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Making do... oh, and a rendezvous (part 2)

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
....(continued from part 1)

To get Makana home I knew I'd have to sail out of Langley, down a stretch of Saratoga Passage, across Possession Sound and into Everett. None of that seemed like a problem. But I wasn't sure what the best options were for when I got into Everett. My slip faces west, so to get in with a westerly I'd need to beam-reach up-current into the entrance, run down to my aisle, gibe and beam-reach along my aisle and then turn head-to-wind into my slip. 10,000 pound boat, no brakes, not enough room to turn around if I needed to bail out? What could possibly go wrong?

So I had a couple of ideas that I liked better...
-- I could sail to Everett, then call BoatUS and have their towing service take me to my slip
-- I could sail to Everett, put the boat in a "guest slip" in the North marina (much easier path with bail-out options) and figure out what to do from there.
-- I could sail to Everett, put the boat on the long dock in front of Anthony's and figure out what to do from there.

...or... something else.

Happily, a couple of Vikings gave me some additional options. I traded cell-phone numbers with a couple of boats from Everett, just so I'd have someone to call if I needed attention. Shaun from Sorcerer was planning to leave after me, and offered to tow me into my slip if I needed help when I got there. So... that was a good option to have in my pocket if I needed it.

The other option came from Harold and Kevin. They suggested I take the belt off the motor and, if I needed to, run the motor briefly without it. They said I could run the motor without coolant circulating for 5 minutes or so, and it wouldnt do any harm. Said it wouldn't even come up to temp. So that became one of the options on the list... if I got back to the marina, maybe I could start the motor before entering my aisle, run it into the slip and shut it down before it got warm.

All told, I think that accounts for Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and Plan E, with a side of outside assistance and "phone a friend" for dessert.

I like having options.

A nice westerly built right around 2pm, exactly when the GRIB files said it would, and that became the time to go. Once again, lots of Vikings lending a hand to help. We pushed the bow away from the dock, and as someone walked my stern line up the dock to "sling-shot" me out into the fairway, I unfurled my jib, gibed as soon as the stern cleared around and was on my way. Easy-peasy. Very pleasant sail back to Everett, with the Westerly filling in behind me along the way.

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Got into Port Gardner bay, furled the jib and started thinking through my options. Wind had gotten a little gusty, probably 15 gusting to 18, with white caps in the entrance channel. That meant I had enough wind to be sure I had decisive maneuverability... but it also created some complexity for sail-handling.

I had recently re-reaved my mainsheet, and was really glad I did. previously it had been a 5:1 that ran down from the gooseneck, along the deck, through a jammer and around a winch. Which was good for most things, but hard to lock-down (or release) from the helm. So one of my little tweaks over the spring was to make it a 5:1 that came through a cam-cleat on the bottom block of the traveler car. Maybe not optimal for cruising, but it meant I had good control of the main from the helm.

And for the plan I had in mind, the main was a better option than the jib. One line to deal with, rather than two or three. And in a building breeze, I wanted to have a touch of weather helm - I wanted to know that the boat would turn "up" and stop in a gust.

Sailed into the channel and up past the marina entrance. Steering with one hand, playing the mainsheet with the other, just like sailing a Laser... but with 70 times as much mass and momentum. Still hadn't "landed" on a plan. The easy thing to do - short-term - was to put the boat in a guest spot. But all the spots on the long dock outside Anthony's were full, and I wasn't sure how I'd get Makana from a guest slip back to my slip without a tow, so... maybe a tow jumps to the top of the list anyway?

But as I sailed back and forth past the entrance, the angles... I don't know, "felt right". It was a comfortable beam reach in the channel. It would probably be a deep port-gibe run into the entrance, and then a gibe and beam-reach on starboard into my aisle. But I played with it a little. I actually sailed back and forth outside the entrance a half-dozen times, checking the angles, practicing a few gibes, etc. Turns out, if I came in right at the north side of the entrance, and angled across toward my aisle, I could do it without the gibe. I would be *really* deep on starboard, but not quite by-the-lee, and wouldn't have to worry about gibe-and-turn-and-trim all at once while entering my aisle.

I also gave a lot of thought to how I'd get back *out* of the marina if I needed to bail out before turning into my aisle. Once I got in my aisle, though, there was no bailing out. No way there was enough room for me to turn around in that space, under sail.


At long last, made a decision to go for it. A quick prayer (please, God, however this turns out don't let me hurt any other people or boats...) and I turned for the entrance. Ran easterly on starboard. Turned up onto a beam reach in my aisle. Committed now!

Passed a boat where a four people were sitting with drinks in the cockpit. They asked why I had my sail up, I said "because my motor isn't working". Next thing I know, I hear their footsteps as they race up the dock to meet me at my slip.

Turns out, they didn't have much to do. Got to my slip, turned hard to kill off speed, ghosted close enough to the finger for me to step off and attach docklines. Home. Almost like I knew what I was doing.

Or, at least, well-faked.

Called Shaun to let him know I was back home safely and wouldn't need a tow. Found I couldn't speak. Mouth was *super* dry... apparently there was some adrenalin involved in sailing home. Good to know.

But... also feels good to know that some of the skills I had Way Back When might still be around. When I was 20 (and on Someone Else's Boat), I wouldn't have hesitated about sailing back into a dock. Did it all the time. I was immortal, and omnipotent. But now... well, I hesitated a *lot*. And I'm glad I did. The thing I think I'm most proud of is the *lack* of overconfidence. Could I sail the boat? Sure, I know how to sail pretty well. In truth, sailing into a harbor should be a *very* small accomplishment, nothing like crossing an ocean, not really even noteworthy. But I didn't *assume* I could get it into the slip, I took the time to think through the options, make a plan, and have a way to bail out if I needed. Almost like a grown up.

(shudder) I don't really want to be a grown up, but in this narrow instance, I'm happy with it.

My guess is, though, "picking the least-bad of a bunch of bad options" is a premise for a lot of things that fall under the heading of "seamanship". The sea throws us curves. That's it's job. Being able to detect the curve, build a plan, adapt as needed - and not hurt people or boats along the way - might be, I think, as valuable a skill as knot-tying or water-pump-replacing.

And, as it turns out, a water-pump is really low on the list of Really Bad Things that can happen, if you think about it. When coming back into my slip on C-dock, this was my view of D-dock. Big fire on the Saturday of the rendezvous... two boats sunk, at least three more damaged beyond repair, plus a bunch of scorched fiberglass on boats nearby. Very glad my problem was "just" a dead motor.

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Dramatic drone video here, if you don't mind dipping a toe into Sailing Anarchy to see it...

Epilogue: the water pump has been replaced, the engine is healthy again, and Makana is ready for her next adventure. Thinking about Port Ludlow next weekend for Bob Perry's annual "Perry-boat" sail in.... he's told me that since he's good friends with Bruce King, my Ericson is welcome. Sort of "extended family". We'll see...

Just, no more screeching noises for a while, okay?

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Updated 09-04-2017 at 08:48 PM by bgary

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  1. ignacio's Avatar
    >> My guess is, though, "picking the least-bad of a bunch of bad options" is a premise for a lot of things that fall under the heading of "seamanship".

    It's likely a premise for a lot of things that fall under the heading of "living." Great write-up. Thanks for the engaging read.
  2. 907Juice's Avatar
    Sounds like quite the trip!! I think you forgot to put your closing sentence "oh and btw, I'm kind of a big deal". Thanks for sharing.
  3. bgary's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by 907Juice
    I think you forgot to put your closing sentence "oh and btw, I'm kind of a big deal".
    Jeez, no, I hope I didn't come across that way. I'm a small deal. My boat, on the other hand? She *is* kind of a big deal. She sails like a dream, unlike the many "floating RVs" out there, and I am unspeakably proud to be her caretaker....
  4. 907Juice's Avatar
    I know. I'm just playing. I'm just saying I'm impressed. I would've totally called for a tow. ...have called for a tow is even better stated.
  5. trickdhat's Avatar
    I've been left with the same decision twice; the first after the inaugural sail from Bellingham left me with my motor hanging from the transom by it's battery cables and the second due to a small (and embarrassing) oil issue. Both times I chose to use the guest dock in front of Anthony's. I've always wanted to try sailing into my slip, but I haven't mustered up the courage to give it a go. The first time sailing into the guest dock was easy with the help of the river current bringing me to a stop. The second time was lining up to be just as good, but a friendly C&C 33 owner offered a tow I couldn't pass up. If sailing isn't difficult enough, there's always current, vessel traffic, and the spectators on the Wood fire patio. Nicely done!
  6. olsenjohn's Avatar
    Great story, and well told. I am impressed, as docking for me always feel like something of a controlled crash, and never ceases to make me a bit anxious. Can't imagine doing it in a boat that big and up into a slip under sail alone. Nicely done!
  7. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Great story and well told! We never get to practice sailing into a slip. . When I had to do it on the 32-3 I padded the starboard bow with everything I could find and planned to ram the finger pier hard (I had read that the hull can take the bump and keep her moving so as not to lose steerageway). But the 32-3 sails so well I just glided in. I swear the boat is the perfect compromise of agility, comfort and looks.
  8. p.gazibara's Avatar
    Glad to hear you made it safe! Two years ago I was faced with engine troubles also sailing to Everett (what led me to go electric) at the start of a 2 week trip. Decided to ignore the engine and sail around Canada without for a couple weeks. We didn't have a dingy, so we were always mooring.

    What they say must be true, the boat must be able to handle more than the crew

    Maybe I'm a little irresponsible, but I still like sailing onto docks and used to sail into my slip on Lake union fairly often. Though it sure is nice to have the motor ready to go if needed...

    Cheers from our last day in the bay! We set sail late afternoon for Santa Cruz.

  9. sgwright67's Avatar
    Another entertaining story. I looked forward to making a rendezvous one of these days.