Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et
In terms of leaving the dock, I have several key suggestions. First of all, I would suggest that you probably should have rigged a couple dock boards. These are horizontal planks that are perhaps 6-7 feet long with a line on each end that allows the dockboard to hang from the lifelines in a horizontal position. A fender is hung between the hull and the dockboard on each end of the dockboard.
Dockboards are the hot ticket when tying up against a piling since they are more tolerant of the position of the piling than a single fender, and keep the vulnerable parts of the boat further from the piling. You would have wanted one against a piling near amidships and astern. The trick in using a spring line single-handed is setting it up so you can deploy it from the cockpit. That means a springline rigged from the stern cleat around the piling forward and back to the cockpit.
Leaving the dock you would initially back against the springline which would push the aft dockboard against the piling and then pivot the bow away from the dock. This takes patience and timing, but once the bow is angled out, (perhaps as much as 45 degrees), then you put the boat in forward. The trick is to release the free end of spring line and quickly pull it around the piling and back on board before it fouls your prop. (Some folks carry a polypropolene springline only for this purpose) By starting out in reverse it does not require you to be in two places at once.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay and part-time purveyor of marine supplies