Defeated in the Marina

7 minute read

I’ve been contemplating posting this story for some time, clearly this is not one of my finest moments. I’ve decided to share it because other’s find it pentertaining, and it might be a cautionary tale to would be engineless sailors.

As is normal for me, when I get a new toy I want to use it. At this point we’ve owned Taleisin for a few weeks. I’ve been out on her once with Chad from the CYA. He showed me how to barge using Cheeky and the 2.5hp motor, and he also taught me how to scull. Chad is super experienced, I didn’t do the whole procedure myself and I don’t have any “what if” plans.

I came up with a plan, if 2.5hp can do it, I can get an inflatable with a bigger engine and that should make things much easier. So I go shopping, I get a 2.6m Zodiac and an 8hp outboard. Armed with a new sure fire way to get Taleisin in and out of the marina I study the weather forecasts and pick a day that seems like it would be perfect.

We get up early on Saturday morning, I’m very excited - like a little kid on christmas morning. When I’m excited about things, I don’t hide it very well - everybody knows. Annie mentioned to me in the car on the way to the marina that she can tell that it’s one of those excited days for me.

Once we’re onboard at the marina I start putting the inflatable together (I now seem to call her Ducky). I attached some lines to Ducky, dropped her in the water and started to tie her to the quarter. Keep in mind this was pretty much winter time in New Zealand so I was wearing foul weather gear and thermals underneath them. It’s taken quite a bit longer to set everything up, which I now know is normal for everything boat related. Eventually we get Taleisin ready for sailing and start to go over “the plan”.

So what’s the plan, Annie asks? We drop the mooring lines, I put the outboard in reverse. We back out slowly, use Taleisin’s rudder to steer and then get out of here. Lets just give it a go. That’s fine, Annie said, but the wind has picked up a bit…

We’ll be fine, I said…

We dropped the mooring lines, I put the outboard in reverse and Taleisin backs out slowly. All is going great so far. Watch out behind you, said Annie, that boat is getting closer. I look behind me. I put the outboard in forward. We move forward. Move the tiller to the other side we need to turn. It’s not working, says Annie. The wind was blowing the bow off. We’re going to hit in front Annie yells. Back in reverse. We do this a few times. While we’re doing this the wind is blowing us sideways down the channel. “Take the dingy and go push on the bow”, yells a spectator. What he didn’t know is that I made a fatal mistake and secured the dinghy a bit too well and there was no way I would be able to untie it in time. This was completely and utterly stupid of me.

I decided to just gun the outboard. We need to pick up way so we can turn. That’s what the problem is. We’re still not turning. Back in reverse, gun it! Whoops that boat behind me is getting close. I hit a piling with the stern anchor - I’ve bent it slightly but it will survive. At this point I think that it might be a good idea to go forward. By now the bow is in a much better position and we might actually get out. I reach for the gear lever on the outboard and flick it to forward…

Did I say we’ll be fine? I was wrong…

Except for the fact that I didn’t close the throttle while almost at full speed. Big mistake. Rookie Mistake. The dingy still tied to the quarter lifts it’s bow out of the water and stands up right, I try to hang onto the seat. No luck. The outboard gets drowned. I end up in the water. Taleisin is still heading for the boats in front of her. Annie thinking quickly and with a bit of guidance from the audience we’ve now assembled on the dock, sprints up the bowsprit, grabs the forestay, both feet up against the boat in front of us. She fends like a champ!

No crash yet, that’s good right. While all of this is happening I’m in the water. Thinking to myself “oh crap, I have to get back on board because this is going south fast”. Hanging off the side of Taleisin I quickly drag myself up to the bow so I can get up on the bobstay to climb back on board. Another spectator on the dock yells, get your motor going! I hop in Ducky, try to get her started, no luck.

As soon as I get back on board I see one of our neighbors motoring out to come and rescue us. “Throw me a line”, he yells! “I’ll tow you into the channel, no worries mate”! I declined and opted to go back to the slip. “I killed the motor, no idea how I’ll get back”!

Just as we’re pulling into the slip the marina boat shows up. I quietly say to Annie, I’m in a lot of trouble now, they wont be happy about this. I had a sheepish look on my face and was very apologetic about the whole thing. Everybody just smiled and said “that’s boating, it won’t be your last…”

At this point I’m feeling pretty well defeated. I’ve been defeated in the past, but NEVER like this. Usually there’s some upside to the defeat for me. I honestly could not find an upside, nothing went well. I did a bunch of really dumb things, and I couldn’t even try to deny it. The results spoke for themselves.

The marina boat crew and our rescue crew just had a chuckle and were on their way. We did give our rescuer a pack of beers as a thank you.

The outboard seemed to be fine when I got it home and started it, I had a small win. I was moping around for a few days not quite knowing how to deal with this defeat. My tail was firmly tucked between my legs. I started reading up on warping techniques and other engineless maneuvers. It took me a while to build up the courage to take Taleisin out again. I did have a perfect excuse though, winter was in full swing and the weather was pretty nasty. My research paid off, eventually, we moved Taleisin to her mooring on our own without too much trouble. I should probably listen to Annie more, but my stubbornness seems to get the better of me at times.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your own experiences. I think I’ve recovered from the trauma inflicted upon my ego, you’re allowed to have a laugh at my expense. Looking forward to hearing from anybody who reads this.


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