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    Marina manoeuvres.
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2003 Apr 20, 10:28 +0100

    Marina manoeuvres
    When Dan Allen recounted his problems of manoeuvring within a marina, I
    thought he may have been pushing the definition of Navigation rather far.
    However, navigation is intended to apply to all phases of a voyage, from
    casting off to tying up, so that was fair enough.
    Little did I expect that within a couple of days I would have my own
    problems, even closer to my berth than Dan was to his.
    We completed our antifouling job in the small hours of Saturday morning,
    with no greater problems than accumulating some blue dust in my whiskers:
    near high water we set off from the scrubbing-wall back to our berth. This
    could hardly be described as an arduous voyage, entirely within the
    sheltered confines of our club marina in Poole Harbour, and under power.
    Our marina has no problem of tide flow within it, as Dan's has, but there
    was this morning a good breeze from the East, force six at a guess, and
    rather squally.
    The berthing geometry is like this. There are several  long floating
    walkways (the pontoons), roughly East-West, located by piles. Floating
    fingers bristle out North and South from these pontoons, and a boat is
    berthed either side of each pontoon, usually bows-in. I have learned that
    Americans might use the word "dock" or "slip" to describe this common
    arrangement, though in English English, those words apply to something very
    different, and wouldn't be used in this context.
    Christina lies port side to a finger. Our neighbour, Soteira, lies to the
    next finger West of us, with a water-gap of four or five feet between. One
    of the problems in this marina is that the fingers are rather skimpy in
    length: only about two-thirds, or so, of  length of the vessel.
    {Here, I should ask indulgence of purists from "old Europe", for reverting
    from metric units to imperial. We are all imperialists now, the rest of us,
    it seems...)
    I should explain that although she has a  similar overall length to my own
    boat, Soteira, being a motor sailor, is much beamier, with much higher and
    longer topsides, than Christina (which is particularly low-slung, in
    Well, we got alongside our berth without problems, engine in neutral, with
    both me and my wife Joan on the finger, holding the boat in place;
    something we have done hundreds of times without mishap. All that remained
    was to get the mooring lines on board. I was concerned that the strong
    gusts from the East would push Christina's stern away from the finger, so I
    asked her to take the stern-line on board first. As she was climbing
    aboard, I moved toward the end of the pontoon to pick up that stern line,
    where it was bent on.
    About that time, things started to go wrong.
    A strong squall came just at the wrong moment, pushing Christina backward a
    couple of feet. To my great surprise, instead of her stern being pushed
    Westward by the wind, I found that her stern, sticking well out beyond the
    end of the finger, was being pushed strongly in the oppisite direction, on
    to the finger. The boat was trying to rotate clockwise, pivoting against
    the end of the finger, and taking her bow across toward my next-door
    neighbour Soteira. As I was near the end of the pontoon, I had lost most of
    my leverage, and even though I heaved at Christina's shrouds for all I was
    worth, was quite unable to keep her hull against the finger. This all
    happened in slow-motion, and would have made an enjoyable home movie. Next
    thing, my feet slipped from under, and I found myself in the water.
    Well, not entirely in. On my back, left hand firmly gripping Christina's
    gunwale, keeping my body suspended out of the water, left leg immersed up
    to the thigh, right leg and arm across the finger, right hand gripping it
    to hold me, and the boat, in. There was no way I was going to let go and
    let Christina (as yet unsecured) blow out again. And if I had let go,
    either hand, a complete baptism would have resulted. Not for me!
    This was quite a stable situation, if a thoroughly undignified posture, and
    gave me a chance to contemplate matters. I had now become part of the
    problem: suspended in the gap between the hull and the finger, there was
    now no way to pull Christina back alongside. Though I couldn't see it from
    my restricted viewpoint, Christina's bow was now firmly alongside Soteira's
    well-fendered topside.
    Joan is as competent and enthusiastic as anyone could wish for, but like
    many elderly women she is rather lacking in brute force. There was only one
    thing to do. For the first time in my life, I shouted for help, lustily,
    surprising myself with how much lung-power I could muster.
    Though it was Easter holiday, it was a wickedly cold day, so there wasn't
    much activity at the club: nobody had seen the little drama occur. At the
    second shout, two hefty neighbours came running. They were surprised to
    find an elderly gent., with white hair and blue whiskers, in such an absurd
    position. I asked them to lift up my top-half onto the pontoon, to allow me
    to pull Christina alongside, and it was all over.
    What lessons are to be drawn? In a marina, with all those boat hulls about,
    expect the unexpected in the way the wind can fluke about. Perhaps I got
    caught in a backwash, reflected back from my downwind neighbour. In a
    similar situation, next time I will take a mooring-line to the bow first:
    that would have been easy to do, and would have defused the problem
    straightaway. If I can be caught in such a pickle, with years of experience
    and a low-profile craft, how do newcomers to sailing manage when berthing
    high-sided vessels short-handed in a breeze?
    And a final thought: a journey isn't over until it's really, really over!
    George Huxtable.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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