20 December 2013

I Almost Killed Scott The Other Day

The scene of the crime - the X Pier at Westhaven Marina.

The key word here is "almost" - there was bleeding and a few swear words, but Scott survived. Which is good because I've kind of grown fond of him. And he makes a really good egg and cheese breakfast burrito so he is a keeper. Here is how this little drama unfolded...

Take two people. Put them in a sailboat. Make sure at least one person knows how to sail because the other person probably forgot everything she learned the previous summer because her brain can't possibly retain information on sailing for seven months. There is limited capacity up there and the sailing information has had to be replaced with the plot details about who has done what to who in season 2 of Scandal. {Please, no spoilers about the second half of season 2 or season 3.} Then add in some wind so that you can spice up a docking maneuver. The docking maneuver should have been routine and had in fact been successfully completed just two days earlier. This leads everyone to believe that it will all be just fine. The fools.

Have your skipper head into the dock against the wind so that it slows the boat down. Get your least experienced crew member situated with a mooring line on the bow so that she can jump down to the dock and secure the boat. In the future, remember to tell your least experienced crew member to stop thinking about the next episode of Scandal during the docking maneuver because it might be a bit distracting. If you're the inexperienced crew member, start to feel somewhat clever because you remember reading somewhere that you shouldn't make a big jump onto the dock and instead just lightly hop down to it. Once you realize that the dock is too far away for your short little legs, tell the skipper that it is too far to jump. But make sure you do so in a normal tone of voice because you've been told you sometimes speak too loudly and your voice carries. Then wonder why the skipper asks you why you haven't jumped yet. Panic and jump. Panic some more then pull the bow line in smartly. While you're doing this, your skipper should put the engine in neutral and jump onto the dock with the stern line. Make sure to pull on the bow line just when he is over the water so the boat drifts off astern and he falls into the water. Such fun. Such entertainment for everyone that is watching the maneuver.

At this point, there might be some naughty words being said. You can't be sure about this because the water might be muffling what the skipper is saying. When the skipper yells at you to come grab the stern line, make sure you drop the bow line because keeping hold of it would be far too sensible. Then watch the bow drift away and the skipper swimming in the water. Thinking quickly and somewhat in a panic, grab the lifeline to pull the boat in so it doesn't completely drift off. Then panic some more that you are going to crush the skipper in between the boat and the dock. Good times.

Somehow, the skipper manages to pull himself onto the swim platform and back onto the boat. Then off the boat to grab the bow line sitting on the dock. The skipper restores order. The inexperienced crew member goes down below and wonders if it is too early for a gin and tonic. The skipper thinks this is the exact moment to do a debrief of what went wrong. Because doing a "lessons learned" exercise is really important. Except all the inexperienced crew member can think about is whether there is still some lemon for the gin and tonic and isn't listening at all to the skipper. Fortunately, years of marriage have taught her how to do the head nodding thing which gives the illusion that she is paying attention.

And just to put some icing on the cake, make sure your gears get jammed up and won't go into forward just when you're trying to get off the dock and back to your mooring. This provides more entertainment for bystanders while you try to make your gears work all the while you're drifting backwards because only reverse will work.

The good news is that the skipper was wearing swim trunks already, didn't have his wallet or phone in his pockets and the water wasn't too terribly cold. He does have some pretty cuts and nicks from the barnacles on his arms, legs, hands and feet as a lovely memento of the event. 

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!   


  1. I just laughed for 5 minutes...thank you

    1. Best feedback ever! That's what we're here for - we love it when we make folks laugh!

  2. Uh oh. Learning to dock and un-dock is the worst. Make that a double gin and tonic. With lemon. Sometimes 'debriefing' goes down better that way. Very glad no one was seriously hurt and that the marriage survives. Maybe you need 'marriage savers'. I think we're going to get some for the new old boat. https://cruisingsolutions.com/product-category/communication/marriage-saver-headsets/ I've heard good things about them.

    1. It is something we've done many times the previous summer and this summer as well successfully so this is a good cautionary tale of what happens when you panic a little bit and forget the basics. The marriage saver headsets are a really good idea. I think we're both getting a bit hard of hearing, which is compounded when the engine is running, so this is something we should consider when we get our next boat as it will be bigger and make it even harder to hear.

  3. I’m sorry, but I have to chime in here and say this wasn't the smartest antic. You are lucky no one was hurt.

    I have a not so fond memory about a friend who was seriously hurt doing just what you guys were doing. He attempted to jump from the boat to the dock and missed. He went into the water and was crushed between the boat and the dock. After a long rehab for a back injury, he was fine. It is NEVER a good idea to leave the boat while docking. In fact, you should never leave the boat until you have at least 3 lines secured (forward, aft, spring). www.boatus.com/foundation/guide/navigation_37.html

    Heading into the wind to slow the boat is a good idea. It would make sense to tie off the bow at this point letting the wind push you back. But remember, “the stern moves first” when under power. Prop walk can move the stern out if the engine is in gear. It makes more sense to tie a line at amidships, and USING A POLE, loop a forward cleat or a bollard one the pier. Tie this rope tight and pull the boat to the dock (with the aid of the engine or even a winch). With the boat secure at amidships, you will have plenty of time to secure forward and aft lines using the pole to loop the cleat. Depending on the direction you are facing, you can use prop walk to help you nestle against the pier (the dock has to be on the port side). Once you have the 3 lines, one person can step onto the dock safely and adjust as needed. Here is a link to a video to demonstrate: www.sailingcourse.com/cruising/animated_gifs/forward_wind-animation.gif

    If you do not have amidships cleat, you should secure the bow first ~ again using a pole to loop the cleat or dock bollard.

    Please do not make any more Indiana Jones leaps onto the dock. I enjoy your blog and hope you are around to continue writing some more.


    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

    1. Hi Mark - thanks for the kind feedback - it is always nice to hear that people enjoy reading our blog!

      I haven't been able to look at the video yet as we've been on the water with no internet access, but I suspect this technique wouldn't work for our situation as this particular dock doesn't have cleats or bollards. It has the these rings which you can't loop anything through from the boat. Everyone here has to jump off their boat to tie off, even the guys that single hand. It can be complicated when the wind isn't being favorable as you need two hands to feed the line through the ring in order to tie it off. We would love it they would put cleats on the deck - it would make it a lot easier!

      Cheers - Ellen

  4. OMG .. I could totally imagine myself in your shoes! I'm also the inexperienced one who has the job of jumping onto the dock ... nerve wracking! Glad all is well, and I hope you had a great Christmas!

    1. Thankfully it all turned out okay and has given us a good story to talk about for years to come. :-)

  5. Ah yes, do king! The most embarrassing thing you can do on a boat with your clothes on! Or off. Either way!
    We have a hard rule on Sionna that it's the helmsman's job to make jumping to the dock UNnecessary. If I - Keith - don't get the boat in a position where she (Nicki) can step comfortably to the dock, we go round again.
    It's made me a much better driver! And no blood or unscheduled swims. Which is good because I can't swim. Yet. Long story. :-)


We LOVE when people leave comments. It's so much more fun hearing what you have to say. If you have a blog, make sure you leave a link and I'll be sure to pop on by.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.