Docktales: true confessions

Before we got our boat, I was oblivious to the drama of docking. What was the big deal anyways, isn’t it like parking a car? Au contraire. There are some important differences that I didn’t think about:

  • When you park a car, there is the friction between the tires and land. A boat glides on the water.
  • The land doesn’t move under your car like currents do.
  • You don’t have to factor in the wind when you park, and you normally don’t  have to worry about the wind pushing you into another car.
  • When you shift into reverse gear, the car actually reverses. No telling what a boat will do.

One windy day, we went out for a sail, and as we were coming back, Tig campaigned for me to try docking by backing into our slip. I had taken a Docking and Maneuvering in Close Quarters class at the New England Boat Show earlier this year, but we hadn’t gotten our boat yet at that point, so it was all very theoretical to me.

I reluctantly gave it a shot and chaos quickly ensued with Tig at the bow fending off a power boat. “I can’t do this!” I cried. I’m sure there was some yelling involved. In the boating world, the gold standard is to dock confidently the first time with hand signals and calm voices. No shouting–that’s for amateurs (ahem).

By the time we got back to the car, my nerves were shot. “Do you want to talk about what happened?” he asked in an attempt at a post-mortem.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I snapped.

Later that night, Tig confessed that he thought it would be easier to fend off another boat. “I was pushing as hard as I could, but it was so difficult,” he said.

“Well,” I said slowly, “that’s because I didn’t have it in reverse…”

His face was in his hands and his shoulders shook. Oh no, I thought, I made him cry in despair.

He looked up laughing. “I want you to promise me one thing.” I held my breath. “Never, ever give up.”

And that is why he will always be my captain.