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Monday, May 27, 2013

Heading to the Dock of the Bay (aka How to Dock Your Boat!)

Prior planning and practice will not only keep you and your passengers safe and protect your boat, but will also preserve your appearance as a skillful boater. Prior to getting underway, you should implement docking and undocking plans with the help of your passengers. You should consider the traffic in the area, the direction of wind and current and the depth of the water. Do not assume that your passengers have the same experience that you have. Be specific and give direction if you ask for their help.

When the wind or current is pushing your boat away from the dock the procedure is simple.
1. Cast off lines and pull in fenders as the wind blows you away.
2. When clear and safely away from the dock and other boats, shift to forward and depart at idle speed.
3. Be careful to make sure you have been pushed safely away and that the stern will not hit the dock as you motor forward and turn. Remember: A boat does not steer like a car, it pivots on its axis.
4. Once you are clear of the dock, stow lines and fenders so they will not be in the way or pose a tripping hazard. Be sure to control speed when leaving the dock and check for other boats, swimmers or other obstacles.

Before approaching the dock, one end of the docking lines should be secured onboard; fenders readied and speed reduced. If the wind is onshore (blowing toward the dock), the boat is brought to a position parallel to the dock and about two feet off. The wind will blow the boat in. It can then be secured by bow, stern and spring lines. If the wind is offshore (blowing away from the dock), you should approach the dock at a 20 to 30 degree angle. A bow line is passed ashore and secured. In boats with an outboard, or inboard/outboard engine, the engine is turned towards the dock and put in reverse. This will bring the stern into the dock. The boat can then be secured with the stern line. The procedure is different for boats with inboard engines. The rudder will be used to bring the stern in. To push the stern in using the rudder, attach an after bow spring to keep the boat from moving forward. With the engine idling forward, turn the wheel away from the dock as illustrated below. Since the boat cannot move forward and the rudder is pushing the stern in, the boat will pin itself against the dock while you secure the other lines. All maneuvers are more easily accomplished if the boat has twin engines, rather than a single engine.

Traveling the inland waterways can be a pleasant experience but can also bring some special challenges especially for larger boats and sailboats. Dealing with draw bridges takes some knowledge of how the system works and knowing what you are looking for. As you approach a bridge there are several thing that you should look for. You should check the right side of the bridge opening for the "clearance board". This will give you the minimum clearance, in feet, from the water level to the bridge structure. This will determine whether you can clear the bridge or will need to have it open (You should know the vertical height of your boat prior to getting to the bridge). Even if you can navigate under the bridge with plenty of clearance, always slow down and do so at idle speed. You can not see if another boater is on the other side, out of view, until the boat suddenly darts out into the bridge channel.

Boating safety courses are always recommended and most insurance companies offer discounts on your policy when you provide evidence that you've taken the course. When it comes to being on the water, you can never fully predict what could happen.

Because boats and jet skis may not be in use year round, many people forget to keep their insurance policies active on these. Is your insurance active? Be sure to check. If you don't have insurance, now is the time to purchase. In todays society this valuable coverage is extremely important for your protection and well being. For the best rates and service, be sure to contact your local agents and trusted choice for insurance at one of our 3 Southgroup Insurance coastal locations.
If you are on the Gulf Coast, contact your Trusted Choice agent, SouthGroup-Gulf Coast / , SERVICE TEAM: Angelyn Treutel, Tammy Garfield, Dawn Garza, Tammy Hogue, Brittany Jones, Wendy Johnson, Denise Russell, Melissa Moran, Alex Treutel, Susan Monti, Kayleigh Davis, Anne Gillam, Ashlie Moody, and Whitney Zimmerman at SouthGroup Gulf Coast. You can reach us by snail-mail: 412 Hwy 90, Suite 6, Bay St Louis MS 39520, email: , phone:228-466-4498, fax:888-415-8922,

FaceBook , or Twitter ! We now have 3 locations to serve you - 2505 Pass Road - Biloxi, 5400 Indian Hill-Diamondhead, and 412 Hwy 90 Ste 6-Bay Saint Louis, MS.
Thanks to Susan Monti for her words of wisdom!

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