Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bragging Rights: I Departed & Returned to my Slip WITHOUT Using the Motor

I've always hated boat motors and the feeling is mutual. Most non-sailors don't know that 99.99% of us use the motor to get in and out of the slip, but as I discovered on Friday, it's surprisingly easy to depart and return sans motor under in the right winds. And even though my boat is 27 feet long, it was no problem. Here's how I did it:


I made sure the wind would be hitting the port quarter at the point the boat was angled correctly. Pat and I began by pushing the boat backwacds out of the slip with the headsail furled on deck off to starboard. We used boathooks to make sure the boat wouldn't hit any pilings and to angle it pointed out of the marina. When positioned right, I hauled up the headsail about 12 feet off the deck --- not all the way to the top. The wind caught it, and the boat began to move to leeward, toward the pilings. I had Pat position himself on the bow with the boathook extended to fend off. As we gained momentum, I raised the headsail fully and we started to move forward at about 1.5 knots. We were headed slightly toward the pilings, but Pat and I just fended off with the boathook and soon we were no longer on a angled collision course and were off, well into the main river.


After we sailed for four hours around Thomas Point Light, I decided to keep the motor quiet on the way back in. I dropped the main and lashed it off, while loosening the headsail halyard and sheet --- both in my hands. I played with the speed of the boat by letting loose the sheet until the boat was moving very slowly. As soon as we were needing to turn right into the marina, I dropped the headsail and had Pat gather it on deck so it wouldn't hit the water. We had enough momentum to glide gracefully into the slip and not hit any pilings. We fended off the pilings dead ahead with the boathooks with little effort.

It was all MUCH easier than I thought and I'd recommend that any sailor try it. The wind in the marina should be about 2 knots on your first try. Also, both times I did it there were a few people on the dock working on their boats and they witnessed the whole thing. You can't imagine the feeling when some old salt yells to you how impressed he is. For that alone, it's worth doing.

And the boat is now 100% environmentally friendly! I even use solar power to re-charge my batteries.

Another notch in your belt, sailor.

The true test will be in June, Can you do it under verbal duress?
Good Job,
I try to sail into my slip when the winds are right, but I've never left under sail. Love the blog by the way.
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