It’s been a month since I took the boat out, that’s the longest she’s ever sat there. The winds on my trip were hectic, it’s been small craft advisory ever since I’ve been back. We decided to head out early to Angel Island to make sure we got a dock for hiking since it’s Memorial weekend. It’s always packed there weekends, hard to get a spot or a mooring. Before we went, I checked out the dock sizes on Google Earth, the last time I docked there was on a J-24 years ago. I’ve moored there with my boat a few times, either for mooring practice, we did spend one night there.
The sail over was really easy, there was just enough wind to sail the whole way. The wind was from the South that I didn’t have to worry about the Berkeley pier, I come out of Emeryville. We were the first ones at the docks, around 10:30a? It’s a $15 park fee, then a 4.5 mile hike around the perimeter.
The fun didn’t start until I tried to leave the dock…
I’m really good about reading currents and checking tides, seeing the slack tide was about 5:30p. The guy in the brand new Beneteau 35 pulled out about an hour before I did and smacked his boat hard against the wood piling, leaving a nasty scratch on the side. He had a little girl and maybe her dad do the dock lines, they couldn’t get on the boat from the dock. He had to pull the boat back in, they both did a running jump and luckily made it before the boat smacked the wood pilings. I should have helped them, it’s a tough call. Some people are happy to have you help, others consider it “advice” so I kept my mouth shut the whole time. My plan was to keep us on the boat and flick the boat lines off the dock cleats.
Walking back up to the snack bar to grab an ice cream, it was hard not to notice people struggling with docking. The most common mistake is people bring the bow line in tight, then the stern swings out and no one can get off the boat. Definitely took note of people struggling to get in and out of there when we went back to rig the boat to take off. The first thought was people don’t know how to dock, the next thought was maybe it’s the water moving? It was both.
We spent some time rigging it, I looked for traffic because the ferries create quite a wake going in & out of there…all clear. Backed out and the guy two docks down backed out at the exact same time. The way the docks are situated, there’s a curve on my dock so that if I went straight out I’d back right into him. I tried to go back in the dock, the water moving and now the prop walk turned the bow to starboard – now I was the crappy docker! I had no choice, I needed speed for rudder and had to back out or smack that wood piling if I hesitated. I backed out. The other boat blocked me from doing too much, I couldn’t turn or get out of there, he was just looking at me backing into him with the water moving me right to him.
Then it got kind of blurry, I remember my husband yelling commands and I couldn’t listen to him because I was at the helm and know the boat. I couldn’t turn the boat yet, there wasn’t enough room with the water moving and going backwards wasn’t enough power to get through that sideways current. The second I have room to flip the boat around, I gunned it forward to get away from the other boat. The water was then moving me towards the docks again and the other boats on the dock. Pretty sure there was about a foot to spare when I gunned it in forward to turn the boat and get out of there!
I learn something every time I sail, this one was one more look for traffic before I shove off and take note of other boaters struggling. When I got home and looked up Angel Island, it’s pretty notorious for poor etiquette and nasty sideways currents. What did I think would happen on Memorial weekend?
The sail back was super easy, motored out to the West tip of Angel Island to take out the jib. With 20knot gusts what I generally do is just take out the jib (depending on my crew, I’d take out the main too) & go downwind from there. If I have the right point of sail, I never have to gybe and get in between the Berkley pier and Treasure Island easily. Besides the 5 minutes of sheer terror, it was pretty relaxing.