French Fuel Dock
Dear Cruisers Forum, this is my first “Sailor’s Confessional”.
Saturday we completed our six-day, one-way bareboat cruise
; a challenging and very beautiful sail through the lovely French Caribbean
Fortunately, our journey was fun, safe, and mostly uneventful.
But I have to share a small, but memorable event involving a very rude yachtsman during our final maneuver at Le Marin.
Being obligated by contract
to have the boat at the fuel dock
by 9 am, we promptly left our anchorage in Ste Anne at 8 am, and steamed into the Marin harbor, joining a parade of local boats in the long, meandering channel. Everyone seemed to need fuel that Saturday morning, and soon we were bunched up into a fine gaggle just downwind of the fuel dock, which of course, was already fully occupied.
I was entering this harbor for the first time, so I was pretty focused. Adding to the excitement was a sudden morning squall, bringing a fresh 20 kt breeze and blinding rain into our little fairway.
Being the only monohull
in the line, I elected to turn around stern-to-wind so I could easily hold my position without fear of the wind
suddenly catching my bow. I planned to then simply back in alongside the fuel dock stern first when our turn arrived.
To keep things friendly and chilled out, I called "bonjour, Capitan, comment allez-vous? Nice weather
, huh?" to a neighboring boat who was also hanging to get fuel, and he smiled and saluted, and we agreed on who was next in line. Everyone in line was nice, friendly, cool, and professional.
And then along comes a gentleman I will call Captain
Le Jerk, leaving his slip and quickly motoring out the fairway toward the harbor entrance; also smiling and saluting as he passed each of the hovering boats awaiting their turn.
With the rain and wind
in my face, I soon forgot about Captain
Le Jerk, focusing to maintain my position as a boat was finally clearing out of the fuel dock.
But Capitan Le Jerk had other plans. With a crew was on his foredeck with dock lines in hand, he pulled a quick 180 degree turn behind my back. Le Jerk then throttled up his diesel
, moving quickly, bow into the wind, passing me and the other waiting boats. He was making a beeline for the fuel dock, fully intending to cut in ahead of all the other waiting boats. (The other boats were all local, by the way. Only mine was clearly marked as a charter
boat - so Le Jerk intended to not only screw over me, also his local neighbors as well.)
As Le Jerk passed alongside, I yelled "hey", getting his attention. I then pointed, in sequence, to each of the three waiting boats, and then pointed to him.
He smiled, turned back toward the fuel dock, and throttled up.
I then, very intentionally and deliberately, yelled to the top of my lungs, with enough volume to be heard a nautical mile to windward, "Hey… Mssr Cap-eee-tan… you, sir, are an a.....hole. An a...hole". He turned, flashing me a final grin, and motored on in, coming alongside the fuel dock almost before the previous boat was clear.
I expected that was to be the end of it. Capitan Le Jerk pulled a fast one and got away with it. No big deal. At least he had to endure a few insults in front of his ladies and crew (perhaps this enhanced, rather than diminished his standing?).
But, alas, I had succeeded in drawing the attention of Mssr Dockmaster, who witnessed the maneuver of Capitan Le Jerk, and, to my great delight and satisfaction, immediately ordered Captain Le Jerk off his fuel dock and to the end of the line.
Le Jerk was then forced to parade past all of the waiting boats. The smile had been wiped from his face, and his eyes remained straight ahead as he passed our humble charter
boat. I offered a final salute and my crew waved and cat-called "au revoir".
Even Le Jerk's deck
crew were laughing.
The dock master then pointed directly to me, waving me into the fuel dock. My French neighbors, still waiting in line ahead of me, smiled, and saluted in approval.
We executed a handsomely-done stern-first docking
into 20 kts of wind and rain, with helping hands catching our dock lines, and a big smile on the face of the dock master, who shook my hand in the quick, French way.
Not bad for a bunch of amateur American lake sailors on vacation
We topped up fuel and I turned the boat over to the pilot sent by the charter base. Always a welcome moment for a charter boat skipper
As we motored slowly away from the fuel dock under the competent hands of our pilot, I took the opportunity to stand on the foredeck, and take in the fine morning view and fresh tradewind air as the squall subsided.
Capitan Le Jerk was now docked in a narrow slip behind the fuel dock, after making a sloppy bow-to-wind approach, with his foredeck crew fending off another boat when the wind caught Le Jerk's bow.
We exchanged a final glace, like school
boys in the play ground.
A sweet moment.
Silly thing, this idea of yachting for fun.