Sittin’ on the dock of the bay
September 22, 2018
So I realize that Mr. Otis Redding wrote this song about another Bay, way over in San Francisco, which happens to be where Erik and I are from, but as the weeks went by and we watched yachts rolling in and rolling by, it felt as if this song was epitomizing our current existence.
Yes, we needed to move in, which was a very slow process. Yes, we needed to prepare for a hurricane that wouldn’t hit us. Yes, we needed a decent sailing weather window. And we finally got one.
We asked our friend Diane to join us, to help me specifically with docking. The 37’ power boat we had was easy to dock, yet for some reason, I seem to be making a big deal out of docking this 44’ Cat. Why is that? And I know I am not alone in worrying I won’t successfully lasso a cleat.
In any case, we finally left our dock and took M&L out for a spin in the Bay – the Chesapeake Bay. Under light winds, we sailed South East toward the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, under sail but still with the Solomon drives helping to power her along. Have we mentioned yet how incredibly quiet these are?
Winds maybe topped out at 11kts that day, so we decided to hoist the code zero, our gennaker. Erik recently had discovered that the sail’s tension line was a foot too short. Whoever built it, clearly didn’t do it right. Erik got the sail fixed and we wanted to see whether and how it would be to furl and unfurl it.
Erik and Diane worked together to set up the sail properly and unfurling was a much easier job, but even with the proper tension set, furling it back (later that day), even with a winch, was no easy task. We wanted to love that sail – it’s a perfectly good sail, but back breaking to work with.
We’ve also noticed that whenever we use the electric port side sheet winch, the autopilot would flip the freak out and turn M&L starboard. The first time this happened, the wind was at our stern, I was at the helm, and the crew was changing sails.
As soon as the winch was engaged, the boat turned to starboard, and we did an accidental jibe. We hypothesized that the rudder position indicator was a problem until it happened again. Then we knew it was something with the winch interfering with the autopilot. From then on, every time we needed to use the portside winch, we would put the yacht into standby and manually maintain position. But guess what? I was always the helmsman and I couldn’t read a compass for the life of me (then), much less how to correct us back to course. When you have no landmark at sea to keep your eye on, clouds work. That fun fact helped me out of a panic, but here’s the deal – when the boat swiftly changes course unintentionally, you risk unwanted stress on sheets and sails, and rigging. My panic was real – but I will admit, unnecessary and it is panic that prevents rational thought. (Post note: I’m getting better and now understand the compass, the degrees, and the reality.)
We approached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and then set sail back toward Salt Ponds. With Diane aboard, docking was stress free. Our marina friends were on deck and helped us dock, which is a blessing and a curse, because it happened so quickly that I didn’t learn the things I needed to for the next time, since it would be just Erik and I sailing.
A few things I realized during this sail is that I worry too much – about the boat, about the dog, about my ability. I don’t know when it was that I stopped trusting in instinct and myself, and let fear and doubt replace coping skills, but I’m glad I realized all this. I didn’t cry this time. I acknowledged it all. I let it wash over me like a warm summer shower and committed to facing it head on.
The next sail will prove my worth. And by worth, I mean that I will not let fear drive me – hell, maybe it’s that fear that drives any of us, to be stronger and better – but I will not let fear control me. Game on.
Next: A quick trip for me to Cali and then our first solo sail north…