Coming into a unknown guest dock to charge my batteries was sheer anarchy. The current was ripping, a brisk breeze had the chop in a tantrum and there were boats everywhere going this way and that. I was in the middle of the runway and had no reverse, in fact I had to shut the engine off every time I put it into neutral or it would wind up till it blew. We had 28′ of side tie dock space for my little 22′ cutter but she is 31 LOA.
It doesn’t matter how far you have sailed or how long you have been out, the second you tie up you are no longer using your sailors brain. Tied to the dock we become liveaboards, even if it’s only one day. Our lines secured, electricity pumping, an endless supply of water. Conservation is soon thrown out the window, who cares how much trash we make, we can dump it all right here. Long hot showers, a meal out, the money flows like the free water we are prepetually filling our tanks with. A trip to the marine chandlery, i.e. Land pirates and we start to realize how expensive society is, but it’s not just the money, it’s the way we mentally change.
Sitting dockside chatting with sailors about dock fear is interesting. One of them fresh off. 30,000 mile journey, another finding refuge from an extremely rough passage and another getting ready for a potential circumnavigation. When your out there you become hardened fast, you can’t always hide from the weather, you just deal with it. Sitting snug as bug in a rug in the marina we start to lose confidence in our boats regardless of where they have safely taken us. Is my rudder strong, do I need to replace my rigging, what about my motor. When and where will I be able to top off my cruising funds again. If you don’t have this anxiety you don’t know all the facts. Setting off voyaging is like preparing to sail to the moon, it’s just you out there. I see them every day, potential blue water sailors making thier boats rescueable rather than safe. Can’t afford new rigging but i just got a new AIS and single sideband. Sure my ground tackle needs improvement but I need a new life raft and solar for the boat. Sails would be nice but I’m too busy putting in a new stereo system. These are the same sailors that come bareling into the Marina full bore not realizing they need fenders and dock lines till they are fifty feet out.
For all the wonderful solo passages I’ve had sailing solo just plain sucks. Life is to be shared, good and bad. Having someone to help with sails, navigation, pulling anchor or just keep,you company on those long nights good or bad weather. When I’m alone in a blow it’s the loneliest place on the entire planet, when I have crew to keep safe it gives me a prime directive, I don’t have time to be afraid, instead I’m in awe inspecting the fruits of my countless hours of labor making my craft a safe and stout ship. The ones who say just go aren’t fools, they are just the ones who haven’t and won’t ever just go, they have no idea what it takes to outfit even the most basic boat.
I was recently reading a clip of a story of a guy who just went, I won’t recount it here because it’s none of my business but he lost his boat and everything with it, too many Chiefs in his life and not enough Indians. As the captian of your vessel it’s you and your crew that will decide when your ready, be-it for your first time crossing to Catalina or setting off to the sail the world. Sitting in my quarter berth going over charts of the Carribean, I know I’m ready as is my boat but all, the small things are still holding me captive. My prime directive is finding a wind vane but it’s no more or less important than all the small things like new anchor line, or a nav system I can read with my blind eyes. The clock is ticking and if I miss my window it means a yet another cold winter waiting in vain.
90 percent of seamanship happens 20 feet from the dock. -Jay Fitzgerald