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Invention is only a finger away

Yes, that title struck me as slightly off-putting, as well. But docking, as seen in the video above, is all about on-putting, or at least putting the boat safely on the dock. Step one is stopping, or slowing enough to get a line around a bollard. Luc Cote, who with his wife Tina has the slip at my marina that is kitty-corner to mine, has done exactly that. He's invented a simple device to make docking safer (you stay aboard instead of jumping off with a line) and more certain (you can give yourself plenty of slack to secure the line).

The low blue boat in the top center of the establishing shot is Valiente.  Such is fame.

Luc and Tina live aboard an Irwin 37 (which is for sale if you are interested). Luc runs a water taxi service from the marina and has had a lot of time and muscle memory to dedicate to the issue of better, safer docking. The "Dock Wand" is made to accomplish that. I saw them at the recent Toronto Boat Show and they had made a hundred to sell, but had in fact sold 500. The Dock Wand would appear to be a hit.

Not much more than a length of line, a plastic pole and a brightly coloured ball, the Dock Wand is, like most good ideas, so simple and straightforward, one feels slightly moronic even contemplating the long list of reasons one didn't invent it years back. In my own defence, Valiente has quite a low freeboard and my wife usually jumps off with a hook in one hand and a breast line in the other. Alchemy, by contrast, is both four times or better the mass and even at midships calls for a bit of a hop to reach the level of the dock.

So I might have to wander over to get one myself. The videos are pretty self-explanatory. One spliced end of a longish line goes to a cleat (ideally centered or forward). The other end goes to a ball used to lasso the aft cleat on a dock. That accomplished, you can drop the thing in the water: You are "on" enough to either stop in calm weather, or to give you time enough to jump off with more lines to finish securing.

I can see this as being a big help for big sail boats, power boats and single-handers of all types. I wish them well and I hope my readers find it a clever and useful tool.

Sometimes a picture says three words

Vada a bordo, cazzo, indeed
UPDATE: An interesting couple of recent videos about Costa Concordia from the fine folks at the news programs 60 Minutes:

And current (mid-January 2013) news:

FURTHER UPDATE (September 2013): Preparations are nearly complete for the one-shot parbuckling attempt to refloat this casualty of poor life choices: