The ship is starting to feel the shelving bottom as she comes on soundings, and shortly the pleasant routine of life aboard a ship at sea will be replaced with port activity,
The master has reviewed the appropriate sailing directions, light lists, local notices, and charts of the area, and has prepared a course card showing courses and the distances between the significant navigational aids in place along the channel to the dock. Soon the gear will be tested and required log entries made, and the chief mate will be called to stand by the anchors. The mariner's duties of open sea navigation and the other tasks required of the deck officer at sea will be replaced by those of cargo handling, port administrative work, paying off, piloting, and shiphandling the last being the most interesting. To make preparation you should familiarize yourself with the handling characteristics of the ship. This is done by putting the vessel through a series of maneuvers, such as:
1. Hard right turn at 6 knots.
2. Hard left turn at 6 knots.
3. Backing and filling maneuver starting from dead in the water.
4. Half astern to bring the vessel dead in the water from 6 knots, leaving the rudder amidships.
5. A series of backing maneuvers, until the vessel is dead in the water, using the rudder and engine as required to keep the ship's head within 10 degrees of her initial course.
6. Backing for ten minutes, starting with the vessel dead in the water, keeping the rudder amidships.
7. Turning with the bow thruster, if fitted, to the right and left across the wind. This should be done at 3 knots and at 1 knot.
With a little planning, the time required to perform these maneuvers can be found without interfering with the ship's schedule. Since there is no other way to gain the "feel" for a ship necessary to handle her in a professional manner, it is important that these maneuvers be completed.