The task of becoming sea-worthy

Slow, simple starts…

Sometimes, painfully slow.  And boring, but I’m going somewhere with this.  Saturday, off to the boat.  As we are learning our way around the boat, we continue to learn our way around one another.   Arriving at the boat, we hauled all our stuff aboard and determined what the goal for the day would be.  Depth finder.  This proved more time-consuming than originally thought.   The transducer appears to be working fine.    The display panel for the depth finder was cracked, so we replaced it.  It got very hot, we got very cranky.  I began to notice Guy & I work differently.  In typical ‘guy’ style, he spreads all his ‘stuff’ out and jumps from one job to another.  He starts a job without first gathering all the necessary tools, then makes random requests for things hidden deep within compartments buried under all the ‘stuff’ we haven’t yet organized.

He also likes to work alone.  And that’s good, I guess.  Though it seems more efficient for me that we communicate what we are doing to the other, so we know we are progressing in an efficient manner.  Yes, I saw that.  Twice in one sentence even.  So maybe I’m a little… what?  Efficiency is good.  Organization is good.  Especially in small cramped spaces, right?  He had just successfully completed the depth finder installation.  He did a great job.  Found a short in our generator, wired around it.  It’s all good.  Then he’s off to attach the anchor and clean the mainsail cover… kind of at the same time, kinda without the tools he needs.  That’s when I noticed what he was doing.  With the rope.  Tying random knots in it and throwing the anchor to the other side of the cockpit, done.  Remember, we don’t know anything about sailing.  We decided together that we would learn how.  That we would invest the time.  Did I tell you how hot it was?  Anyway, I was sewing a tear in one of the cushions.

Back up.  So, earlier when we were at the store buying the anchor chain and totally cool sailor gloves for my hands, we discussed tying knots and he assured me that he knew how to tye all the different knots.  He’s done this before on other boats, blah, blah, blah.  In an attempt to show that I respect his knowledge and remembering he promised not to act like he knew how to do stuff when he really didn’t, I smiled, kissed him and went looking for a hatchdog knob.  (Is this just another ‘guy’ thing, where ya’ll like to pretend you know how to do stuff and then see if you can figure it out correctly???  Please let me know, I promised I would learn to respect his ‘guy’ traits.)

I jump up, set the cushion aside while explaining that I read on the web that there are all these different knots for different things and how each was real important, blah, blah, blah.  Grab my netbook to show him the knot tying diagrams I have, we’re starting to both get cranky, I set the netbook on the tiny edge of the table that is piled high with all this stuff, turn slightly to grab my mouse and CRASH!  Long to short, my netbook is broken.  And because I’m female it takes all of about 45 seconds for me to rationalize how it was his fault.  And only five minutes to explain it to him in such a way that it even makes sense to him in the end.

This IS on my list.  I have a list of all the things I ‘know’ that I do that may cause him difficulty in life and work on them so we can have more fun together.  ‘Too rigid in method’  is up towards the very top.

Anchor Hitch

It’s just really hard, because these methods make such good sense… to me.  Like with the anchor knot, for instance.  When you throw the anchor overboard, the water, current and pull can unravel some knots.  So they have a special knot that is really good for tying ropes to anchors.  It’s called an anchor hitch.  See???  This makes sense to me.

So, like I said, we’re learning to work together better.  On to the sailing part.  So, now it’s 6:30pm.  The air has cooled, as well as our tempers.  We’ve kissed and made up and we determine we only have enough time to take her out into the channel and turn around, heading back in, no sails, all engine.  We decided that I would do it ‘all by myself’, so I could get comfortable being out in the boat alone.  That brings us to our next ‘learning opportunity’ of the day.  Guy has these feelings that he keeps bottled up inside him, that only he knows about.  Every once in a while, they rear their ugly heads.  Tonight, it was that he has absolutely no faith in my boat maneuvering ability.

Add to that the fact that everything terrifies me and off we go.  He shows me how to prime the engine with the gas-pump thingy.  He walks me through starting the engine, forward-neutral-reverse.  Always start in neutral, pull choke out, pull rope, start engine.  Rev it just a bit to get it warmed up, push choke in and lower engine into water so it stays cool. Explanation on tiller to port makes nose of boat go to starboard, tiller to starboard makes nose of boat go to port.

As I’m readying the engine, I explain REALLY LOUDLY to everyone around our boat that I don’t have a clue what I am doing and will probably kill them all, hoping the swimmers behind me take heed.  Nothin’ doin.  Shove engine in reverse and slowly back out.  Guy said I did really good, he was surprised since I was so terrified.  Pulled her straight through the center of the lane.   I’m totally terrified that I’m going to hit another boat and sink ours straightaway, but on I go.  Put her into forward, she responds.  Some attempts with the tiller to see how it feels, we head out toward the no-wake buoys at about 1 knot.

Because it was so hilarious, I want to give you a sense of it.  The whole time I’m steering and checking our depth, watching for boats ahead of us and behind, I’m explaining to Guy that I just know I am going to screw up and sink us at any moment and that I’m totally terrified.  He’s putting on a really brave face, acting like I am nothing more than an annoyance and trying to determine if there is anyone in our path I’m going to take out.  It wasn’t until later that he admitted he was  just as terrified, but not as honest sometimes.  A ‘guy’ thing as he put it.  Maybe you understand.

At one point the depth finder read 89 feet, seconds later it’s reading 2.5 feet.  Because we don’t have a clue what we’re doing, we go into full alert.  We’re in really shallow water suddenly and we are going to die.  Don’t argue with us about how our keel is 5 feet long and we couldn’t be still moving in 2.5 feet of water.  Don’t confuse us at this point with mere logic.  This is an emergency.  We fumble through trying to frantically steer her into deeper water.  Keep in mind, we are in the middle of a huge channel.   As I’m trying to remember what direction makes the boat go starboard, he checks the depth finder again… 2.5 feet, 100 feet, 3 feet, 20 feet and back to 89 feet.  Would this be a good place to mention he didn’t see a need to actually read the instructions for the depth finder.  Yeah, so anyway.

We got her officially out into the channel and he calls for me to turn about.  I push the tiller to starboard and am pleasantly surprised how quickly she comes about.  Heading back to the marina proved no less terrifying than going out.  I guess it was because we were moving so much slower than the other boats, coupled with the fact that we hadn’t looked at the topo map.  Everyone around me is just going to assume I know exactly what I am doing.  Why in the world would I be out there if I didn’t, right?  Righhhht.

We had one of those husband/wife moments.  Guy is telling me to head in a straight line back to the dock.  I’m looking at how I will have to cut across what I feel is a traffic lane to do that.  He keeps insisting that I’m not listening to him and that I need to do exactly what he tells me.  He gives very little supporting details.  I’m steering the boat while explaining that a soft arc into the marina feels like a better idea.  It made him very nervous that I was in control of the boat and not listening to him.  He did a great job not pushing me aside and taking over.  I arc her into the marina and announce that I’m too stressed to  put her in the slip.  We change seats.  He heads in and we realize we don’t know where our slip is.  He has to turn around in the lane and make a second attempt.  Can I say that I told him he was going to have 5′-8′ of drift when he tried to back up?  Can I say that he didn’t even hear me?  We figured out which slip was ours and he did an excellent job getting us docked.

Both he and I have boating experience.  Limited, but experience all the same.  With surface boats – you know, the ones that sit on the surface, with really large 75HP engines.  We noticed that what fueled our fear was not being comfortable with the 5 foot keel and not having a lot of faith in a 5hp engine moving a 3000lb boat out of a trouble spot quickly.  Adaptation.  We’ll get the hang of this….


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