Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

cruising life docking challenges fixed dock Bahamas

Our boat’s only 36 feet, but the dock finger’s still well
short of where we’d normally step onto a dock.

Okay, I admit my sailing skills are less than stellar, despite my time aboard.  I’m far more comfortable “on the hook.” Grabbing a bobbing piece of line on the end of a long pole and through the chalk on our bow aka, setting a mooring ball anchorage is getting easier.  But while I’ve never been crazy about docking, I didn’t realize how much easier I had it with the Pacific Northwest’s floating docks, especially compared to fixed docks, which is what we’ve encountered in every marina and fuel dock in the Southern Florida and the Bahamas we’ve gone to so far (Marathon FL, Bimini, Nassau, Georgetown).
cruising life docking challenges fixed dock Bahamas

Compare the length of Wayne’s leg to the length needed to step
from boat to dock and vice versa and keep in mind I’m
a half foot shorter.  This is typical of a fixed dock, prevalent
throughout the Bahamas.  Wayne takes a big step;
I practically rappel.

For the fortunate uninitiated….
A floating dock goes up when the tide goes up, down when the tide goes down.  So the distance from your boat to the dock will always be the same.  A fixed dock, and the ones we’ve seen here are generally propped up on something akin to telephone poles, don’t go up.  That means if your boat is comparatively dimunutive, like ours, best case, high tide, the step’s maybe a foot or so from dock to boat.  When the tide drops, the distance increases, often here to about 3 feet.  Usually there is no ladder, handle or peg to grap when crossing the void.  Just a post.  While Wayne just takes a big step, I find myself desperately seeking a way to hug or grab the pole, the way a drunk might embrace a lamp post.   I feel like I’m rappelling.
cruising life docking challenges fixed dock Bahamas

Two of the five lines it took for us to tie off in dock.  The rear of
those two starboard side  lines is the 360 degree
water-bound post.

My sphincter muscles clenched as we approached Georgetown’s Exuma Yacht Club (EYC).  Wayne was more concerned about getting past the shallows into the marina; my fear was in docking, and leaving the dock.  We were overnighting at EYC to avoid subjecting Wayne’s folks to an oh-dark-hundred bone-jarring and potentially wet 5-horse-driven slow 2-mile dinghy ride with suitcases to catch their 7:20 am flight out.  We enjoyed cruising a week with them, and wanted their sendoff to be as stress-free as possible.
Fortunately, dockmaster Clevon and a passing cruiser made our trip in blissfully uneventful, despite the tight fit and the need for five dock lines to truss us into position.
cruising life docking challenges fixed dock Bahamas

Three of the five dock lines on this side.

Leaving, however, was another matter.  A steady onshore wind sneered at our wimpy reverse, quickly slapping our bow perpendicular from our desired direction.  We found our stern mounted dinghy and solar panels pressed against the side of a vacant parallel slip.  Several folks stopped to help.  “We’ve all been there,” one commented, reassuringly.  We eventually righted ourselves for exit with several cruisers and Clevon’s help; he hopped aboard to push us more forcefully off the dock.  At last, away we went.  The problem was, Clevon needed to get back!

“I never get to go sailing anymore; too busy working.  This is great!” Clevon quipped, beaming.  His ride alas, was short lived.  A minute later, we dropped him off at Exuma Yacht Cub’s end dock, free of obstructions in the prevailing wind direction.

crusing activities exuma bahamas

Phil, Wayne’s Dad, relaxing before the no-see-ums and
then mosquitos attacked in port at Georgetown.  He and wife
Gunnel were not there to witness out messy exit.

Given our full fuel, water and propane tanks, no incoming guests, and enough time to minimize the need to motor, we’re betting it will be quite a while before our next docking adventure.

cruising life, hiking, cruising destinations exuma bahamas

Gunnel in Rat Cay cave two days prior.  Next to her is a
tree growing out of the cave’s limestone floor and through
a skylight in the cave!

Location Location
March 20, 2014, BAHAMAS.  At the moment, we’re off Volleyball Beach by Chat n Chill Georgetown Bahamas area’s Stocking Cay (N23.31.011 W75.45.526), in vast Elizabeth Harbor.  It’s about a 10 minute dinghy ride from Exuma Yacht Club (N23.30.212 W75.46.076), right in the heart of Georgetown.  We are headed to the Jumentos and Raggeds for a while, starting tomorrow morning, March 21st.  Cross your fingers our Batel Alcatel smart phone / hotspot meets our internet needs while there!