The departure from Isla marina was difficult and probably amongst one of the worst dock maneuver we ever did. Our friends Jeanette and Neill had come to slip our lines, “something meaningful” as Jeanette had put it, and saved our asses by fending us off without what we wouldn’t have left the marina without pieces of the neighboring boat and the dock. Shameful and embarrassed, that was our last goodbyes to our friends after so many chats about sailing and salty adventures, in the cracking sound of the wooden dock. Our heartbeat up and the mood down, we almost missed the turn to exit the marine roundabout formed by the island of the recreational harbor (the “isla” in Isla Marina). Luckily, a bridge on the last exit gave in that something was off. Definitely, we were not up for a good start! The harbor entrance was swelly and the exit not easy to negotiate, the bow pounding in the waves by the sandbar. The depth sensor momentarily displayed less than 5 feet (we draw 6.5) as the bow banged loudly. Everything felt like a wave but we couldn’t help wondering if we had hit the bottom for the rest of the 10 nm sail to Stone island.
But let’s go back to what happened at the dock.
The wind was blowing into our port quarter, maybe 15 knots or so. Our plan was to back out while holding the bow to orient the boat almost perpendicular to the wind and be ready to turn the boat some more to our left against the wind, using the motor in forward.
In practice, backing out of the slip went smooth and the boat oriented nicely, perpendicularish to the wind, according to plans. However, when the time came to put the engine in gear and turn against the wind to get out of the fairway, Tirb wouldn’t turn and we ended up being blown on the slip downwind of ours in the uncomfortable situation drawn below:
You know the rest. Neill and Jeanette fending us off, nerve-wracking cracking sounds, shame and embarrassment. Mood down. As we sailed, jib alone, the 10 nm separating us from our anchorage for the night, it was hard not to blame ourselves and obsess on what had just happened, instead of trying to cope with our motto. “Everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” I said jokingly, trying to cheer us up. But no, the motto would be more along the lines of “it’s okay to screw up as long as you learn something from it”.
And there are many lessons to learn:
and I would add to the list:
- Have a backup plan and always always discuss the ‘what if’ scenarios. Very likely we could have just docked back into our slip by handing our lines to Neill and Jeanette on the dock.
- Actively use the help of people on the dock and communicate the entire plan with them too
- Don’t underestimate any trip even if it’s just a short 10 nm, the preparedness and sailing mindset should always be there. As soon as the boat leaves the dock, “light’s on” as Jeanette said, trying to cheer us back as we left.
- And many more…
That being said, the rest of the trip went smoothly, sailing pass the numerous islands that surround Mazatlan. We didn’t complicate things and went jib alone, somewhat afraid that something wrong would come up with the main that we had disassembled and put back together. We dropped the hook at sunset, happy to be free of our dock lines again, to be done with boat projects for a little while and far from any hard objects! I guess we had a hard time leaving the marina harbor after a little more than a week over there, and the marina did everything it could to hold us back, but damn, even as rolley as it was, life feels good at anchor!
Tuesday, May 4th