August can be an interesting time at the Tradewinds docks. Lots of wind, accompanied by the normal “too much wind docking entertainment.” One particular August Saturday saw the day end with two boats “parked” at the exact same spot, laying across the dock fingers of multiple slips (Windfall, Megalina, and Seabreeze). Fortunately, not at the same time. About 15 minutes apart. Also fortunately, without any damage to anything.
The first was a power boat about 45 feet long with twin motors. Unfortunately, one of the motors wasn’t working and the remaining one was putting some rotational torque the wrong direction from the way the boat needed to turn to get out of trouble. Add to that the wind and the result was a boat beam on the wind, getting blown sideways down the fairway … a dock behind and rocks in front. Several people on the dock stepped up and got the boat safely against the slips, bow pointed more or less out. We were able to get a line across from the opposite dock and use the line to get the bow pointed to the dock which was fortunately vacant. The line was used to guide the boat safely into a side tie there.
Not fifteen minutes later, a 35 foot Beneteau with twin rudders and a sail drive missed her fairway, and ended up beam to the wind drifting sideways down the same fairway, directly towards the exact same spot. Try as he might, the skipper was unable to get the bow to come up into the wind so that he could drive the boat out in forward. Those of you that have ever driven a boat with twin rudders and a sail drive know there is no prop walk and no prop wash to assist the boat during the “fairway turn” that was needed.
The problem in both cases … the wind was blowing the bow of the boat the wrong way. The broken motor in one case, and the twin rudder sail drive combination in the other made it virtually impossible to get the bow to do what needed to be done.
The solution? Let the wind do to the bow what it wanted to do, blow down. Then, exit the fairway in reverse with the wind holding the bow steady. It goes totally against what feels like the right thing, however, in the case of at least the sailboat, it was the only solution that would have worked.
Watching these two incidents got me remembering all the times I have seen a boat blown into the mud, rocks, or a dock because the skipper kept trying to tack away without sufficient speed to complete the maneuver. In a case like that maybe a jibe would have been a better solution. Or, if there is sufficient room, just straighten the tiller, drive toward the “bad place,” get some speed and tack.
The tip here? It isn’t to let the bow blow down or to jibe instead of tack. The tip is … If something isn’t working because some “force” or other won’t let it, then see if there is a way to turn that force into something that helps instead of hinders. Don’t be that person who keeps doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result. Keep your mind and options open.