Thursday, March 6, 2014

Backing up in Seattle

There was a pretty wicked breeze blowing yesterday afternoon.  It got a lot worse overnight but it was howling pretty good by the time we got around to docking at Puget Sound Yacht Club. 

Calling what they have here a reciprocal dock is generous.  We sure appreciate the spot to tie up but its really marginal for our purposes.  REALLY marginal.  There’s probably less than 30 feet of dock available and we’re a minimum of 48 feet overall, likely closer to 50 feet.  If we could properly tie the bow off to somewhere that wouldn’t be insurmountable and I think we’re moderately secure but its by no means ideal.  I guess its “free” moorage (paid for by our annual SNSYC membership) so we’re getting what we pay for. 

The big problem when we arrived yesterday was this guy:


That’s a broken off “dolphin” or piling.  Its pretty ominous looking, despite the attempt to beautify and safen it by the addition of a flower pot and flashing light.  You can tell from the photo how close it is to our port side but what is harder to convey is how tight the space is between it and the boat immediately behind us.

When we first pulled up to look at our mooring I didn’t think I could squeeze between the broken off dolphin and the boat behind us so I attempted to back down on our mooring.  That’s doable on a calm day or even in a mild breeze but yesterday with 20+ knots blowing us directly off the dock there wasn’t a hope in hell of success.  I got close and then the bow fell off, I couldn’t hold it and I ticked the dinghy on a piling at the end of the dock.  I put a tiny bend in a piece of aluminum trim on the dinghy – invisible damage compared to the years of abuse our dinghy has suffered but enough to convince me that plan wasn’t going to work.

So we came around, went deep into the marina, spun the boat in the middle of the fairway and then crept between the monster in the picture above and the boat that is now behind us.  That went just fine, as I knew it would as long as we could get through the gap between boat and dolphin.  The marina host was out and about by that time so she came to get in the way while Marilyn was handling lines.  I continue to be amazed by how little some boaters actually know about line handling despite – as in her case – over 20 years of experience doing it.  Some people get better with experience and some people just get more experience at doing things the awkward or wrong way.  If you review back to the spring line drawing that I posted earlier this week and imagine some fool taking that spring line just barely FORWARD from the midship cleat then you will have a picture of what our host did.  She had grabbed that line away from Marilyn who assumed that meant she knew what to do with it.  I had to tell her three times to take it back and I think in the end she was offended by my tone.  I pretty well had my hands full using throttles and thruster to hold us against the wind so by that time I was more interested in results than tact.

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