We are not dock people. But admittedly that is mainly due to fear and lack of practice. That and using docks would quickly eat away out our cruising fund.
Our boat is our home. So risking bumping our home into a dock, or even worse, into someone else’s boat is a sheer nightmare. Most other seasons we have avoided docks like the plague. I think I can count on one hand how many times we had docked our boat in 4 years. But this season we are getting a little more practice under our belts. We have been using docks a lot, not for spending the night, but for coming in and filling up our water tanks. We have done it enough now that we even have our roles set up. Eben is at the helm, and I am at the bow, line in hand, ready to jump, run, and cleat off.
We are still getting the hang of it, and we have had our epic fails. Like the one time Eben accidentally left the boat in reverse and I was pulling on the lines trying to tie off, but was fighting the boat and nothing was happening. It wasn’t until 5 minutes later that he saw why. I was a frustrated and sweaty mess.
We have also had our PRO moments. Such as when we pulled up gracefully to the fuel dock in St John, cleated both lines, and done. Beautiful. We did a little happy dance, some high fives, and were so proud of ourselves, and then had to laugh when we realized that absolutely no one was around to witness our success. Even though it always feels like all eyes are on you when things are going wrong!
So there is the fear of ruining your boat, the fear of embarrassment, and then there is the cost. The cheapest dock we have come across was FREE (in Rum Cay, Bahamas), but that was a special case. Usually we are looking at a minimum of $1/ft (ours is a 41ft boat, so $41 a night) just to tie up. Then if you use water or power you can add that on. The bill can get big quick.
If you ask me, docks can be great. Minus the lack of wind and the fear that we may get cockroaches crawling up dock lines on to our boat. But overall, I think they are super fun. This may just be me, but since we live on our boat full time, when we go to a dock it almost feels like I am on vacation. All of a sudden we can just step off our boat and be on land. No dinghy ride, no getting wet and salty. We are just there. Easy. Taking the girls for land excursions is suddenly one big step easier. And then there are the amenities that often come with dock life, such as abundant ice, sometimes a pool, and quite often accessibility to a HOT SHOWER!!! Like I said, it is like a vacation, it is usually short in time span but well appreciated. And it gives you just that boost in energy that you needed.
We’re tied up to a dock right now. Our friends at Charter Caribe graciously invited us over. Eben even had the courage to single-hand the boat over here and I was on the dock to catch the lines. It has been wonderful. I have been taking the girls to the library everyday, we have been getting close with some landlubbers, I have had my hot shower, Eben has had an air-conditioned room to do his sewing projects, and I have been enjoying my “almost” land life, thanks to our buddies. Fingers crossed for no cockroaches and this stay will have been perfect. I like this feeling of getting docking under our belts.
I'm glad it's not just me that gets nervous mooring on pontoons. It doesn't seem to matter how many times we do it it I still panic every time!
Eben's more the worrier of the two of us. He gets real focused when we are approaching docks. I am never too embarrassed to ask the marina for help, I could ask to have 10 people on the dock to catch ropes if they were available!
We're fulltime RVers – and often have the same experience getting the rig into a campsite. Backed in first try? Crickets. Take 20 mins and 4 different attempts? Crowd of geezers in lawn chairs and selling popcorn. Just the way it goes…;)
I think backing in with those hitch tent trailers would be THE worst, I could see me constantly jack-knifing those!!!