Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Re: How nervous are you?
+1 on drilling, sometimes I think its something overlooked by the cruising sailor.
When I was 19 I got my first job driving a ferry. It was a yacht club tender about 35 feet, I did 4 crossings an hour for an 8 hour shift. It basically worked out to around 2500 single handed dockings a summer, did that for 3 summers.
My last job as a ferry driver, was a bit bigger of a boat, about 200 tons, that boat was 2 dockings an hour for a 12 hour shift. Drove that boat for 2 seasons. In the neighbourhood of 2000 dockings a season for 2 seasons. Then there was 15 years of driving other boats in between. I can honestly say I haven't been at all nervous about a docking on a pleasure sailboat in many years, but just these two jobs represented over 10000 dockings, so it took me a while to get there.
About a year and a half ago I bought my first ever beach cat, sure I had owned several other sail boats, but not a beach cat, as had my sailing partner. We had sailed beach cats before at resorts and stuff, but I had never owned one. We were determined that we didn't want to learn how to sail beach cats, we wanted to be good at sailing beach cats. So we came up with a plan and executed.
Nearly every Monday for the next year and a half we took most Mondays off work to train, provided there was no ice on the water. Every training day we picked a skill and we repeated that skill for hours, we took turns driving. Low wind days we would practice sail trim, navigation, tacking, gybing, recovery from capsize- whatever. High wind days trap, capsize recovery, sail trim, tacking, gybing, speed- always speed. First we were getting 7 knots- Cheers! Then 9 Cheers! then we broke the 10 mark Cheers! then 12 Cheers. 14 knots, Cheers. All of a sudden we found ourselves getting annoyed at our selves when we could only get 10 or 11 knots out of the boat.
I think if you are going to get good at something, repetitive practice is a good idea. If docking is stressing you out, then do docking drills. You can use buoys to simulate docking between boats or you can use a nav aid buoy to practice station keeping in a current or wind. Switch it up, every body takes a turn driving so you understand the other persons job. Maybe if you are doing a 4 hour sail, spend the first hour coming in and out of dock, then go for a sail and have fun.