REAL IFE YOUR STORIES FROM THE EDGE BY STEVE SCHWARTZ
TRIALS OF THE DOCKING DERBY
When interviewed about what makes them most nervous, even the most
experienced boaters say, “Maneuvering around docks.” Our author can relate …
Steve Schwartz gets a surprise ... and not in a good way.
some such slip. The best we can determine
from cryptic communications with marina
staff is that it’s down a long alley, a starboard
tie-up. So we proceed, knuckles white as
our sun-bleached decks, between boats bow
and stern in their slips, with only a whisper
between them and our beamy boat. It looks
like our assigned slip is on the other side of
that enormous sailboat, the one with the
bow sticking a yard into the alley, and two
bristling, evil-looking anchors on bow rollers waiting to impale us as we try to slide
by. The tailwind is really catching us now.
There’s no turning back. We’re in the grip of
the causal nexus. Somehow, with luck and
bravado, engine in reverse, then idling, then
a little more reverse, a little forward, a quick
turn here, a shove off, and we’re in the slip,
the nerves in our legs still twitching.
As we wipe those little beads of perspira-
tion off our foreheads and start adjusting our
docklines, the dock boy comes running and
shouting: “No, No, No! You’re in the wrong
slip! You’ve got to go back out!”
“Honey, open the seacocks and let her
sink, will ya?” I drawl to my wife. “They can’t
make us move if we’re grounded on the bot-
Where we usually sail and cruise in eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, many of the marinas have been designed by squinty-eyed engineers with calipers and micrometers, who have determined the exact minimum space necessary between slips and within alleys between
the rows of slips to accommodate rather diminutive sailboats. Similar to econo-my-class airplane seating, or cheap New York restaurants, not an inch is spared
for comfort or peace of mind.
Nothing quite concentrates the mind as arriving late on a weekend afternoon at a windswept marina where you’ve reserved a dock for the night. It usually goes something like this:
We’ve approached with the usual windy afternoon onshore thermal, assigned to D37, or
ANYONE CARE TO RELATE?
But my current tale takes place not in the
Great Lakes, but in the Finger Lakes of New
York state, where we kept our boat years ago
in a lovely marina on Cayuga Lake. When
designing our Cayuga marina, the engineers
must have had the day off, because it was a
bit roomier than most. But to get out of our
slip and into the lake, we had to back out,
gun the motor in forward to keep from hitting some boats behind us (this is important,
keep it in mind), then wend our way through
a couple of interconnected alleys, turning
this way and that, to get out into open water.