Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media unless otherwise indicated. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.

2016-08-04

Doing the right thing involves having the right skills

The video above is by Duncan Wells. I recommend a viewing. Recently, a tale of a careless and evidently unskilled boater doing a "hit and run" at a local club reminded me of a small incident in my own. A couple of weeks ago, my neighbour to the west at NYC in a Mumm 36 was being blown on and failed to allow for this in his solo turn to the east. He bent a stanchion on one of my fixed 1/2 in. steel tabs, which are welded to the deck pipe rail, and he hooked the one assigned to a future wind gen pole. 
The tab is identical on the port aft quarter as the one in this shot bearing the deck crane. Naturally, you can see why Alchemy did not budge. Unfortunately, I don't have a second fender on the inside...I never thought I'd get hit there.

I was aboard and heard, but didn't feel, the impact. I did hear nautical expletives and jumped off the boat to hear the member in question yelling that "he'd be back!" Fair enough; it's understandably traumatic when one dings the vessel and doubly so for an active racer who probably spends as much as me refitting just going around the buoys.

Mister Mumm docked on the wall to inspect his damage. Mine was about a dime's worth of blemished paint. I wasn't sore about it, and actually enjoyed experiencing the physics in play and realizing that my eight 3/4" dock lines worked as advertised, but I said if he saw my portlights open, just to knock on the boat and I would happily walk him out so he could stay at the tiller and throttle. 
 
Confused yet? Try it in real life on a calm day...much easier.

Maybe I'll explain "warping out", too, but really, this happens to everyone at some point. What's inexcusable is it happening more than once. I've been sailing now for about 17 years, much of it solo in a 33 footer, and now in a steel 42 footer four times its mass. Because of that, I try to take a lot of care coming and going, and simply go to the wall if my own dock is dangerous due to the conditions or I'm undercrewed. I don't hesitate also to ask for the dockmaster to take a (usually amidships) line against which I can maneuver with control. But then one has to know that seeking help to dock isn't representative of a lack of experience, but is simply prudent seamanship. 

I have seen in the last 17 years a decrease in the ability to handle sailboats in close quarters and rarely do I see anyone warping off or using simple line-handling (and prop-walk in a constructive fashion) to leave or enter docks safely. And yet it's not hard: here's one of the better books I've read lately on the topic:

Deficiencies in boat handling are real issues in most clubs these days: the absence of proper etiquette is grounded in the missing skill set that should be the baseline of responsible seamanship.

No comments: