Shakin’ Our Sillies Out

Do you know why they call the first real trip on a new boat the ‘shake down’ cruise? Well, I don’t know either. But I’m imagining it must be one of two reasons:

1. Because you are shaking in your shoes with high anxiety about the docking and undocking of the boat due to the previous traumatic experience with said boat whereby you got stuck in reverse and left a lasting impression on the boat behind you and also on your heavy steel davit.

2. Because all the shaking of the boat due to engines and being tossed around by water is bound to shake some stuff loose that you didn’t know was going to be a problem. Pick one. I guarantee you will be right. P1050107

Aside from a whole lot of shaking going on, this weekend found us back in business! I do love a long weekend. In spite of the late start on Friday, due to absolutely ridiculous, just-turn-around-and-go-home traffic, we had an entire day and a half and two nights on S/V Nameless, long enough to get a bunch of things done and actually leave the dock behind for a couple of hours. I’m going to have to soothe you with some garden photos in this post because I was too busy talking myself off of invisible, if not non-existent ledges, to take many pictures this weekend. Why? Because I felt sure we’d be leaving the dock this weekend. And that meant we’d have to come back IN to the marina. Docking, thy name is Nemesis. 

Things that got accomplished this weekend include the following: Mike replacing the light I creamed onto the side of the steel fishing boat during the docking fiasco of 2014, I cleaned the starboard side of the deck causing it to look extra spiffy and turn many heads, Shawn aligned the engine and put nylocks on the shaft seal, Mike almost finished the replumbing of the aft head, I took apart and cleaned the dried adhesive off of the old porthole screens, then cut new screens to fit, I took a shower on board for the first time and discovered that the shower works. Let’s see. Anything else? Oh yes! And we took her out on the river for a couple of hours.  Just that.

Osprey feeding it’s fledgling.

I really look forward to the day when I can take this whole docking/leaving thing in stride the way Mike appears to do. Appears. That is the operative word here. It’s fascinating, in a morbid sort of way, how my mind will picture our marina as very small, with tight turning required, and other boats just waiting for the chance to jump our at us. In fact, there is a lot of room for error, plenty of turning room, and the slip is very wide. I have to constantly remind myself of that. I am hopeful this is only a learning curve, and not a harbinger of things to come. Because I truly hate feeling that way.

This time I didn’t even bother to try to drive the boat in the marina. I’ll save that for later when I’m back to feeling like my usual confident self. We got out without incident, all large fishing vessels left safely behind us. The river was flat and fairly calm as we tootled up river at a crisp 9 knots, the sun shining for once. This boat can move! Frankly, my body is still accustomed to Moonrise, our old Cal 34, and 9 knots feels like we’re flying. I actually wanted to slow down. It’s hard to appreciate the scenery with all that speed. And what’s the hurry anyhow?


We played with the autopilot and it works well, having only 33 hours on the unit at this point. Mike got the electronics to all get along and speak the same language so we had our depth, speed, and all that. I am glad we got the Garmin chartplotter as all the commands are so familiar to us. We enjoyed having the AIS, looking at the names of all the ships it looked like we would be hitting. Seriously, the system is so sensitive that in an area like the lower Columbia River, if you went only by the warning system on the AIS, you’d think you were in grave danger all the time. Even sitting at the dock. I do like how it will tell you how long before you feel the crunch of impact and become the little ‘wreck’ icon on the screen. So cheerful. It’s nice to be warned. All kidding aside, it’s dead useful.

By the time we turned around, the weather, too, was turning and not for the better. We cruised down river into gusty wind and waves and I prepared mentally and physically to meet my maker. I mean to meet my nemesis. I mean, to do my part in the docking dance.  Now, I had asked people who watch our Facebook page to do the ritual hand clapping, spinning, and spitting so that we’d have an uneventful docking experience. If you were among the spinners and spitters, I am grateful to you and you can take credit for a job well done.  The rest of you…well… you know who you are and I can only hope that if you ever cross the equator you will be prepared with the appropriate rituals at that time.  We got on the dock after only two tries, with no hitting of any other object. Our first try was thwarted by a docking stick, which is supposed to be helpful but wasn’t. We’ll try that again another time and let you know how it goes.

After the first miss, my brain almost went crazy. Neurons were firing at anything they saw.  I had an almost out-of-body experience as I realized that I literally didn’t know what to do. I remember vaguely noticing I was wearing my life jacket and thinking this was probably a smart idea. I had to pull myself together with a stern, “White! Pull yourself together, woman! Go get that stern line and I mean NOW!”.  (I am the only one who can talk to me that way. If anyone else were to try, he would be in serious peril. Just saying.)  Mike was cool as winter. He backed out of the slip, because we were too far from the dock for me to step off, backed way out into the marina, and tried again. This time I was able to step off the boat and get the stern line cleated off, at which point I lost 30 pounds and my blood pressure dropped 50 points. My brain began to receive oxygen again because I remembered to breathe. Anxiety is the biggest bitch in the world. Logic says, ‘this boat has been around a long time in rougher circumstances than this’, but my brain and body say, ‘WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!’. Ridiculous.

Message to dock: I will rule you eventually. I may have trauma lodged in my body right now, but I know how to work it, sister, so I’m coming for you. Eventually.

Tomorrow we go to Fisheries Supply in Seattle to spend the 200$ gift certificate for new dock lines that I won at the Women’s Boating Seminar. This is sure coming at a good time because we can really use some new dock lines. We have the old kind of rope, stiff with salt, and worn in many places. It’s time for new ones. Many thanks to Andy at Northwest Rigging in Anacortes for donating the gift certificate.

Oh, and the ‘silly’ that got shaken loose during the 2 hour cruise today? The water pump. It’s now leaking like a sieve. It looks like it’s original to the boat, so no surprise there. It’s now next on the agenda. We know it’s a ‘Shurflo’, but sure enough, that’s all we know. 

14 thoughts on “Shakin’ Our Sillies Out

  1. You’re so funny. Your a-ha moments punctuated with garden pictures. You did great!!!! As much as I hate anxiety and know exactly how your feeling! But you had a mechanical issue. I have no such excuse. Last night we were you tubing videos and how to use a spring line to hopefully get out of the dock going in the right direction. We seem to do ok bringing her in. (And by we I mean Travis…). Getting out is always a comedy of errors…and not at all funny.

    • When we had Moonrise, I would back out of the slip, and just as the bow was clearing the slip Mike would give her a little shove in the right direction and hop on. I miss that… the ability to move the boat by shoving it. There is no ‘little shove’ with this boat, and there is no ‘hopping on’ either. I was trying to remember if I was ever anxious about docking that boat. I guess I was at first, but it didn’t last long. And there was never a mechanical failure that caused such a ruckus. I clearly remember trying to dock at one of the local restaurants and having to try 5 times to get it right because the heavy current kept pushing us away. I remember laughing as I went around again. I want that back, but with this boat!

  2. I so feel you on the docking drama! I was just starting to get the hang of it when we ripped the boat apart to really get going on the refit. I am not going to panic, just remind myself that we are fortunate that Mark is very adept and close quarter maneuvers until I get the hang of it again. It will happen- for me and for you. Just keep at it!

    • I only panic when I hit other boats. Or when I think Mike is going to hit other boats. But now we are one and one for going out and coming in. So at least we’re recovering nicely. Yes, we’ll get the hang of it eventually. And you’ll be off the dock soon! At least I know that with this boat we will be anchoring much more than docking, just as we did with Moonrise.

  3. When you figure out how to dock and undock Nameless without anxiety, please give Lulu and I some lessons. In the meantime, I think I’ll just have a pickle and enjoy the fact that I can dock and undock Flipper with the greatest of ease.

  4. Thank you bunches for the hearty laughter had at your expense! And all the endorphins I have collected. By the way…as an ole salt* (10 yrs as an officer in the USNavy 3yrs stationed in the Bremerton Naval Shipyard) you are spot on with your definition of “a Shake-down cruise”. I have long remembered the ship that went up Puget Sound and before it was halfway to Bellingham had to turn around and come back because one of the forward gun turrets fell into the drink and they could not notify the Shipyard because their radio was on the wrong frequency! And you think you have problems! Better hang on to the name Nameless for a while. Betty

    • actually, we went up river. We haven’t approached the Columbia River bar yet and probably won’t do that until we are ready to leave Astoria for good. Fortunately there is a ‘bar report’ where we can get a report on conditions in that area. We will be waiting for the right conditions before passing that way.

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