Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pinned to a lee....DOCK!?

"After a Storm on a Lee Shore" by John Mix Stanley
The famed and fabled "lee shore" is a bane and worry of any voyaging cruiser.  Defined as "a shore towards which the wind is blowing and to which there is danger of being driven" (aka at best, running aground, at worst, being smashed by waves against rocks). Many boats have met their untimely fates on a lee shore and sailors who are prudent do their best to avoid them.

So, imagine our surprise when we found ourselves pinned to a lee dock.  Let me explain...

Scott and I arrived to Mentor Harbor around 7:30 pm last night - the dock boy, Mike, was just about to leave but helped us tie up to the gas dock, where he said we could stay for the night.  We thanked him, cracked open a bottle of Mirasou Pinot Noir, had a can of chili and called it a night.

All sailors who have cruised any length of time know that 2-3 am is the nautical "witching hour".

In our bunk I began to feel our boat moving - jerking - to and fro, side to side.  I laid still, but perked up - listening intently to the sounds our boat was making (you quickly become familiar with every squeak, creak and vibration on your boat).  When I realized our fenders were about to be squeezed from between the dock and the boat, I sprung out of bed and ran up - just in time to jam them back in their proper place, between the boat and the piling we were tied up to.

"The wind has got to be gusting over 20 knots out there" I said to Scott, "we are really moving around a lot".

We drifted back to a restless sleep, waking up every hour to re-position fenders and assess the situation.

"Do you think we should move?" I asked Scott.  There were other slips just on the other side of the gas dock, and the boats docked over there didn't seem to be rocking and rolling nearly as much as we were.

"I'm not sure" Scott thought, "the wind is right at our beam, pushing us into the dock and I'm afraid if you and I try to get off this, we'll end up damaging something (like our radar arch)."  We thought and we thought.

We finally came to the agreement that we would stay put, and just take turns checking on the fenders.

The next morning Mike, the dock boy, returned.  Scott told him of our restless night and he and the dock master agreed to give us 10 gallons of free diesel in return for our wild night, which was very kind.  We also learned from the dockmaster that no one, at any time, should have docked over night at the gas dock (it has a reputation for being a little unruly).  Huh, you don't say?

While we might have been pinned to a lee dock all night, we knew our boat was safe (albeit a little uncomfortable) - and I'd take that any day over a lee shore!

Lesson learned:  If tying up to a gas dock or municipal dock that is somewhat unprotected, make sure you check the wind report if you want to get a good night's sleep!


Brittany (& Scott)

PS.  Getting off the dock this morning was a piece of cake, I have no idea what we were worried about. ;)


Brett Anderson said...

That happened to me on Liberty's maiden voyage from RI to the Chesapeake. We got pinned to a dock after an all-night sail from Cape May, NJ to Rock Hall, MD. The wind kicked up at 25 knots on the beam after we tied up to a public bulkhead for what we thought was a short breakfast stop before finding a nice marina slip. We found ourselves fighting the wind and trying to keep Liberty from being damaged all on zero sleep. The wind was strong and Liberty, at 32,000 lbs, was heavy, making the even our largest fenders collapse under the strain. It was nerve-racking and tiring and a very helpless feeling. And we didn't even get any free fuel for our trouble!

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Glad it all worked out! Have a great day. =)

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