Wakeboard pro Dylan Miller makes boat docking for beginners easy with some great docking tips for inboard boats.
Nearly all V-drive wake boats have props that spin counter-clockwise and push water over a rudder to provide directional control. Because of the prop’s rotation when backing up, the stern will move to starboard (right) and drivers can use this tendency to help make boat docking easy. We recommend docking to your boat’s right side whenever possible because that’s on the driver’s side where visibility is better and it also takes advantage of the V-drive’s handling tendencies.
Tips for docking any kind of boat
Before approaching the dock, hang at least two fenders to prevent damage and attach the bow and stern lines in advance. We like to slowly approach the dock at around a 45-degree angle and control the speed by putting the boat in and out of gear. Our advice for when you’re at the helm: Don’t approach a dock faster than you’re willing to hit it.
If a steering correction is needed, turn the wheel slightly while the boat is in neutral so when the drive is engaged, the steering will respond crisply. As the boat approaches the dock, inspect the landing area for nails or bolts sticking out that could scratch the boat.
When the bow is several feet from the dock, shift into neutral and turn the wheel to starboard, then shift into reverse and the stern will gently walk toward the dock. The goal is to stop the boat’s forward momentum just as it comes parallel to the dock. Avoid abrupt applications of power. And when learning how to dock a boat, practice maneuvering out in open water to learn how a boat responds to steering when in forward and reverse.
Tips for docking a boat in windy conditions
If the wind is pushing the boat toward the dock, let the wind be your friend by pulling up parallel a few feet from the dock and letting it push the boat the rest of the way in.
If a stiff wind is pushing the boat away from the dock, approach it at a steeper, nearly vertical angle and secure the bow line. Then, turn the wheel to the right, shift into reverse and the stern will pivot toward the dock gently. If the wind is howling, after securing the bow line, turn the wheel to the left and put the gearshift into forward and the engine will gently push the stern to the dock.