Fourth Sail: Learning the Ropes with my Father

Forecast September 12, 2014
Forecast September 12, 2014

This morning will be my last sail before heading off to the desert southwest for a week. Light but steady winds, bluebird skies and a father willing to join me in exchange for good conditions and a pastrami sandwich. Actually, he probably would have come even without, but the least I can do is dial in the weather and spring for lunch, right?

Note the chilly temperatures. It’s a bundle-up sort of day! Apparently autumn is offering a preview of crisper times to come.

Windy & Wavy

The wind forecast for today was accurate enough in the morning, but windspeed increased steadily all afternoon, blowing consistently in the high teens and low twenties. And with all that wind coming out of the north, the waves were stacking up into fairly significant rollers.

I’ve gotten much more comfortable pushing her forward even when the gusts knock us over a little, and she plows right through those waves.

It was an exciting and slightly anxiety inducing experience, but I learned a lot about how the boat performs. I’ve gotten much more comfortable pushing her forward even when the gusts knock us over a little, and she plows right through those waves. In hindsight, we would have been wise to reef early in the day and to furl some of the genoa, but all told it was an excellent learning experience. The boat handled well and we stayed dry.

After the Crunch: Errant against ominous skies after a less than elegant docking...
After the Crunch: Errant against ominous skies after a less than elegant docking…

End of Season Service

Today marked another first of sorts, docking in Vermont at the Point Bay Marina service dock for diesel and a pump out. I’ll be getting the boat hauled and winterized shortly, so wanted to make sure that she was ready for the trip north with Mark and Jim.

The west side of the service dock was open and I was able to dock pretty smoothly with my bow up into the wind. Not a confident docking job, mind you, but it was adequate. No last minute engine revving, and no abort and try again. I know it’ll take plenty of time getting on and off docks, etc. to feel comfortable with this, but each little victory is a step in the right direction.

Bumper Docking

Docking at the Point Bay Marina gave me a premature taste of confidence, and unfortunately my return to homeport was considerably less victorious. In fact, it was a bit of a disaster.

The wind was blasting pretty steadily out of the north, and the seas were a sloppy mess. In hindsight I should have opted to take a temporary slip with better protection, etc. Instead I tried to pivot and reverse into my super tight, shared slip with my bow into the wind. Fortunately the marina manager’s instincts were awesome and his response time even more so. He leapt onto the bow of the neighboring sailboat and prevented us from tangling anchors. Two neighboring sailboat owners managed to fend off on our finger and caught/secured lines.

Damage to Errant's smile, September 2014
Damage to Errant’s smile, September 2014
Damage to Errant's smile, September 2014
Damage to Errant’s smile, September 2014

It all happened pretty quickly, and the damage was limited to a new chunk out of the gelcoat on the starboard edge of the transom. There were already several smaller dings, but this afternoon’s scar is the worst.

I was relieved and grateful, thanking everyone for saving the day. But once I was left alone to tidy up and batten everything down, I stalled a moment to study the damage. Minor but disappointing. Hopefully it will serve to remind me that I need plenty of practice before I should attempt anything as risky as backing into a slip with a strong wind.

Time to hunt around for some docking instructional aids…

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