Docking tips

Thread starter #1
I am trying to come up with tips for launching and returning to a boat dock rather than a beach. Does anyone have pointers on raising and lowering the sail while in the boat ? And where u would suggest to put a stern line ?
 
#2
Dear Laughing Lovely, although beach launching and retrieving is easiest, a dock will work out ok. First off, I'd make sure I had a decent collapsable paddle. The paddle allows you to turn the Sunfish into the wind and drop the sail if you are returning, or raise the sail if you are headed out. If you usually hoist the sail and tie it off on the on a mast cleat, I would probably try putting a loop in the halyard so I could raise the sail, slip the loop over the mast cleat, run through the deck fairlead, over the gooseneck, back through the fairlead and final tie off on the deck cleat. Always pointing into the wind, both raising and dropping the sail is much easier, even if you have to paddle a little ways from or to the dock. Give it a try on a calm day, it should be pretty doable. The Sunfish is easy to paddle. Just a tip, make sure you tie off the paddle after use in case you take a spill, you don't want to be ............up the river without the paddle.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#3
I am trying to come up with tips for launching and returning to a boat dock rather than a beach. Does anyone have pointers on raising and lowering the sail while in the boat ? And where u would suggest to put a stern line ?
There's an old axiom that states, "Never approach the dock faster than you are willing to hit it." :cool:

Your only "brakes" is the tiller thrown "hard over". (Although spectacular "braking" can be made with a catamaran).
 

Kevin Mc

Active Member
#4
Depending on the wind orientation to the dock (blowing across it at an angle) and available space you can leave the sail up, come alongside the dock on the downwind side (slowly!), then grab the dock and release the mainsheet. However, this usually means lowering the sail with it over the water and is best done with a second person available to catch the spars and sail. Otherwise the "face the wind, drop the sail, paddle to the dock" method is probably better (note, the centerboard can be used as a paddle if necessary). I've had one occasion where, despite having two people onboard paddling, the wind was strong enough (~25 mph directly against us) we couldn't get to the dock!
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#5
If you usually hoist the sail and tie it off on the on a mast cleat, I would probably try putting a loop in the halyard so I could raise the sail.
Due to the rules of geometry, this idea will not work. Try it and see.

I suggest getting in the boat with it tied to the dock, hoisting the sail, and pushing off. Much easier than drifting loose trying to hoist the sail. ALWAYS launch and return on the lee side of the dock.

I have sailed a long, long time and have never seen a Sunfish with a stern line.
 
#6
Well this is probably obvious, but step the mast before you launch the boat if you can. I've only had to step the mast on the water a couple of times, and never at the dock, but it's not a ton of fun. I have the mast stepped and the halyard looped around my mast cleat so I don't lose it, and a bungee around the stern end of the spars to keep it all together til I'm ready to raise. Once the boat is tied off I climb in, lower the rudder and daggerboard, put the bow more or less into the wind, line up the spars over the boat and undo my bungee. Then put the end of the halyard through the fair lead and raise the sail (pulling the halyard up at the mast,not pulling on the end of it). Then it's usually a graceful and dignified dance with me on my stomach and/or half crouched in the cockpit to try to cleat the halyard without losing tension and without being brained by the lower spar. At this point a water break is usually called for. Then I rig the vang and make sure my mainsheet is all ready to go. I usually have someone else untie me and give me a shove, and then I sail off, often catching a fisherman's line on my daggerboard as I go. If I have to untie and shove myself it usually turns into another ballet of wriggling around to the dockside and fiddling with my bow line. It's poetry in motion, you guys.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#7
Due to the rules of geometry, this idea will not work. Try it and see.

I suggest getting in the boat with it tied to the dock, hoisting the sail, and pushing off. Much easier than drifting loose trying to hoist the sail. ALWAYS launch and return on the lee side of the dock.
This is what I usually do. Only when the wind is from a very unfavorable direction do I lower the sail prior to docking.
 
Last edited:
Thread starter #8
Thanks to you all, I hope to get out on the water and give this a try this week. It is warming up down here so if I go over while experimenting it won't be bad !
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#10
I suggest getting in the boat with it tied to the dock, hoisting the sail, and pushing off. Much easier than drifting loose trying to hoist the sail.
I have a shoreline of trees, which makes "drifting loose" my only option. I push away sideways with the daggerboard,
install it when the movement slows, and reach for the halyard. I've drilled the splashboard for a hole, lengthened the halyard, and installed a cam cleat on the deck. (See white arrow). Before you shove off, check that the mast is aligned with the halyard, that you have retained the daggerboard, :oops: and that your mainsheet hasn't tangled with the rudder or tiller. :confused: Allow yourself about 100-feet of leeward drift, and you should be good-to-go.
P6110041-002.JPG
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#13
Although I bought the recommended halyard line, I'm trying out a heavier, thicker line for the halyard. One shortcoming of the construction (braided/ not-nylon), is that it binds :mad: at both the deck fairlead and mast-top guide. (Not to mention the usual gooseneck drag). This has been temporarily fixed with three gobs of Vasolene, which seems to have "slicked-up" the operation of the two plastic parts and the usual gooseneck's friction with the aluminum mast.

A seacoast sailing friend suggested a different knot at the upper spar. It's just a bowline with about an 18-inch circumference, but wrapped within itself three times around the spar (symmetrically) before threading the loose end through it. It hasn't budged on the spar, and allows a very satisfying tight fit between the upper spar and mast while sailing. Loosened slightly, the completed knot can be readily moved up or down the spar, yet grabs readily when put back into service. I'll get a photo of it—simple, yet effective. :)
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#14
Although I bought the recommended halyard line, I'm trying out a heavier, thicker line for the halyard. One shortcoming of the construction (braided/ not-nylon), is that it binds :mad: at both the deck fairlead and mast-top guide. (Not to mention the usual gooseneck drag). This has been temporarily fixed with three gobs of Vasolene, which seems to have "slicked-up" the operation of the two plastic parts and the usual gooseneck's friction with the aluminum mast.
I use AmSteel Blue for my halyard; it's pretty slippery.
Moreover, I would hate to get Vaseline on my halyard!


PS: This conversation has drifted far away from Luffing Lassie's dock...
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#15
I use AmSteel Blue for my halyard; it's pretty slippery.
Moreover, I would hate to get Vaseline on my halyard!
If AmSteel Blue is already slippery as a halyard, adding Vaseline may cause it to run away! :p

PS: This conversation has drifted far away from Luffing Lassie's dock
Not really. When you need to push off from a shoreline with overhanging trees before raising sail, a "full functioning" of the halyard is critical. Plastic fairlead and mast-top fairlead (but particularly, faded paint) gets a "refresh" from Vaseline, and becomes slippery for about a week.

Today's rain will wash off the Vaseline, so a "refresh" with WD-40 or CDC-5 may be the next step. WD-40 definitely helps at the gooseneck, which had been my first undoing. :( I had purchased the proper halyard, but don't think it was AmSteel Blue—which sounds like the right answer. :)
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#16
A seacoast sailing friend suggested a different knot at the upper spar. It's just a bowline with about an 18-inch circumference, but wrapped within itself three times around the spar (symmetrically) before threading the loose end through it. It hasn't budged on the spar, and allows a very satisfying tight fit between the upper spar and mast while sailing. Loosened slightly, the completed knot can be readily moved up or down the spar, yet grabs readily when put back into service. I'll get a photo of it—simple, yet effective. :)
The promised photograph:

P7150095.JPG

Still no wind. :(
 
#17
I have a shoreline of trees, which makes "drifting loose" my only option. I push away sideways with the daggerboard,
install it when the movement slows, and reach for the halyard. I've drilled the splashboard for a hole, lengthened the halyard, and installed a cam cleat on the deck. (See white arrow). Before you shove off, check that the mast is aligned with the halyard, that you have retained the daggerboard, :oops: and that your mainsheet hasn't tangled with the rudder or tiller. :confused: Allow yourself about 100-feet of leeward drift, and you should be good-to-go.
View attachment 16915
Nice looking boat!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#18
Thanks. :)

It's the only Sunfish (of my three Sunfish) that has an inspection port, so I feel justified in experimenting with it.

Last year, for sun block and sunglasses, I installed an RV "cargo net" in an unused area of the cockpit.



Better cargo nets are available today.

Yesterday, I installed a watertight container on the forward bulkhead to hold my camera, and maybe also my flip-phone. I bought the locking-lid covered container at a store specializing in containers. ("The Container Store"). They were available in sizes to protect a smart-phone (or GPS) as large as a Galaxy-5, but got my smart-phone only recently. :confused: Only one hand is needed to lock the water-tight lid. :cool:



For my water bottle, I installed a beverage holder originally designed to slip into an interior car window "trunk". Both are mounted a bit "loose", so I can't break them should I bang into them.

Today, I'm going to drill a hole in the deck to mount the previously-discussed starter rope—for ease in righting under heavy wind/water conditions. With any luck, it may be next season before a "mandatory test" can be carried out.

;)
 
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