After talking with my neighbor last night, who bought a 30’ monohull sailboat fixer-upper without any experience whatsoever, I learned that he planned to “leave the dock” early this morning. I told him, if he needed help getting out, to knock on the hull and I’d come out. I got up this morning around 8:30 and noticed that he was gone. Hurray! He had a fear of “leaving the dock” and he met it head on. Good for him.
An hour or so later I noticed a boat whizzing right by — almost within arms reach! Holy smokes! I ran outside just in time to see my neighbor lightly scrape along the pilings beside us as he made an emergency ditch effort from docking. As he passed outside the seawall, I waved and he called out to me, “Well that didn’t go so well. Can you help me?”
He comes back in the narrow passage headfirst and attempts a turn around in the tight corner between us and the restaurant. Unsure which way to turn the wheel, I tried to talk him through the process. Foiled by wind and prop wash, he could not get the boat to reverse in the correct direction to back into his slip. All the time I am calling out to him, “Slow! Take it slow. Even slower…” After getting stuck at a tight angle in the corner, he was about to ditch out again, but I let him know the current was taking him right to his slip, “Just let it drift and you’ll be able to back right in.”
He did get the boat backing in, but his bow was heading straight for the piling on the far side. I told him to worry about the bow and I would catch the stern. I sat atop the high dock and used my feet and legs to slow the boat to a stop before hitting the dock (my arms are to weak to attempt that and I didn’t want to hurt myself) and he had also come to add his strength to the stop. He was finally at a stop but on the far side of his slip hugging his other neighbor, he tossed me a stern line and I walked the stern to our side and tied it down. He pushed the bow off the piling and I threw him a line that was tied to the opposite piling at his bow and he reeled the boat in.
His nerves were shot and he needed a beer, so I invited him over and gave him my last Yuengling. After his heart rate returned to normal, he asked, “So, want to go sailing with me tomorrow? I’d love to actually get the sails up!” I told him I might be able to help him out, “but let’s discuss your rigging.” He told me all the lines were labeled but some of them were wrong and he had to re-run some of the lines. So I offered to take a look. The boom vang (“The boom-what?”) was labeled as main sheet. The spinnaker halyard was labeled as a reefing line. So we walked around his boat and I explained what each of the lines were, but I could not find a main sheet or even where they might attach to the boom. We looked at other boats and were still completely perplexed. There was nothing set up for sheeting in the main at all. The one time he and a non-sailing friend raised the main, they used the traveler to control the main.
“I think I’ll pass on going sailing tomorrow,” I said. “You should get a rigging specialist out to help you reconfigure your boat before attempting sailing. Consider yourself a decorated motorboat for now and practice your motoring skills.”
Barely noon and he decided to head to the bar for a second and third beer!
Later that day, he showed me his manual and it stated that the line that appeared to be a boom vang and was attached to the traveler was the mainsheet. Huh. I’d never seen a set up like it before and it seemed to have some limitations. He worked the rest of the day on his rigging and declared it fixed, so I agreed to go for a short jaunt with him the next day. No tragedies or even much drama occurred. The sails worked, but his winches and lines need servicing or replacing and made tending the lines difficult.
We tried a different tactic of backing down the fairway, around the tight corner and into the slip and it almost worked perfectly… almost. Tragedy was narrowly avoided due to his quick leap frog reflexes – the corner of his stern was headed straight for the side of Dave and my boat! With some practice I think he will get it, but in the meantime I recommended he rally up some help at the bar or fuel dock before attempting entering his slip again.