May 28, 2011
My wife was very kind when we came in last evening after a more 5 on a scale of 10 sailing excursion into the Patuxent River. She said that I should remember that learning and figuring out things like the tides and wind and getting into and out of the slip is something that will come with time. At least, she said, we weren’t in any danger, didn’t get hurt at all, and we didn’t hit or hurt anyone else. “Lighten up,” she seemed to imply, but would never say given my personality. As a confirmed Type A, not learning things quickly and without mistake is either the norm, or at least what I expect every single time. It doesn’t make sense, and never will, but that’s the kind of expectation I have for myself, logical or not. And I certainly knew she was right, but I just didn’t like the idea of putting on a little show in the marina every time I go to take the boat out. (I wonder what they told their grandchildren the next morning: “You won’t believe what this guy did trying to get his little boat out of his slip, but let me tell you anyway.” You know, I can just visualize that happening. I will say that even with the frustration of getting into and out of the slop, I never lost my cool, and I feel pretty good about that.
Today once my wife and son left for the basketball tournament, I took the fuel tank off the boat (transporting the tank on the marina dock is against the rules, but since I can’t find a fuel dock there, I wrapped it in a tarp in the cockpit, then took it out and back in within one of those rolling carts that marinas let you use. I will eventually figure out how to get fuel at this marina. The tank only took 2.3 gallons, which tells me that I had about 3 gallons left, and was really in good shape the night before, though the gauge didn’t suggest that I had about a half tank left last night. (I didn’t fill it up to the neck anyway, to allow for expansion.)
When I got back, I eventually mentioned to my daughter that I wanted to go out, to her 13 year old “Uh-huh.” Not a no by any means, but not a ringing endorsement either. I decided to get all my errands done (printing something at the office, buy crickets for our gecko, medicine for my son, etc.) and looked on the computer for a more detailed weather report. It said stuff like hazardous weather, all kinds of nasty storm things, etc., so I told my daughter that we probably wouldn’t go out today. She said, “Well you look at the weather for tomorrow or Monday, mister, and we’ll go out then.” I think she’s ready. But after looking at the beautiful weather all around me, I decided, “screw it. Somebody’s gotta go out.” Further, I decided that if we got out and it was too rough like the night before, we would just come in. I called my daughter and told her to get ready, and when I got home, we headed out. I had her listen to the handheld to get the up to the date weather.
We got to the marina, and headed out as soon as we could. Of course, I didn’t attach the main halyard which I like to do when I go out, but no matter. And, I decided to do two things I hadn’t done before. The first was to use the dock lines to pull and guide us out, which made getting out of the slip nice and easy. We still had to get the boat turned in the little channel between the rows of slips. That’s where I did my second smart thing. I had been using the tiller to try to get out of places, and I wondered if the outboard itself could be turned from side to side to help. Well, it can and it helped a lot. Enough that I was able to avoid getting close to any other boats. However, I ended up backing rather than pulling out of the channel. But, hey, it worked.
We got into the river, and remembered that the wind was coming from the south, so I tried repeatedly to head the boat south so I could raise the main, but it was rather tough and there was also quite a current. So, instead of raising the main, I raised the jib again, and we got going. We did pretty well, and really got some speed going for awhile. I really wanted to get to the bay, but again, the current just wasn’t working with me, and I don’t want to raise the main until the wind is light enough that we can all be confident. However, I learned something else. There’s another more experienced family about three slips away, another multiracial family. I noticed that when they took off after us, they motored (probably a 33 foot boat with a strong diesel engine) toward the bay, and just put of their jib and sailed that way. They may have been close enough to the mouth of the bay that the current was different. So while we were finding ourselves heading almost directly to Solomons, they were moving almost directly toward the bay. In any case, I think staying close to the Cedar Point shore and heading toward the bay first is the way to get out, and then we could use the current to help us get back to the marina.
When we finally motored back to the marina (we could have used the jib, and did again for awhile) we moved slowly toward our slip, and after one back in, we managed to grab a bow line. It wasn’t as smooth as I wanted, and we had a hit — more of a tap, really — so the side of the dock, but it wasn’t any big deal. It just took a little time for us to get everything tied up. While we were doing so, we saw two other boats, one in front of us and one behind using the pull the boat into the slip using the lines method, so I think we’re definitely on the right track. And I didn’t notice (or sense) any negative or comical reactions to anything we were doing. While we didn’t get much farther than when my wife and I sailed last evening, it certainly felt a lot better and more in control, especially around the slip. I would give this excursion a 7 out of 10. And I had the same kind of nice conversation with my daughter as I had with my wife last night and with my son the week before. Maybe I’m not such a bad guy after all.