Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lesson 38: Line Handling - Docking

Handling Lines

Lines assist in coming alongside or clearing a wharf. Before a ship comes alongside, the required lines with eye splices in the ends should be led outboard through the chocks, up and over the lifelines and/or rails. Heaving lines (light lines with weighted ends) are used on larger vessels to carry heavier lines to the wharf. With small boats, there is rarely any need to use a heaving line. Generally, a seaman can either step ashore with the mooring line or throw it the short distance required. Heaving lines should be made fast near the splice--not at the end of the bight where they may become jammed when the eye is placed over the bollard. Heaving lines should be passed ashore as soon as possible.

Dipping the Eye

If two bights or eye splices are to be placed over the same bollard, the second one must be led up through the eye of the first and then placed over the bollard. This makes it possible for either line to be cast off independently of the other and is called dipping the eye.
├ĘStopping Off a Mooring Line

When a mooring line is taut, it is stopped off with a stopper line. The stopper line is secured to the bitts and applied to the mooring line with a half hitch and three or four turns taken in a direction opposite to the one in which the hitch is taken. When the stopper takes the strain, the turns are thrown off the mooring line and it is made fast to the bitts.
├ĘDocking Single Screw Vessels

In securing alongside a wharf, attention must be paid to the tide. When securing at high water, enough slack must be left in the lines to ensure that at low tide they will not part, carry away bollards, or, in extreme cases, list the ship to a dangerous degree or capsize a small vessel.
Stopping Off a Mooring Line

Making Landings

Wharves and piers may be built on piles that allow a fairly free flow of water under them and in the slips between them. Their underwater construction may be solid, in which case there will be no current inside the slips, but eddies may whirl around them. Warehouses or other buildings may be built on piles, which vary the effect of the wind on the upper works of a vessel when making a landing.

Making a landing is more dangerous when the wind and current are at right angles to the wharf than when blowing or running along its face. In coming alongside, as in all ship handling, the wind and current should be observed and if possible, used as an advantage.

Making a landing usually involves backing down. For this reason, procedures for landing port-side-to differ from those for a starboard-side-to landing. Let us first consider a port-side-to landing.

Port-Side-To Landing

Making a port-side-to landing is easier than a starboard-side-to landing because of the factors already discussed. With no wind, tide, or current to contend with, the approach normally should be at an angle of about 20° with the pier. The boat should be headed for a spot slightly forward of the position where you intend to stop. Several feet from that point (to allow for advance), put your rudder to starboard-to, bring your boat parallel to the pier, and simultaneously begin backing. Quickly throw the bow line over. Then, with the line around a cleat to hold the bow in, you can back down until the stern is forced in against the pier.

If wind and current are setting the boat off the pier, make the approach at a greater angle and speed. The turn is made closer to the pier. In this situation, it is easier to get the stern alongside by using hard right rudder, kicking ahead, and using the bow line as a spring line. To allow the stern to swing in to the pier, the line must not be snubbed too short.

If wind or current is setting the boat down on the pier, make the approach at about the same angle as when being set off the pier. Speed should be about the same or slightly less than when there is no wind or current. The turn must begin farther from the pier because the advance is greater. In this circumstance, the stern can be brought alongside by either of the methods described, or the centerline of the boat can be brought parallel to the pier and the boat will drift down alongside.

Starboard-Side-To Landing

Making a starboard-side-to landing is a bit more difficult than a landing-to port. The angle of approach should always approximate that of a port-side-to landing. Speed however, should be slower to avoid having to back down fast to kill headway, with the resultant swing of the stern to port. Use a spring line when working the stern in alongside the pier. Get the line over, use hard left rudder, and kick ahead. If you cannot use a spring line, time your turn so that when alongside the spot where you intend to swing, your bow is swinging out and your stern is swinging in. When it looks as though the stern will make contact, back down; as you lose way, shift to hard right rudder.

Making Use of the Current

If there is a fairly strong current from ahead, get the bow line to the pier, and the current will bring the boat alongside as shown in View 1 below. If the current is from aft, the same result can be achieved by securing the boat with the stern fast as shown in View 2 below. Care must be exercised during the approach because an oncoming following current decreases rudder efficiency, and steering may be slightly erratic.
Making Use of the Current

Tying Up to a Pier (Heavy Weather Procedures)

If heavy winds are forecast (less than 50 knots), make sure storm lines are out fore and aft and additional breast lines are set. The greatest damage to the ship will result from the ship banging against the pier or other nested ships. Make sure all lines are properly set and that adequate fenders are rigged between the ships nested alongside.

Getting Away from a Pier

As when coming alongside, procedures for getting underway depend upon which side of the pier the boat is located, as well as the state of current, wind, and so on.


The easiest way to get underway, when starboard-side-to a pier, is to cast off the stern first, hold the bow line, give the boat hard left rudder, and begin backing. When the stern is clear of the pier and any boat or other object astern, cast off the bow line and back out of the slip.


The easiest way to clear a port-side-to landing is to use the bow line as a spring line. Cast off the stern line, give the boat left full rudder, and kick ahead until the stern is well clear. Then cast off the spring line and back out of the slip.

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