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What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove
I'm still in the novice phase of sailing and would appreciate advice, especially from anyone with experience at Brickyard Cove, Point Richmond, CA (SF Bay).
Shortly after leaving the dock (hoist launched), I managed to shear an outboard motor pin -- in too big a rush from forward to reverse to avoid docked boats. The wind was from the North -- pushing us away from the dock -- so we went with it, quickly raised the jib and then the main, and sailed out of the marina and onto the Bay. The problem happened on the return.
Background: On board were my wife and I. She has been out about 10 times. I've been out a few more times in addition to having completed a couple sailing courses at OCSC in Berkeley, CA. The boat is a Merit 25 with roller furling.
When we returned to the marina a few hours later and got close to the marina, the wind was from the SW -- that would basically push us onto the dock and I assumed that would be a good thing. I decided to furl the jib and use the main to navigate the marina. That would put sail handling directly in my control and would permit my wife to stand at/before the mast with the bow dock line in hand, and avoid the boom. As we made the last corner before the hoist dock, the wind changed dramatically. It felt like it died, but I'm not sure what happened. Anyway, I lost steering/forward control because we lost forward momentum. We were pushed primarily sideways (North). We were fortunate that I was able to steer a little bit, lean out and grab an open dock where we then replaced the sheared pin and returned to our dock without incident.
So first, I'll answer the question why we didn't pull the engine and replace the pin on the Bay? The outboard motor lock was/is either completely corroded or else we have the wrong key. In the year of ownership, I had never checked to see whether my key would unlock the outboard motor lock. That was my mistake and a reminder to you to check your key.
I assume that we entered the wind shadow of the surrounding condos or some weird swirl that caused a wind shift. I hadn't been overly concerned about problems because lots of racers sail away from and return to our dock without auxiliary motors. I now want to know how they do it.
Should I have used more of the marina in order to have some momentum for possible dead spaces? I was following a short as possible route.
Should I have used both sails?
Should I have used the jib instead of the main?
Am I overlooking something else?
Anyway, we might easily have bumped a docked boat, if there had been one, or been pushed into a very awkward spot.
My second piece of advice to other sailors, after checking your outboard motor lock key, is to hang bumpers from both sides as you enter the marina under similar circumstances. That way, you are better prepared for the unexpected.
By the way, I apologize for squeezing Motorcycle Irene a bit as we entered the marina. Motorcycle Irene is an Express 27 with an outstanding reputation and I knew that they would manage.
Also, thanks to OCSC. We spent a full class day handling problem scenarios while in the marina. Even before this incident, I thought that was the most valuable class day.