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3 Easy Steps to Back-In Docking
May 30, 2023
How To Guides
May 30, 2023
How To Guides
Backing your boat into a slip probably seems like such a chore, or maybe it makes you nervous. Believe it or not, it is not always too difficult, and we bet that with the guidance in this article, a little practice and lots of patience, you’ll be a pro in no time. This article will detail the steps for backing in a small (30 ft or less) vessel with a single outboard engine.
Before trying your hand at backing in, always check your surroundings for other people and boats. Safety is always the number one priority. Also ensure that your dock lines are set and your fenders are in place.
Quite possibly the most important step is to identify the forces of wind and current around; the slightest of breezes can adjust your course. Look at the water around you instead of nearby flags or trees because the wind around your boat could be moving differently and with more or less strength.
Begin by trimming up your engine and aligning your boat with the slip. To do this, position your boat in the center of the waterway and come up to your slip in neutral. Once your cockpit (or whatever point of your boat is about 1/3 of the way back from the bow) is lined up with the center of your slip, put your boat in reverse until it comes to a stop, put it back in neutral and then throw it forward to begin pivoting your stern towards the slip. If you don’t feel you are aligned properly or the wind or current keeps forcing you off course, keep touching into neutral, reverse or forward and turning the wheel in the opposite direction of the way the bow is moving until you feel you are straight. Perform these actions slowly and carefully – if you need to apply power, only use the throttle momentarily so as not to move too quickly or lose control. Try to only use the wheel when in neutral.
Slowly begin reversing into the slip, adjusting your direction as needed, using the same method as above. If you have others on board, use them to help direct you when you get close to the dock and tie off the lines.
Adjusting for Wind and Current:
The only difference to backing in when you have significant wind or current to deal with is that it will require you to touch in and out of gears more frequently and to use a little more throttle and more of your wheel. Just remember to keep these adjustments controlled and take it slowly. If you feel you are losing control, stop the boat, pull away from the slip, head downwind and try again. It is much better to be safe than sorry in this instance.
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Backing into a slip is a great skill to learn as it provides many benefits. It will take practice, especially when weather and water conditions change on a regular basis. Practice backing in when weather conditions are ideal. Always take it slowly; be patient and do not be ashamed to start over if you are not comfortable with the direction you are heading. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
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