Learning Lessons

One thing that has been a constant has been the amount of new things that I’ve been learning. Some I learn the hard way.

Today, I decided to do some crabbing. I’d already taken out the boat once before with my friend Cynthia – we motored around the harbour for 20 mins and then went back in, due to me being terrified – undocking and docking didn’t go too bad though.

This time round I was feeling more confident, what with last time going so well, and the fact I’d moved to a new slip that was a lot easier to access.

With my friend Nancy, we cast off all the lines and tried to reverse…. and didn’t go anywhere. I was worried the engine was giving out no power, and retied up until my neighbour wandered past and pointed out we forgot to cast off the starboard bow docking line.


After getting that figured out, we backed out slowly, and then I accidentally shifted into forward from neutral at high RPMs, the engine made an…. interesting sound, and then settled down, except for a whining sound from the transmission. Awesome.

We dropped the crab pots without incident and returned to the dock safely. After a couple of hours, we went out to pick them up again and that’s where the fun started.

Motoring out, we both noticed the sea was a LOT choppier than it had been the first time. We were close to the first pot though, so we kept on going and arrived at the pot.

Nancy hooked it while I went past – and immediately had trouble. It was enormously heavy (as we found out later, because it hooked onto another pot) and the fact I hadn’t stopped meant we were now dragged it through the water, adding to the difficulty getting it in.

I stepped away from the helm and started helping Nancy pull it in – and then had the bright idea to wind it round a winch. This worked ok and we started getting it in – till the line wound round the winch and jammed it.

I was fiddling around trying to unjam it when I heard Nancy say ‘MATT, WE ARE REALLY CLOSE TO THE ROCKS’

I look up and we are 15 feet away – way, WAY to close to this miniature island. I jump on the helm and power us away – although we are slowed down enormously by the crab trap we are towing. Once we get far enough away, I try again to get the line off the winch – it still wouldn’t budge. Going into reverse free up the pressure enough that we could dump it off the winch and back over the side – just in time for a transport canada guy to zoom up and give us a confused, dirty shrug as if to say ‘what are you idiots doing?’, along with shouted instructions that we couldn’t leave the pots there, as it was the middle of the shipping lane.

We explained it was tangled, and he said he would retrieve it for us! So we headed back to the docks, and waited for him to come in and chew us out.

As it turned out, he was really nice. The crab pot ours got tangled on was using floating line and had no name on it, so he confiscated it as an illegal pot, and that seemed to let us off the hook a bunch.

In the end, noone was hurt, nothing was damaged, and I got my crab pot back, which makes it the best kind of lesson.

Some important points

– Someone has to be on the helm at ALL TIMES

– If its rougher than my comfort level, head in

– Make sure the boat is at a dead stop before retrieving crab pots.

Now, my second one is still out there. We will see how it goes tomorrow when we try to retrieve it…



Leave a Reply