We made it city side and I didn’t kill too many people!

As many know although I’ve grown up around boats for most of my life it’s a rare occurrence when I’m actually given the helm. I figure this is due to my being fairly quick and nimble which makes me a better asset to have on deck vs behind the wheel.

If something needs doing it’ll be done quick and efficiently.

If I need to jump ashore I’ve got a fairly good stride (being 6′ 2″ tall and all).

This becomes a bit of a problem when I own my own ship and should be taking the wheel myself. I wanted to do this last year but do to circumstances I had to make sure everything was fine. Fortunately I had experience taking it off of the dock once and know generally what to do when it comes to docking.

The weather was behaving despite it raining and being generally miserable. Getting off the dock proved to be a bit more difficult than I remembered especially given the tight space we’re in. Basically I had to do a 20 point turn to get out and sometimes it really didn’t want to behave but I managed to get the nose swung north and we were underway. Along the way across the harbour one of the guys that came along (Tom) mentioned that the guys in the back at the work shop said I should probably run up the engines a bit since I don’t run the engines all that often. So I did and we got a good head of speed going… this comes into play in a moment.

My Dad had got city side before us with the dingy and was waiting for us. He was on the dock and frankly I was having issues locating the slip way in our winter dockage, compounded with the fact that a house boat docked near the entrance had it’s bow sticking out into the channel making the entrance a little more narrow. So while I was concentrating on trying to line up I had forgotten where the throttle was. An approximately 50 tonne vessel takes a little while to get up to speed as you can imagine, slowing it down takes quite a bit of time too. So when my Dad yelled to slow down I had to quickly throw it in reverse and throttle way up. So we scuffed the dock a bit coming in but no damage (to the dock or Pathfinder) was done. Afterwards it was a matter of hastily throwing lines out to try to snub us in which didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d have liked (doesn’t help that the deck was full of stuff to take away such as scrap metal etc). But we managed to get in, passed the bridge and turned around without too much hassle.

Notes for next year:

  • Get the engine kill switch installed up in the pilot house
  • Ensure there is 1 line setup as a spring line for docking before leaving the dock.
  • Fix the throttle a bit or consider getting a new unit that is easier to operate single handed.

Overall it was a good learning experience despite the hiccups. Next year will be different though as I’ll be taking it out much more often for our painting trip and just in general.

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