DON’T GET CAUGHT
Old hands were told about this in their cradles, but if you’re a newcomer to sailing, here’s a wrinkle to keep you out of trouble. Unlike an automobile, a boat is rarely going where she’s pointing in waters when the tide sets up any current. When a buoy or any other immovable object is making a bow wave like this one, you can think of it as another vessel underway. What you need to know is, are you going to hit it or not? It might be as much as 30 degrees off the bow, but a strong stream could be drifting you 40 or more degrees from where you’re heading. The only surefire answer is to note whether the object is moving against its background as you are making your way toward it. If it is, you’re OK. If it’s not, you’re headed straight for it, so alter course quickly, watch out and if in any doubt, go downstream of it just to be safe. Never listen to folks with a scientific education telling you this doesn’t work. It has done since St. Paul’s ship went down off Malta.
A HELPING HAND
This is a real-world solution, and I expect correction by my betters. However, anyone whose seacocks are modern ball valves rather than the grand old tapered cone variety may care to read on. Servicing tapered cone valves is a delight, but my boat hasn’t any. My ball-valve alternatives are top quality and not showing signs of deterioration, although they are
old and they get stiff toward the end of a season when I can’t haul out to squirt in a shot of grease from outside. This year I was rooting through an old toolbox in the shed when I came across some redundant box wrenches. One was a perfect fit on those sharp sea cock handles that have lost their lovely rubber coats. I took it down to the boat, offered it up to my worst-offending seacock and gave it a careful heave. The valve moved as smoothly as my electric outboard. The wrench offers a little additional leverage—not so much as to risk damage—and is kind to suffering hands. It lives on board now, proud of its new job after being rendered redundant long ago by fancy socket sets.
THANKS A BUNCH
This scene is very calm and seaman like. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you lead it around that cleat and then pass me the end back please.” What’s special about this is that the guy handing the rope ashore isn’t assuming that his helper can read his mind. He can’t. If he gives someone a rope and doesn’t say anything, most misguided helpers will simply pull on it. In a case like this, with everything under sweet control, that’ll be the last thing the skipper wants. The wretch on the dock might even catch a turn, snub the bow in and ruin a nice maneuver. It doesn’t matter what the plan is. The important thing is to communicate said plan to whoever has volunteered to assist. s