Short-handed harbour manoeuvres
Practical Boat Owner|March 2021
Øyvind Bordal has some tips for single- and double-handers

How many people are on board when you go sailing? A good guess is that you’re only two, and often the extra crew is your spouse. As people have less time on their hands, and schedules are tight, the average crew size has decreased over the years. But with furling sails, electrical winches, bow thrusters and navigation software, boat handling has become much easier.

That said, harbour manoeuvres can still be tricky. Success in short-handed sailing is a lot about preparation and planning – thinking scenarios through beforehand, over and over – and practice.

Failures are inevitable, but any manoeuvre can be practised with crew on board. Let your crew gradually step back and allow you to take over more and more tasks – ideally one task at a time.

Techniques will vary from port to port, and in different conditions, but planning and practice will always pay off.

Six top tips

1 Know where the wind comes from, and use it actively. Wind will affect the way your boat moves, and increasingly so as your speed decreases. Usually it will be an advantage to moor into the wind, and depart with the wind behind you. The same goes for the current. Look for buoys, pilings, moored yachts or other things in the water that indicate the direction of the current. You can use wind or current to stop the boat on your way in, or to help you out when leaving.

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