One of the most important piece of info for anyone to have is understanding how their vessel behaves in cross winds. Every boat is different, sail, mono, cat, power, each behaves differently and the characteristics vary exponentially with the increase in crosswind speed. I've had more than my share of 'oh ****' moments on deliveries but have been lucky enough never to have 'cracked the egg'.
One memorable moment was stopping at the big boat dock in Cabo San Lucas on a delivery
from Barre Navidad to LA in a 70 footer (power), well equipped with a bow thruster. For those unfamiliar with the docking
protocol there you must come into the slip stern first but they do have line handlers to take you lines. Having been into the docks there before, I was familiar with the drill which was very helpful.
We had previously dropped into Puerto Vallarta
to have some work done so I was fortunate to be familiar with how the boat handled particularly at low speed in close quarters.
In Cabo' we came down the fairway until we were about 3 slips to windward, all fenders on the leeward side touching the water
, spun the boat until we were pretty much parallel with the slip fingers and had lookouts on bow and stern where we had about 4 feet freeboard off both bow and stern having been directed to a slip with larger boats on either side. As we began to pick up speed lying ahull to the cross wind, I waited until the stern was halfway across the slip entrance and slammed both engines astern for about 2-3 seconds then neutral. The boat cleared the windward slip corner by about 2 feet and slid directly down the length of the slip. It took a touch of the bow thruster to windward to compensate for entering the wind shadow of the boat tied to windward which caused thw wind to push the bow leeward, a shot of forward on both engines to slow our way made astern and there we were, without touching either finger slip or the dock astern.
The boat was known to the line handlers who commented in spanish, "Nuevo Capitan?" I replied, 'Si, Gracious, Amigos'. Tipped them generously and shut the vessel down.
The point of this little tale is to familiarize yourself with your boat, the harbor, the slip configuration and the weather
. Don't leave anything to chance or guesswork. ALWAYS have a plan B... in this case, I would have passed on the slip entry and left the fairway to enter from the entrance to start again.
As stated elsewhere on this post, if in doubt of your ability or surroundings, anchor
out and wait on the weather
to change. You can even take your skiff in to scout the marina before entering if unfamiliar with the layout and hazards. Cheers, Phil