“FEND, FEND, FEND!” he bellowed from the helm station.
He was coming in fast and sloppy and was ready to take a nice chunk out of one of the City Harbor Marina pilings.
She was ready – her hair coiffed, her nails painted, her swim suit cute. She was game, crouched down near the bow rail – ready to jump into action.
Her nails made me wonder if she had done much boating and whether she was really up for the task. But, like all good voyeurs, I just sipped my drink dockside, to watch the show unfold. In fact, the whole bar was on edge, just waiting to witness the mayhem.
Well, let me tell you – this lady had a head on her pretty shoulders. And it was working – the closer the boat got to the piling, the faster her mind was working.
The captain barked his order with more urgency, “FEND, WILL YOU?!!”
Her response? “HOW ABOUT IF YOU LEARN TO DRIVE THIS BOAT SO I DON’T HAVE TO FEND?! I’M GOING TO BREAK MY HAND!”
And she was exactly right. With that, she sat down on the bow – bracing for the impact.
This lady got a cheer from the cheap seats!
No one should EVER fend off a motor boat. A kayak? Maybe. An innertube afloat on the lazy river? Maybe. A motorboat? Never. Never. Never. Not even if it is a 15 foot skiff with a tiny little kicker on it. A motor boat has a motor for a reason!
A captain, demanding passengers to “fend” is certainly asking for a reason. But the captain of a mid-sized recreational motorboat should have enough skill to operate the boat in a manner that allows him/her to place the boat exactly where it needs to go by using the engine and not the passengers.
So What’s the Big Deal?
This concept doesn’t seem that novel – I am basically telling you to use your motor to dock. I would categorize this suggestion as a no-brainer except that I have seen the human shield fending scenario a thousand times.
The “big deal” about docking is that you are never going to dock the same way twice! So even if you are an expert at getting your boat into your slip this does not mean that you will be able to replicate the ease at an unfamiliar dock.
Ditch the Human Shield With this Elementary Exercise
- Make a list of 10 local waterfront establishments in your area
- Boat to each and every one of them and dock your boat
- Do not use anything but your motor to put your boat on the dock
- After some practice, repeat this exercise on a windy day
This exercise hardly seems worth doing EXCEPT that boating, and particularly docking, takes practice. You will not improve your skill unless you practice. Did I say elementary?