Monday, June 23, 2014

Docking the Boat

Boats don't have brakes. No, seriously, they don't. I have to admit that is one of our favorite things to say to non-boaters when they are out with us. You should see the look on their faces when they first hear it. Unlike a car, you can't stop in a specific spot, pull the parking brake, get out, and then expect it to be where you left it. Don't believe me? Try it sometime.

Yes, you can use reverse to stop forward momentum. But again, the boat is not going to stay in one spot.

Even when a boat is docked there is a little bit of movement.

All of that being said, you can imagine that docking a boat can take a bit of finesse. Winds, currents, tides, the number of people watching, and pride....everything plays a part in the movement of a boat when docking.

There are online games to help you learn how to dock a boat. BoatU.S. even includes some helpful hints for real life scenarios. But, believing that you "know" how to dock a boat after playing the game means you also believe an eight-year-old can drive a car after playing Mario Kart.

We've had the boat for a year and I've participated in docking the boat many times. Participation = giving verbal cues on the boat's location in relation to the dock, tossing dock lines to helpful marina staff and fellow boaters, and jumping off of the boat with dock lines in hand to manhandle the boat into place. I know what is supposed to happen. Knowing and doing can be two completely different things.

I learned how to dock our previous boats but this one is a whole different story. Part of the issue is the view from the helm:
Unless you have x-ray vision, you can't really see the dock in relation to the side of the boat. This is why I stand in the back corner constantly cueing Doug on our distance from the dock.

On this particular day, the winds were calm. As an added bonus, we had two friends on board that also own a boat. Part of owning a boat for a long time means that you have a "learned instinct" (how's that for an oxymoron) about how boats react. Doug and I knew our friends could expertly handle all of my typical docking jobs while he stood with me at the helm.

It was go time. I made my approach and we discovered two issues. 1) Doug was standing in the exact spot that prevented most of my view of the back corner of the boat. This was not his fault. As my mother would say, "You make a better door than a window." He was being a door and I wasn't communicating the issue. 2) There was a sudden gust of wind. Doug is practically a boat-docking expert. He is ready to handle sudden shifts. I'm not there yet.

Doug got us back out of the fairway, stepped onto the other side of me, and I tried again. This time, rather than depending on Doug's instructions (which were great instructions by the way), I followed my gut. (Quick note: most of what my gut knows is from years of watching Doug dock boats.) I believed I could do it. I lined up for the approach. Quick pump forward with the starboard engine, back to neutral, see how it handles. Quick pump forward with the port engine, back to neutral, see how handles. Repeat until I was alongside the slip and start to spin.

Quick note for land-lubbers. Our boat is a twin screw. That means we have two completely independent engines on board. I can put one in forward and the other in reverse and spin in place (again, pending wind, current, etc.).

I spun the boat and started to back her in.

For my first time docking this boat, and only second attempt, I did awesome! And by awesome, I mean that I didn't hit any other boats and I didn't ram the dock. Can't say that I'm ready to dock anywhere other than my home marina yet, but baby steps are still steps.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kent Narrows

The Chesapeake Bay has its share of marinas with resort-like amenities: we are lucky enough to live at BMC Harborview.  Down in Friendship, Maryland, Herrington Harbour South is an eco-friendly resort. Cambridge has the Hyatt which is a kid-friendly retreat with adult-only areas. This past weekend we returned to another resort marina that we hadn't visited in a while: Mears Point Marina in Kent Narrows.

After a week of rain the skies cleared for two sunny and mild temperature weekend days. Perfect for spending time laying by the pool:

Don't worry parents, there is a kiddie pool for the little guys:
There is also a snack and alcohol bar in the pool area.

The marina also caters to social activities between slip holders. There are many green spaces with pavilions for cookouts.
While it would be difficult to walk to any town from the marina, the area is a small hub for restaurants. We had dinner on the deck at Harris Crab House and Seafood Restaurant. They were our first crabs of the season and they were meaty and tasty. Afterwards, we had to venture over to Red Eye's Dock Bar for entertainment. Unfortunately, the temperate day led to a windy and cold night so the bar wasn't its normal buzz of energy.
No biggie, we were there with friends and made our own fun.

After a nice cruise home on Sunday I decided it was time to dock the boat myself.... but more on that in another post... it really deserves its own recognition... check back later this week.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Neighbors

The marina has definitely come back to life for the (soon-to-be-official) summer. Here is the first monthly neighbor round-up for this season.
"Margaret Ann" - Bayliner 4550
This last boat isn't on our dock but it is a fun addition to the marina. I simply had to post pictures.

We're so cool we use tires for fenders.
Seriously? A full size grill on a boat? Sign me up!
Can't you picture a hammock on the back deck?