Happy new year and welcome to 2020. Last year, I didn’t get as much done as I had originally planned. The broken arm in July effectively wiped out the second half of the year, although we did manage to get back out on the water in October for the long weekend. That was the only outing but hopefully we get more sailing done this year.
Things are off to a good start already with a run up Coal and Candle Creek on the weekend to give the engine a run. The engine hadn’t been run since the October weekend at Smith’s Creek so it was badly overdue for a run. Instead of the usual half hour in gear at the marina, I decided to actually take it out and give it a spin. As this was going to be a solo effort, the apprehension level was quite high as you can imagine, after the disaster that was my last solo effort. Nevertheless, I bit the bullet and forced myself to do it.
The weather looked promising with very little wind, overcast and promising rain, I prepped the engine and started it up. The plan was to run up to Cottage Point where Coal and Candle Creek runs into the Cowan waterway, a journey of about half an hour at the 3 to 4 knots which La Mouette putters along at with the iron genoa. Once at Cottage Point, I would swing the tiller over and come back, another half hour. This is a pretty good run for the engine and would give a nice workout. I got one of the lads from the marina to give me a hand getting the boat out of the berth and into the arm, where I put the gearbox in forward and off we went. So far so good. Out into the marina channel, whilst keeping an eye out for traffic from the nearby boat ramp. The weather was quite cool and a 30% chance of rain was predicted, but hopefully it would stay away for a while. Considering the weather forecast, there was quite a bit of traffic out on the water. I neglected to mention that this was a Sunday and still in the Christmas Holiday period, so that wasn’t a total surprise. A few big Rivieras were going up and down the creek plus a lot of run- abouts.
We settled down into a speed of 4 to 4.5 knots. The tide was just starting to turn and of course the wind (what there was of it) was on the nose. I gradually increased the revs to give it a workout and things were good. As predicted, it took about half an hour to get to Cottage Point and I turned around bang on the half hour and returned to the marina. All in all, it wasn’t an exciting trip and quite uneventful. Once I get close the marina, I called them on the VHF radio requesting assistance docking, but no answer. It seemed that the radio wasn’t broadcasting. I could hear the chatter on the radio from the marina staff, but after several attempts with no luck I gave up. Looks like I will be docking solo. This raised the anxiety level somewhat!
Up the marina channel and all seemed good. As usual, I started throttling back early to slow the boat down and by the time I was approaching B arm it was down to 1.5 to 2 knots. Turning into B arm I could see the berth, and swung wide to give me room to turn. I was ever hopeful that the marina staff would see me, or another boatie and be ready to catch my line, but no luck. I was definitely on my own this time. I usually stick it in neutral about this time and just let the boat wash off speed whilst turning into the berth. The turning circle is big and especially at low speed, but just enough to swing around and point the nose into the berth. This time it went in smoothly and just a tickle on the throttle in reverse stopped the boat nicely in its slip. Now the hard part. Get the lines secured before it drifts away from the finger berth. I was dreading jumping off as it might give that little push that moves it in the other direction, but in reality, once it was in, I quickly ran up to midships, over the railing and onto the wharf grabbing hold of the boat. I then dashed up and got the bow line attached. Another quick dash aft and the stern line was attached. All good, the boat wasn’t going anywhere now. The spring took a bit of working out as it didn’t quite reach but I got it attached in the end.
Once the engine was shut down I could give a big sigh of relief. It was done and the ordeal was over. I had successfully taken the boat out and docked it by myself. I shut down the engine etc after flushing a bucket of fresh water through the engine. I always do this to try and keep the salt corrosion down. It seems to be working but it would need a couple of years to really tell the difference. By this time it was about 12:30 so I went over the restaurant and bought some fries and beer for lunch. A well earned beer indeed. The year was off to a good start.
I had actually planned to spend the prior day, Saturday, fixing the starboard navigation light that I had accidently removed the wires from. But that didn’t eventuate. However, it’s high on the priority list for next time.
This year, the plan is to take to boat out as much as possible and get a lot of sailing time. Not just the usual fettling and maintenance. Accordingly we have booked a week in May to go cruising around our local waterways and two to three weeks in November for a longer cruise. But of course we will be trying to fit in as many weekends away as possible. I would also like to take a few days off work prior to Easter and to spend the week doing more fibreglass repairs, especially on where the stanchions are bolted to the deck. But more about that next time.