First off…Happy Birthday Jilly! (okay that was my part, now Jilly can finish this blog)
Second off…today was a big day! We actually got to leave our slip at the marina and take the boat out for a test drive. After hearing all the horror stories of docking with a full keel, we thought we should save ourselves the massive stress and book a docking lesson with our friend at R&R Chartering, Dave Renoll. We took our ASA 104 Bareboat Chartering course with him so we knew he would be a great teacher.
It turned out to be a gorgeous and sunny day with light 4-5 knots of wind; perfect for docking. Both Jake and I were super nervous before we left, just because we had no idea what to expect. But it sure felt good once we motored out of our slip and out into the channel; and to the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay. We’ve been going a little stir crazy here and it just felt good to have a day that wasn’t solely dedicated to boat work; and just have some fun.
I honestly have no idea how new boaters (power or sail) can dock without taking a lesson or two. I would be scared sh$%less (and kind of was at first). Doing it this way via a lesson was totally and completely worth it. We highly recommend doing this if you are a new boater. Worth it. Now I know that docking is not as TERRIBLE as I first thought; at least not in mellow conditions!
We motored out to Swan Lake, which, side note has a gorgeous anchorage. Nearby there was what looked like an abandoned marina with a slew of pilings. Perfect place to practice. First Jake took the helm, then I took the helm. We learned about prop walk and prop wash on our full keel boat (for you non-boaters this means nothing I know) and how to essentially do 360 donuts in the water! It all sounds simple enough. But then there are other factors like the wind speed, current speed and direction, the full keel and the fact that our boat is 34 feet long. I say the best approach is SLOW. Maybe less than 1 knot – just enough to have forward momentum but not much more.
Practical application of this was a tad more challenging. The main negative with our Island Packet is that the throttle is pretty much on the floor of the port (left) side of the wheel. So when you need to pop it in forward or reverse gears (don’t forget neutral!), you basically have to take your eyes completely off what’s in front of you. So its a really good idea to have a spotter or four to let you know where to go.
Once we felt comfortable we headed back to our own slip to do the same thing, only now we have two large boats on each side of us, and our slip felt much smaller than the large pilings out in the abandoned harbor! It was pretty terrifying circling around over and over backing our fat-bottomed girl into her tiny spandex-sized slip, but we managed to figure it out. Hopefully the next time we go out all by our lonesies, we will have good luck docking. I will probably be the one to wo-man the helm, since I had a little more control than Mr. Challis. But we plan to practice docking every time we go out, so that when we come back in to our own slip, we slide her in nice and easy – that just sounds dirty!
All-in-all it was a great time out in the Bay. I look forward to a relaxing afternoon that involves zero thought of boat work…at least for today. Since it’s my birthday I get the day off. Tomorrow it will be back to the grind – the grind of SHOPPING (my favorite kind!). We are heading to Annapolis for the day to provision for the next few weeks.
Until then! Stay classy San Diego (and everywhere else – gotta love Ron Burgundy!). Here’s a nice sunset to leave you with.