To our customers impacted by recent storms

We hope you and your family are safe. If you have been affected by one of the recent hurricanes and need to make an insurance claim, please call 1-800-362-7535 or click here to file your claim online.

Tips for docking your boat

There are many factors to take into account when docking your boat, such as the type of boat and how many engines it has, the weather, water conditions, how high the tide is, the type of dock, and the direction in which you are approaching the dock. Understanding the basics of docking your boat will give you a proper foundation and as you continue to practice you will refine your skills. Here are some helpful tips on what to keep in mind when docking your boat.

Tips on docking your boat

  • Take it slow
    When docking your boat, the best speed to go is S-L-O-W. Reduce your speed to the minimum needed to be able to steer. This allows for more control, so you can safely dock without hitting anything. The sharpest turns can be made going at a slow pace. You may need to take your boat in and out of gear to maintain a slow approach.   
  • Determine wind and current
    Make your approach into the wind or current, whichever force is greater, as this will help you maintain control.
  • Position fenders
    Fenders act as buffers between your boat and the dock to prevent damage when docking.  Place them over the side properly so they don’t get caught under the pier.
  • Get your lines ready
    Secure lines so that they are ready to tie your boat, but keep them in the boat to avoid getting caught up in the propeller.
  • Apply short bursts
    It is important to go slowly to not hit the dock, but you may need to apply short bursts of power to get through a turn and maneuver through wind and current.  There is a happy medium between too much power and too little. Make sure you turn your steering wheel before applying power. This prevents the boat from going too fast.
  • Approach at an angle and switch between gears
    You will want to approach the dock at roughly a 45-degree angle. This makes it easier to aim for a certain spot and bring the boat in close to the dock. Once you are about 100 feet from the pier, turn the controls away from the dock. This allows your boat’s back end to swing in toward the dock. Now switch the gear into neutral to use the boat’s momentum to push the boat alongside the dock. Next turn the wheel toward the pier. Put the gear in reverse and give the engine a little throttle. This will push the back end of the boat to the pier. Put the gear back in neutral allowing the momentum again to push the back end alongside the pier.
  • Tie up your boat
    Once your boat is parallel with the dock, immediately tie it up to avoid your boat drifting off. Then shut off your engine.
  • Ask for help
    If you insure your boat with an insurance agency who specializes in boats, chances are your agent is a boater themselves.  Ask them for their tips and tricks on docking.  Or, if you own or operate a larger boat, hire a professional captain to teach you how to operate and secure your boat properly.

We hope these tips help you dock your boat safely and properly. For further protection on the water, Markel boat insurance offers specialized boat insurance that protects you if you become legally liable for someone else’s injuries or property damage due to a boating accident.  In addition, Markel boat insurance also offers protection to help cover the cost to repair or replace your boat in the event of an accident, fire, theft, or vandalism.

Click here to find a licensed Markel Marine agent in your area, and start protecting your boat today!


The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.