Saturday, November 20, 2010

Living as a Couple on a Boat. Part I

I realize a lot of people believe that living aboard a boat is the epitome of the romantic dream. Bloody Mary's at sunrise, cocktails as sunset, feeling like you could reach out and touch the fat whip cream clouds that glide on by during the day, or snag one of the zillions of stars that hang over your boat each night. Days are spent lazily adjusting sails as you silently cut through the water.
And I'm sure anyone reading this and who's spent any amount of time on a sail boat is splitting a gut right now.

But let's talk about about docking the boat, lifting the anchor on the boat, and (gasp) attempting to make repairs on the boat, as a couple!

This particular post will address docking the boat which is very much at the bottom of my 'let's have fun' list. Winds, currents, and narrow slips have created many heart thumping moments for me.

Actually, my issues with fenders (while docking) are something new. In the first two years we owned this boat we almost always tied up at the same docks so of course I knew exactly where to place the fenders. The thing is though, that no dock is ever the same. Some are floating and therefor the fenders have to hang way over the side nearly at water level, while some docks are fixed and depending on the tide, the fenders might need to be just over our deck. This means that each fender needs to be retied to the rails which isn't a big deal but when you only catch sight of your dock moments before tying up it can be quite a race.

A few days into our trek on the Intracoastal we were quickly approaching a dock when Hans told me to toss the fenders over the side. I realized that it was a floating dock and that our fender lines needed to be lowered but I hadn't had a chance to touch even one when he yelled, "What are you doing up there?"

Me (quite incredulous): "Getting the fenders!"

Hans: "What the hell's taking so long, just drop them!"

Me (wondering if he could possibly be serious): "They need to be retied, they're too short!"

Hans: "Just throw them over and get that bow line ready!"

Me (not sticking my tongue out and retying a couple of fenders anyway): "I'm going, I'm going!"

Afterward, Hans was very puzzled and once again asked me what the hell I'd been doing up there.

Me (quite angry by then): "I was doing my hair, that's what!"

Hans (genuinely puzzled): "Really?"

The only reason I didn't throw him overboard is because he knows how to parallel park the Knotty Cat and I don't.

A similar event occurred in Swansboro, North Carolina when, during a rain storm complete with gusting winds and strong currents, we shot into Dudley's Marina like an Indy Five Hundred race car. One second Hans was telling me to drop the fenders and the next second he was yelling, "What are you doing? Don't worry about the fenders! Throw them the bow line!" But we had swooped in so fast that one of the guys on the dock actually reached out and snagged the line leaving me to run as fast as I could to the stern where I'm embarrassed to admit that that line promptly got hung up on an old GPS antenna (BTW, that antenna is going to get ripped out as soon as we get back on board after Christmas). With Hans putting our girl into reverse the helpers were finally able to secure us.

If I ever win the lottery I'm going to buy a ton of fenders and tie them at every possible level they'll ever be needed.

That should give me plenty of time to do my hair while docking.


  1. OMG, I am so laughing right now at your description of sailing in your first paragraph! It's so true. Now I'm not an expert on sailing - far from it - but in my younger days I dated a guy with a 42' sailboat on which he lived 24/7. We'd go out into Lake Pontchartrain on the weekends and I've never worked so hard in my life! And in the evenings I was so tired all I wanted to do was drink a beer and go to sleep!

    And the fender thing...yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Better learn to fix you hair while you're throwing the fenders out, Laura! I mean, come on, you've got two hands! LOL!



  2. Cydni, thank you for understanding!! I normally don't go to bed until late at night but on the boat I'm ready to drop as soon as the sun sets.
    And I almost told Hans I'd been picking my nose but that didn't seem very lady like!

  3. Hello Laura and Hans,
    First time post here. Sorry to hear about your delay.
    Donna and I made docking much less stressful. She learned how to dock the boat and I became the deckhand. Took quite a few reps and some practice around speed limit buoys on slow days but she has gotten quite good and with twin engines on the cat it really is pretty easy to learn. She backs the boat into our slip regularly now, as well as parallel docking. Hope you guys get back underway soon.
    Kirk & Donna

  4. Kirk, thanks for commenting! You are one lucky duck to have a partner as helpful as it appears Donna must be. But, I fear Hans will forever be saddled with a complete moron (me!). I still have a difficult time parallel parking a car but maybe the day will come when I can actually dock the Knotty Cat without too much damage to her (or the dock).

  5. This post is so true! We're new to sailing, but I can already relate to the fender and docking issue! I've been wanting to get one of those little gadgets that make adjusting the fender a lot quicker. I've actually docked the boat a few times, and sometimes I think I'd rather do that than handle the lines and fenders. Can't we just cover the entire hull with fenders? =)

  6. Cheryl, I'm impressed (and jealous!) with your docking abilities! And I had no idea there was a fender adjuster gadget out there, we just tie clove hitches, and I will surely be googling it. Personally I'd like to install rubber strips around the whole thing and turn it into a bumper boat.

  7. Ok, I'm inspired to dock the boat myself now. So far this Travis has been at the wheel and I the deckhand, but I'm thinking I'm getting the short end of the stick here.

  8. Considering that I can't dock the dinghy without bouncing wildly off the dock I'm going to need a lot more time on the water before anyone gets to watch Hans tossing fenders and lines anytime soon.