Sunday, November 28, 2010

Watch out for that crazy dinghy driver!

Skye asked me to drop him off at the dock today, so that I could have mobility in case his meetings went longer than expected. I was nervous about driving the dinghy, especially after my rum-punch (it only takes one) induced collision in the dark with the dock the night before.

As we were preparing to leave the boat, I spotted Vibert (Barefoot staff) in a dinghy at an adjacent boat, and called out to him, thinking Skye could just ride back to the dock with him, to “save me a trip.”

Skye said, “No, you need the practice anyway.”

So, we set off for the dock and had an uneventful trip over. I asked Skye to give me a directional shove off the dock, and as I shifted into forward, the engine died. This isn’t uncharacteristic for our outboard (one of the reasons I avoid driving the dinghy), so I calmly pulled out the choke (until now, always a sure-fire way to start ‘er up), hauled on the starter cord, and nothing. They say the definition of “crazy” is to keep on doing the same thing, expecting a different result ... so I peacefully floated away toward the sandy beach, going more and more crazy, continuing to push in the choke, pull out the choke, adjust the accelerator, and haul on the starter. Until a kind Barefooter (Sadem) came to my rescue and towed me back to Skye. Sadem tested the engine, and after re-seating the fuel supply, it started. He ran it high, and boy did it smoke (we all suspected I had flooded it).

We tried again, now that I was hopelessly humiliated (there’s always an audience at the dock). Skye pushed me off, I switched into forward, grabbed hold of the painter (the rope that’s tied to the bow of the dinghy), and drove off, with Skye calling out to “Give it some gas!” every time the engine threatened to stall again. As I drove past the resident ASA Sailing Director and his two eager students, I joked, “That was fun! I think the engine was flooded.” The Sailing Director very graciously smiled, shrugged and said, “That happens.”

So I had a relatively smooth, slow drive back to the boat, making a point of dodging the mooring that likes to linger near our stern. I called out to Austin to meet me on the swim platform, Austin delegated to Aidan, and I made a couple failed attempts to reach the boat so that Aidan could grab hold of the cable that we use to lock up our dinghy (since I was holding the painter, and couldn’t imagine trying to toss the rope to Aidan at the same time as steering the boat, risking having the line end up in the water and foul my prop).

Then I fell prey to the classic, “Don’t look where you don’t want to go,” and lo and behold, I hadn’t just hit the d**n mooring, I was on it! So, remaining calm, I stayed in forward, expecting the mooring to pop out beside me at any time, and hoping that my prop wouldn’t graze it on the way past. According to Skye (who was watching on, in case I had engine trouble), I actually just completed a few perfect circles, and each time around, he could see the mooring trapped between the pontoons of our dinghy. Aidan kept calling out to me, frantically waving his arms, “Mom! You’re on the mooring!” So I finally put the engine in reverse, eased off the mooring, and went back into forward, this time reaching the swim platform with a little more control, so Aidan was able to grab the cable. The engine shut itself off, I grabbed the boat, passed the painter up to Aidan, and oh so gracefully crawled onto the swim platform. Phew! I’d made it, and I didn’t even know until hours later, that I had had an audience watching the whole comedic scene. Glad to provide some comic relief!!


  1. Way to go, Carla! That's a lot of fancy dinghy handling - also known as FDH!

  2. Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’ he went on dreamily: ‘messing - about - in - boats; messing -’
    ‘Look ahead, Rat!’ cried the Mole suddenly.
    It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.
    ‘- about in boats - or with boats,’ the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. ‘In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not...’
    ~ The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

  3. Carla I'm so glad to hear someone else speak of the 'graceful' movement from the dingy to the deck. I never managed to make a 'graceful' move. I should probably have introduced myself, we meet at Beachcomber, I was the gal that joined Brian and Lewauana. Sad to say I found out sailing was not the life for me and left the voyage early. I give you a big 'high five' for managing in the confined space with 3 children. The boat was far to confining for me, hence my jumping ship!! Enjoy the rest of your adventure and I will be following your blog. Dianna

  4. Dianna, great to hear from you. Sorry sailing didn't agree with you. We all got off to an uncommonly challenging start - Hurricane Tomas. Please keep in touch.

  5. (joanie) wow - good for you, Carla, to be able to record this with a smile in your words . . . bet you weren't smiling too broadly at the time :( And now, thanks to the blogosphere, you have an even wider virtual audience to the whole event !! thanks for the morning chuckle ox