Docking question

EKrawic

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Buying a new Bennington SS22 to replace a V hull fishing boat. It will be stored on a dock/lift on the intracoastal with tide and wind. What can I do to help land on a lift that has cross tides and winds? Any techniques specific to a pontoon boat or lift modifications would be appreciated. This is my first pontoon boat.
 

Vikingstaff

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I had some challenging times due to wind and waves on our larger inland lake for our first two seasons with our older lift. Frankly, in adverse conditions, it was white knuckle, and incredibly challenging due to narrow lakefront lots, and very shallow water (so not good prop bite and boat control).

I honestly switched over to Sea Legs this season. There were many reasons, but among them were the challenges in adverse conditions. I wish I had some great advice, but I don’t.

I guess just being patient. Being willing to take it slow and try multiple attempts. And be prepared to be part way in and have wind or waves potentially Jack-knife you a little bit.
 

Tomc

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Winds and tides and waves make docking a pontoon in a lift much more difficult than V Hull. I’ve got both and the pontoon just wants to move with the water and wind, and the back keeps moving.

I have a lift (Shore Station) that lifts the pontoon from under the deck vs. bunks for toons. I’ve adjusted the lifts so they guide the boat in once I get in partially (There are side guides on some models that run the length of the outside of the toons that I don’t have but look like a nice option). I don’t see single post guides in the front and back of your lift as an option as the bow will still sway out of alignment and into the side of the lift/dock with the wind due to the back being pushed around.

With the right guides, my next piece of advice is in heavy winds or tides/waves, is you have to enter the lift at a faster speed than your V Hull. Just gotta get in there before the wind and tide moves the back of the boat to an angle you can’t make it in.

I’ve got a lift that I can grab the top canopy supports and sides easy enough to slow me down if entering at a faster speed. I don’t have a motor stop, which may help, but I’d rather not deal with worrying about what that might do to motor and motor mounts.
 

EKrawic

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Thanks for the quick reply. The lift is still set up for the V hull boat. Will look at different bunking options with guides. Guess I will just have to practice a lot under different conditions with another person on the boat to help out.
 

kaydano

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It's too bad there's not a lift that mimics the sand on a beach.

I've never had any problems running our boat up on the beach, even in a strong crosswind.

Are there lifts that lower the stern end lower than the bow like a ramp?

Wait - That would be a trailer! Ha!
 

Spoiledrotten

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Once you start into your lift or on a trailer in a current or in windy conditions, remember to time it just right and keep it powering forward. If you let off of the throttle, you get to start over. Ask me how I know.
 

Tomc

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It's too bad there's not a lift that mimics the sand on a beach.

I've never had any problems running our boat up on the beach, even in a strong crosswind.

Are there lifts that lower the stern end lower than the bow like a ramp?

Wait - That would be a trailer! Ha!
That is a great idea! Then you wouldn’t have to go slow, just move it in quickly and onto the sloping platform....kind of like power loading onto a trailer.
 

rodsfields

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I’m on the Intracoastal, and have mostly wind effects. When I’m lucky I get a plain headwind, most of the time I get a wind hitting my starboard as I’m coming into my lift. I have about3 inches on each side when I pull my pontoon into the lift. I have plain flat bunks that my toons just rest on top of, and 4 plastic guide posts on the outside of the cradle in front of the cables.

I just keep an eye on the wind (there is a flag pole at my complex) and adjust my approach accordingly.

I stand up and look over the starboard side and try to get my forward starboard corner as close to the rear right guidepole as possible (within 3 inches). This has been the most important step for me.

I was making the mistake of moving too slow at first, so my tail would swing too far to port before I’d get enough of the bot in the slip. Now I just come in a little faster. If someone is on the boat I keep them on the port side just to fend off the left rear piling if necessary, most of the time I can get it in pretty good with all the practice I’ve now had.

Occasionally I still miss my approach and have to come around again.

Hope this helps.
 

EKrawic

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Thanks rodsfields, gives me a good starting point when I practice. Unfortunate for me the dock is surrounded by condo units. Sure I am going to get some "professional" reviews when they see me trying to figure this out. Looking forward to shifting from an off shore fishing boat to a pontoon boat that is set up for fishing and comfortable riding for the non-fisherman looking for some time on the water. and yes, my off shore days are over except on flat days, going to the coral reef less than a half mile off the coast to fish and look at the incredible marine life that lives there. My research gave me few options to do this safely in a pontoon boat, except Bennington.
 

rodsfields

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Good luck Ekrawic! I’m in a condo complex up in cocoa beach! Fortunately it was not too full in the summer while I was practicing. :D
 

wawrecker

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I cut the guide post on my lift shorter than the deck height as the pontoons are overall about 6" narrower. This gave me the wiggle room I needed to get on easily. We don't get the storms but we have lots of wake surfers that turn the water sloppy with swells.
 

Spoiledrotten

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Rgtopda made a huge statement just above. I always lower my Bimini in any type of windy conditions when I’m trying to hit a precise point. You’ll certainly be fighting the affect of wind in your sail.
 

Airlifter

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It may come down to good coordination with your 1st Mate. I'm in a tight marina slip and often have a crosswind that requires a pivot point with the pylon. Stow the Bimini. After 4 yrs I finally understand SLOW like a PRO, my 1st approach to the slip does not always work. Pontoons sit on the water, Vhull sit in the water. Best of Luck.
 
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