Title:
Boat docking system and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This boat docking system allows small or medium size boats to dock under adverse conditions of swift currents and contrary winds with limited crew and no assistance from shore. The invention includes a docking stick to be used from the boat and a small vertical post that is permanently attached to the dock. The docking stick is comprised of a rigid handle with a stiffened loop at one end and a flexible adjustable loop at the other end. As the boat approaches the dock the flexible end of the docking stick is attached to the boat amidships, and the stiffened loop is dropped over the post, or a cleat, on the dock. The boat is then powered slowly forward. The resultant pull on the boat forces it to move sideways towards the dock where it will remain stationary, under power, until securing lines can be attached to the boat.



Inventors:
Dunn, John S. (Hilton Head, SC, US)
Application Number:
10/449680
Publication Date:
12/02/2004
Filing Date:
06/02/2003
Assignee:
DUNN JOHN S.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
114/221R
International Classes:
B63B21/00; B63B21/54; (IPC1-7): B63B9/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
VASUDEVA, AJAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John S. Dunn (Hilton Head, SC, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A docking stick for mooring a boat to a docking post on a dock, comprising a central, stiffened portion, a stiffened loop attached to one end of said central portion for encircling the docking post as the boat approaches the dock, and a flexible line portion attached to the other end of said central portion for attachment to the boat.

2. A docking stick as claimed in claim 1, wherein said flexible line portion is formed into an adjustable loop.

3. The method of docking a boat to a dock on which a docking post is mounted, comprising the steps of: a. Providing a docking stick having a stiffened central portion, a stiffened loop attached to one end of said central portion, and a flexible line portion attached to the other end of said central portion; b. Attaching said flexible line portion to the boat; and c. Attaching said stiffened loop to said docking member as the boat is pulled alongside the dock.

4. The method of docking as claimed in claim 3, and comprising the additional step of continuing to power the boat slowly forward to move the boat toward the dock, allowing other mooring lies to be attached if desired.

Description:
[0001] The present invention is directed to an apparatus and method for simplifying and improving the safety of docking procedures for small and medium size boats, and more particularly to stiffening a portion of the mooring line to enhance the safety and simplify the process of docking.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Docking in swift currents and contrary winds can complicate the handling of most small and medium size boats by compromising their moveability or requiring them to operate at greater speeds in close quarters, thus creating potentially unsafe situations. Without a sufficient number of dock line handlers on shore and on the boat to capture and secure a boat at the dock, normal docking procedures can under these adverse conditions of high wind and/or swift currents threaten the safety of the boat and crew. The present invention allows the boat operator to safely dock his boat not only in calm waters, but also in adverse conditions of wind and current with a limited crew on board and no assistance form the dock. The present invention does not require any technical training of a crew other than reviewing basic user instructions and can be used by crew members with a minimal understanding of boat cocking procedures.

[0003] At the present time small and medium size boats require line handlers both on board the boat and on the dock to handle multiple lines when securing a boat in unfavorable winds and currents that prevent a boat from being steered to a dock and held there in position with engine power alone. A boat under those conditions must approach the dock with sufficient speed to maintain handling against the forces of wind or current, and then be stopped quickly to allow the crew to secure lines between the boat and dock before the wind or current pushes the boat into an unmanageable situation, or out of safe reach of the dock. Without sufficient help from line handlers on the dock, crew member(s) on board the boat must jump to the dock quickly to tie the boat before it drifts out of reach. These conditions create potentially unsafe situations for a boat and its crew.

[0004] It is therefore a principal consideration of the present invention to stiffen a central portion of the mooring line, thus facilitating the docking process.

[0005] Another aspect of the invention includes the stiffening of the docking line portion that will encircle the docking member on the dock, thus further increasing the ease and safety of the procedure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention is particularly directed to the use of a docking stick in place of the conventional flexible line or cable. The docking stick comprises a central, stiffened portion, and a stiffened loop attached to one end of this central portion. This stiffened loop will encircle the docking post or cleat in the mooring process. A flexible line is attached to the other end of the stiffened central portion of the docking stick. As the boat approaches the dock, the stiffened loop is dropped over the docking post or a cleat, and the boat is then pulled adjacent the dock and tied up.

[0007] The method of practicing the invention comprises providing a docking stick as described in the preceding paragraph, and attaching the flexible line portion with adjustable loop of the docking stick to the boat. Then as the boat approaches the dock, the stiffened loop portion is dropped over the docking post, or a cleat. The boat is powered slowly forward to move the boat toward the dock, allowing other mooring lines to be attached and secured as desired.

THE DRAWING

[0008] In the drawing, like reference numerals indicate like components, and in the drawing:

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a component useful in conjunction with the invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 is plan view of a preferred embodiment of the invention; and

[0011] FIG. 3, 4 and 5 are time-sequential plan views useful in understanding the method of practicing the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0012] As shown in FIG. 1, a docking post 10 is fastened to a dock or pier (not shown) for receiving one or more lines as a craft comes alongside to tie up. In a preferred embodiment the post was a simple corrosion resistant metal tube or cylinder 11 of from one and one-half to two inches in diameter, and one to two feet in height. The post 11 is attached by flange base 12 to the dock using simple bolts. Of course the term docking post, as used herein and in the appended claims, includes a cleat, a bit, and all similar items used on a dock to receive a mooring line.

[0013] FIG. 2 depicts a preferred embodiment of the docking stick 20 of the present invention. The stick 20 is formed from a conventional piece of docking rope, approximately five to eight feet in length. As there shown, the stick includes a central stiffened portion 21 of the line or rope, made by passing a hollow, lightweight rigid handle, of from three to five feet in length, over the docking line and fastening it in the central portion. The rigid handle can be of plastic, such PVC, or any other suitable material. A stiffened loop 22 is attached to one end of the central portion 21. A plastic or vinyl coating is sufficient to stiffen the loop 22. The other portion 23 of the docking rope is left flexible for attachment to the craft amidships.

[0014] FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 both show the docking stick of the invention and illustrate the method of mooring a boat 30 using the invention. One end 23 of the docking stick is attached to boat 30 amidships, as shown in FIG. 3. Then as the boat approaches the dock, the stiffened end 22 of the docking stick is dropped over the docking post, as shown in FIG. 4. Once the boat is connected to the dock with the docking stick of the invention, the restraining force thus created pulls the boat sideways towards the dock, where it is safely held under power (FIG. 5) until secured with dock lines.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The present invention allows docking without assistance from shore, and without disembarking until the boat is safely held in position alongside the dock. The simplicity of the invention allows crewmembers with only a minimal understanding of docking procedures to successfully dock a boat, even under adverse weather and current conditions.