Yesterday we went out in our Beneteau 373. And the winds were really cranking to 25 knots but very gusty as is typical with Lake Travis. The winds channel off the tops of hills and down through the valleys leading into the lake and they create gust after gust. When we went to come back to the marina the winds were still high in the marina and blowing directly into my slip. Since we park the boat in stern first this was the most tricky combination of slip position and wind. I lined up as usual to back the boat in with my stern to the wind just outside the marina. But I could not get the sailboat to swing around so that we could back down the slipway beam to. The issue was the winds were so high they were pushing the bow too far down wind.
The solution was to start out about 50m out from the marina and get a decent amount of sternway going so that the water flow over the rudder was high enough to overcome the windage on the bow. Once we got that going we were able to go beam to. We had to keep the speed up in the slip way and then make the final turn downwind into the slip. I started my turn downwind turn going backwards about 10m from as far on the other side of the slipway as possible. The boat slid perfectly into the slip and I applied a small forward thrust spurt about 3m from the dock walkway and let the boat continue its sternway until about .5m from the dock where I touched forward again to come to a perfect stop.
Now I’m not saying i do it this perfect all the time and at the start I was looking a little embarassed because I couldn’t get the boat moving beam to – but at least the theory works in practice.
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I am fortunate to have had Grant Headifen as my sailing instructor on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas.We have practiced all of the examples in the Maneuvering under power course on the lake. I have only been sailing for four years and mostly on the lake.Recently I charterd a 50′ Beneteau in Croatia. I was the only experienced sailor on board and as Captain did all of the maneuvering under power. The thought of having to perform meditterranean mooring under scrutiny of everyone in the marinas was scary.I am happy to say that I had no problem—none. The techniques that Grant has taught me were the keys to my success.I have recently reviewed Nautic Ed’s “Maneuvering Course” and strongly advise anyone who would like to improve their expertise in motoring their sailboat in those difficult situations to take this course and practice the excercises that are so plainly and conveniently explained and illustrated.
Good Sailing(and Motoring)