One of the more challenging aspects of boating is approaching a dock. As a captain, I docked boats on a daily basis and often under challenging circumstances. As a recreational boater, there are many things you should avoid when docking a boat. Here is what not to do when docking your boat. 

Leave The Docklines In The Storage Locker

Without a doubt, I have spent plenty of time on and near docks. All too often, I watch boaters approach the dock while leaving them stored in the lockers.

Remember, you want to be ready to secure the vessel dockside when you’re lining up into position. Often, boaters are left scrambling, trying to connect the line to the boat, and often, the dockline ends up in the water

Approach The Dock Overspeed

Speed is a major factor to consider when docking a boat. Coming in too fast can damage both the boat and the dock. 

Conversely approaching too slowly can cause you to get out of position and into trouble. Make sure to adjust the throttle so that you remain in control of the vessel at all times. 

Having The Music Turned Up Loud

Something that drives me crazy is when the operator leaves the stereo system blasting while docking the boat. 

Remember, you need to first be able to concentrate when docking, but secondly, be able to speak to other people aboard the vessel. With that being said, turn the volume down when approaching the dock. 

Passengers Sitting Between The Boat And Dock

Unfortunately, plenty of limbs have been injured as a result of sitting improperly while the boat is being docked. 

In some cases, passengers choose to dangle legs and arms over the side as a means of grabbing the dock more easily. However, operators with little experience often inadvertently push the throttle up quickly. The sudden acceleration eliminates time for a person hanging over the side to move out of the way and they become sandwiched. 

Failing To Look At Traffic Around You

Undoubtedly, boat ramps and marinas are busy places. Operators often fail to monitor the direction and speed of boats and come close to colliding. 

The next time you’re driving a boat in a congested marina or boat ramp, keep a close eye out for traffic. Even a minor collision will ruin a fun day on the water.  

Becoming Panicked

Panic is often a result of navigating in tight quarters with heavy boat traffic. One of the biggest factors in making poor decision while operating a vessel is a result of panic. 

With that said, you are often better off doing nothing compared to overreacting. Overreacting can be applying too much power or oversteering. If you’re becoming nervous, slow your speed and assess the situation before taking sudden action. 

Failing To Consider Clearance

Importantly clearance when it comes to boating can mean a couple of different things. First, clearance between a vessel and fixed objects or other vessels. Secondly, the clearance of the top of the boat to a fixed object such as a bridge. 

In order to avoid damaging a boat by hitting a fixed object or vessel, ensure that you have enough clearance to bass beneath or nearby. 

Trimming The Motor Improperly

One way to limit your vessel’s control is by over-trimming the motor. A motor lifted to the waterline will be less responsive than a motor left down or slightly trimmed. 

However, keep in mind that some boat ramps and marinas are shallow. In some cases you may need to trim the motor in order to avoid making contact with the bottom. 

Never Considering The Wind And Current

No doubt about it wind and current are major factors to consider when docking a boat. Failing to assess the wind and current can quickly cause you to become out of position and in a dangerous situation. 

Before approaching a marina or boat ramp, take note of the wind direction, wind speed, and the current direction and speed. You’ll better be able to make a smooth approach. 

Not Communicating With Family And Friends

One important thing to remember when docking is to use your resources to your advantage. Some of the biggest resources include the passengers aboard the boat. 

Before lining up to dock, provide passengers with instructions on where and when to secure the dock lines. You’ll be secured in no time if you work together as a team. 

Avoiding Forgetting These 10 Factors When Docking

The next time you’re headed to the dock, make sure to consider factors that can affect your ability to approach safely. Ultimately, you need to keep your passengers and yourself safe. Additionally, you need to avoid collisions that cause damage to your boat and fellow boater’s vessels. Be smart when docking a boat.