Coming alongside & departing session

Aim: To safely come alongside a pontoon, secure to the dock then depart. 


Session Structure (E.D.I.C.T.S.)


  • What it is that you're going to do?
  • Why you'd do it?
  • Where you're going to do it? 
  • When you would come alongside?
  • How you will come alongside (varying techniques dependant on location & conditions) 


  • Brief your crew and issue tasks (i.e. putting out fenders, preparing lines etc)
  • Carry out a coming alongside and departure demonstration (if you do not manage a 'perfect' demo, then admit your errors and complete again)


  • Get each of your students to carry out the exercise (following the P.A.M.E. method)


  • Where areas need improving, give your student/s positive, constructive feedback (praise burger


  • Allow your student/s to repeat the exercise until they can perform the task. 


  • Confirm understanding with your students by asking open questions and highlight the key teaching points.



  • Fenders out
  • Lines prepared 
  • Crew tasks
  • Locate an appropriate pontoon/berth
  • Assess direction of drift (wind/tidal flow)


  • Where possible approach into the direction of drift to assist with speed reduction
  • Decide on the most appropriate angle of approach


  • Super slow approach (i.e. spend more time in Neutral than Forward gear) 
  • Aim to be stopped completely when alongside, approx 1ft away from pontoon rather than right next to it to allow space for fenders and stop unnecessary rubbing on the pontoon


  • Always have an escape route in mind before and during the manoeuvre. i.e. steer away or go into reverse etc.  

Coming Alongside a pontoon - Ferry Gliding Technique

Coming Alongside a Pontoon into the wind or tidal stream can be done very simply, safely and easily using a technique known as ferry gliding. By using the element/s to control your speed and direction with gentle throttle use you can 'crab' your powerboat into a pontoon to ensure you arrive gently. This is a very non-stressful way of getting your boat alongside! In this video we had 35 knots of wind blowing (Force 6) so using another technique may have been a little more speedy / stressful !

Securing your powerboat to a pontoon