Whew! Got into the marina about 5:30pm and picked up the new crew shirts that Thread Logic shipped here to meet me: They look pretty bitchin’! Before I went into the marina office, though, I had to steal a look at Jacie Sails to make sure she was still floating on her waterline and that the dinghy wasn’t banana shaped. Satisfied on both accounts, I went into the office and picked up my package.
I saw that we had a nice force 3–4 breeze going, and I heard from Tony that the weather is forecast to turn back to the regular “dailies” next week; so as I transferred my stuff from the truck to the boat (more quickly than usual), I started to think I should take ‘er out for a nice sunset sail on the bay. Which I did.
Prior to casting off, though, a visit to the facilities was necessary. As I got in the truck to run back over to the marina, I noticed a sailboat—whose name I shall withhold—coming back into the pier behind my boat. They seemed like they were having a tad more difficulty than I usually do: The mate (I am guessing she is the captain’s significant other) actually shoved the bow off a piling in the slip just next to mine. The captain, using the forward and reverse turning technique that I use, pivoted around, and before they could get the boat into their slip, their dinghy got within a couple of feet of mine. (Incidentally, did I notice that their prop walk was to starboard instead of to port, as per normal?)
Perhaps I was being a little too critical. After all, the wind was blowing from their pier towards mine… Nah! Although the captain did seem to have a pretty fair grasp of the standing turn thing, having to fend off the piling I think is an immediate #fail. (Unless we’re talking about the pilings on either side of your own slip, and you have a rub rail that will take it…in which case, hell, I’ll bang that sucker right in there if it means getting ‘er in versus missing the slip.) The wind was only maybe 10 knots, so it should have gone a little smoother, I think. That said, as usual, disembarking myself wasn’t a graceful as I intended, either. Hubris. More on that later.
At any rate, I sat in the truck overlooking the piers, engine running and air conditioner on, until they had successfully gotten her into the barn.
After making my way over to the marina and back, I quickly got ready to depart. The wind was blowing from our port side and slightly aft, and we stay bow-in to the slip. After disconnecting the shore power, the starboard bow line came off, then the stern spring line and port bow line. (I forget in which order.) I wasn’t too worried overall, since the wind wasn’t too strong, and my rub rails pretty much deal with the pilings, as I alluded to earlier.
But here’s where I messed up. Thinking back to Lake Lanier, I planned to use the starboard stern ling to hang onto the piling and warp the stern to starboard as I reversed out—to counter the very strong port prop walk Jacie Sails has. This idea was flawed to begin with, because at the lake, I was using English David’s technique: hook an eye-spliced dock line over the aft end of the (starboard) stern dock cleat—it was a floating dock, unlike the current marina—and run it forward a few feet around the starboard sheet winch. Then, when all the other lines have been cast off and you are backing out of the slip, you can keep the stern to starboard, counteracting the port prop walk until the stern is out of the slip. When you’ve backed out past the cleat, the eye slips off and you pull it in. Easy peasy!
For one thing, I had forgotten the arrangement. I knew just using the stern line wasn’t the right idea, but I was in a hurry (ahhhhh….!) and with the difference in the dock setup, I just wasn’t able to recall the correct setup. Everything seems rather different (and frankly more challenging) on a piling dock, versus a floating dock with cleats.
That wasn’t my only mistake, though.
The greater mistake was failing to account for the wind. It was blowing from the port quarter, and of course as soon as I undid the port stern line, the stern came across slowly until the bimini rested against the starboard piling. (I was, however, proud of leaving the port stern line looped over the horn of the piling for my return—as opposed to the usual Dumb Dance I’ve been doing, trying to lasso the piling while twisting and leaning out from under the bimini.)
As I’m told, the wind (and current) is often a much more significant factor than the prop walk! Although the prop walk on Jacie Sails is pretty strong, I was focusing on the wrong thing.
Probably the best solution in this case (assuming I’m operating solo, which is often) would have been to run an “English David” warp around the port stern piling and the port sheet winch. It occurs to me that this might require a longer line than at a floating dock: Since there is no cleat on the dock, the line would presumably have to run from the helm (in my hand), forward around the winch, back around the piling, forward to the winch again, and back to the helm.
I would NOT run it through the horn of the piling up near the top, but just around the base of the piling, and clear of any other lines or anything that might cause extra resistance—the piling already creates more resistance than the old method, where the only resistance is the very minimal effect of one loop (i.e., just a half turn) around the winch. Also, I would keep it taut to avoid the line getting caught in the prop!
With this setup, I would cast off all but the port bow line and the port stern “warp” line. Casting off the port bow line (Is there a way to run that back to the helm as well?), I would use just enough tension on the warp line, in conjunction with the prop walk, to keep the stern to the center or slightly left in the slip until I can pivot the stern to port out of the slip without clonking the bow on the starboard piling. (Again, being able to also control the bow line would be nice…actually, a similar warp running from the bow to the midships port piling would be nice!)
Then, once the stern was backed out to port (and we would be pointing the wrong way—towards the parking lot), I would do a 270 degree turn to starboard to get out.
Another option, if I could get enough stern way on, would be to use the port stern “warp” line just enough to keep the stern, bimini and dinghy off the stern starboard piling, but let the wind push the stern to starboard as I backed out, theoretically enabling me to run straight forward out of the channel between the piers. However, with the wind coming from the port quarter, it seems like this would tend to just blow us into our downwind pier. The prop walk would probably be less effective, since walking the stern to port would cause the bow to pivot even more downwind into the pier pilings. The previous method (getting the stern out to port) would allow us to pretty much back straight into the wind and do a ¾ turn to starboard, and out. Whew!
In fact, that’s what I did—except without the warp, so I had to push the stern off the starboard piling. Hmmmm. So maybe all of this thinking didn’t accomplish much! However, if the wind were stronger, it might be more of a factor.
Another thought: What if I used a bow warp (to the midships port piling) and, immediately upon releasing the port stern line (no warp), just used the prop walk to get the stern out to port, and the warp line to keep her nose up to the port pilings? I could give ‘er some juice while holding the warp, and prep ‘er to come out of the slip with some way on, into the wind.
[Okay, I just went topside to have a look, and it occurs to me that it would take about 115 feet of line to warp the bow to the midships piling and back to the helm. And that cleat has a rubber rub rail on the opposite side (facing into the next slip), so that would probably increase the friction as well. Next!]
Did I mention that the autopilot control unit in the cockpit is on the fritz? I screwed around with it for a minute, trying to turn it off and on. There was no “on.” I switched off the gadgets at the breaker panel and back on. Nada. The wind indicator would power up, but displayed two dashes instead of data.
Eventually, I said “screw it,” and headed out into Boca Ciega Bay without the autopilot. After all, how spoiled would I have to be to need autopilot for a spin around the bay? I mean, it’s helpful when setting and dousing sails; but still, I have a manual clamp for keeping the wheel somewhat steady, and I think I can certainly drive around for a bit without setting the autohelm!
I got the main and jib up and enjoyed a nice “pre-sunset” sail up and down the bay. As I ran downwind, the jib started to luff. Okay, I thought, I’ve headed up too much. I’d better fall off to starboard a little.
Funny thing, as I fell off to starboard, the main filled on the other side and the jib backed. What the hell? The windex clearly showed me on port tack, on a broad reach. That’s when I looked around the main to the Blackbeard ensign and saw that it was streaming forward in a somewhat different direction. As was the electronics windex. Some damned bird has f—– up my windex! I hadn’t gotten in irons, I had jibed! Thankfully, thinking I was running a course from a broad to close reach, I had the main sheeted pretty close and the wind was light. Otherwise…no bueno!
It was about time to head in anyway, so I doused the sails and slowly motored in, “piping the side” to the Boca Ciega Yacht Club as I passed. They were having a big party and cookout.
I made it back into the slip with minimum fuss, coasting lightly in and making liberal use of the starboard midships rub rail; and then, having worked pretty hard with no solid food, I headed to Pia’s and broke my (22 day!) fast with a house special salad and 3 Peroni beers.
Back at the boat, I turned in pretty early; but in the middle of the night I woke up to find it strangely warm. The air conditioning wasn’t running. Usually, I have to set the fan to “On” (vs. “Auto”) to make it cool…so it’s always running, even when the compressor isn’t on. I checked the breaker panel, and the “AIR COND.” breaker was still on. I flipped it off and on, and it felt strangely slack.
Then I noticed, among the several red lights illuminated on the panel, one new one. The “REVERSED POLARITY” light was on! WTF?!?? Through sleepy eyes, I Googled it on the iPad and confirmed that this is not good. I tried flipping the “A.C. MAIN” breaker next to the light, and it mattered not, so I turned it off.
I went out the companionway, barefoot in my pajama bottoms and t-shirt; made my way forward and onto the dock midships; and over to the dock box. I flipped this on and off. Then, like a sleepy dumbass, I pulled the shore plug in the cockpit and plugged it back in. With the shore power still on. I wish I could say that’s the first time I have done that, but hopefully it will be the last. Thankfully, nothing untoward has happened yet; but both times I’ve done this, I immediately felt pretty foolish…and not a little shaken.
As luck would have it, resetting the mains seemed to solve the problem, and the AC fired right back up again, and I have not seen the reversed polarity since then. It could be the old shore power cable. It could be a glitch with the shore power. I just don’t know…but I’m going to grab a circuit tester from Home Depot today!
So here’s my To Do list before The Admiral’s arrival tomorrow:
- Get new grill, grill cover, and propane control
- Get 3/8″ line for replacement staysail halyard
- Get circuit tester
- Fix/replace windex (This may not happen today, since I haven’t been up the mast before and don’t yet have the gear.)
- Lube winches, furling drum and gear shift lever
- Get groceries! (Maybe I’d better do that after eating…I’m friggin’ starving!)
I got up around 06:30 when The Birds arrived; headed over to the marina; talked with manager Tony and with Frank, a “regular” who use to own a yawl, and who gave me some good info on the Bahamas and other things; came back to the boat; set up the cockpit table and laptop, and started writing. I took some very brief breaks to try to catch a Sheepshead and walk around topsides, thinking about warping the boat out of the slip and whatnot. It’s now 12:12, so I guess I’d better get on it!