Friday, November 4, 2011

Pablo Marina - at a dock

This guy did it right - notice the fenders in front where he goes against the dock
At 5:00 am this morning the wind suddenly increased to 25 kts! Since the marina is exposed to the west, the waves started to build right away and the boat was being battered against the dock. The wind was directly at 90 degrees to the dock, pinning us. We knew it was going to be difficult to get out with the wind pushing us opposite to the direction we had to go to leave the dock. There were a lot of other boats in the same situation so I watched their technique. The general approach used by all but one boat was to tie a line to the forward cleat and lead it to the dock about midships. The captain would power forward while turning the wheel in the direction to drive the bow into the dock. The resultant forces would put the aft end of the boat out away from the dock, it would just walk sideways, even against a 25 kt wind and resultant waves.

Lovely marina

I thought that was fine for a powerboat with multiple hundreds of horsepower but what about my small boat with its 55 hp diesel? We waited for everyone to leave first so we had plenty of room, nobody ahead of us or behind us. The wind was still howling at 20 kts and not forecast to get any less, in fact, it was to increase during the day! So with everybody gone, I put out fenders every few feet on the bow to cushion any contact with the dock, deployed a bow line to a cleat on the dock, had help from a dock hand to uncleat the line when ready to back out and then with Ann on the bow, I powered forward with the wheel hard to starboard (to walk the aft to port and away from the dock). It worked like a charm. Now all I had to hope for was that the  boat would back up once in reverse into the 20 kt wind so I could clear the dock. Well, it did back up and I kept backing so I had plenty of room to start going forward to clear the dock when the aft end swung with the turn. We saw one boat this morning who did not back up enough and his swim platform hit the dock with a loud thud of broken teak when he swung forward. At least we avoided that mistake! Putting it in forward we turned and clear the docks and all remaining boats, success! Except - the dinghy was upside down! We idled forward while I got on the swim platform to turn the dinghy over and once accomplished found that the bilge pump had parted company but we had retained the oars.

All the plam trees are lit at night
So that was enough excitement for one day! But the water was thinner than usual since the west wind pushed water out of the inlets, lowering the water level in general inland. I figured we lost about and extra 1 to 2 feet out of the ICW and we had left at low tide! With strict attention to Active Captain warning spots, we ghosted through the shallows (thank goodness for the 4' 9" keel!) and made it to the old Pablo Marina. They actually went out of business and now it's private but if you call ahead and ask, they will generally find a slip owner that's will to rent out his slip for the night. We got a slip for only $1/ft, a bargain in this area - and the marina is beautiful with concrete docks and no current and 360 protection. In talking to the dockhand, we heard that the slips went for $150,000 when new several years ago but most recently with the depressed economy they are now going for only (!) $58,000. So I guess some owners want to make a few bucks on the side (we deal in cash).

The winds on Saturday are supposed to be 15 to 25 mph all day and 10 to 20 at night. We may stay here another day so we can enjoy one of our favorite anchorages without the strong wind. We'll see tomorrow.