Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First lesson learned - docking a bigger boat

Despite the hangovers from the boat warming party, everyone wanted to go sailing on the new boat Sunday afternoon.  We spent a lot of the morning goofing off while everyone got into place. The girls recited all the lines they knew from Titanic to me. Impressively more than I know myself. 

We disconnected the shore power, fired up the engine and prepared to cast off. I ignored the shallow water alarm that was beeping on the chartplotter thinking, the water is always shallow here, we'll be ok.

I started backing out of the slip, and I ran into a problem. The boat was not turning.

At 27 feet, the Seahorse was short enough that even if you back straight out of the slip, you still had enough space between piers to make a turn. At 34 feet, Gimme Shelter almost bridges the entire space between piers. I pulled forward and attempted to back up again. It still wouldn't back to starboard.

I was also noticing that once moving forward or backward, it took a lot more reverse throttle to get Gimme Shelter to stop moving when compared to the Seahorse. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion and all that.

I was starting to get nervous. I had five passengers watching me struggling at the helm.  The guys were standing on the front, and I'm sure they would have helped, but there was a pretty big language barrier, and I don't blame Fred for being nervous.  

Just as I was about to bump the dock behind us, I pulled forward again.

I slowly backed up again. This time the wheel jerked in my hands, which meant the rudder had plowed into the bottom. This sent our aft to port instead of starboard -- not the direction I was wanting to go, but at least we weren't sideways anymore. I started backing down the lane to the channel, and for a second I thought everything would be ok. Then the wheel jerked in my hands again as the rudder hit more mud, and we were once again turning sideways.

Thank goodness me and Fred now know exactly how to deal with each other in high stress situations. There was a period of time when we first started sailing together where the second anything went wrong everyone paniced and there was a little bit of chaos. We have both learned to at the very least hide our panic from each other in stressful situations. A calm atmosphere is really a must in this kind of situation.  

At this point, I gave up and pulled back into the slip.

I was embarrassed, and I felt like I let everyone down, but trying to back out a large vessel during low tide that I had driven all of one time was just not a good idea. I didn't want to smash into something and end up in one of those "credit card captains" videos on YouTube

In consolation I invited everyone onto the Seahorse, which has a deeper slip further down the pier. Everyone was more than happy to go out on the little boat. It was just the joy of going out on a sailboat that everyone was really looking forward to. I think in the end it was only important to us to take the new boat out. It backed out with no problem, and we were off for a quick cruise through upper Galveston Bay.

Everyone took so many pictures on the way out.  I forget there really is a lot of cool things to see.  

 I asked Buenjy to take pictures of Fred for me since we never get pictures of him. Such is the life of a photographer. It's unfortunate that Fred and I both had crazy hair after drinking all night and sleeping on the boat. He still looks good to me though.  

All in all, everyone had a great time and I was very happy to have everyone on the boat. Anyone and everyone is welcome to come sail with us anytime! There is nothing like sharing the joy of sailing. (Unless we don't like you ... or it's low tide.)