Our sea creature is almost 40 years old, but in docking years that's like 2 and a half. Have you ever forced a toddler to go where they didn't want to go? They wriggle like an octopus greased in coconut oil. Imagine driving your car, but imagine it measures 30' from nose to toe. Then imagine that your steering wheel is connected to the wheel axles by bungee cords suspended in a vat of melted butter, so that whenever you turn there is a slick, rubbery, delayed response. Then also imagine that you are driving on a pile of eels. Add some unpredictable gusts of wind, and you're docking!
Now this is all fine when we're out at sea in nearly infinite space. Go wild! Get all Martha Graham on us, we don't care. But then it comes time to return to the marina. Back that ass up is not her style. Hard edges abound, and other boats which are much more expensive than ours must be carefully avoided. There's an open patch of water within the marina where we practice sometimes, to the chuckling delight of onlooking salty veterans. We likely look insane, turning in circles at the pace of a senile swan, shouting at each other and desperately pushing the tiller as if world peace depended on it.
Once, when we were practicing, we noticed a bizarre double canoe boat with crazy square sails that had recently arrived. Turns out it was the Hokulea, in mid-circumnavigation from Hawaii! So that's reassuring; C and I tearing our cerebellums out over our training wheels while this engineless, human-navigated vessel (stars only! no cabin to sleep in! ancient polynesian knowledge!) chills on the sidelines. We gotta start somewhere, why not at the bottom? The very. Bottom.
Okay, this is how it works:
One of us is in back on the tiller (the stick connected to her new tail which determines her direction) guiding her in. The other is up front, ready to 1. hop off onto the dock with a line, 2. push off of pilings or other obstacles which we are in imminent collision with, 3. grimace, yelp, wave arms, dance a frantic jig. Whoever is on the tiller, let's say me (we take turns to spread out the humiliation and shame), comes down the watery aisle with Little Penny at minimum speed in forward gear. As our dock approaches, I cut her gas down to idle, and take her from forward gear into neutral. Sliding silkier than satin panties on mere existing momentum. Then I ease the tiller to the left so that her nose (bow) arcs to the right. Drakka coasts in at a catfish crawl and stops in snug parallel with our dock.
Ha! That never happens. Well, it happened once. What usually happens is that I come in too far from the dock, and she continues to trace a lovely arc which would be impressive in a rainbow but is suicide to docking and suddenly we are twisting, wedged exactly the wrong way in our dock slip. Crud suckers! While this is happening there are a few choice operations one can execute, like putting Little Penny in reverse and giving her a burst of power, working the tiller differently, etc. That's usually when my mind turns into a frozen margarita machine and I stand dumbly while the twisty mechanism churns the ice in my brain. From thereon it's a cascade of gear shifts and nudges until we can back up and try it all over again. C and I have both given Drakka a couple of scrapes, (sorry babygirl).
Dock lines and fenders are another thing. They are like her swaddling clothes; she needs 'em to feel snuggly and safe. Bow lines, stern lines, spring lines. We've got 5 on her, and two fenders to keep her belly from bumping the dock. Who knows what order they go on and off in?? Dock lines, like balls on men and thighs on women, have a chafing problem. They're under constant tug and tension from the wind pushing Drakka around in her slip, which causes deteriorative friction on the weave of the rope. Because we are super classy, we currently have some cut up pieces of towel rags stuffed in to protect them.
This summer we've mostly been sailing in the waters near our marina (Coney Island, Breezy Point). Each go is a little different because the weather changes and we have guests. Drakka loves guests! She's quiet, but I definitely think she likes the the admiration of newbies. Guests are very encouraging and always assure me that I did a great job docking, even when I lead Drakka through the whole friggin texas two-step before safely tucking her in. Plus they almost always bring beer! Yeah guests!
Since Mire Island we haven't sailed much because we are planning our ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.
Like Kurt Russell but with less bloodshed.... maybe.
Salty hugs to Kiyan, Forrest, Marilyn & Michael (and in-womb Wiley), Robert, Giancarlo, Marymicheal, Heather, Diwa, Sophie, Sophie's friend, Gato & Courtney, Ben, Sadie, and my Mom & Dad for being part of our summer puddle jumping.