The Short Spring

Published by Swain Sailing School and Yacht Charters on Sunday, 5th October 2014 - 9:21PM in Sailing Tips


Any technique that relieves the stress when coming to a dock is a good thing. This is especially true when the boat is large, or handled by a small crew. Try the short spring trick early on and save yourself a lot of hassle. It works best when coming to an alongside dock such as the typical fuel dock or floating finger pier, but can be adapted to suit most situations.

The cardinal rule is to avoid any "helpful" dock hand from taking and pulling in a bow line tight. Most of these people have never handled a large yacht and have no appreciation of the havoc that this action can cause. The simplest way to avoid this happening is to keep the bow line out of their reach! When approaching a dock have a short spring line attached to a cleat near to the widest point of the yacht. This is where there is a gate in the lifelines. The bow and stern lines are attached to their cleats, brought back or forward to the lifelines near to this point, and hitched for easy access.

One person is on the helm/engine control, and remains here. The other (the linesman) is by the gate, calling out distances away from the dock. Ideally the yacht is brought to a stop alongside, so that the linesman can just step off with the short midships spring. He or she immediately ties this spring line to the nearest cleat on the dock, taking up as much slack as possible without actually using any strength to pull in the yacht. The shorter this line is kept, the better everything works. Now the boat is not going anywhere; by putting the engine into forward gear and steering the helm towards the dock the bow may be brought in. It is a simple matter to unhitch the bow line from the rail and walk to a suitable dockside cleat or bollard, then do the same with the stern line. There is no hurry because the helmsman can keep control of the yacht's position by motoring against the short spring in either direction.

Once the yacht is safely tied bow and stern, the short spring can be removed and normal fore and aft spring lines rigged at leisure.

Share on:

2016 Swain Sailing | All rights reserved