We’ve had a boat for four years, always on a mooring. Moorings are cheaper, cooler in the summer (because the bow is always pointed into the wind), you can grill on your boat on a mooring, and they offer more privacy. Sure, they can be inconvenient when you’re working on the boat, realize you need something on land, and have to jump into the dinghy to get there vs. simply stepping off the boat onto the dock. But if you had asked me before this past June if we would ever have a slip, I would have said no way. We even received a call from the dock committee last year asking if we wanted a slip for the season, and we turned it down without hesitation.
Then June came along and we started hitting the bottom while on our mooring during the perigee moon cycle. Perigee is when the moon is closest to the earth, and it results in lower (and higher) than usual tides. It would be one thing if Pegu Club simply settled into the bottom and floated back up again, but the motion of the water resulted in about an hour of bump-bump-bumping along, then a period where she was simply in the mud, and then another hour of bump-bump-bump as the tide started to rise again. This was simply not acceptable. Besides the fact that it interfered with our sleep, we didn’t want to risk any damage to the hull or rudder, so we asked for another mooring assignment.
$438.69 later, we had moved our mooring tackle (including the anchor) to a location with more depth. Shenny’s chart listed our new space as having 7′ of depth at low tide (we draw 4’4″), but I think it’s been awhile since the area has been sounded because we had much less than that on any given day, and only a few inches to spare during a perigee moon. It wasn’t hard to imagine a winter storm pushing a few inches of mud into the area and being back in the same situation again next year. Between the lack of depth and the fact that our new space was much more exposed to the wind, we reluctantly decided to see if we could get a slip for next season.
Last week we received a call letting us know that we had a permanent slip assignment starting next year. I instantly felt a wave of anxiety – this means we’re going to have to dock not just once or twice a season, but Every Single Time we take the boat out, which is almost without exception every weekend during the season. Jeff tried to buck me up, pointing out how much more protected it will be in heavy winds, how we’ll meet more Shenny members, how we can do projects on rainy weekends because we’ll have access to 120v electricity, etc. I said that’s all well and good, but it’s going to be hotter in the summer, less private, more expensive, we can’t grill on the boat while at our slip, and most importantly: WE’LL HAVE TO DOCK EVERY WEEKEND!! ACK!!
There’s no turning back, though. We’re doing it. Anxiety aside, this is actually a good development for us. The two areas of sailing we definitely lack experience in are docking and heavy weather sailing. Heavy weather sailing will simply come through exposure in relatively controlled situations. Each year we’ve been out in stronger winds, and it’s only a matter of time before we get caught in a thunderstorm.
Docking experience, however, can’t come without making ourselves do it which we clearly have been reluctant to do. So now we have no choice. After all, there are going to be times out cruising where we’re going to have to dock. Whether it’s to check into a certain country, or check into a marina for a few days to enjoy unlimited hot showers and clothes washing machines, it’s an important skill to have. This will give us a chance to really learn how to do it. My co-worker Chuck (who is also Shenny member) has kindly offered to help us learn how to dock each season, so I’ve put him on notice that we’re taking him up on the offer next April.
I was talking to my dad about it (I told him he was getting a spoiler for the next blog post) and he asked if it would lower our boat insurance premium. I hadn’t even thought of that, so I called BoatUS and they lowered our rate by $133/year. Obviously they haven’t seen us dock.
So we’re going for it. Chuck assured me that it will get easier after awhile – certainly by the middle of the season. But I have no doubt that we’ll be the weekly entertainment at Shenny for the first half of the season. It’s not hard to imagine that as we motor down the fairway, cries of “Here they come!” will fill the dock and people will set up their lawn chairs and popcorn. They may even have scorecards ranking our success (or not) on a scale of one to ten. Yeah, good times are ahead.
Pegu Club’s future home for the summer. Jeff assures me it’s much wider between the pilings than it looks!