Great post, and great picture! This thread will be useful for many different sailors in similar conditions.
All of the suggestions so far are helpful. To my mind, every one depends on a little luck. If you happen to be of the "skip the luck, give me total control" school
, here is a completely different approach that may be useful for others in a leeward slip:
1. Walk over to the next dock
to windward, then out the finger pier that is closest to the stern of your boat. Estimate or measure the distance across the water
to your stern.
2.Double this distance, then add about 10-15' to the calculation. Get some cheap
polypropylene (floating) 1/4" or 3/8" rope
at this calculated length.
3. You are going to run a doubled line across the water
from this finger pier to your stern. Depending on the details of that finger pier cleat, and whose lines are already on it, you can go simple by simply using the cleat as a turning point, or more complex by attaching a block to this cleat, to be retrieved at the end of the day.
4. To both free ends of this length of polypropylene, attach a length of fishing
line long enough to get across the water.
5. You can attach the free end of the fishing
line to a T-ball (kid's baseball, soft) or to a practice casting lure on a fishing line, depending on your personal skill set. A tennis ball throwing stick, a lacrosse stick, a bow and arrow are all options. With any of these methods, get the free end of the fishing line into the stern of your boat. Doesn't have to be exact-just get it far enough and it will either be in the boat or draped across one of your mooring
6. Now that you've got fishing line across, use that as a "leader" to pull across the two free ends of your long polypropylene line, with its center loosely at the cleat on the windward dock
, but free to slide.
7. Secure one end of the poly to a single
stern cleat, to the backstay, or to a bridle
across the stern, depending on details of your boat and today's wind
direction. The other end goes around a winch
or just through a fairlead to your hand.
8. Cast off from your slip moorings. (I would be letting long bow lines stay loosely attached so that I could reverse all steps if needed.) Pull in on the poly line to back your stern directly across the fairway towards that windward dock.
9. Once your bow is free of your slip, walk toward the starboard bow with the poly line in your hand. You have just transformed this line from a "stern pull" line to a "starboard bow springline". By pulling in slowly on this line from a point on the starboard bow, you can turn your boat 90 degrees to starboard, and you are now headed straight down the middle of the fairway.
10. Engage the engine
, or sail, and enjoy the day. Once underway, you can pull your FLOATING polypropylene around and off the cleat on the windward finger dock from your cockpit
without needing to get close to the cleat.
Although this has taken a lot of words to describe, it is actually a simple concept
. No engine
skills, in fact, no engine, is required. No helm
skills are required. Very little skill of any kind is required. Thoughtful preparation substitutes for skill.
One potential criticism of this approach is that your line across the fairway blocks navigation
for other boats. True, but so does a floundering uncontrolled boat, and at much higher risk to surrounding boats. With planning you can do the "line across the water" step as the near-last step before departure, and, still in a leisurely way, be in the fairway in 2-3 min after passing the lines across.