Tomorrow morning we leave for a 3-day, 2-night boat trip with long-time friends Jim and Phebe. So today we went to the boat to do preliminary provisioning, get a pump-out, fill the water tanks and '”Oh, while we’re here, why don’t we do a little back-and-fill practice ?” (see previous post on back-and-fill if you don’t know the concept).
So off we went. As people who like rules, we began by discussing “which way do we turn the helm hard if we want the stern to go to starboard when goosing it in forward gear?” and generally reviewing, verbally, the lessons we’d been taught by Jim and Robin last week.
After spinning the boat around in the middle of the harbor a few times, suddenly, we felt like we “got it”, and all the pieces came together. So we headed to a nearby dock to practice backing the boat into a slip. Cathryn docked the boat three times, very well each time, and Bob docked the boat twice, very well both times. Cathryn needed the third time to convince herself she really had it, while Bob just asked himself, “why mess with success?”
Next we headed to another spot in the harbor and each took the boat into a face dock, bow first. This felt a little less elegant than our stern-in practice, but it worked.
We’ve got a long way to go, and we’ll still mess up when docking. Wind, current, brain freezes, and ordinary screw-ups can catch a Skipper anytime. There’s a saying among boaters: “Sometimes you watch The Show; sometimes you ARE the show.” Today, in Gig Harbor we were The Show, just in a funny way, not a bad way.
But we feel better about boat-handling now than we have since the day we bought this boat. Woo hoo!