I’ve never had an opportunity to re-visit a topic this quickly, however I think a second visit might be needed in this case! In the last one week, two different people I know have ended up in the water. One at a dock and one at a mooring ball! Fortunately, the only injuries incurred were to the pride of those involved. Sadly, in both cases taking basic safety precautions would have prevented a cold, wet experience.
Case number 1 … while docking at Sam’s, the bow line handler got a little too enthusiastic in pulling the bow to the dock, pulling the stern line handler into the water between the boat and the dock.
Lesson 1 … you can not stop a moving 15,000 pound boat by hand. You need some help in the form of friction. Get a line around both sides of a cleat and you can stop the boat with two fingers.
Case number 2 … while picking up a mooring ball at Ayala Cove, the crew member attempting to get a line through the mooring ring leaned too far out, got off balance and fell in.
Lesson 2 … Even in calm water, a boat rocks, rolls, and in general moves a lot. Do not lean out! Trying to save a less than good maneuver often ends badly.
Lesson 3 … Kneel instead of standing. It’s much more stable.
I personally believe all crew should remain inside the cockpit until two dock lines are secured. As the skipper of a vessel, I enforce that rule unless conditions absolutely require otherwise, which is very rare. The helmsperson should bring the crewmember to the cleat. Crew should not need to go to the cleat. Crew should always kneel while handling lines … especially during those rare occasions that require crew outside of the cockpit. Finally, never forget – one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat!
All of these techniques are covered in the Advanced Docking (ASA 118) class. I highly recommend taking the class. If you have already taken it, take it again.