It’s never been far from my mind these last few days. As moving day approaches, if I’m reading the diagram the marina sent us correctly, we’ll have to enter a narrow gap between two piers at the marina, staying under control through nasty swirling currents, heading straight toward shore passing about six slips lined with luxury yachts, execute a ninety degree turn to the right against the thrust of the starboard engine which is trying to turn Escape Velocity to the left. Trying to stop EV using the only operating engine would just spin her to the right but definitely not stop her. I knew the key to keeping this from going all pear shaped would be speed. Enough to get the rudders to bite but as little as possible because I can’t really stop her. The dockmaster suggested running the hour and a half down river the day before and anchoring across from the marina to wait for slack tide because of some wicked currents they have there but I just didn’t want to add still more tricky maneuvering. It’s shallow down there and from a dead stop it takes EV an alarmingly long time to get the rudders to bite with just one engine.
I once helped a friend on a catamaran with one inoperable engine shift from one mooring ball to another further away from a little steel sloop that was whacking them. It took everything we could muster, using our 15hp Yamaha on our dink as a tug and his one engine to keep her off the other boats. It took 45 minutes of harrowing near misses to get her secured to a nearby ball. This is what is going through my mind as we up anchored with plenty of extra time to get to the marina at slack tide. It was a beautiful sunny morning without much wind and I was able to manage our unhappy starboard engine.
Too soon the moment of truth arrived. After a deep breath I turned into the gap between the piers feeling the swirling currents slewing EV about and reduced throttle. I needed to make the 90 degree turn with as little throttle as possible. She made 45 degrees of that turn and stalled there so I reversed the engine which spun the bows to the right that put them very near the dock and with delicate touch of forward throttle we were next to our slip. I would have never taken that bet.
Rivergate Marina is nice but expensive, located in an industrial area so no tiki bars, restaurants, or grocery stores. They were good about courtesy rides but really…no happy hour. And I needed it.