Tag Archives: Point Bay Marina

Mooring Malaise

One month ago today I sailed Errant with my brother and nieces. An unchallenging but thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with moderate wind, plenty of sunshine, and leisurely hours to catch up after too long apart.

An almost perfect day of Lake Champlain sailing. Perfect except for bumping the keel on the bottom. Twice.

Lake Champlain Water Level

A virtually snowless winter, followed by a relatively drive spring and an extremely dry summer has resulted in the following precipitous drop to Lake Champlain water levels.

Lake Champlain Level, August 22, 2016
Lake Champlain Level, August 22, 2016

One month ago (July 21 recorded approximately 94.75 feet) I hit bottom exiting and entering my slip. Despite some recent upticks in water level due to heavy rain over the last week, Lake Champlain water level has nevertheless dropped below 94.5′ So at least a 3″ drop since I rubbed Errant’s keel on the bottom.

In other words, nature hasn’t solved my problem. Far from it!

Mooring Malaise

It’s an odd feeling, eleven thousand pounds (and change, plenty of change) of sailboat stuck in a slip at the marina. Unnerving really.

And my options were few. Haul out. Hang tight and hope for rain. Think about other problems. I’ve tried and applied all three options. Denial worked best. For a while.

A fellow sailor suggested that it’s possible to push Errant sideways away from the dock enough (6 feet? 12 feet?) that she’ll miss the “hump” when I reverse. He knows because he lived through the same problem some years ago when his sailboat was in my slip.

No other good ideas have presented, so the plan is to follow his instructions. I’ll be requisitioning helpful dockhands plus line handlers aboard. But given persistent reverse-steering troubles this summer, I’m not feeling overly optimistic.

And there’s another obvious problem. If/when I manage to liberate Errant from her slip, what then? There aren’t any other deep water slips available…

I’ve come across a hopefully viable solution. I’m replacing one of my existing moorings at Rosslyn with a Hazelett mooring system.

Hazelett Elastic Moorings

Classic Sailing Yachts on Hazelett Elastic Moorings
Classic Sailing Yachts on Hazelett Elastic Moorings

Relatively shallow water depth in front of our beach and boathouse combined with a relatively open moorage (we’re exposed to heavy seas especially during strong north winds) combined with a heavy sailboat with ample windage makes mooring challenging. Our existing 200 lb. mushrooms with conventional chain and buoy moorings are grossly inadequate for mooring Errant. But it turns out that industrial rubber bands offer some interesting advantages over chains and mushrooms.

Hazelett Mooring System
Hazelett Mooring System

Less scope. Less jerking. Less corrosion, wear and tear, ice damage, etc. I’ve spoken to a nearby sailer with similar exposure who’s had great luck with his sailboat on a Hazelett elastic mooring. Todd, the fellow who runs the waterfront at Point Bay Marina (across the lake) has also testified to the performance and reliability of the system. They’ve switched over their entire mooring field. Seems like I should have explore this route long ago.

The first installer recommended by Hazelett never followed up despite a half dozen communications and a couple of weeks, so Todd from Point Bay will be installing our new mooring. It’s a two elastic band model with a massive 4’x4’x2′ ballast. And it will hopefully be installed in the next few days. I’d been hoping for last week, but conditions delayed installation. A delay that ticked by painfully slowly as I monitored lake levels and worried about extracting Errant from her slip. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some good news soon!

One Month Lost

So today I’m checking in, performing some routine maintenance, and quietly consoling Errant. I’m apologizing for neglecting her. I’m promising to resolve her situation ASAP.

I’m admitting regrets, admitting and then letting them go. Moving on. Or planning to move on as soon as I have a mooring!

Tomorrow I’ll follow up with installer, and maybe the next day I’ll try to free Errant from her “landlocked” slip. Sideways. If I can muster an army of assistants. If I can overcome my hesitance to temporarily anchor her in front of our house until the permanent elastic mooring is installed. I have some reservations about that, but that soul-bearing another day.

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…