Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Impress Me

(1:04) Do you want to know the fastest and simplest way to impress a transient boater? It's something that I would estimate only about 25% of the marinas we visit provide. It's not a spa or a pool or even a courtesy car.

(0:57) Make sure that every dockhand knows how to properly tie a cleat hitch and that they do it every time a boat arrives.

(0:52) The moment I hand my lines to your dockhand, it sets the tone for the rest of the visit. While it is common to encounter a dockhand who is friendly, courteous, and helpful, it is quite unusual to find one who has correctly tied my boat to the dock with a cleat hitch. It is the main reason you see captains retying their lines once the dockhands have left. It's the first thing my captain checks when he steps onto the dock.

(0:41) If you're unsure how it is done, check out the Chapman's Piloting Seamanship & Small Boat Handling section on knots. Or search online for "cleat hitch" and you'll find dozens of descriptions, pictures, and even videos. It's a very simple knot to master and most dockhands think they know how to tie it. But they don't.

(0:31) In fact, it is the first knot written about in the Chapman's section on knots, "One of the simplest knots, certainly the most used aboard a boat, involves nothing more than turns around a cleat."

(0:25) No dockhand should go out on the dock without being able to quickly and reliably execute this knot. It's more than just the safety of the boat and crew, although that is the foremost reason to learn this knot correctly. It is a clear indication of the knowledge and experience of the person handling my lines. It sets the stage for instilling confidence in the marina and its employees. It's far more important than Flemishing the lines. While a Flemish looks nice, the cleat hitch will hold my boat fast yet allow for an easy release. I think of it as substance over flash.

(0:09) Nothing will draw me back to a marina faster than knowing that my boat will be handled professionally. Take a stroll down your docks a see how many boats have been tied with a proper cleat hitch. Then gather up your staff, grab some line, and start practicing.

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