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Old 09-03-2015, 14:15   #1
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Location: Victoria BC
Boat: 1980 Hunter 36
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Getting the kinks out

So this is a story that happened last summer, when I had a lot less experience.

I'd bought a boat (having never set foot on one before), went on some courses and took a few private lessons, and finally felt confident enough to undock the boat myself. First time went fine (although we only went to the entrance of the harbour and back again due to an extreme case of the Terror), second time went ok as well and we even dropped crab pots. When we went to pick them up again is where the trouble started.

First off - toss off all dock lines, hit reverse, not moving?! What? But I just tested the reverse! The gearbox must be shot! Ah crap, time to go into the eng*neighbour walks past, points at dock line I'd left attached*

Once that was untied we managed to back out smoothly. Until I tried to switch into forward from neutral and accidentally revved up high and THEN switched gear. The engine made an... interesting noise and sounded more like it was about to explode than normal (it's a two cylinder so sounds like it's exploding ALL THE TIME) before settling down, abet with an added bearing whine. Well, we'll deal with that later, those crab traps ain't gonna collect themselves!!

Now at this point the wind had picked up from when we went out earlier to a pretty terrifying 5 knots gusting 10, so it was real white water stuff. There were probably swells of 1/2 foot which was still pretty scary to the intrepid captain (me). The first crab pot we tried to pick up by crusin' on past at 5 knots and grabbing it. Stop next to it? Not this sailboat! We got people to see and things to do!

Of course this made retrieving it immensely harder, what with the crab pot acting as impromptu sea anchor while my poor cohort struggled to pull it up. Eventually I managed to stop the boat... and she still couldn't get the trap up. So I left the helm (see where this is going) and went to help. Except... for some reason it was really hard to pull up. So I attached it to one of the winches and started crankin'. 'I'M A GENIUS' I thought, 'SALTY AS ALL HELL'

Except then my friend turned round and said in a worried voice 'Um, those rocks are really close...'. On further examination it turned out we were about to drift into an island. Which would have been A Bad Thing. Really close turned out to be about 15 feet away, which WAS actually Real Close so in a panic I decided to dump the crab pot.

Except it then jammed on the winch and I couldn't get it off. So I just put it into forward throttle and pulled away from the rocks, dragging the trap like a big sea anchor, except filled with failure and fear as well as sea water. Once we got a safe distance away I put into reverse, got the pressure off the line on the winch and dumped the trap and we pulled away.

Briefly anyway. Until one of the transport canada guys on his powerboat (the harbour in Victoria is an active runway so they patrol to stop tourists in kayaks from getting squished) came roaring up and gave me the universal 'What the hell are you idiot morons doing' shrug followed by 'You can't put the trap there, it's an active shipping lane!' An explanation followed, and mollified by my obvious complete lack of discernible skills at anything even approaching nautical competence he told me he'd pull up the trap for us.

I probably could have kissed him at this point I was that rattled, but we dutifully returned to our slip (where somehow I did a pretty great job at docking - it's not the easiest place to dock)

Anyway, he came and dropped off the trap and it turns out one of the reasons we'd had such trouble pulling it up was that it had got tangled with someone elses trap, who was using illegal floating line. That seemed to let us off the hook and no more was said. Thanks Transport Canada man. My friend and I dutifully went to the pub and drowned our shakes with ale. Learning experience, right?!

Epilogue: We later went out the next day and got the other trap with 0 fuss. There were no crabs in it. Of course.
S/V Gudgeon
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Old 10-03-2015, 00:57   #2
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Re: Getting the kinks out

Good story! But really, crabs are highly over rated unless someone else has caught, shelled and laid out with cocktail sauce or drawn butter on the table.

A few more forays will help with the thinking ahead, and that is the real secret to successful sailing. Posing the question "What could POSSIBLY go wrong?" at frequent intervals helps sharpen your awareness of doom, and reduce the interactions with the transport Canada chappies to a friendly wave... most of the time.

Enjoy yourselves and learn as you go!

Jim and Ann
s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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