It takes a village to dock a boat.

High spirits filled the car as we drove down to Shenny last Friday after work.  After only a two week delay, splash day was set for Saturday!  Chatting with people at the Friday night cookout (and sharing my trepidation over docking), it quickly became clear that learning how to dock is a rite of passage that every boater must go through.  Offers of help were accepted (along with plenty of laughs shared about being this season’s dock entertainment), and we went to bed Friday night ready to tackle the next day.

We were scheduled to launch at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, so we were up bright and early to bring the mast over to the lift well and get it ready (attaching the windex and wind instrument antenna, untangling all of the lines, stays, and shrouds, putting on the spreaders, etc.).  The yard guys were running ahead of schedule, and fortunately so were we, so by 9:00 Pegu Club was hanging in the slings and Jeff was slinging bottom paint under her keel and poppets.

It wasn’t long before she was floating on the water, still in the slings, while we checked to make sure there weren’t any leaks and that the engine would run.  After her mast was stepped and the shrouds and stays loosely attached to the chainplates, it was time to do this.  Let’s dock!  Gratefully accepting help from Michael who joined Jeff at the bow to provide an extra set of hands, we backed out of the lift well with only a bit of a hiccup and started motoring down the fairway heading towards slip E-45.

Winds were pretty moderate out of the northeast and Thumper wasn’t missing a beat, so I forgot all about my worries over the engine and focused on the task at hand.  As we approached the slip there were several people there for support, assistance, and likely a bit of entertainment.  We had been told that docking for the first time of the season can be a bit tricky because not all of the dock lines are set up yet.  You can have them ready at the dock cleats, but the pilings are too far away to reach without the boat so the piling lines can’t be attached ahead of time – one of the reasons that Michael’s offer to help was so appreciated.

Seeing the slip from the perspective of the helm for the first time, it felt like it was only six inches wide!  “We’re going to dock in that??” my brain thought.  Why yes.  Yes we were.  Motoring just past our slip so we could use the prop walk to our benefit while backing in (the propeller causes the stern to pull to the left while in reverse), it was clear that we weren’t going to make it on the first attempt so I started again.  With invaluable assistance from Rich and Lloyd who gave me step by step instructions, (“Now put it in reverse, give it a little throttle, put it in neutral, turn the wheel – no, turn it the other way”) we pivoted Pegu Club against a piling and we were in!

Pegu Club, nestled in her slip, while Jeff enjoys his first boat martini of the season.

The rest of the weekend was filled with boat chores (including the obligatory trips to Defender and the hardware store) as we continued to get Pegu Club ready for a great season.  We started making our list of things we needed to buy, do, or bring from home (I keep a running list on my phone so we don’t forget), and we put the last of the off-season tools away so that we could turn her from a work zone into our home.

We were hoping to take her for a sail after we finished rigging on Sunday, but we discovered that one of the blocks that we needed for the mainsheet had been mistakenly left off over the winter when the rigger changed the gooseneck to a fixed version, so there would be no sailing for us.  There wasn’t much wind anyway, so it wasn’t a big loss (Chuck will be reattaching the block this week).

I was also hoping to get a chance to practice docking some more on Sunday.  Without much wind the conditions were good for it, and I wanted to try without getting instructions along the way.  Unfortunately that didn’t happen either, but Jeff pointed out we’d be doing lots of docking this summer.

Overall it was great to be floating in the water again.  I’m always a bit stressed right before we splash, wondering if everything will go well, but as soon as we’re in the water all of the worries go away.  It should be a great season of Adventures on the Club.

2 thoughts on “It takes a village to dock a boat.

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