We have a mooring
has never been our strong suit, but I don't think any amount of docking
in our usual haunts would have prepared us for docking at the Newburyport Harbor Marina on the Merrimack River this past weekend.
We arrived in our Pearson
31 at close to full ebb and could not believe our eyes. The dock
master told us that the current
in the slip that we were assigned gets as high as 4 knots. It was a transient slip, so of course it was the slip with the worst current
(not many would want to spend a full season in this slip). It appears that the railroad bridge just upstream directs the entire contents of the river through these 2 slips. Fortunately, the slips run east-west with the current, otherwise docking would have been almost impossible.
We decided to back into the slip because it would be much easier to motor
forward when departing. In our first attempt, we were too far away from the slip when we began backing, so we got pushed over into an occupied slip. We just managed to motor
forward before making contact with our neighbor, a new 70 foot motor yacht.
In our second attempt, we made a quick pass along the slips, headed up into the current directly in front of our slip, and let the current bring us to a stop. We then shifted into reverse and began to back in. That was our second mistake. The prop walk caused the stern to swing just enough for the current to catch our bow and spin us around. We ended up getting t-boned by, and pinned up against, the dock
finger. I had already passed the stern line to one of the dock hands and had hopped onto the dock with the bow line. Now it was just a matter of brute force. The helmsman put her into reverse and the three of us on the dock wrestle her into the slip.
Next time..... we'll come head
up into the current directly in front of the slip, and then let the current push us back into the slip. It is important to head
up very close to the slip because the current will eventually catch your bow and spin you, even without prop walk. Once the current pushes you back into the slip, you can use the motor to hold yourself in place until the dock lines are secured.
The good news: no one screamed, no one panicked and no one was hurt.
The bad news: we lost
a little gel coat and a little pride.
After tying her off, the dock lines were as tight as piano strings.