Docking at a Parallel Dock with a twin Engine Boat

From my experience docking boats I would say there are no tips or tricks that will make the job easy. Having a good set of dock whips is essential, however. It is a task with many variables therefore difficult to achieve and control especially when it has to be accomplished quickly with little room for errors. With this said not everyone is equipped to make docking a breeze. Keeping a cool head under stress is a virtue not possessed by everyone and with differing degrees. Here are some suggestions which may help in keeping a cool head and in control. There are general rules which apply to all conditions and all boats. Then we will get into specific conditions that pertain to the dock and the boat and the conditions that act upon your boat like weather and water.

First, how do you maintain a cool head when knowing what is at stake. Damage to your boat, which we all know can be very costly. Damage to other boats, damage to your dock, and or other’s docks. Worst of all you are alone on center stage. To your family, friends, and strangers your reputation as a fearless, brave, gallant, heroic, handsome captain is at stake and can change in a split second, to a complete idiot.

So, never go into this attempt at docking your boat without preparation. That means like any tricky challenge you must prepare your mind. Visualize how this will go down. Run the video in your head as to what must be done to complete the task. And most of all TAKE YOUR TIME. Never rush into this maneuver without some advance visual conclusion as to where you want to wind up.
Believe it or not the larger the boat the easier it is to dock. Large boats do not move quickly and respond slowly. Of course, with large boats, when it goes wrong it goes very wrong. They are harder to stop and damage can be catastrophic. So what does that teach us? MOVE SLOWLY.

Second, bring your boat to a full stop at least a full boat length before becoming parallel with the spot where you want to dock. Observe the size, will you fit with lots of room leftover. Check the wind, direction, strength (speed) will it help or hurt. Will it blow you into the dock or away from the dock, very important. If your boat has a large profile wind is a crucial factor. Current is also a crucial factor. While you are at a full stop determine if your boat is moving due to the current. The best way to do that is to focus on an object on shore. Assign a person on deck to drop fenders on the side at least three and at the ready with a line at amidships.

This article will pertain to twin-engine boats. We will cover other boats and docking conditions in future articles. It is much easier to control a two-engine boat than a single engine boat. Of course, we assume you have a lot of practice controlling your boat using engines only. I want to again emphasize slowly. Idle speed at first to overcome wind and or current. Speed may be increased but not more than is necessary. To make it less complicated use only one engine at a time, keep the other engine in neutral. Use both engines to turn severely or your single engine for slower turns.

If we consider the docking space as a box point the bow of your boat to the right-hand forward corner after coming alongside the boat at the back of your space about two boat widths away. When your bow is about twenty feet from the dock reverse your engines starboard engine forward port engine reverse at idle speed. Once the boat almost completes the swing and is almost parallel to the dock put both engines in neutral and let it glide into the spot. your boat, Of course, be prepared to reverse both engines to reverse and stop the forward motion. My best advice is to have the deck person tie an amidships line just to hold the boat in place then tie bow and stern lines. At this point, we hope you are using our mooring whips which will protect your boat from dock damage while moored. Applause at this point will make your day. In the future look for our other blogs covering different type boats and different type docks. If you have questions or comments we would love to hear from you. Please visit our site at for our customer service number where you can reach me personally. Sam