.
 

Sean Engle

Your Friendly Administrator
Administrator
Founder
I kept my dingy on a small rota mold float I built in front that I could run into/up on to if needed...

I sailed back to the dock a number of times - for practice mostly - but then twice out of necessity....

//sse

DSC00002.jpg
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
In Sausalito, where my boat lives, my slip is about 500 feet down a 60 foot-wide fairway with boats on either side and returning from an afternoon sail, I find myself heading directly upwind into 10-15 kts.

slip.jpg

Attempting to sail into my slip given my skills and the challenge would result in a symphony of mayhem.

The better alternative would be to take up temporary anchorage in the adjacent harbor (mud basin) Richardson bay, and hope none of the permanent residents aggressively shop my boat overnight. Then go home wet from a chilly swim or tired from blowing up that elderly inherited Sevylor raft in the cockpit locker. (Yes, I did test it once.)

I would probably come back the next morning in still air with a long SUP paddle and/or a rowboat.
 

Bolo

Member III
Bringing my E32 under sail into my slip is impossible because the fairway isn’t very wide and I’m more the halfway down the lane. But I did have my engine give out once while approaching the marina. But I’m fortunate to have about 8 mooring balls outside of the dock area that are maintained by Annapolis. So when I lost my engine I was going too fast to snag a ball. I zigged zagged the boat to slow it down and then rounded upwind to the ball placing it on my leeward side. Grabbed the painter and called the marina for a tow into my slip. So sometimes it’s best not to even attempt docking but to grab a mooring ball (if available) or even think about dropping the anchor someplace.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
I could short-tack that, easy.:) [joke re Tom Vilhauer's slip, photo above]

I have seen our local Towboat (Boat US) guys put a boat right into slips as challenging as that. They lash on a little aft of midpoint, and with their twin screws can spin both boats on a dime, and slip the customer in easy as kiss my hand. Really impressive, even with big clumsy motorboats.

I keep my tow insurance current....
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
I could short-tack that, easy.:) [joke re Tom Vilhauer's slip, photo above]

I have seen our local Towboat (Boat US) guys put a boat right into slips as challenging as that. They lash on a little aft of midpoint, and with their twin screws can spin both boats on a dime, and slip the customer in easy as kiss my hand. Really impressive, even with big clumsy motorboats.

I keep my tow insurance current....
Oh well, sure with two engines. That's like bragging that one can get his Honda Civic into the drive-thru at McDonald's.

(Yes, I think in practice I would probably call Boat US instead of attempting to bring my 32 in with a SUP paddle and a dream.)
 

1911tex

Member III
This is an interesting subject. Always being aware of an alternative...staying ahead of the game...same in flying (engine out)...always looking for an emergency place to land like grass strips, hay fields, or other airports...its called "situation awareness". That's always the #1 subject irregardless if flying professionally or private pilot. Amazing how dependent we are on engines!
 
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Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
Oh well, sure with two engines. That's like bragging that one can get his Honda Civic into the drive-thru at McDonald's.

(Yes, I think in practice I would probably call Boat US instead of attempting to bring my 32 in with a SUP paddle and a dream.)
The one time I've run out of fuel so far, me and another person used my 9ft dinghy oars as paddles, one on each side of the boat. It was exhausting..... I think just as you made some exciting headway with the SUP paddle, one puff of breeze would put you pretty far off track...
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
That's why the up-wind slips cost a little more than the downwind slips at my marina - everybody wants one. Just reach down the fairway and turn up into your slip to depower and park. Easy. Well, those guys have still been known to swap a little paint. And somebody once crunched my pulpit doing that. But I don't have one of those slips. I did add bumpers and a dock wheel last year, but haven't really tested them - well maybe that one time I tried to sail out of the slip...

Of course, I used to dock under sail all the time with my Hobie 16. Usually somewhat under control. The one time I lost power while docking the Ericson, I had no sail up and seconds to avoid hitting something. Fortunately, there was an empty slip in the general direction the wind was taking me. Hauled it back into place with long warps to the ends of the finger docks. Attempting an under-sail docking at the current slip, I think, would depend on the specific conditions at the moment. The better part of valor would be to head for the guest dock (side-tie) and come back with the zodiac as a tug.
 

supersailor

Contributing Partner
Two engines aren't always great. A large power cruiser putted down to the end of my dock, put one engine in reverse and spun around. He put it in forward and goosed it a little to straighten out. The rotation increased greatly and he stated smaking the sterns of moored boats. He ended up shutting down and getting towed out. Turned out a cotter pin fell out of the forward shift cable so his helm control showed forward but the cable was shifting thin air. This happened to me once immediately after installing a new sail drive. I went to reverse after committing to a berth. I goosed the engine and the boat accelerated. I went to neutral, ran forward and used my legs to fend off the front of the dock. That was a 26'. Hopefully, I'm not stupid enough to try that with the 34. Turned out the cotter pin also had fallen out. I had installed it but had not curled the ends and the engines vibration had vibrated it out. Little oops can cause big time problems.
 
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1911tex

Member III
Of course, I used to dock under sail all the time with my Hobie 16. Usually somewhat under control. The one time I lost power while docking the Ericson, I had no sail up and seconds to avoid hitting something. Fortunately, there was an empty slip in the general direction the wind was taking me. Hauled it back into place with long warps to the ends of the finger docks. Attempting an under-sail docking at the current slip, I think, would depend on the specific conditions at the moment. The better part of valor would be to head for the guest dock (side-tie) and come back with the zodiac as a tug.
You weren't the only one....when I was in the Sea Scouts way, way back in my home town Corpus Christi...my buddy and I shared a Penguin class that we raced with other Penguin scouts across Corpus Christi Bay to Shamrock cove on Mustang Island...I could sail up to the ramp perfectly, drop sail and me and my SS buddy would smoothly jump out, keeping our bow from hitting the bulkhead.... until our Scout Commander saw and heard me scraping our drop keel on the concrete ramp (I forgot to raise it)....of course these were beautiful little wooden boats...being wood, the keel shattered into splinters. Like you said, better part of valor...I couldn't blame it on my SS buddy as it was under visual scrutiny and I was in control that time...never forgot that one! Still have my white bell bottom Navy uniform...but the only thing that fits somewhat is the sailor hat!
 
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Keith Parcells

Sustaining Member
Returning to a typical marina slip with a dead engine is likely in every sailing career. I keep a permanent bumper, or pad, in the slip to ram if necessary.

Ahh.... I think back to my instructor and the way he taught us to do it: sail in under main alone, and only into an upwind slip. The main might well be reefed down. Make plenty of headway, going (seemingly) way too fast, right angle to the slip. release the sheet as you approach. Turn in sharply. Use the rudder back and forth to scrub speed (Of course that was with a tiller, not a wheel). At the appropriate time, push the boom out sharply to windward to backwind the main. Back winding takes care of the rest of your velocity toward the dock, if you are lucky! Push hard to back wind! To are stopping the whole boat, after all! It worked in a Capri 25, anyway!

i also suggest adding a long, thick fender (double ended or through hole type) horizontal at the dock (not on the fingers) to act as a bumper for the bow. Up there next to the dock box. It makes for a good target to aim at. I have seen some people put lines diagonally which would direct the bow right into this fender/bumper.

View attachment 34399


A hull can take quite a hard blow without injury. My ram pad is one of those old flat fenders, but heavy carpet would do. Roller fenders applied from the deck by the crew are less effective. We want the boat to hit about one third back from the stem and stop dead, not roll.

My slip has a windward approach but is about 8 boats into a restricted lagoon. Plan A is to see if there's an open dock-end so I don't have to enter the lagoon. There usually isn't. I then enter the lagoon under jib alone, luffing a little, and ram the pad. I'd rather have too much headway than not enough. I've done it twice without incident or damage: once due to engine failure, once for practice. I now think practicing is a dumb idea, and thinking it through is all that's required.

Other techniques and thoughts?
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
I've towed my E32 short distances twice now using my 8' dinghy under oar power. The easiest part is keeping her in motion once she's moving. Second easiest is breaking the inertia to get it moving. The hardest is stopping, because you're already out in front of the moving boat and about ready to get run over.

Forget about it in any kind of winds.
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
Well, I think I would side-tie the zodiac just behind the beam and use the 9.9 HP outboard motor, with the reverse lever. Very gently :egrin:
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Well, I think I would side-tie the zodiac just behind the beam and use the 9.9 HP outboard motor, with the reverse lever. Very gently :egrin:
Zodiac?

9.9 Johnson???

Hell, if I had that combination, I could tow it with a beer in my other hand....
 

gadangit

Member III
I then enter the lagoon under jib alone
I've always imagined myself doing this with the main up. My forward helm puts the traveler controls, halyard and mainsheet at my fingertips. Our genoa, about 129%, seems like it would be a bit unwieldy and possibly too powerful. Luffing the main or just dropping it like on the J80 as we get lined up with the approximate correct speed.

I did actually sail onto a fuel dock that was perfectly aligned for an upwind approach. I came in on a reach with the jib (contrary to what I just wrote above) and rounded up right at the dock. We had a full race crew on board, so there was plenty of hands to help. Accept for the rookie crew who forgot he had the jib sheet in his hand as I was, in an increasingly loud voice, telling him to release the sheet. He was completely focused on the approaching dock. Funny now.
 
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