Her first time
One of the S/O’s first experiences on a sailboat.
We were leaving a marina around 10:00pm, wind about 20kts. No moon, blacker than the inside of a cow.
The jib got fouled, so I went up front to douse it.
I should state now that my uncorrected vision is about the same as an eastern mole. It’s in the general neighborhood of 20/800. script says -9.5. I’m freakin’ blind without my glasses ok?
So, as I’m making way to the bow, the jib slaps me in the chops and my glasses fly about 20 feet out over the bow. Not good. Not good at all. There is a new Mr. Limpett at the bottom. Just great. No, I did not have another pair, no, I did not have one of those around your head thingys, gimme a break willya?
I get the offending canvas strapped down, and make my way back to the cockpit on hands and knees.
I calmly say to the newly appointed Captain of the ship “You’re going to have to take us back in”.
Now, she’s been on stinkboats, speedboats, commercial fishing vessels and the like, but this was her second time out on a sailboat, first time at night, and first time she’s ever manned a tiller. She loves being on the boat, the calm, the sun, the relaxation. She’s able to tan away across the lazarette with the current crime novel and laze the day away. She didn’t sign up for any of this.
Her response was less than cordial, I remember her making vague references to my parentage, being dumber than a bag of hammers, and quite a bit more, only I didn’t understand all that much, ‘cuz she’s Cuban, and cusses at me in Spanish.
Her next response was to grab the cell phone and state that she was going to call one of our friends. I told her that he couldn’t do much more than stand at the dark marina dock and yell instructions that she couldn’t hear or understand. She was just going to have to suck it up and do it.
After a cursory lesson in navigation “look for the green and red lights, just keep it between those, ok?” and piloting, “if you want to go left, push the tiller away from you, if you want to go right, pull it close to you” (didn’t think now was the time for port and starboard).
The plan was to motor the 1000 yards back into the marina, tie off and begin again in the AM. Good plan.
I can see fuzzy light spots that are the marina and a brighter fuzzy light that is the gas dock sign, beyond that, I’m worthless.
We get the boat headed in that general direction, this also gives her time to practice with the tiller, turning the boat this way and that. All in all, she’s got the hang of it. Kinda. Sorta, not really, but we’re goin’ for it.
This wasn’t going to be pretty, because the marina has over 800 slips, the sailboat docks are past all of the enclosed slips and it’s a bit of a serpentine crawl to get to them.
We’re in forward gear, at idle, and I’m slipping it in and out just to maintain forward motion, I don’t care how long it takes, as long as we get back safely.
Finally, we make the breakwater and in an instant, she feels we’re too close and tells me we’re going to hit it. I grab the tiller and pull it far to port, and the boat spins a 360 in its own length. This is good. She can now practice “hard object avoidance procedure number 1”.
Making our way thru the labyrinth, procedure number 1 will be repeated numerous times. There are many half million dollar motorized floating condos in slips and my insurance won’t cover stupidity.
Amazingly, there are no drunken partiers awake to point her in a direction to a safe harbor, so we’re still on our own.
Finally, I can make out the outline to the closed gas dock and I tell her to head for one of the docks there.
We’re approaching the dock, and we’re making a bit too much steam, so once again, procedure number one is employed, twice, I think. We must have looked like morons, I didn’t care, we were close.
Again, we approach, slowly, not quite slowly enough, reverse is engaged, engine revved, we’re slowing down. Good. We’re all lined up, all I have to do is cast the dock line and hit that cleat.
Damn, missed it.
In a millisecond of absolute brilliance, I grab the docking post.
Did you know its rather difficult to stop a 10000 lb boat going less than a knot using nothing but your flesh? Yea, I know better but it seemed like a wonderful idea at the time.
Fortunately, I was able to get a dock line secured. All ahead stop, life is good. Minor scarring to the ribcage.
Save for one thing, she is pissed. I mean really pissed. She was seriously contemplating the”He fell overboard and I couldn’t find him, I looked, really I did officer” alibi. Can’t say as I blamed her much.
Ok, so we’re on the closed gas dock and now we have to hike it about a mile via roadway to where the sailboats and some friends of ours are spending the night. Don’t ask why we didn’t call them, we didn’t know their cell number.
I’m still blind, and she’s got hold of my arm like a petulant 6 year old, guiding me as we’re walking to the sail docks. She’s really not happy. I’m trying my best to keep it light, but she’s having none of that. All I can say is, don’t piss off a Cuban woman.
We make it to the sail docks and I knock on one of our friends boats, he pops his head out of the hatch with Rolling Rock in hand. We explain our situation, and he answers without missing a beat, “Bummer, whacha gonna do”?
He drives us in his truck back to our boat and pilots her into the slip next to his, while she drives the truck back to the dock and we retire for the evening.
It was mighty chilly in the v-berth that evening.
Come first light, we still have the same problem, I’m blind as the proverbial bat, and she’s got almost no experience whatsoever, unless you count last nights adventure.
A-Ha! Brain storm. (ok, it was by-chance accident) I found that if I use the binoculars, I can SEE! Clear unobstructed vision, Life is Good. All is right with the world. Everything looks like it’s a football field away, but that football field is as sharp as a tack.
We motor back to our marina without incident, dock like we knew what we were doing, load up and she drives home.
Moral of the story, have two pair of specs. Staple them to your head. Use that goofy, geeky around your head thingy to keep them on as well. And don’t piss off a Cuban woman.
We are not primarily on earth to see through one another, but to see one another through
Some people are like slinkies: not really good for anything... but you can't help laughing when you push them down the stairs