Lessons in Skippering

That was an interesting two weeks by myself, just me and the high maintenance dog.  We only had one really bad incident, where he hopped up on the dining room table and was going to bite me if I grabbed my purse or keys.  Turns out, his leash was on the table and that’s what he was flipping out over.  It still took me about a half hour to get out of the house, needed a boat hook to grab my purse.

I did get out sailing twice, couldn’t sleep on the boat while I was on dog duty.  The first time, I asked for crew and the one person who said he could go bailed on me.  I single handed it for the first time, it was pretty easy really.  The only thing was, I could feel it in my back the next day.  This is just such a bummer, I went shopping to grab some stuff for my trip at Athleta and they have videos of their ads.  These women are jumping in the water, surfing, super sporty and I’m thinking, “That used to be me!!”  I don’t know if I’ll ever get there again, I do one thing and I’m hobbling again.

The second time I had a crew, kind of.  I volunteered to take some people out with the yacht club I joined.  They gave me an all woman novice crew, which actually ended up fine.  When I sail, I anticipate things way in advance (if possible) so we have time to set everything up.  If things get hectic though, I have to step in quickly and do the sails myself.  I had both sails out on the way over, just the jib on the way back because of the high winds at the Golden Gate.  I’ve done it so many times, I can pick a spot past  the West side of Angel Island and go downwind to the marina without gybing.

There were a few things that went wrong, like the head.  OK, I’m a girl that hates a smelly boat, the head is my pet peeve.  There are few boats I’ve been on where the head actually works, so I give everyone a full briefing and show them the bags to put toilet paper in.  As we came in, I put it in auto pilot to pee (nothing’s worse than docking while you have to pee) and when I pumped the whole top of it came off, spilling out into the floor.  It was wet when I went in, I thought the bottle of the odor stuff I use had fallen and spilled.  Now I think what happened is no one knows to unlock the pump?  I’m going to have to make an instruction sign on how to use it and not just brief people.  Really, it’s the first thing I do is the potty briefing, it never works and I’ve always got a disaster when I check out the head.  I’ll fix it today, it’s not that big of a deal really.  Better a few hour sail than an overnighter where I can’t even use it.  I had a pump out service come a few days before, luckily we’re just taking liquids.

The other thing I didn’t anticipate AT ALL was the docking coming in.  I dock very slowly, people can just walk right down the steps (most of the time) for the bow line.  Every once in awhile I’ll do a crappy dock (while I’ve been talking about toilets).  I asked a woman to do the bow line, she said it was tangled up in the anchor and I couldn’t see it and quite frankly, was coming close to the dock and had no time besides plan B.  When we took off, I left the dock lines on the dock so we’d all just be on the boat, so I said we’d just use those and just hop off.  There was a guy on the dock who owns the boat a few down, I shouted at him to ask for some help.  Then I docked like a boss, hopped off with the stern line to cleat it.  The boat started going downwind!!  I looked up, and one of the women had taken the line off the cleat on the boat when I hopped off!!  If I hadn’t asked that guy to help, I would have just watched the boat go downwind to crash into the boats docked on the other side.  He was able to get a line on before it took off on me.

New lesson here, DON’T GET OFF THE BOAT!!  When I checked the bow line on the boat, it was fine and she could have just hopped off with it.  Glad I didn’t still have to pee or there would have been another element to the whole story.

Whenever stuff like that happens, I always go over in my mind what I could have done different?  I’ve taken enough people out who aren’t sailors to know that people want to help and people panic and start to just do things regardless of common sense or logic.  One time I put a halyard on outside a line of a sail bag it drops into and couldn’t hoist it.  No wind, NBD, I was under motor.  Everyone flipped out and started un-cleating everything in a total panic.  That’s the first time I experienced it and took note.  What I think happened is that the women helping must have been thinking the dock lines are supposed to be on the dock?  So they took the whole line off (the bow line was under a line securing the anchor, it didn’t need to come off that cleat at all and since I couldn’t see what she was talking about I opted for the lines already on the dock – or she would have taken that whole line off w/out anything to hold the boat on the bow either).

What I’ll have to do is learn how to use the boat hook for the stern line, THEN get off the boat for the bow.  I messed up one other time docking, where I accidentally had the boat a little in reverse when I hopped off & no one was on the boat.  I was able to get back on quickly to stop it.  I just keep learning, if it wasn’t for my lame back I could do everything myself.

Better go to the boat to clean and fix, which is something I surprisingly don’t mind doing.  I love figuring stuff out, it’s like a giant puzzle.  Lately it’s been the engine, I got a free diesel engine coloring book at the boat show for being the only woman boat owner in the crowd.

Wrote a lot, spent the day with a heating pad on my back yesterday watching youtube videos on single handed docking.  Have to get out of bed at least today.

The photo is from another day going out to the Golden Gate.  Looks like I tacked a bunch of times during a flood current to clear Berkeley pier, gave up, and went around to the city front.

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