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Did I Really Do That?   

Have you ever forgotten something very important when you were ready to go for a sail?

Hal s/v Griffinby Hal Schade, s/v Griffin

If you spend any time cruising on a boat you can be assured that, from time to time, you will do things that just baffle you and greatly entertain others.

Long ago and far away when Griffin was in Port Aransas, Texas this little event happened.

Griffin had been dock-locked for some time and a beautiful day brought out the urge to leave the slip and venture beyond the jetties. The usual preparations began, and as with any live-aboard-going-nowhere boat, lots of time was consumed getting her ship-shape. WHY do we need all this stuff sitting around?

OK, sail cover off, engine warmed up, instruments on, shore power disconnected, checklist complete, adequate dock hands assembled to ensure proper take off.

All hands at the ready, so the skipper ceremoniously plops his butt at the helm, ready to calmly pull out.

The outward appearance of confidence is essential when departing in front of friends. The calm look masks the butterflies inside. The wind in Port A is always at 15 knots from the starboard quarter and Griffin pulls to port, so departure can be a challenge if the boat next door is to be avoided.

Gather your thoughts, grasp the throttle and wheel and…whoops…NO WHEEL!!!

I’m staring at the binnacle with no wheel attached.

Three months of slip-sailing had been improved by removing the wheel and putting it in the storage shed. Ah, a spacious cockpit.  OK, what to do? Play it cool and find the vice grips to steer with? Claim someone has stolen the wheel? Stall the engine and curse the fuel?

No, just calmly (since you haven’t used it all up yet) get up, say you’ll be right back and head (again calmly) for the car. In Texas we call this move a mosey. Drive the 5 minutes to the shed, retrieve the wheel, return to the docks and gird yourself for the ridicule.

Now, if they are going to laugh why not make them laugh with you, not at you? As I moseyed down the dock with wheel proudly held in front of me in the steering position, I asked all I passed, “Excuse me, have you seen my boat? Last time I saw her she was attached to this?”

After that the rest of the departure was a breeze…




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