We received this letter from Kevin Moran who took our Docking course in 2006:
Dear Maryland School of Seamanship,
I have been sailing for 20 odd years and racing in PHRF Wednesday night
series for a large part of those years. I felt I was a pretty good sailor but
always lacked the confidence when it came to docking or maneuvering under power
in tight quarters. I tried to ask for assistance from some of my fellow sailors
but soon found out that they were in a similar predicament.
Two years ago I went down to Maryland School of Seamanship and took a
docking class. They put us thru many drills for a solid day. The great part
about it was we as a group were teaching each other. We had to work with other
sailors who might not have the skills we possess which is typical of real life
situations. The captain let us falter so we could grasp the situation at hand
and learn as we go. We left there with new found confidence. Now the real test
was to put it into action when we got home.
I did not have to wait long, as I encountered a situation, with a crew
member who never sailed before, just two weeks after leaving the class. We were
sailing on long Island sound on a beautiful day when I noticed dark clouds
forming coming in from the southwest. We continued sailing all the while I was
looking over my shoulder at the clouds and their formations. The wind started to
pick up to about 14 knots and we were having a blast. This was a great way to
introduce this new person to sailing. I then noticed a lightening strike in the
distance. I decided to drop sails and start to motor into the entrance to the
harbor. As we were motoring, the storm raced towards us. I was entering the
channel and the winds hit us broadside. My wind meter went from 10 knots to
being buried. We later found out that they hit 65knots. The sea started to foam
with white spray hitting us. The wind, current and squall were pushing us
towards the rocks in the narrow channel. It was like a mini tornado hitting us
broadside. We could see it coming, but could not avoid it or outrace it. I had
to motor at a vector to avoid the rocks going into the harbor.
I told my crew to listen to me, to not question my orders and we will do
this right. I called ahead for assistance at the dock to no avail. Due to the
high winds which built to 75knots and lightening strikes all around us, they
told us we were on our own and to possibly go back out and ride the storm out.
We were at this point already committed so I told my crewmate we were going in.
I told myself at this time, I hope those items I learned two weeks earlier will
work. We approached the finger piers and started to enter the channel with boats
docked on both sides. The waves were splashing, the docks were heaving up and
down, and the spray was blowing across our bow making visibility somewhat
difficult. Using the motoring techniques I learned we approached our finger pier
and I turned the boat to starboard, started reversing using prop walk to bring
me closer to the dock all the while leaving the wheel hard right. I crabbed the
boat and brought her in perfectly. I was giving instructions to my crew all the
while as we approached. He stepped on the dock and looped the line around a dock
cleat until I stepped down and secured the boat. We ran up to the restaurant on
premise and waited the storm out, then came back and surveyed the damage. Not
only did we not incur any damage, but we received accolades from all the patrons
of the dock and restaurant for our seamanship.
Since then I have gained many compliments on how I dock compared to other
boaters at our marina. I constantly tell people to go to your school, because we
as sailors do not practice these skill sets enough. It is also a major plus to
go out single handing not needing anyone or when you do invite people on board,
they come with a relax demeanor knowing that you are proficient in your skills.
I owe in all to you and I plan to take the course again this summer with my new
fiancÚ. Thank you again I highly recommend your school to anyone I come across.