Sometimes you may need to turn in a very narrow channel between pontoons, without enough space to execute a normal turn under power. On many occasions, you can use [ prop walk ] to turn the yacht in nearly its own length but a strong wind or poor boat performance under power may render this impossible.
When negotiating a boat marina to find a berth, the yacht heads down a narrow channel which may turn out to be a dead end. In these circumstances being able to turn the yacht or to reverse out may be required. Many yachts have poor characteristics when reversing under power. Also a following wind makes it difficult to turn safely in the space available. If a [ prop walk assisted turn ] is not feasible, consider using the anchor to help turn the yacht.
If concerned about having enough room to manoeuvre in a boat marina, or wind or tide may cause loss of control, use warps in helping to arrive or leave safely. The method of using warps depends on the berthing position therefore only guidelines can be given.
Assess the effects of prop walk, wind, and tide on the yacht while moving into or out of berth. Plan to use the appropriate mooring warp to prevent or promote the required turn. A warp used this way is rigged as a slip line enabling it to be released quickly and easily from on board.
Before you arrive at a boat marina, contact the marina berthing master by VHF radio to obtain directions to a suitable berth. Remember to ask which side of the yacht you will be berthing on, so that you can prepare warps and fenders on the correct side.
Before approaching a boat marina berthing, it is vital that you know your yacht's characteristics at slow speed and are able to turn in tight spaces using the effects of prop walk. If the yacht has poor handling in reverse, avoid particularly tight or difficult berths.
Wind direction and the angle of the berth to the wind determines how to arrive at the berth. The boat's ability to perform at very low speeds and 'prop walk' have a bearing on the choice of berth.
If you are uncertain of the boat marina layout, or if your yacht is difficult to handle, choose an outside berth if possible, perhaps manoeuvring into an inside one later using warps. Most marinas have reserved berths for permanent berth holders, with others for use by visitors.
Make sure that you select a visitor's berth when visiting a boat marina for the first time. It is not usually wise to attempt to sail into a boat marina because of the confined space, although you may be able to pick up an outside berth under sail.
Having found a berth, plan the entry with care. Brief the crew on how to prepare the warps, boat hooks and fenders. Brief on the drill on which warps are secured first, along with checking that no warps trail in the water that might foul the propeller.
When preparing to berth, assess the best approach method and position the yacht in the chosen position alongside the berth so that the crew can step - not jump - safely ashore and secure the lines.
Have enough fenders that can be deployed on both sides of the boat when entering a marina to protect the yacht from unforseen damage. This also gives you a choice of berthing on either side if the situation changes at the last moment or you find the planned berth too difficult to enter.
Marinas are often located out of the main tidal stream, so tide effects may not be significant in your final approach. Study the situation carefully, because if a pontoon mooring sticks out into the tide, the tidal effect may have a significant impact on what you will have to allow for. When preparing to berth, you should assess the situation and pick the best approach method.
Most boat marina berths enable two boats to occupy each section giving little space to manoeuvre so use the neighbouring boat to fend off, if wind or tide are controlling your entrance into the finger berth. It is often easier to go alongside the neighbouring vessel in the berth than the smaller finger pontoon mooring, so be ready to fend off on that side
When returning to a berth, check that the yacht is entering the section of the boat marina that contains the berth allotted and that no vessel is currently moored there.
This [ diagram ] shows the following bething procedures.
If head-to-wind and bow-out, simply start the engine, release the warps, and push the bow off, before motoring straight out
It is possible to berth stern-to if there is good control in reverse but most boats find it easier to berth bow-to in this situation.
The yacht’s position in relation to the wind and tide, and whether bow-in or stern-in to the berth determines what procedure to use when leaving. Make a note of other boats on neighbouring pontoons, and those entering or leaving the boat marina.
Before leaving the marina berth, the start the engine to allow it to warm up. Take into consideration how wind and tide will affect the yacht when leaving the berth. Brief the crew and have them prepare any slip lines that are needed to control the yacht. Instruct the crew in what order the lines are to be released, and that no warps are left in the water to foul the propeller.
Lying bow-out in a leeward berth creates easy exit. The yacht blows clear of the pontoon while the crew recovers the warps, allowing the yacht to motor straight out. Be aware of boats moored to the leeward side on the opposite pontoon mooring
With good control under power in reverse with sufficient space between the neighbouring boat, spring the stern out before motoring out backwards. lf there is no room to spring the stern out, or the yacht handles poorly astern, pull the boat back along the pontoon using the bow spring and stern line until the boat can motor Spring stern off
Lying bow-in, the use of prop walk will pull the stern clear of the pontoon when motoring astern. If prop walk pushes the stern onto the pontoon, spring the stern out before reversing clear. The crew can help by walking the boat back to the end of the pontoon using a stern line and bow spring.
If there is good control in reverse and no strong cross wind:
If the boat handles poorly in reverse: