November 16, 2009

The Slings That Cost An Outrageous Fortune


I really wasn't going to write a post about having my boat hauled out.

Unless someone falls in the water, these posts usually tend to be of more interest to the boat owner than anyone else. There is this ridiculous investment up in the air where boats have no business being, hanging by... what are those slings made of anyway?

The boat owner is both petrified and fascinated to see the side of the boat he or she would never ordinarily see. Wow, look at the through-hulls and the propshaft and the zincs and the crud on the waterline and the...well, you get my point. If it isn't your boat, none of this is terribly interesting, especially when there's the new Sarah Palin book out that you've been dying to read.

But this post isn't about any of that. It's about a truly remarkable occurrence that happened to me today, just before all of that.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the boatyard.

I'd been planning this whole business for two weeks now. Take the day off from work, get all of the stuff out of the boat that I woud need this week, sleep on the boat the night before so I'll be there in time, check in with the yard to make sure all signals are 'go', and a million other dumb details.

So, there I was, a half hour to H-hour, lines rigged, fenders set, crosswind gauged, my delicate back-down-the-long-narrow-channel-and-turn-at-the-very-last-moment-gracefully-into-the-travelift-slip maneuver thought out and cleverly planned to the nth degree. I turn the switch to start the engine and - no, not the old dead battery cliché, this was a new twist. The engine starts, but, oh no, only a trickle of water dribbles out the exhaust where torrents should be. The dreaded cooling water interuptus that has struck terror into the hearts of diesel owners for generations.

But even that is not the point of this post (please be patient, there is a point). When the engine absolutely, positively must start because you've got to get to an appointment you can't reschedule, it almost never does. No cruising boat sailor will be at all surprised by that.

What happened next is the truly astounding part.

I recognized there was a problem (for me, quite an accomplishment in itself), CORRECTLY diagnosed the cause on THE FIRST guess, had the correct frommet wrench already on the boat, IN THE CORRECT SIZE, managed to get the hose off the through-hull without destroying the through-hull or all the skin on the back of my hand, had a screwdriver the right diameter AND length to clear the clog, got the hose back on the through-hull and both hoseclamps re-connected without destroying the through-hull or all the skin on the back of my hand, restarted the engine - and water shot out the exhaust! A 100 per cent successful repair on the first attempt!

I slumped back into the cockpit, stunned. In five years of working on this boat, that had never happened before. The perfect repair! By myself! No trips to West Marine. Not three trips, not two trips, not one trip! None! Did I mention there were absolutely no trips to West Marine?

I backed the boat very carefully out of the slip and cautiously worked my way over to the boatyard. I was especially focused on the tricky crosswind maneuver backing down to the travelift, with that sneaky little turn at the very end. I nailed the boatspeed, executed a perfect dead-slow backing turn, stopped the boat inches from the dock, lightly stepped off, bow line in hand, and shot my best nonchalant 'hey' to the travelift operator. Two perfect guy-stuff maneuvers back-to-back in the same day!

I have now used up all of my good Karma through the end of the year 2027.

If I were smart, I would declare victory and make this my last blog post ever.



  1. Most excellent. The culmination of eons of karmic causes and accumulation of knowledge that comes from experience.

    But you're right. You blew the whole wad. But please, don't stop blogging. There is nothing your readers will appreciate more than reading about karma turning around to bite you in the...uh...aft. :)

  2. O Docker, this is one of the most brilliant posts I've ever read. How do you do it?

  3. WOW, congrats and someone was even watching boat handling. That is impressive, because the chances of that ever happening are off the scale.

    Well, you did good, you got your post in, now, prepare yourself Master Jedai for the universe to re-balance strong in the face of "psyming"


    Is the Blogfather doing cut an paste comments again?

  4. Panda, maybe you're right, I think half the reason we read blog posts is to assure ourselves that at least we're smarter than the person writing the blog. If I just keep posting about the mistakes, failures, and catastrophes that will surely follow, I could attract quite a readership.

    Tillerman, your comment is something of a conundrum. If it is true, then I must be brilliant, but if it is ironical, you are actually telling me I am a complete idiot.

    If I were a complete idiot, I couldn't detect the irony in your comment, and I must be brilliant. If I'm brilliant, I will see the irony, and must be a complete idiot.

    I think the truth is somewhere between the two, as my wife often tells me half the time I am a complete idiot.

  5. O Docker, this is one of the most brilliant comments I've ever read.

    You have discovered half of the truth about attracting readers to a sailing blog which is that there are basically two ways of achieving that end.

    1. Be a brilliant world-class sailor like Anna Tunnicliffe or Russell Coutts. Then people will read your blog in order to learn the secrets of your success. However after a while they will lose interest because they will discover that there are only two secret...
    a) be incredibly talented
    b) work much harder than anybody else.

    2. Be a total doofus and write about all your mistakes and catastrophes. Then people will read your blog in order to convince themselves they are smarter than you. Amazingly they will never lose interest in doing this. At least I've had people reading my blog for almost 5 years now and some of them are still convinced that they are smarter than me.

    I think there are several flaws in your argument about whether you are brilliant or a complete idiot... but if I point them all out I will destroy your illusion that you might be smarter than me and you would stop reading my blog. So I won't. Even though I could. Perhaps.

  6. That thing about the engines would have fit in so well in the brief but entertaining discussion of corollaries to Murphy's Law that got going in my comments after I posted one back in October '08.

  7. Zen, you're right.

    The fact that the super-macho travelift operator witnessed this made it all the less likely to happen.

    Now, I'm worried about leaving the dock when the boat goes back in the water - usually a much easier maneuver. And it will be a voyage begun on a Friday, too. I'm doomed.

  8. Love the post O Docker, but to be honest, the finesse you showed in getting the boat started and to the boat yard had less to do with karma and the stars and planets aligned and more to do with your well developed anal sphincter muscles. I am sure that not only did you have the right screw driver for the immediate task, but I am quite certain that any other job that may need tending to around the docks will find you prepared with the appropriate instrument. Not perchance, but through many, many years of practicing anal retentiveness were you able to pull this off.

    I am sure you will be hearing from West Marine as they have come to rely on your patronage for their healthy profits. Oh Boy! I sense a coupon for 2% off all merchandise over $500 on the way.

  9. Now, how many other bloggers have an ombudsman checking their every word for accuracy and looking out for the blog reader's interest?

    I can't get away with any literary license at all around here.

  10. Let's see... I have a college English instructor and writer sitting a few feet away from me who will no doubt correct anything that's the slightest bit untoward.

  11. I wonder what would happen if Klove Hitch and I were ever to meet ... Pat and O might have to take cover.