Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A typical travel day from my perspective

Ok, so I keep getting requests that I should write more often about life aboard from a woman's perspective. So here goes.

While underway... well, actually, let me back up. As we prepare to get underway, the first thing I do is survey the dock lines. I check the current, and see which lines are actually working and which lines are slack. The slack lines I uncleate, then David and I form a plan for the two remaining lines. My biggest fear is not getting on the boat as it leaves the dock. See, I'm standing on the dock, he's on the boat, I have to let loose the last remaining dock lines and jump aboard before the boat leaves.... easy you say? Not always. Sometimes the current is moving at a speed of a couple knots which means the boat will get pushed away from the dock as soon as I drop that last line. Sometimes, depending on tides, and the docks at different marinas, the dock level might be much lower than the boat deck level, so much so, that I need a ladder to get aboard, and sometimes the bow is going to swing so I may need to clamber quickly to the swim platform to be onboard. We always have a plan for "where David will pick me up" if I get left behind. So far that has never happened. So after I scramble aboard, if he needs to back up, I become his "eyes" via hand held walkie talkies so he knows where he's headed, if there is any boat traffic, if the pilings are too close, etc.... So far, we have not hit, I take that back, last fall we did scrape a dock and biffed a boat, but that was due to current, not David's steering....we learned from that mistake and it has never happened again.

So now, underway, I  take over the helm. I like driving the boat. David will use his Navi Nut (patent pending) and paper charts and I utilize our Simrad chart plotter and between the two of us we meander our way to the next destination marina. Whenever we see dolphins, I immediately hand over the wheel and run out to the bow to watch them playing in the wakes. Then I run back in, take the wheel and make David go out to take photos and videos of them. I don't have as good of an eye to shoot pics like he does.

As the day winds down and it's time to come in to a marina, again I give the wheel to David for docking and I ready the lines and fenders.(I need to learn how to dock one of these days) I keep lines and fenders on both sides of the boat so I am ready to dock port or starboard with ease. David will radio the marina and I watch for the dock hand who should be standing on the dock where we will slide in. As we get close, I always have a spring line in hand as I ask him which line he wants.... Inevitably, they almost always want a bow line. I drop the one I have, run to the bow toss the line, run to the stern, toss the stern line, run mid ship and hand the spring line. Sounds easy, right? It is unless David decides he needs to walk out of the helm and tell me what to do. Then the bow or stern ends up swinging out, the dock hand and I get our signals mixed and the docking procedures gets all mucked. This has happened a couple times and each time, I sternly but calmly let him know he is not to come out of the helm until I tell him he can. I know what to do with the lines, he needs to stay at the wheel and keep the boat in control and out of my way.

 All the while we are docking, the dogs are running around in the main saloon, whining and whimpering, begging to be let out, which, again, David will open the doors and let the dogs out before I'm ready for them. Now we have Chevy shoving his head at the poor dock hand and trying to jump off the boat, me trying to get the power cord to the dock hand, who is also trying to adjust dock lines and let me know where water hookups are. David getting the steps and trying to get them handed down, and me trying to get the fenders adjusted properly all the while yelling at the dogs to stay on the boat. Grrr ....  I have to say, though. A lot of guys will bark orders at their lady companions and get cranky. David is not one of these guys. I am afraid, however, I am one of those guys. I know where the fenders go, don't tell me how to do it.... 

So once we get all set, we take the dogs for a potty walk and if time, a short exploration of our new surroundings. Then, we retire to the boat and have a victory beer for a successful travel day. Over cocktails, we decide if we are going to stay put for a couple days or move on. Sometimes a couple days can turn into a week or two, and twice, a couple weeks has turned into a month or longer. Such as right now. Between boat projects, pet injuries and now a family matter which has me going home to upstate NY to deal with, we will be sitting in Savannah until the first of April.

Family brings up another topic for a woman's perspective on cruising and one that stops a lot of people from taking the plunge. My next blog will give all you men the inside scoop of why most wives hesitate to cast off those lines. For me, I love cruising. I wouldn't trade this time we have had together for anything. If it all ended tomorrow, I would be very sad for it to end, but thrilled to have had this adventure.


  1. Hey Pam & Dave. It might be an idea to rig one of your lines so that once you're singled up you can release it from on the boat.

    As much as we'd like to leave our deckhands on the dock sometimes it's not reallly an option when there's only two of you onboard! :-) Besides the "Admiral" is payin' for the lifestyle too eh? *wink*

    I think the nautical term is "slip line". Much like a spring line that can be released from onboard the boat. I prefer a spring line, allows me to control the boat easier no matter which way the current is pushing.

    For what it's worth.

    Rick & Lori
    M/V She:Kon (under construction)

  2. Pam and Dave,
    I agree with Rick that your last line when leaving the dock should be from the boat to the dock and back to the boat so you can let one end loose and pull it back to the boat with the other end.

    In most cases you can do this with a spring line and the person at the helm can hold the boat into the dock with the engines.

    That's long enough from me. LOL

    Bill Kelleher

  3. We will run a bow line back to the boat alot of times, depending on what the current is doing.

  4. We left the cat behind once, but that's a different story.

  5. Dave's a lucky man to have you!!!

  6. Thanks, Pam. Is that your boy? He's a very handsome young man.

    1. That is my son at his graduation last year from Airforce bootcamp with his sister hugging him. Thank you! We are very proud of him.

  7. Hey Dave, I haven't heard you mention your dinghy project lately. Any progress?

    1. The Whaler is finished. I need to launch it and see if it starts and runs, but the electric hoist has to drop in off the starboard side of the boat, and we're tied up to the dock starboard side. We'll need to pump out soon, and when we move the boat to do that, we'll tie up port side so we can launch the Whaler.

      Also the electrician was here yesterday and fixed the winch. I'm glad I called him because it was wired all wrong, something about positive to positive blah blah blah. But it's fixed now, so we can anchor out if the Whaler runs. Yay!