Last Thursday morning (17 June) we got the boat ready for sailing (less than an hour – which is good)…we knew we weren’t going to leave the marina but I wanted to run a full scale practice session again for storing real glasses, the coffee pot, television (yeah we ended up getting one – now we’ll see if we use it very often), and everything else and anything else that could fly or cause damage (or injury) if we were really sailing.
We had a different dock mate (young bloke from Boulder, Colorado – and I will share his story another time), on board to be an extra set of hands as we maneuvered in and out of the slip.
We confirmed that we literally only had inches to spare on either side of the wide part of the boat to clear the front pilings. We are talking INCHES (maybe one? on each side). But Bob was able to get out of the slip and then maneuver out of the fairway without having to do the big U turn our neighbor does. Using our bow thruster to maneuver and going into reverse to line up for the tight corner out of the fairway. Then Bob just practiced maneuvering the boat in the open space of the marina, going forward, then reverse, then turning in a circle, just getting comfortable with the way the boat handles.
Next he decided to try docking in a different slip and lo and hehold he reversed like a pro, using the bow thruster as his steering mechanism. Then we went to the pump out station dock to practice coming along side that. Again, Bob took it much more slowly this time, and landed perfectly. Then from another angle, as if we were coming back from being out, and again no dramas. A bit farther from the dock this time, but we could easily have grabbed the dock lines with the boat hook or an easy stretch.
Okay – now back to practicing in slip 5 again from a different angle…and voila in the slip like a pro.
Now it’s time to try our own neighborhood, so we reentered our fairway and Bob was able to back the boat into our slip without hitting the pilings…. AMAZING. Literally there were only inches on either side, with me literally fending off the piling with my arms as we entered. He did it again – FABULOUS!
He did all the steering using the bow thruster, not even touching the wheel. Something he wants to improve on – using the wheel, but first things first.
But then we decided to try the slip next door which appeared to have a wider opening, and we entered that one so much more easily. Ample room on either side. No concerns on either side. …. and again…. So we decided to stay in the new slip and make sure the marina wasn’t promising it to anyone else. I checked with the office, and no worries.
Reinstalling the air-conditioning unit was so much easier this time…. we knew what we were doing and it didn’t take long.
Since the new slip has the finger pier on the other side, we then had to set everything up for everything to be on the opposite side of the boat, like the power cord for the shore power. Previously the power plugs were on the same side as our outlet, but no longer. So we have the power cord stretched over the back of the boat now. And my body was used to the movements necessary to get up out of the cockpit, swing over the life lines and get on the finger pier from the other direction. It took a few times for my body to be retrained on how to do it in the new orientation. So I felt like a klutz the first few times getting on and off the boat.
We had to move the dock lines and figure out how best to center the boat in her new slip. But finally it felt good.
(The best part was I remembered I had to get off the boat on the other side when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathhouse. No surprise swims in the bay for either of us at midnight.)
After the boat was safely and comfortably docked we decided to raise the main sail for the first time while at dock. Those that have sailed with us in the past, know this can be a challenging experience with battens getting hung up on lazy jacks – if you don’t know what I am talking about just think about the sail getting hung up on ropes that surround the sail. Raising the sail was indeed a challenge with a few false starts as the sail did get hung up, and then finding where/how the reef lines did as well. We also discovered that one of the reef lines had been rigged backward for so it didn’t run smoothly. But eventually we did get the sail up.
Then it was time to lower, and my job was to flake the sail to keep it neat….. well – some of us are better at things than others, and neat sail flaking is not yet one of my fortes. The process did require me to hang on to the gently swinging boom, and move around in some awkward positions – this will all get easier with more practice.
We are both so glad we were doing these things for the first time at the dock so we can make sure things are working properly and also see where our challenges will most likely be so we can plan accordingly when we are on the water.
All this was done in the heat of the heat, so beer o’clock was called after everything was done, the sail cover re-installed and the boat was ship shape again.
The heat came in hard the next few days and we had no desire to do any hard work in the 90+ degree heat and the humidity that just drains all energy. After a MAJOR thunderstorm that rolled in on Tuesday night , we woke up to a beautiful and much cooler day yesterday and decided to play with the sail again. This time I hoisted while Bob lubricated the cars (the things the sail attaches to and that run inside the mast and go up and down the mast). We tried a new technique of moving the jack lines so the sail wouldn’t get caught up…it seemed to work well. But new discoveries of places where the reef lines would still get fouled up which held the sail down when I wanted it to go up. Overall the process was easier this time, but with a few challenges still to be overcome.
There is talk of us going out beyond the breakwater today and practicing away from the dock…. stay tuned…. this might mean some real sailing.