8 June 2019
Today we spent some time at the dock reviewing line handling, pre-departure checks, and docking procedures before casting off for our first brief cruise.
The weather was beautiful with no noticeable wind at the dock when we cast off together for the first time. I(Shawn) have quite a bit of boat handling experience while Geri is very new. Our goal was an uneventful departure and return with some sun, water, and nice views between.
Casting off was perfect, we had good communication and everything went exactly as planned. Once out of the slip, Geri managed the dock lines and fenders while I turned us west toward the main road. Traffic was light at the south entrance to Shilshole as we made the turn into the bay to follow the channel out. I’d already selected Bremerton as our target destination so we continued at hull speed on past Magnolia Bluff.
Running at about 1100-1200 RPMs had us moving along at 7.5-8.5 kn. I decided to hand the controls to Geri for a while so I could look into some other things and give her some time at the helm with nothing around to complicate navigation.
We continued on toward Blake Island and decided to continue through Rich Passage and on to Bremerton as everything was going well. We had a couple hours before full flood so I knew we’d have some current on the way out but wasn’t concerned about it as I knew it wasn’t going to be too bad. We also decided to move to the pilot house for a bit as the breeze was just a bit cool. What a great option it is to be able to navigate and sightsee from such a comfortable space!
Returning from Bremerton we definitely noticed the current in Rich Passage and as predicted, it was very manageable. We’d did throttle up to 1800 RPM and maintained 8-9 kn though strongest part but dropped back down to our 1100-1200 RPM normal for the remainder of the run back to Shilshole.
As is common, the afternoon winds had picked up and we had the smallest bit of spray on the windshield heading north past Magnolia Bluff and West Pt. With Geri at the helm, I put out fenders and dock lines so it would be as easy as possible once we reached G Dock. Our first landing could be a little more exciting than our first departure.
Coming into Shilshole was busier than going out with a number of sailboats maneuvering and managing their sails while they switched to motors to reach their slips. Once inside the breakwater, Geri set the fenders over the side and double checked the dock lines to make sure she was comfortable with where everything was. We reviewed the plan and agreed on both line order and communications before making the final turn into our fairway.
Shilshole has nice wide fairways so making the turn into our slip is comfortable even with a good bit of wind. The boat handled exactly as expected and Geri managed the lines in a mostly seaman like fashion with only one very small and quickly managed mishap. We were never at risk of injury, hitting the dock, or hitting another boat and we both stayed calm the entire time.
Looking back, we knew that departures and docking would be the most stressful part of cruising until we’re both more experienced and comfortable with the process and after our first outing, I still believe that to be true. A while back I read an article at panbo.com about “Marriage Savers” or full-duplex wireless headsets for communication between two or more people working on a boat together and thought it was 100% on point. Geri isn’t exactly a huge person so when we had the opportunity to try one of these headsets on her a few hours before our cruise, After our first cruise, we were disappointed to learn that they were designed to fit snuggly only on truly massive heads – it was even loose on my larger than average size melon. So, we’ll be investigating other options and will try to identify something that will work for us in the very near future so we can improve communication in noisy conditions.