It always takes me awhile to settle in at the beginning of the sailing season. I suppose it’s only natural with a six month offseason, but I still don’t like it. We’re always rusty, forgetting to do the little things, which contributes to a heightened sense of nervousness on my part. Will there be an issue with the engine? Does that powerboat see us? That kind of thing. Add in the fact that now we’re in a slip, and it hasn’t been the most stress-free start to the season.
After a while I always relax. We get into a groove with the boat, I only notice the powerboats that are aiming right at us, and I don’t even think twice about Thumper. This past weekend I took a giant step towards getting into my groove when we took Pegu Club on our first trip to Stonington for the season. It was finally going to be sunny and warm for Saturday AND Sunday, and the weatherman called for 10-15 knot winds. Well, at least they got the sun and temperature right. The wind? Not so much.
Saturday morning we were greeted with no wind, so we took care of some boat chores and finally set off around 1:00 p.m. hoping that it would be windier on the water. After some initial miscommunication getting away from the slip (I’ve now learned that when Jeff says, “Ready?” that doesn’t mean it’s time to start going forward – yes, we are the entertainment for E dock this season), we puttered out into the Sound and shut off Thumper. And sat there. And sat there. There wasn’t a speck of wind. So much for that promised 10-15 knots. It was clear that if we wanted to go to Stonington we were going to have to motor there. Oh well.
Motoring past the Stonington break walls we received our mooring assignment from Dodson’s, and as we puttered in I heard over the VHF the boat name of a woman that I’ve become friendly with on-line through Women Who Sail (a closed Facebook group). She keeps her boat in Stonington Harbor and I was psyched to hear she and her family were there for the weekend, but unfortunately we didn’t have Pegu-teeny with us. Texting later, we agreed that we would meet in real life another time when we had our dinghy.
In the meantime, Jeff and I picked up the mooring ball like we had done it hundreds of times before – hmmm, I guess because we have! After tidying up Pegu Club it was cocktail time, and as we sat out in the cockpit we looked around and felt ourselves deeply relaxed for the first time this season. We sure do miss being on a mooring.
Before we started the season I was concerned that being in a slip would make us soft, but I definitely do not have that worry now. I am NOT a fan of slips. To me, the ONLY thing they have going for them is that it’s easy to get on and off of the boat and it’s easy to fill up the water tanks. Other than that, blech. There’s no breeze since we’re not pointed into the wind, there’s no privacy, and it feels too crowded with dock neighbors mere feet away. You don’t get to feel the boat rocking or hear the water lapping against the hull. And for all of this you get to pay over double the cost. Whoo-hoo! If it wasn’t for the fact that we were mere inches from the bottom for spring tides, and that we REALLY need to learn how to dock, we would be back on a mooring in a flash.
Being at Dodson’s for the weekend confirmed for us that we will simply need to spend every possible weekend anchored out somewhere. After some serious chillaxing we pulled out the grill (another thing we can’t do at the slip) and cooked up some D&D sausage and Bomster scallops for dinner. It was heavenly.
Sunday came too soon, and after walking to Stonington Seafood Harvesters to pick up my office mates’ orders for scallops it was time to start heading back. Again, the forecast called for 10-15 knots of wind but this time we could feel a breeze in the mooring field so we were hoping they would be right this time. We raised the main at the mooring and headed out.
After passing the break wall we turned off the motor. And sat there. And sat there. Ack! What the hell???!!! After throwing a minor temper tantrum I agreed to turn on the engine and we started motoring back. As we passed Latimer Light we definitely could feel a breeze, so we shut Thumper off and ghosted most of the way back to Shenny. Our wind indicator has stopped working so our best guess is that we had 5-7 knots (with another 15 minutes of zero knots causing us to drift and spin aimlessly with the current), but at least we were actually able to sail this time. I can’t wait until we’re down in the Caribbean where there’s a steady wind!
I did appreciate the lack of wind as we approached the dock, however. It took us three tries, but eventually we backed in and I think now we’ve finally figured out how far we need to pull past the slip in order to get the angle right for backing in. Or, as a Shenny friend pointed out, at least we’ve figured it out for when the wind is coming from the west and the tide is coming in. Sigh. I have definitely gotten over my fear of hitting a piling, however. This time when we hit it my immediate thought was “Yay! Now we can pull her into the slip!”. Yes, progress is definitely being made!