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Docking advice. What size boat is right for you?

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Docking advice. What size boat is right for you?

Old 10-23-2020, 03:35 PM
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Default Docking advice. What size boat is right for you?

Hey there THT members. Iím at the beginning stages of researching what kind of boat would fit my lifestyle, whether itís fishing or just cruising around and hanging out at a sandbar. Initially Iím leaning towards something in the 21-28 ft range mono or possibly even a cat. Iím new to the forum but have been reading a lot of threads and soaking up some good information and tips. Iíve been watching some of the videos on YouTube of docking failures and I donít want to be featured in one someday if I buy a boat out of my league. Iím sure some docking issues would be dependent on the size of boat, number of engines, location of the slip and weather conditions. In the end I donít want a good day on the water ruined by a stressful or bad docking experience.

What size boat are you comfortable docking? I found it interesting that I read where a twin engine boat is easier to dock than a single.

A little background: I have been out of boating for about 25 years due to the typical family obligations, kids and career but thinking of making a splash back into the boat scene next year. The last boat I had was a 25 foot with a single in board engine. I need to decide what activities I want to do with a boat going forward before starting to narrow down boat styles, brands, amenities, power and size.

Thanks in advance. Iím sure Iíll have more questions going forward.

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10-23-2020, 05:00 PM
Maranvin
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No one yet with the golden rule....never approach a dock faster than you'd want to hit it.
Old 10-23-2020, 04:25 PM
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My inboard 32 is 1000xv easier to dock than my flats boat.

I find twins easier. Twin inboards easier than twin outboards. But it's all in the eyes of the captain I guess.

Oh and we all screw up at some point. Normally when a bunch of people are watching.
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Old 10-23-2020, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Pettee View Post
My inboard 32 is 1000xv easier to dock than my flats boat.

I find twins easier. Twin inboards easier than twin outboards. But it's all in the eyes of the captain I guess.

Oh and we all screw up at some point. Normally when a bunch of people are watching.
yep 1000s of perfect docks. 1 time you come in and thereís people hanging on docks start watching you, you mess up
Old 10-23-2020, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Pettee View Post
Oh and we all screw up at some point. Normally when a bunch of people are watching.
Yup. Just keep it slow.
Old 10-23-2020, 04:36 PM
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Don't be intimidated. Think of all the complete morons who own boats and dock them successfully!

Other than a single inboard downeast boat with a small rudder, which can be really a challenge to back into a slip with a lot of wind or current, you should be able to master docking just about anything in that size range after a bit of practice and maybe some helpful instruction. Twin inboards are the easiest except for the newer integrated joystick controls with thrusters. Twin outboards are okay if well spaced. Other factors become important too such as the draft and especially windage. I have had lots of fun over the years watching transients with big Clorox bottle Bayliner sedans or Sea Rays with high sides and lots of canvas and a pretty flat bottom try to back into a slip when the wind is blowing.
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Old 10-23-2020, 04:44 PM
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In my experience thereís a lot more to it than the size of boat - mine can be quite tricky - the boat is only 21ft - thatís not the problem - itís the fact I have to get through a gap thatís 1ft narrower then the beam, so I have to wait till the boats either side of the gap float apart and time getting between them, go gently and ease them apart with the boat hook as I edge between them. Then once through the gap, turn a dog leg in less than the boat length.
Iíve docked a 36ft boat that was easier, not least of which because it had a bow thruster and twin engines.
What Iím saying is that where you have to dock it is probably a much greater factor than the size of boat, but even if itís tricky, you will soon get the hang of it.
Buy the size of boat that suits your needs, and, if necessary, get some own boat tuition to get to grips with the docking - someone elseís experience is a lot easier to learn from than your own mistakes.

Last edited by Clinker; 10-23-2020 at 05:13 PM.
Old 10-23-2020, 05:00 PM
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No one yet with the golden rule....never approach a dock faster than you'd want to hit it.
Old 10-23-2020, 05:03 PM
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The bigger they are, the easier they are to drive OP.
Old 10-23-2020, 05:07 PM
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A cat is easier to dock than a monohull. The engines are much further apart.
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:20 PM
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After a long absence, I got back into boating about seven years ago starting with a used 20' Hurricane with a single Yami 150. Quickly graduated to a 30' twin sterndrive with joystick that made it look like I actually knew what I was doing. Twins are definitely easier to dock. Two boats later and I have a new WorldCat 280 with twin Yami 200's and a joystick. Best boat yet! Easy to dock and the smoothest riding boat you could hope for. Being a cat, it just doesn't pound keeping everyone comfortable. Being a bit older my crew just can't take much pounding and there's virtually none. Docking is a cinch with the joystick. That said, with the tide going out and a brisk breeze from the east, I aborted our mission to the Snook Inn yesterday as the risk of scratching anything wasn't worth a sandwich. Guess that explains why no other boats were there!
Old 10-23-2020, 05:35 PM
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Agree with all the above. Twin inboard with straight shafts were the easiest for me. A 21í Single I/O gave me most challenge. The thing to remember with any single is the boat will reverse over to the dock better on one side (port or stbd) significantly more than the other, due to the pitch of the prop. Use that to your advantage. Spring lines help. Rubber in the right location. Especially if you botch a docking, try to keep the boat slowed as much as possible and a fender ready at the point of contact. Donít rely on a bow thruster, but they can be advantageous when it gets squirrelly.
Just donít panic and hit the throttle and you shouldnít end up on qualified captain 😉

I would call this captain for suggestions:

Old 10-23-2020, 05:49 PM
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Practice, practice, practice.

Years ago I was looking at a 23' Inboard CC. The owner introduced me to the dockmaster and said, "Let him use the boat, I'm going out of town for two days". I later spoke with the dockmaster and he told me that there had been several other people looking at the boat and most had walked away disgusted because they could not successfully back the boat into the slip. It was a dry-dock facility and you had to back in.

I made a low offer and got the boat.

I spent several evenings going up and down the creek backing into every open slip I could find. I did it at slack tide and when it was ripping in and ripping out. Eventually, I figured out what I could and could not do. Single screw inboards have a bad rep. You just need to spend time working at it. Once comfortable I could put that boat ANYWHERE I wanted, up to a point of course.

Now I have a larger CC with twin OBs and I am learning all over again. My advice? Buy the boat you really want. Running a boat for a few years and then upgrading can be ruinous to one's budget!

Good luck.
Old 10-23-2020, 05:55 PM
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I am also a newbie (pre-newbie, even) and also watched a bunch of those Youtube videos and got moderately freaked out.

I did take a walk around the marina where I hope to berth my boat someday and was somewhat comforted that all the slips have fingers (is that what you call them?) on both sides, so even though it makes a narrower slip, at least I'd only damage my boat and not my neighbor's boat too.

Can you just use the bumpers (is that what you call them?) and sort of bump your way in, assuming you are just floating and not hitting the thrust?
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Old 10-23-2020, 06:00 PM
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I just purchased my first CC earlier this year a 21í Cape Horn with a single Yamaha F250. I think I was pretty intimidated at first but spent a few Fridayís when the water was emptier docking, launching, retrieving, backing in, pulling in, etc. I focused on doing it solo as I knew when the wife was onboard either she could help making it easier or she could get out of the way 😁. A couple Fridayís and Iím much more confident.

I echo some comments above... first time I rolled up with people watching.... yeah I messed up! Most wont even bat an eye, but occasionally you get a Tommy tough guy who feels like he needs to offer his help.
Old 10-23-2020, 06:00 PM
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Depends on you on how bad you want to learn, I single hand a 32 H & H (single screw inboard downeast hull, 3 1/2 foot draft) No thruster, just huge rudder, learn the boat, the headway, how the wind grabs her and know how to play the throttle. You'll pick it up.
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Old 10-23-2020, 06:43 PM
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Love my bow thruster!
Old 10-23-2020, 06:54 PM
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Honestly... it's not that hard. The videos you see are mostly guys who are pretty drunk. I wouldn't worry about it too much.
Old 10-23-2020, 06:56 PM
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My 35 Scarab with tips was easy greasy. I also run my buddies 45 Formula by myself and and thatís super easy to dock with the IPS or without. Just take your time!
Old 10-23-2020, 07:17 PM
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I have a 30í CC with twin outboards. Pretty easy to back in. I found that instead of working both motors, itís easier for me to leave the one in revers pretty much the whole time and just bump the forward motor to get it turned where I want it. The best thing to do if things get crossed up is to just start over.
Old 10-23-2020, 07:22 PM
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I single hand my 33ft twin screw inboard 99% of the time (no thruster or anything else). Never have an issue. She does have a good size keel though.

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