How to beach a boat properly

Care and thoughtfulness in properly securing a boat can save the embarrassment of having a boat stray off on its own or suffer damage due to banging or chaffing.

When beaching a boat, it is always tempting to run the bow up onto the shore. This technique begs for wear and tear. Where no waves and tide are present, drop an anchor astern and secure a bowline to an object ashore. This will prevent the boat from turning broadside and drifting onto the beach. Where waves prevail, moor the boat with a bow anchor to prevent shipping water over the stern.

Five basic knots will serve for most mooring situations: the square or reef knot, used to secure two ropes of the same size; the sheet, weaver’s knot or Becket bend, three names for the same means of tying two lines of different diameter; the bowline, used to create a nonslipping loop at one end of a line; the clove hitch, used to tie temporarily to a bollard or piling; and two half hitches, used for the same purpose.

The half hitch method is commonly used to secure lines to cleats. The free end of the line should be passed around the front of the cleat, that is that part of a cleat farthest from the secured part of the line. The standing or free part should then continue around the rear of the cleat, passing over the secured line. A half hitch is placed over the forward end of the cleat, then another half hitch over the rear of the cleat. The important feature is to see that the section of line leading to the free or standing end of the rope is always on the bottom of the loop.

At some time you may be called on to take another craft in tow.’ Rather than pull the entire load from a single stern cleat on your boat, I recommend rigging a bridle with the line secured to both stern quarters. In heavy going, you may find that the weight of the tow limits the maneuverability of your hull. If it is possible to rig the lines farther forward, you will improve your boat’s maneuvering ability.

If you take an outboard boat in tow, have the towed boat’s operator tilt his motor or motors free from the water so as to reduce drag. Should the towed boat yaw back and forth, have its operator shift movable weight aft as far as possible.