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  #1  
Old 02-25-2013
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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.
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Old 02-25-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

I'd have gone with the jib rather than the main, better pointing, easier handling and simpler to drop/roll up to kill speed as you approach the dock (on mine anyway, is the Merrit masthead or fractional?). Other than that you did OK by the looks of it, no-one got hurt and the boat lived to sail another day, I'd call that a success
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

Local wind effects do happen in marinas and behind hills... perhaps your crew could have scanned ahead and looked at boat windexes, etc., and given a heads-up, or looked for flat spots on the water ahead.

Would it be feasible and permissible to customize your slip a bit with a rope across the front (walkway) end of the slip that could slow your boat in the event of too much momentum/sudden puff from astern? Another possibility would be to have an after bow spring with a loop ready to drop over a cleat at the end of the slip, if that works for your slip and boat.

How well does the Merit scull with the tiller if you wind up a little short of the slip?

PS I believe Merit 25s have masthead mains.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

Jib would have been my choice also as you could depower by gradually furling. The helmsman would have to have the furling line in his/ her hand thats all.

Have your wife learn to dock the boat also. Would have been easier if you are the stronger larger person are the one catching tjhe poles or docking.

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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

No way to tow it in with a dingy ?

Assume no sculling oar .. that is a possibility, many smaller boats that don't use engines will have a sculling oar to get their boat in and out of places.

I think you had it right, have a spare for anything that wears and/or breaks, all the tools you need to fix it, etc, before you ever leave the dock. That includes changing spark plugs, having rope to use for outboards when their recoil rope breaks, some plan for what to do if a stay breaks, or the rudder is damaged, a sail rips, .... It helps to know what you're going to do before you have to do it, and have it all worked out in as much detail as you can before you leave the dock.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

Actually, sounds like you did just fine. On a smaller tiller boat, if the wind suddenly dies, you can sometimes get the bow to come around by cranking the tiller back and forth to get some forward momentum and then thrusting it in one direction.

Generally, if I'm going to sail into a dock or mooring under light to moderate wind, I'll come in under both sails, release the jib sheet at some point and let it luff, and then have the main sheet in one hand and the tiller/wheel in the other for the final approach. Gives me the most control over the boat, I think. Depowering is as simple as releasing the main sheet. Every boat will react differently so it's just a matter of practice and experience on a particular boat to feel how much momentum it carries.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

Quote:
Originally Posted by SPC View Post
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. ....

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.
Mechanical problems don't improve with delay. Rather than leaving the marina, given you had wind a better option would have been to let the windage in your rigging give you enough headway to steer to an empty slip or T head, tied off, and fixed the problem then and there, while you were fresh. To get out of that cove you had to sail right past the end docks at Richmond Yacht Club and a 2 second call to the harbor master there would have gotten you an okay to pull up to the T-heads (and likely a lot of help dealing with your issue) and getting there with only a scrap of headsail would have been a no brainer. Alternately, you could have anchored behind Sandpiper Spit (I'm sure you carry an anchor, no?) and handled the problem then and there in the shelter of the cove.

Once "the Fan" develops through the GG later in the afternoon, Brickyard Cove becomes relatively sheltered by a wind shadow that develops against the southwest face of the hill above the Cove (which is why it remains warm and clear while everywhere else there abouts is often wind blown or enveloped in cold wet fog/mist). The wind shadow does, however, make sailing a bit of a problem in the cove at that time of day.

You would be wise to make the acquaintance of the RYC. The harbor master there is John Dinwiddie who can be reached at (510) 234-6959 or on VHF 16 on Sundays. It is a very friendly Club and could be a valuable resource for your learning curve. See Richmond Yacht Club -
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

I agree with HyLyte, if it breaks leaving the dock, don't leave the marina.

You risked damage to not only your boat but all the others. I'm not saying you can't sail in in an out - your experience level dictates that.

Another tip, when you have a deckmate standing forward have not only fenders already rigged but also one in the deckmate's reach so they can place it (and not an arm or leg) between you and someones property.

Depending on your area you can practice in tight area maneuvering by taking some floating milk jugs out and dancing with them under sail. I find that quiet a bit of fun, especially single handed.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

Any landing that you walk away from is a good landing as they say....

+1 on the jib as you can furl it as you approach but other than that you got back without incident so it was a good day.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: What should I have done differently? Brickyard Cove

Good work. These experiences will make a sailor of you.

I'd say to remain calm and have a little more patients. This will come with time and experience. More patients may have prevented shearing the pin if you had shifted more slowly, but you know this now. Also more patients may have allowed you to sail back in and end up where you wanted to be. After being on the Bay you probably felt like to completely stopped and lost all wind, but I'll bet if you looked down at the water at a single spot you would see you were still moving. The racers that sail in and out probably just keep the boat pointed where they want to go and the both sails trimmed as best they can. If there's enough wind to create a wind shadow, there's likely enough swirling around to get you where you are trying to go, but it will take some time. When you need to loose power coming in, slack the sheets, pushing the boom out if needed, and calmly drop the sails coasting to your destination.

I raced for years on various boats with motors the didn't work, would not start, were out of fuel, or no one wanted to bother with it. That's the beauty of a sailboat. You don't need all that mechanical crap! On my boat the motor runs like top, but I love not using it. It's great practice sailing in and out of your slip. Try it again, even if you have the motor idling as a stand-by.
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