I had the opportunity to watch a near catastrophe the other day! A sailboat was tied to the leeward side of the “D” dock pump out station in some moderately windy conditions. When done, the skipper (who was single handing) was setting up lines to cast off. He removed the stern line and held it in his hand. Then, he removed the bow line and was trying to hold both lines while he jumped aboard. At this point all lines were off the dock and the wind was pushing the boat away from the dock, pulling the skipper with it. At the last second, he made a wild dive for the boat and was able to scramble aboard through the open life lines. I’m sure he had some bruises to contend with, however, another two or three seconds and the result would not have been as positive!
Fortunately, at Tradewinds, everyone knows there is a better way. Use lines that can be “slipped” so you can handle the lines from the boat, not the dock. Double up the lines, so that they go from the boat around the dock cleat and back to the boat, allowing you to climb aboard with the boat still secured to the dock. However, even that can present challenges when the wind really starts to blow, because as you release the line to double it up, the wind can still blow the boat away. There is still a point in time where the boat is not completely secured to the dock.
Which brings us to the tip. Start with two secured breast lines … one bow and one stern. Don’t double up the working lines. Use separate lines. Leave each working dock line in place while setting up a second line to run from the boat to a dock cleat and back to the boat. Adjust and secure these lines, then remove the original lines. At no point is the boat not secured!