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Old 01-03-2017, 14:08   #1
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Pride Goeth Before the Fall

I admit to feeling a little pride in how well I can maneuver my largish vessel in constricted marinas. I enjoy frustrating the crowds which sometimes gather to watch me crash, when I’m berthing single handed in windy conditions. I enjoy spinning her around and placing her just so in a narrow spot, just kissing the dock at the very moment she loses all way, so that I can casually step away from the helm and stroll over to lasso a cleat.
Well, pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and is perhaps the most deadly sin, wherever the sea is concerned. Neptune has a way of making you eat it. And that is what happened to me.

I was leaving the dock at Yarmouth. There was a lull in the stormy weather we’ve been having, and little wind. I had spun the boat around to back into the berth, and I was at the end of the pontoon facing out. What could possibly be simpler, than leaving such a berth? True the tide was really ripping – maybe 3 knots – but it was ripping towards me, which should actually help the maneuver. Ha!

I was single handed. I threw off the lines and got to the helm before the boat started moving, put the helm over to starboard (I was berthed starboard-to), forward gear and power, and hit the port bow thruster. As I usually do – to move the boat sideways away from the pontoon, to get clear. Hmm, the bow seems to be pinned to the pontoon by the current – even 10 horsepower worth of bow thruster is not getting it off. So with the boat angled bows-in to the pontoon, forward gear and power is trying to mash me into the pontoon. Because of the easy berth, I have lazily put out less fenders than usual. Ick. So I give a burst in astern to pull the bows around, and this works, but I am not really clear of the pontoon and am now desperately trying not to scrape alongside it. 10 horsepower worth of bow thruster is hardly doing anything in this current. I manage to get clear – barely – but by this time my bows were still too far to starboard for me to easily get turned to port, to clear the next perpendicular pontoon. So I decided to turn to starboard and then back out around the perpendicular pontoon.

Big mistake! With the current ripping, I was, in an instant, being swept back onto the pontoon I had just left, as I stopped to get into reverse. Damn! Helm hard a port, port bow thruster, full power astern, and I barely miss the other pontoon. But then there’s another one! I barely miss that one, but now I have some serious way on, and I’m about to run out the edge of the harbor into the floating border lines, either to get them into my prop or stuff the rudder into mud. Damn! Full power ahead, and wrestle the helm over. Engine racing at 4000 RPM, I back into the floating border lines, but thank God didn’t run over them, just barely stopping in time. Get the boat going ahead, nose into the ripping tide, and slink out of the harbor with my tail between my legs.

What a fiasco!! Only complete miracle that I didn’t bash the topsides on one of the three (!) pontoons I barely missed, or stuff up the rudder, or get those floating lines in my prop. Awful!!!

Neptune gave me a small consolation prize when I arrived in Cowes, allowing me to thread the needle around a huge steel catamaran berthed ahead of my little spot, leaving me not more than 50cm clearance to get through, and to then just lightly kiss the pontoon in just the right spot, just at the moment when all way came off.

I did not feel any pride at this! Still shaking after the fiasco of the morning. No matter how much you think you know, it’s still not quite enough.


There, I feel better now, having made a full confession. In retrospect, what I did wrong was grossly underestimating the risks presented by the strong current. I should have understood that the bow thruster was not strong enough, and I should never, ever have taken the last line off while the bow was still being pressed into the pontoon. I should have put out more fenders, and I should have had one right back at the quarter. I should have used a spring line to get the bows out before I started to go. With the bow out angled away from the pontoon, it would have been childsplay to get the boat clear of the pontoon using starboard helm and forward power, and I would have left the berth already pointing towards the gap I needed to get out of. In this position, the tide would have been helping me, rather than sweeping me towards a t-bone collision with the end of the pontoon. Woulda, coulda, shoulda


Epilogue: I am absolutely sure, that the only reason why there are not huge, expensive gouges in my topsides, and/or a damaged rudder, is because I had enough karma points in the bank to cover it. You see, last year when some poor guy in Brighton got caught by a strong current, and smashed into me, damaging my outboard and scratching my topsides. I was nice to him, told him it could happen to anyone, and didn't take any money from him. Thanks, Neptune, for remembering!
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Old 01-03-2017, 14:36   #2
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

While it's true that pride goeth before the fall, it's also said that confession is good for the soul. Glad that no damage was done, other than the small dent in your ego. We all need that from time to time...
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Old 01-03-2017, 14:54   #3
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Lessons learned and noted.

Thanks for the lesson and thankful it was not an expensive lesson.
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Old 01-03-2017, 15:06   #4
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Good post, thanks. We can all learn from others mistakes, which is a truly valuable thing. In the aviation community this is a standard part of the culture, but it is less so in ours. Good post Dockhead.
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Old 01-03-2017, 16:11   #5
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pirate Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Happens to us all sooner or later.. all part of the ever learning curve..
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Old 01-03-2017, 16:25   #6
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Karma points are super valuable when it comes to docking, because usually when things go wrong, it's like dominos falling. The more points you have in the bank the more dominos it will hold up.

I pride myself on how well I can maneuver my boat in tight quarters, but I never take it for granted, particularly when current is involved. You can look a the water, taking the measure of how fast it's moving and think you know what's going on and then it just...doesn't...behave. It's always seems like it's just starting to get some way on, or trying to, or just before all way comes off where mother nature goes "Surprise!".
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Old 01-03-2017, 16:36   #7
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

When

http://www.yarmouth-harbour.co.uk/~w...?1488411315163

Actually I think you were quite brave to attempt this given the weather and its a rather tight marina to say the least.

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Old 01-03-2017, 17:33   #8
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Karma points are like money in the bank... I try to earn as many as possible and they pay off. Kindness and forgiving are worth a lot. Sometime they pay off in strange ways. I always "spit" in the water before going out to see what the current is doing. In my old dock there was very little current "most" of the time, but at other times it would run through at 4kts.
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Old 01-03-2017, 17:37   #9
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

I've been told by the guy at the fuel dock that I'm the only one around here that knows how to drive a boat. That made my head swell a bit.

But, one time...

My wife called me while I was at work, she'd promised some friends we would take them out on the boat when I got home. It was blowing like crazy, straight down the fairway.

I really didn't want to do this.

When we left the slip the boat simply would not turn into the wind, not even close. So here we go, sideways, down the fairway toward the concrete wall. Looking like a moron, the distance between me and the wall began closing fast.

The dockmaster yelled at me as we drifted by his boat, "Are you under power?"

Well, yes I was, and evidently that little remark is what it took. I got the stern turned to the wind and backed several hundred feet out of the marina as he walked back in his boat.

Docking went smoothly when we got back.
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Old 01-03-2017, 17:52   #10
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Pride Goeth Before the Fall

While I know that I'm better than some and not as good as others when maneuvering in close quarters, I always say a little thank you to Neptune for not making me look like an idiot in front of family, friends or passers-by.
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Old 01-03-2017, 19:34   #11
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

I love this narrative. What a great example of humility and thoughtfulness, and a great lesson for all of us. Think ahead! And go slow!
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Old 01-03-2017, 20:02   #12
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Great post and a good reminder that it can all go to stuffing in an instant. Glad you recovered and was able to keep the the gelcoat intact!!
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Old 01-03-2017, 21:46   #13
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

If no one is around, it doesn't matter if it's a hurricane and I need to do a 180 in a fairway 1" wider than the boat is long. It will go perfectly he first try.

For some reason, put an audience on the dock and....
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Old 01-03-2017, 22:05   #14
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Happens to us all sooner or later.. all part of the ever learning curve..
Only difference for me was I did hit the quay - oops.
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Old 02-03-2017, 01:03   #15
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Re: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
When

http://www.yarmouth-harbour.co.uk/~w...?1488411315163

Actually I think you were quite brave to attempt this given the weather and its a rather tight marina to say the least.

Pete
Thanks for putting graphics to my story. I was on the very end of the yellow pontoon.

"Brave" and "foolhardy" are the closest of cousins. I've been in and out of Yarmouth about a million times -- could just about do it blindfolded. I thought nothing of this departure -- didn't even have all my fenders out What a lesson . . .
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