First (un)docking mishap

So at this point I still hadn’t had Sooner out except for moving her from Pender to Victoria, and then once to Sidney to haul out.

Neither would count as a pleasure trip, and with the summer rapidly ending I decided it was time to stop moping around and actually go have some fun. There was a friend with their boat up north so I decided to go and join her and spend the weekend rafted up.

First however I had to get out of the marina, and that’s where it got tricky. Oak Bay marina is notoriously a bit of a pain to get out of – the fairway between the slips is only a few feet longer than my boat, and with a north wind blows you further down the fairway and if can’t make the turn then you are blown helplessly down sideways.

Which uh, is exactly what happened.

I reversed out, while turning, and then went forward while turning and almost made the turn but instead the wind caught my bow and blew it backwards, meaning I ended up being blown sideways all the way to the end of the dock as the black squiggly line shows. Which is how a couple of months after making a ‘getting wedged between slips like the Ever Given’ joke in Good Old Boat magazine, it actually happened.

I guess that’s Karma for you.

I avoided hitting anything by making frantic back and forth movements with the throttle as I drifted sideways, artists impression below

and ended up gently resting at the side of the dock at the end of the fairway, whereupon I was immediately surrounded by a bunch of helpful retirees, all giving wildly contradictory pointers.

As I hadn’t hit anything, the only damage was to my pride (it was pretty embarrassing) and I was able to eventually get off by reversing down on a spring line while someone else shoved my bow off with a boat hook and I got off.

However I was (as the kids say) SHOOK and as my confidence was pretty low already (having not been on a boat solo since Gudge with the exception of Frawg once) and combined with missing my ex I only had the boat out for around an hour before deciding to turn around and head back in. Where I completely nailed the docking, so that’s something.

The main lesson here is that Sooner is NOT Gudge – the difference between a fin keel and a balanced spade rudder and a full keel/ transom hung barn door combo is very different. I would have made that turn in my sleep in Gudge, but with Sooner I am having to have to get used to using spring lines and springing off docks, as I have no steerage in reverse. Forward is better, but she still has the turning radius of an oil tanker.

Overall, nothing got damaged (except my pride) and it was a good learning experience (abet a humble one).




  1. I can totally see it…this slow, helpless, slide down the channel towards the dock. Things are so much more horrifying in slow motion even though it’s never as bad as mistakes that happen at speed. Been there, done that. 🙂

    Just keep reminding yourself how much more comfortable 100 km off the West Coast shore is going to be with that massive keel.

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