Lines should be snug and secured properly to cleats in such a way that they won’t bind. It’s very important to be able to release lines in a hurry if a large wake should approach or you need to rapidly reconfigure. If towing in limited visibility or where other boats may be operating, give a sécurité call on VHF 16 with your description, location, and intended course. The last thing you want to encounter is a big sport-fishing boat roaring by unaware of your situation. As you begin towing, be aware that because you’re off center, extreme leeway will develop. The helmsman will need to crab the boat to make good on your desired course. As a reasonable speed is attained, the boat’s underbody will get a better “grip” on the water, and holding course will become less difficult. Until close-in maneuvering is required, steering should be done with the boat. Oversteering with the tender will make holding a course difficult. If the tow is configured as in Diagram 1, rapid turns can easily be made to port. Turning to starboard will be much slower and have a large turning radius. If a rapid turn to starboard is required, put the tender in neutral or even in reverse, allowing the boat’s momentum to carry it through the turn. This ability to crab the boat will greatly facilitate coming dockside. The key is to plan ahead and to get a feeling for the boat’s forward momentum and your ability to control and stop it. Always “test the brakes” prior to docking. Approach the dock (see Diagram 2) at an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees, keeping the bow pointed at the midpoint of the space on the dock where you want to end up. You should maintain only enough speed for steerage. Just before the bow of the boat reaches the dock, put the tender in reverse. As the boat continues to slow and stop, the bow moves out and the stern pivots in. This is a very satisfying maneuver when done properly. If you have to back the boat into a slip, reconfigure as in Diagram 3. If docking in a strong current, always plan your approach and final maneuver so that you’re pushing into the current. It can be used to your advantage when crabbing into a tight spot.