How to Dock Your Boat with an “Off Dock” Wind. VIDEO

Dock your boat like a pro, even against a strong off-the-dock wind. This can be a challenge unless you know the triple secret of springline, rudder and engine control. Watch this sailing skills video to master the art of boat docking smooth and easy!

Captain JohnTHE AUTHOR
Captain John is a 20+ year Coast Guard veteran, where he served as a search and rescue coxswain, ship driver and certified master training specialist.

He is a published maritime author, certified (by the CG) professional maritime instructor to teach up through 100 ton masters level licenses, a nationally certified sailing instructor, and a licensed captain under power or sail.

You can discover all his tips at


  1. Dear Capt. John

    No disrespect sir, but I do not agree with this maneuver. It will be must easier to approach the dock without loosing your bow coming in astern. Attaching the stern line first then put into forward propulsion. Driving forward on the stern line and term your wheel hard to which side the dock is from the boat. Then you can get a midships line on if the wind is really pumping to help keeping control and then last, but not least you can attach your bow line and springs.

    Kind Regards

    1. Peter, thanks for your comment. Both maneuvers will work. The method illustrated was the standard method used in training when I taught small boat handling and ship handling for the US Coast Guard and small boat handling at the Chapman School of Seamanship Professional Mariner Program. We also used this method time and again when docking search and rescue small craft, ships and recreational power and sailboats.

      In forward propulsion, you maximize the controls of your vessel because the discharge current from the propeller directly strikes the rudder blade. On the other hand, in reverse, the discharge current from the propeller is sent toward the bow. The rudder becomes effective only after you gather sternway. The method you describe does work, but it would leave the stern vulnerable for boats with wind vanes, dinghies on davits, outboards or outboard hung rudders.

  2. I cannot see that manoeuvre working 100 percent, given that is exactly the technique I use to push the stern out when leaving astern (albeit with the tiller the other way). On many sailing yachts the wash of the prop over the rudder is not enough to counteract the force of the spring pulling the bow in and pushing the stern out, given that there are now wind forces broadside on I suspect you’d end up tied bow on like a dinghy on its painter.

    1. Adjust the spring line length and attachment point for your vessel. Ease the spring to help bring the boat flush alongside. Also, you can move the attachment point farther aft toward the beam for the same result. Experiment to see what method works best for your vessel.

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