Slow sailing is a technique we teach for getting to a fixed point in space at a stop. The fixed point could be a dock, a buoy, a MOB, etc. The idea is to come in on a close reach approach course, where you have an accelerator and a brake. The accelerator is the main, pulling in on the fall, and the brake is the wind against the hull when you depower the main. The technique works for dinghies and for keelboats, although of course each boat responds differently, and each time you do it the dynamics of the wind and sea against the boat are different.
So my question is "Can you slow sail?" I'm not asking whether you can perform the basic technique – let's assume that. When you get on your final approach course for your target, can the boat slow sail to the target? Are you on a close reach? The reason I ask this question is that it is the most common problem I see teaching MOB and docking. I'll go through the cases below, but the take-away is that you should ask yourself this question when you start on your final approach and again if the wind shifts. If the answer is Yes, Bob's your uncle, so just slow sail to your target. If the answer is No, you have to do something, like adjust your course or abort the maneuver.
How to ask yourself the question
It's very simple, just see whether you have an accelerator and a brake when the boat is pointing toward the target. Pull in on the fall and see if the boat powers up without any luff in the sail. Let the sail out all the way and look for a big luff in the sail. If both of these happen, you can slow sail. If one of them does not, you can't. I can't emphasize enough that the boat must be pointed in the direction you want to slow sail when you do this.
I'll discuss MOB, dinghy docking in the South Basin, and West wind keelboat dockings at J-Dock. I will present only a cursory description of each procedure. The intent is to show you when you should ask yourself the question or a variant of it.
A basic technique we teach is broad reach away from the MOB and tack around to close reach back. This is not the only possible technique, and in keelboats you have more choices than in dinghies. The technique is described in more detail here and is illustrated below: