Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What's a Bitter End???

(0:56) In my fantasy world every dockhand I encounter would know exactly how to tie up my boat in the manner I like. Well, that and fuel would be 50 cents a gallon and chocolate would have no calories. But now I'm really dreaming.

(0:50) As I've discussed in previous Minutes, the encounter between the boater and the dockhand taking the lines at the dock is critical. It is the first personal encounter and can set the stage for the entire stay. Make sure that every dockhand is well trained, knowledgeable, and listens to the boater.

(0:44) The first two are the easy ones which can be handled with good training and oversight of new dockhands. For example, ensure they know what to do with the line whether they are handed the eye or the bitter end. They should know how to secure my lines professionally. Can they secure the eye so it doesn't bounce off the cleat? Do they know how to properly cleat off the bitter end? The most common mistake we encounter is a dockhand who ties our flared bow in too tightly making it impossible to pull in the stern.

(0:32) The more difficult skill, but also the more important one, is really listening to the boater. A terrific dockhand will follow the boater's instructions, if given, as the boater will best know how their boat handles and what the issues are. If needed, the dockhand can offer advice on issues the boater may not be aware of like an unexpected eddy, for example.

(0:22) A truly skilled dockhand can gauge the confidence and experience of the crew and offer more instruction if needed. Suggest a spring line rather than the bow line, particularly if the current could swing the boat perpendicular to the dock. And if the dockhand knows whether the spring line should go forward or aft they may even receive a marriage proposal.

(0:12) Of course, in the ideal situation you would always be able to hire extremely experienced and knowledgeable dockhands to fill every position. But in the real world that isn't always possible so make sure to take the time to train them properly. After all, they are the first ambassadors the boater meets at your marina. Make sure the boater's experience starts off on the right foot.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.