Thursday, November 7, 2013

Single Screw Training and Other Doings

Distance traveled:  5.3 miles going nowhere

Travel Time: 3 hours

When we bought the new '”Next To Me” in September, we knew a major challenge would be learning to maneuver and dock a single engine boat, wildly different from the same maneuvers on a twin engine boat like we had for our Great Loop journey. We may have underestimated JUST how different it is. A twin engine boat can be turned 360 degrees precisely in place by putting one engine in forward gear and the other in reverse, pivoting on its’ centerline. A single screw boat pivots, normally, from a point about 1/3 aft of the bow of the boat, so requires a much larger turning radius; a bit like the difference between turning a VW Bug compared to a 15-passenger van with a much longer wheel base . . . . unless you can master a skill called “back and fill”, a centuries old term derived from sailboats, but which operates on a similar principle with motor boats.

Yesterday we took “back and fill” lessons inside Gig Harbor, and you can see our path of travel on the recorded track below.


In October when we attended our first MTOA Rendezvous (Marine Trawler Owner’s Association) in Poulsbo, we met Jim and Robin. They’re full-time cruisers who’ve lived aboard their gorgeous 49-foot DeFever pilothouse trawler for 9 years. They cruised from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas and points in between for a number of years, then shipped their boat out here last Spring so they could cruise the waters of Puget Sound, Alaska, the Inside Passage and everything in between for 2-3 years.

Jim and Robin arrived in Gig Harbor aboard M/V Adventures on Tuesday and came to our home for dinner. Conversation flowed easily (along with the wine) and we laughed and told lots of boating and other stories. To our surprise, we found we’re all acquainted with some of the same “characters” from our respective east coast cruising, they as DeFever owners and us as Great Loopers. Cruisers really do comprise a small community in many ways.

Having a great deal of experience in all kinds of boats (including single screw canal boats in Europe), Jim and Robin offered to give us lessons in boat-handling and docking aboard “Next To Me”.  Fortunately Wednesday was dry and calm, if chilly.

So for 3 hours we drove in circles, learning how to turn and dock our 30,000 pound baby, and received instruction from Jim, with Bob and Cathryn taking turns at the helm. Jim explained the theory and physics behind the maneuvers, patiently walked us through them dozens of times and gave us feedback on what to do differently, and eventually got each of us to experience a successful docking. He was amazing in his calmness, patience and talking to us at the right level of detail, having judged our skills and knowledge accurately. And Robin does all the driving and docking of their boat!


We were tired but had increased confidence that we’ll master this thing after 3 hours of instruction. What a fun afternoon! We returned Robin and Jim to their boat, and they’ll stay in Gig Harbor a couple more days seeing the town.


October weather in the Puget Sound area was weird this year. It was unusually dry, and for a couple weeks there was dense fog every morning followed by blue skies and blinding sunshine in the afternoons.


The purse seiners came out, as they do every October,  engaging in lots of fishing directly in front of our house. Note the 133-foot wooden gaff-rigged schooner “Adventuress” sailing northbound in the background of the photo above.


Sometimes we can get a pretty good view of their catch if we use our binoculars as they pull up the nets.


Cathryn completed the Power Squadron’s “Engine Maintenance” class last night, and Bob has spent 40 hours in the engine room of “Next To Me'”, cleaning, repairing a few things, and painting the engine and bilge. He’s done lots of other projects too, some important for safety reasons (like replacing navigation lights whose lenses were faded to no longer be red and green, as they’re supposed to be) and others important for personal reasons (like replacing the stereo and speakers inside).

And we made the decision to join the Bremerton Yacht Club, so are attending meetings to be introduced and complete the membership process. We hope to get moorage there before we leave to travel for the winter so we can move “Next To Me” from Gig Harbor to Bremerton.

1 comment:

mike said...

As always, great post. Even though you’re no longer looping(with something new everyday) you guys still write one of the best boat blogs around. Glad you decided to continue the blog.

We know Jim and Robin, cruised along beside them, and shared a couple of anchorages. We are DeFever owners like them and we seek each other out.

So, we’ve reached “one degree of separation” with Next to Me.

Wishing you great cruising, and fair winds, and that your land trips go well.

Palm Coast FL