February 19, 2012

Too smart for words

ONE OF MY MANY FAULTS IS THIS: When I am out cruising,  I try to look smarter than I really am.  Mostly it works. But not always.

A while back we were cruising with a buddy-boat manned by a couple inexperienced in the kind of mooring you have to do in some places up the road in British Columbia. Smugglers' Cove is one of those places. It's tucked away into the folds of the "extraordinarily humpy, bumpy, lumpy hills of the Sechelt Peninsula," as my wife, June, puts it.

We hadn't planned to stop at Smugglers' Cove but as we passed by we decided to look in.  "It's exactly the kind of magic place you hope to come upon," said June. "It takes you by surprise, a small, enclosed and unseen inner harbor where you drop anchor and take a line ashore and feel all snug and romantic, a whole series of little coves and bays and pools."

Yes, a line ashore. We have experience of this.  We have brought along a special stern line, an extra long line, and we take it around a madrona tree and back to the boat. That way, cunningly, we experienced cruisers can cast off in the morning without going ashore.

Next door, our friends struggle to take a single line ashore and tie it to tree.  They'll have to make another trip in the morning to cast it off.  June and I, the experienced cruisers, smile knowingly.

But, come morning, it's low tide.  Rocks, lots of rocks, have appeared between us and the shore. Our mooring line  is high and dry, tangled and twisted around itself and snagged by jagged rocks .  Can't shake it free.  Neither end will move.

Our friends don't notice.  They go ashore, untie their line, reel it in, and they're ready to go. 

So we do what we have to.  We cut our nice long stern line. Yes, we cut it. We wait until they're not looking, and we slice right through it surreptitiously. We snake both ends in like greased lightning and stow them in a big tangle in the lazarette.

Now we have two stern lines, each one too short.  But the main thing is that our buddies, who rely on us for cruising expertise, haven't noticed, and we get busily under way looking as sailorly as all get-out.

"Do you remember how to do a long splice?" June asks as we motor out.  I scratch my head. "Better get started before we need the stern line again. Oh — and do it down below where they won't see you."

Today's Thought
The Athenians do not mind a man being clever, so long as he does not impart his cleverness to others.
— Plato, Euthyphro

Happiness is that temporary feeling of pleasantness you have when you are so agreeably occupied that you forget how miserable you really are.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


SailFarLiveFree said...

Great piece John. Don't worry, I'm sure the your secret is safe with the millions of us on the Internet and your buddy boat will never find put. ; ) We use a similar shore tie technique in Lake Huron's North Channel, but we add a piece of hose over the line for chaffe protection.

SV Pelagia said...

Gotta love those stern ties -- especially with a wind blowing and boats on either side :(

Up here in Canada, we call them "Arbutus" trees, after their formal binomial name: Arbutus menziesii

Hmmm, there are specially installed mooring rings in Smugglers Cove -- you're not supposed to use the Arbutus trees!

Some of our "best" times have been trying to get stern tied... we've been pretty lucky at Smugglers, however (likely because there is relatively little wind in there).