what does “Barely off the dock” means?
What context did you hear/read this in?
almost alongside the pier
just before a harbour
Barely off the dock probably means newly arrived (as immigrants in a new country) and not very skilled in the local language or customs, but still maintaining their native ways.
That is my guess; without context, we cannot be sure.
Taken as an idiomatic expression, I could only find this:
jump off the dock
Naval slang: got married (perhaps a jocular reference to the old custom of executing pirates by hanging them at the dock-side).
From Love Among the Chickens by P. G. Wodehouse.
After some investigations amongs natives
I have got these conclusions:
It is more possible to use it in a context with leaving the harbour, like approaching the harbour.
It sounds strange and old fashion but if it wouldn’t be directly talking about manoeuvring or ship now coming alongside but just describing situation afterwards they could use something similar.
Leaving the harbor seaside would have required most probably some different words.
And the few results that Ms Google can muster suggest that barely off the dock simply means just arrived.
Without further context, I’d assume the same sort of figurative meaning as Mr. Mic does.
Otherwise (and without further context), I’d just understand a physical proximity (very close) between some kind of boat and a dock — similar to Cap’n Jan’s descriptions.
I read it in a conversation, when someone asked how is $100 in China, then someone aswered " barely off the dock".
I don’t understand what the person was asking. Additional context is needed.
If the person wanted to know what $100 is worth, then I’d understand the “barely off the dock” answer to mean “$100 won’t get you very far in China.” (i.e., You’ll run out of money quickly).
Without even more context, it’s hard to say what your phrase means for sure.