May 27, 2011
In fact, nobody should have gone that day, because we just shouldn’t have been out there. Here’s the story: it’s Memorial Day Weekend, and my wife and son are heading out at the crack of dawn on Saturday, May 28, 2011 for a basketball tournament in Richmond. Since I’m off during the summers at 1:30 pm on Fridays, I thought it would be a great time to go sailing. Of course, both my son and daughter looked at me as though I had three heads, but my wife said “I’ll go, so long as we can get back early enough so I’ll get up in the morning.” I was a little anxious about going out too late, but thought, “why not?”
We got to the boat, had some water just in case, and began getting ready. I knew to be careful with the main halyard, so I attached it to the main and kept it tight and prepared to shove off. We managed to clear the slip just fine, but couldn’t manage to get the boat turned to the right to get to the channel. We only went back and forth about 15 times trying to get out of there. Yes 15 times-ish, while at least one man — the guy in the humongous trawler directly across from our slip watched. He didn’t give me any dirty looks, or offer to help. He did bring out a boat hook, which would have had limited use given that he was on the opposite dock and I was headed for his bow, but….
We finally got out into the channel and began motoring toward the Patuxent River. When we got beyond the rocks, I noticed that the wind was more pronounced than I thought and that the waves were getting a little high. I thought for a moment — maybe I should go back and even verbalized that to my wife. I finally decided to go out, thinking I would just put up the jib. We did eventually get sailing, though we weren’t going particularly quickly, but it didn’t matter. My wife and I just talked about stuff — however you define that, which for parents, usually means talking about our kids and schedules. We didn’t get anything decided, and we also didn’t approach the talking with any disagreements at all, we just talked. This is one of the things I knew would come out of sailing — the time to talk and just be without a schedule to follow or other obligations to take care of. It was very nice.
When I thought it was time to go in, I realized that we were going to have to motor about a mile and a half, and I wasn’t comfortable trying to sail that way with the jib (more on that tomorrow). However, we were now going to be motoring against the current to get to the marina. (Oh yeah, look at the current before you go out, right?) This took us about 40 minutes, the last 15 of which we were worried about running out of fuel. And whenever you are worried about such things, they always take more time, don’t they?
We finally got into the calm water inside the rocks at the marina, and I thought we would to a lot better getting into our slip. Well, we did, but it didn’t happen exactly the way I thought it would. I put lots of distance between us and the slip to allow for a slow turn, and still couldn’t get the stern in where I wanted it. After about 2 or 3 tries, I finally decided to just grab one of the bow lines, put the outboard in idle and just pull the boat in. It took a little bit of time, but once we had the lines in our hands, it wasn’t nearly as annoying as trying to back in using the motor. I’m sure many people are quite good at this, but I thought using the lines was rather creative given my level of experience.
Once we were in the slip, my wife left to get packed for her overnight adventure in basketball. I finished closing up with a clear and very strong sense of embarrassment. After all, didn’t not seeing a whole bunch of sailboats on the water give me an indication that I probably should have gone out in the first place? And who takes 15 times going backwards and forwards to get a little 25 foot sailboat out of the marina? Besides me, that is. Mind you, I can say that I didn’t crash into anything, we didn’t tip over or get ourselves into trouble, but it’s hard to know if that as dumb luck or my being appropriately cautious. I can only say that time will tell. This trip I would rate as a 5 out of 10, with the transport of Ilya to the slip with my son last weekend as a 6. This is not the auspicious beginning I thought I would have in sailing.
I do still want to do this, right?