We took the boat out a few times but it was very clear to us that we'd forgotten most of what we learned on our ASA 104 week last year and that we needed docking instruction immediately. We had managed to dock the boat a couple of times backwards pretty well but we had a very bad docking experience a couple of weeks ago and luckily avoided damaged our boat or other peoples boats so that was the point basically where I decided I wasn't taking it out again without instruction first.
So, we looked around for a school. I was going to do the Maryland School of Sailing's docking course but the couple of times I emailed them, they have never answered so that was that. I called the Manhattan sailing school and asked about instruction on my boat and they can't do that for insurance reasons but they put me in point with one of their instructors, Mike, who we are very happy with.
He took me out for about 3 hours the first day. The initial idea was to stay in the canal and get used to turning the boat in a narrow space using the engine but I wasn't comfortable and was basically afraid of hitting something so we went in to the hudson and played around there. I gradually figured out /remembered how it works and then we went back to the canal. It seemed a lot bigger now and I was better able to spin the boat in the canal using engine pulses and so on. Eventually, it came time to do a docking attempt and I went in bow first and it worked pretty well. We came out again and then repeated another couple of times. Mostly, this went well except for a couple of times where I came in at too shallow an angle by turning early.
The next day, Mike came again but we went sailing for 3 hours instead. That went well and things started coming back to us about how this all works again. The docking went well also and I brought the boat in and Mike was showing my wife how to do the dock lines.
These 6 hours were hugely valuable and have made a huge difference on confidence and handling for me. I'm by no means an expert yet and we'll likely be using Mike a couple of times a week through this year to gain more skill and confidence.
Slip wise, we are adding an 18" inch inflatable globe fender which rolls on a post to avoid the boat hitting the corner of the slip and damaging the boat.