Tips for docking your boat — or any boat — with ease
Any proud boat owner will tell you that nothing mars a perfect ski session more than a crash landing back at the dock. The bumps and scratches your boat gets from a rough parking job can be more painful than the injuries from your worst fall of the summer. So to help you end every session as smoothly as you start it, we talked to ski coach Matt Rini for some tips to make parking your boat easier.
• Keep an eye out. First, make sure the dock is a dock you can park a boat on. If it's a cement wall, you don't want to bump your boat into it. Make sure there's nobody swimming by the dock and nobody in the water, and be sure to pull the rope in before you start to dock the boat.
• Know the pull. Identify whether the boat pulls to the right or left when it reverses. Nautiques pull to the left, and every other boat seems to pull to the right. If you're docking a Nautique, you want to dock it on the passenger side, and if you're docking any other kind of boat, you want to dock it on the driver's side. That's really important.
• Take it slow. The key thing is to come into the dock slowly. Going too slow is always better than going too fast. Keep in mind that it's going to take a lot longer to slow down if your boat is loaded with extra weight or if you're driving a heavy wakeboard boat.
• Approach at an angle. Aim the nose of the boat toward the far corner of where the boat will finish. If you're parking sideways on the passenger side, the nose will need to be on the left-hand side as you're coming in. Bring it in at a 45-degree angle and then apply reverse to chuck the back of the boat up to the dock.
• Finish up. Tie the boat when you're done, and make sure there are some bumpers between the rub rail and the edge of the dock. Be sure you turn the boat off before you get out; people sometimes dock and leave a boat running. You should always turn off the engine before you move out of the seat.
If you do get a scratch or if your gelcoat could just use a buff, try Interlux Light Duty Rubbing Compound (yachtpaint.com). Applied by hand or with an electric buffer, it removes light scratches and minor oxidation and restores finish to topsides. The aggressive formula is safe for use on gelcoat, fiberglass, wood, metal and painted surfaces.