One of the most challenging aspects of operating a boat is docking. Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina have exceptional amounts of freshwater and saltwater boating opportunities between the coastline, lakes, and rivers. Boaters are faced with difficult docking situations daily. Use these five tips when docking in strong currents. 

What Causes Strong Currents

In Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, currents are primarily caused by the change in the tide; therefore, boaters only face challenges in saltwater. However, rivers are similarly associated. 

A significant amount of water moves with changing tides, whether the flow is flooding into the marshes or out to sea. As a result, stiff currents are present at marinas and boat docks.

Plan Your Approach 

Formulate a plan of approach in your head before maneuvering the vessel close to the dock. Consider the wind and current direction, and obstacles faced such as boats, and where the watercraft needs to be positioned on the dock.

Having a game plan will make the task far less daunting. Remember, you can always abort the approach and line up for a second attempt. 

Prepare The Fenders And Lines

We see it time and time again. The boat operator comes within a foot of the dock only to realize the fenders are not deployed and the lines are not prepared.

Always have the necessary gear associated with docking on the deck of the vessel. Place the lines through the cleats and secure the fenders to put in place when required. Lastly, if you’re alone have a boat pole accesible to grab the dock.

Drive The Bow Into The Current

While currents make docking challenging, the current should be used to your advantage.

The bow should be moving against the current with driving front forward to a boat dock. Slow forward motion will allow maximum control of the vessel. 

With the motor in gear driving ahead, angle the bow slightly towards the dock. The combination of current and steerage will guide you slowly into the slip. 

When the current is on the stern and the boat is in a forward motion with water flow, the combination of the two will render the vessel uncontrollable. 

Utilize The Passengers Aboard The Boat

Unless you are operating the vessel alone, use the help of the passengers onboard. Your guests and family members can assist with setting up the lines and fenders in addition to tieing the boat off once you come alongside.

The operator must focus solely on maneuvering the boat while allowing others to assist in other ways. The driver is responsible for the passenger’s and the watercraft’s wellbeing and should not be distracted by other responsibilities. 

Never Rush The Process

Rushing to get the boat to the dock is a bad idea. A hurried up approach can lead to disastrous circumstances. 

When it comes to docking, slow and steady wins the race. The vessel will remain under control with slow, calculated maneuvers and will bring safety to the dock time after time. 

In the event, you get out out of position and cannot leave the confined dockage area without touching the dock or another boat, do nothing. Allow the boat to drift into another vessel or the dock without applying throttle. The situation and damage become worse when the watercraft is accelerated. 

Are You Ready For Docking In Strong Currents

Utilizing these five steps will help make your docking experience less nerve-wracking. Even more so, the more times you perform docking, the more comfortable you will feel. A boaters education course can be helpful. The process is simple, but strong currents cause a wrinkle what would be a standard approach. However, another option rather than facing current is to wait until slack high or low tide when the water ceases motion.