This article was written by Kim Lewis of the Archimedes and originally appeared on her blog.
One thing notable about most couples who take to boating is that when it comes to docking (or generally navigating in tight quarters), you’re most likely to find the male at the helm. Note that I didn’t say all, as we have encountered couples where this was not the case at all, it’s just that generally speaking, it’s the guy who takes the boat into the slip, and the gal who’s standing ready to tie up ashore.
Enter the WOW or Women On Water course offered at the Grand Banks Rendezvous, a very popular 2 hour course where women can, among other women and in a calm, stress-free environment, learn the simple steps for bringing a boat in to a dock. Northwest Explorations graciously provided the Tyee, a 42′ Grand Banks, for the classes, and Byron Richards served as instructor for most if not all of the sessions. The classes are so popular that they fill well in advance of the rendezvous with wait lists in case of openings.
For my class, there were five of us, a mix of single and dual engine trawler owners, one with thrusters. Byron went to great lengths to make it easy for each of us practice the skills we would need to use with our own boats, even while we were taking the class on a boat with two engines — he’s a very calm, patient, accommodating man (thank you, Byron!) For a couple of us who were former sailboat owners, handling a trawler is quite a bit different — the boat is so much heavier, the wheel doesn’t seem to have as much effect as you’re used to, and having two engines is quite a change. For those who have bow and/or stern thrusters, Byron wanted to be sure they learned how to dock without them — just in case. The gist of the training is this — use your engine(s), forget the wheel (except in a few select cases). And we all practiced moving away from the dock as well,
For me, the hardest thing is still to resist the urge to brake too early when headed at the dock — but I realize that it’s important for me to know how to dock the boat in case Rusty is ever unable to do so. If we ever have an emergency on the boat and need to get to port in a hurry, I’d much rather be able to bring the boat in quickly on my own than have to call and wait for help. This way we’re just that much more self-sufficient, and I like that.