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Old 30-04-2010, 08:02   #46
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I would have helped a little earlier - but not much.

Having once owned a 55ft sailboat I can feel for this guy. Some days I could dock the boat single handed -- nonchalantly stepping onto the dock with the spring line and getting a chuckle of admiration from the old timer who was on his way to help. Other days, I could find myself going around several times as the dock boys sold tickets to watch . But I decided a long time ago to never be embarrassed by conservatism when handling a 25 ton object.

So let's assume the skipper was experience (well, maybe not as experienced as you and I ). The skipper had two things working against him - a very stiff breeze and an obviously inexperienced foredeck crew. I wasn't there - but let me pose the most charitable possible explanation I can imagine:

Round 1: The skipper was aiming for a different mooring buoy on the way in and didn't see the earlier buoy. His crew gave him no warning until the last moment. He goes to quick reverse but can't see the buoy over the bow. Does a good job at not fouling the mooring pennant.

Round 2 & 3: Realizing that he's better off trying to communicate with his inexperienced crew with them on the transom he tries a stern approach several times but the wind is too strong and the boat's beautiful design doesn't back well (sounds like no bow thruster which goes with the beautiful boat theme).

Round #4 (45 degree approach) is what I'd do with a high bow in a wind. You can see the buoy the longest time and if you miss your bow quickly blows away from that prop fouling pennant and you're in a good position to loop around. In any approach, it is better to fall short and go around than be somewhere over the buoy.

Round #5 the crew shouldn't have tried to reach so far (I've frequently told crew to not make heroic efforts at moorings or docks as it risks injury). It only takes a minute to come around again.

Round #6 - the skipper didn't know the boat hook was lost.

Round #7 - the skipper didn't know that the crew didn't realize that you needed to extend the boat hook.

Round #8 - another "better short than sorry" miss

Round #9 - He wasn't trying an approach - just coming around. The crew tried holding out the boat hook but they weren't actually close to the buoy. The angle from the OP made it look closer.

Round #10 - The skipper knows there's a danger of hurting a person in a little boat who will be invisible to him below the bow so wants to use that only as a last resort.

Round 11 and 12 - inexperienced crew errors not knowing what kind of line was needed.

As I said - this is a charitable retelling of the story - but no one was hurt and no property damage. Hard to fault the skipper too much. And he does have the joy of sailing a beautiful boat when most his age are playing bridge on their patio at La Boca Vista. Hope I get to do the same.


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Old 30-04-2010, 11:42   #47
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Probably would have offered to help - by calling on VHF. No sense getting another boat into the mix, making things riskier for everyone, before at least trying to make contact from a safe distance. If he said Yes, or no response at all, then head on over (carefully) to offer in person.
And re an earlier response: No one stepped up because no one stepped up. It's classic group psychology - as soon as the first person raises their hand, everyone else is willing to as well, but nobody wants to be first. This tendency has led to some truly horrific cases (on land at least, don't know of any on water).

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Old 30-04-2010, 16:31   #48
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Quite possibly the way it went Carl...Good thought out Post as well.

But Its hard to change the channel when your enjoying the show..

Mariness....PLEASE...dont ever embarrass me buy doing that..
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Old 30-04-2010, 17:24   #49
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I'd help at about the same time as the OP - and I have in similar high wind situations in which it took me 3 tries to grab the mooring ball. The sailboat I helped was a father and young son (he seemed to be about 9 years old) crew and on the 3rd failed attempt I deemd it prudent to 'step in' as the boy looked a little scared. I won't go into the details - but the father was quite inexperienced and ended up leaving his boat in gear when he reached for his line which I had looped to the mooring ball. I held on far too long and nearly lost my thumb (ended up a bloody mess). It was windy enough not to be funny - but a dangerous situation. On other occasions I too enjoy the entertainment value of the anchoring/mooring attempts - we all do and its normal to enjoy the spectacle of it - that doesn't make any of us 'bad'. I often wonder why people don't help...
Great thread!
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Old 30-04-2010, 20:25   #50
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I would absolutely help out if I was sure that my help couldn't make things worse. If you are helping someone who does not know what they are doing they may do something with your help that compounds the situation.

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Old 30-04-2010, 21:54   #51
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no doubt

I believe we must help. In some cases immediatly, sometimes a bit later.
Last time I needed help, it was night and blowing about 25 knots. I was returning to what was then my home slip. I knew I was only going to get one shot at the slip (very tight spot). Naturally I missed and had to back down. Fortunately she came to rest against a piling rather than another boat. Before you could say BOO, there were 4 or 5 sets of hands on the finger pier passing lines and walking the boat into the slip. Quite a feat given her 26,000 lb weight and the wind and current. I was very greatful. Not one word was spoken in criticism. Non was needed, I was very well aware of my short commings. I am sure that the older grey haired skipper described by the OP likely was aware of his as well.

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Old 01-05-2010, 07:04   #52
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I think we are talking Apples and Oranges. When there is a real threat to property and life the law of the sea dictates that we help and help immediately. That we all agree on. The question that there is so much debate on is if a person is learning through doing it wrong, when do you intervene? I loved the story about the man and the sunken boat, although I must admit I would have been trying to help him after seeing him struggle for a while.
And this is not a matter of pride or smugness or whatever. I learn the best when I am doing an activity. And sailing is about learning for all but a very few of us. If I rescue someone every time they do something wrong, I will have nothing but idiots for a crew. If my mate can realize something is wrong and self correct- that is an ideal situation. If they need a little guidance, I am here to help. If they are totally lost- maybe they need to realize they are lost and ask for help or even seek some remedial training. That humility and teachablity is less likely to happen if I charge in and correct the situation.
I think the same philosophy applied to our community of sailors as well. So help- sure, teach a little- you bet. But get in the way of life's lessons when nobody is at risk? Perhaps I should wait until the lesson has been taught....
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:28   #53
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I always jump to when someone comes in or leaves short handed. Even when people have enough hands I like to ask if I can help them on/off but I quickly learned to keep the offer very casual. Some people are offended by offers of help. Someone was leaving in a power boat near my slip recently and he was quite surprised by the offer and accepted it after saying he probably didn't need help but if I was available. I grilled him casually because I didn't recognise him as the owner and in fact he was taking the boat to work on it. I wondered if where he docks/works people don't help (because of his surprise). My neighbors here are always ready to help with coming and goings as well as repairs etc. We even sail together which is great for me since I'm after all the experience I can get. Is that the norm that people experience or is often the case that people don't want to connect/help with their neighbors?
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:23   #54
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It just might be bit of the not wanting to connect hum:

I have to admit there have been several, how do I put this " Different" individuals that I would just as soon not get chummy with.

Believe me I am not a stuck up person..I am just in a hurry most of the time and avoid prolonged, awkward situations where i have to try and be polite trying to figure out how to end a conversation i would just as soon not have gotten into in the first place.

Docking and putting a boat away are one of those in a hurry situations for me..We usually have an agenda and cant spare to much if ant time with the duties at hand..Anchored out is a whole different situation and any one is welcome to share my beer and time...Im just a little more selfish with it otherwise.

Nothing snobbish about me just focused and on a mission...I tend to think that other people are like me as well and dont want me muddeling in there affairs, so i dont.

Wrong mentality I suppose but it's my personality....doesn't mean I wont drop what I'm doing to lend a hand if asked...I just don't go looking for the opportunities.

So I guess I fall within your parameters of being a little stand offish or better put apprehensive.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:35   #55
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Great response! Gloating about someone else's misfortune is in poor taste. Had the fellow in trouble been a sailboater, I think the entire tone of the post would have been different.

That being said, I'm glad that Rubicoop did the right thing and offered a helping hand. I just wish an air of superiority didn't permeate the post.
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Old 01-05-2010, 15:42   #56
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What an interesting thread! I have seen numerous situations where people need help with docking/anchoring/picking up a mooring etc. OF COURSE YOU HELP!!!!!!!!!!! It is an unwritten rule of cruising. You ALWAYS offer help even when it is not asked for. If the boats I met and sailed with coming across the Sth Pacific last year are any indication there would have been several dinghys being boarded and fired up after that guy's 3rd or 4th attempt. The strong wind and crowded mooring field would have dictated he needed help even if he didn't want it. I have found that a good way past the "embarrassment and pride" factor is not to ask if they need help but to just go up and, in this situation for example, say to the captain "Hey I'll give you a hand. I'll go forward and get you're crew to toss me a line...much easier in this wind". By doing it this way you don't put his pride on the line. You just act like you giving help is a foregone conclusion and the most normal thing.

In the cruising community NOT giving help will get you ostracized quicker than anything. We had a situation in Hiva Oa where a boat coming in had no engine and needed to be towed into the harbour to anchor. We went out in my dinghy to see if we could help and passed a catamaran motoring in. We asked if they were the boat needing assistance and they said no. We asked if they could come and help and they refused point blank. We eventually towed the distressed boat in and everything was ok. The name of the boat that refused assistance was whispered ALL up and down the Sth Pacific for months afterwards. Everywhere they turned up everyone knew about it.
They learned their lesson though because they showed up to dinner on a large sailboat as guests of the captain and another cruiser was there and told the story of this boat refusing assistance without naming names and knowing that the people were sitting RIGHT there across the table from him! Sweet justice!

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Old 01-05-2010, 16:48   #57
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Originally Posted by Rangiroo View Post
Bottom line is you always could be you next time!!
Different takes on a scenario are always interesting.

Agree 100% on your comments, but just don't see that applying in OP's scenario (the no engine yacht is a different thing). OP's skipper was having difficulties for sure, but nothing that he shouldn't be able to safely sort out himself - even if the answer was another 20 attempts (it's called practice ), to anchor or go to a Marina.

Of course if he had asked for assistance (or simply looked like he wanted help to be offered), I would have been happy to help - albeit my help would have been limited to assistance that I felt comfortable in being within my capabilities and the Skipper thought would help.........mooring an unfamiliar 58' boat would be a challenge for me, not something I would enter into lightly (whether taking control or giving advice) so I am no guarantee of being anyone's magic answer. or Valet and I would start from the position that the skipper a) knew more than me about handling / mooring his vessel and b) was doing something he thought he had a reasonable chance of success at (or had a plan B).

The above does all rather sound like self-justification for doing nothing Which maybe it is , but am not my brothers keeper. or nanny - a courtesy I appreciate in interesting to hear whether other folks would have wanted or welcomed an offer of help in the circumstances.
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Old 01-05-2010, 23:04   #58
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It's an interesting question David. I was turning around in a tight spot to pull into a slip. Some folks figured I was trying to pull up to the dock and grabbed my bow line and pulled me around (which I appreciated) then tied me up to the dock (which I didn't). I let them know I didn't actually want to dock there but thanks much and they untied me and pushed me off. I actually did appreciate their help even if it wasn't accomplishing what I wanted :-)

There have certainly been times when I prefered to practise a manouver rather then get help. As pointed out by yourself and others it is how you learn. When I've been tired and the winds strong I've really appreciated someone grabbing a line and saving me from myself. In the case of being tied to a dock that I wasn't wanting to be tied to I simply appreciated the spirit of helpfulness for its own sake ... of course I really appreciated that they untied me even more.
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Old 01-05-2010, 23:34   #59
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Avoiding some of the arguing in this thread, I rarely offer to help in situations like that. The skipper of too-big-boat with a too-small-crew is probably pissed off and thinks he's Captain Amazing, and will almost always throw out the "no, we've got it..." remark when you ask to help him.

I make a point of telling my neighbors that I'd appreciate it anytime they can catch a line for me or grab the bow at a slip.

If I see some guy who is potentially going to end up on the rocks that's a different story and I'd high tail it over there. Likewise I might grab the VHF and see if I can hail the guy after five or six missed attempts.

One time I helped a guy get into his slip and he yelled at me like I was his servant to bring the dock steps over to him. There are some great people on the water and some real jackasses.
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Old 01-05-2010, 23:39   #60
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I had a similar docking problem one time. On a Tartan 30 "Xiphius" which got second place in her class in the 2009 Swiftsure. We suffered engine failure about 3nm from the slip. Ghosting in with a drifter nylon headsail and full battened main. The main was a total pain in the light winds.

Well I got my wish when the wind picked up to 17 knots. We were trying to sail upwind into the marina as the light drifter sheet cut into my hand. We gave up on sailing upwind into the marina and settled for a mooring ball. Mind you this is 12 hours after we left for the race, with no food on board. Only a few bottles of water, and various drink mixes.

At about 1am, in 20 knot winds and rain, tacking back and forth on a lee shore with a reefed main only, we failed to catch the eye on an unknown mooring ball about 3 times.

It seemed like the fourth time around, I cleated off the pennant and was asleep immediately.

Luckily the mooring held.

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