New Slip (August 2001)
We finally moved our boat to a new slip -- something we should have done a long time ago.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001: New Opportunity Arrives on a Storm

A violent storm rolled through the area while Theresa was up in Largo on business. There wasn't any hail, but the wind was howling for hours, and the rain was coming down in torrents. Since the docklines were still a bit stretchy, I started to worry about our boat, so I walked over in the pouring rain to check on her. (Theresa had the car.) Our boat was riding the storm nicely, so I hiked back home as directly as possible.

As I walked onto our community's docks, I noticed that one of the residents on the end was standing on his back porch, looking out at a nice blue sailboat in the slip behind his house. I figured that he was probably the owner. Theresa had suggested some time back that we should approach some fellow residents about renting their slips, so I thought perhaps this owner might be able to help, given that there were several nice, empty slips on either side of his. I walked up and introduced myself, despite the fact that I was completely drenched.

As it turns out, Tony is the dockmaster for our homeowner's association, so it was really fortunate that I made his acquaintance. Within the next couple of weeks, Tony found a neighbor who was willing to rent his slip, and he gave me the fellow's number. By mid-August, we had a contract on one of the slips.

The new slip is bigger, and the basin is well-protected, unlike the open Pass-A-Grille channel where we've been keeping the boat. There's also a lot less powerboat traffic to kick up wakes, and our boat is now practically in our back yard. On the other hand, we're now on the wrong side of the Tierra Verde bridge (which opens every 20 minutes), and we don't have any shorepower. These are compromises I'm quite willing to make!

Sunday, August 19, 2001: Immobilized

Theresa and I planned to move the boat to our new slip as soon as possible, and this worked out to be Sunday, August 19. Theresa didn't have to work that day, and high tide was sometime in the afternoon when we could make the trip. We weren't so concerned about running aground, really (though we would be following an unmarked channel into the community basin), but we didn't relish the idea of leaving our slip while the current in the Pass-A-Grille channel was running strongly -- particularly with just the two of us aboard.

There's always some current in the channel, though, so we set some fast-release lines and completely removed all the others so we could take them with us. I started up the engine, and shouted, "Let's go!". I threw the engine into reverse, and Theresa started paying out our bowline ... but we didn't go anywhere -- except downcurrent. Theresa yelled back, "What are you doing?" and I replied, "Something's wrong."

Theresa tied the line back off, and we ran some tests, but sure enough, the boat wasn't budging. Just about then, we heard a loud boom of thunder, and we realized that an afternoon storm was bearing down on us. Fearing that we were either stuck on a stray line or that the transmission had died, we decided to abort the mission and tie the boat back up. This took quite a while (since we had taken all the lines completely off), but we got it done and got home before it started raining.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001: A Lesson in Biology

I was considerably demoralized by the fact that we couldn't even move our boat, but I soon came up with a plan to figure out what was wrong. Theresa made some time in her work schedule, and we went back over to the boat. We started the engine again, and I had her throw the transmission in and out of gear while I stared into the engine compartment down below. I could clearly see that the transmission was engaging and the propshaft was turning, so that ruled out a transmission problem. This was relieving on the one hand, since it meant that I wouldn't have to replace the transmission (undoubtedly a costly procedure), but it meant that I now had to find out what was wrong under the boat, in shark land.

Somewhat reluctantly, I donned my mask and climbed down the swim platform into the fast-moving water. I dove down under the boat, expecting to find the keel tangled around a line or something, but instead I found that the prop had evolved into a solid mass of barnicles! Now, when we had the bottom painted the previous year, they had also painted the prop, albeit with a different paint. The bottom itself had nary a barnicle on it, but the prop was completely encrusted. So much for bottom-painting a prop. It's almost like the paint attracted the barnicles!

I retrieved a hammer from topside, and dove down under the boat repeatedly to knock the barnicles off. The sheepshead arrived en masse to devour the free buffet, and I was really concerned that with all the activity, I'd attract a shark. I kept having visions of one coming up out of the darkness below me, but thankfully it never happened. I got the prop clean, and we went home.

Friday, August 24, 2001: Our New Slip

After much debate, I convinced Theresa that we could just as easily move the boat at LOW tide as we could at high tide, since our only real concern was the current in or old slip. Furthermore, I argued that if we did run aground in the channel into our basin, at least the rising tide would float us off.

We had worked out all the line magic the week before, so it didn't take us quite so long to get everything set up. And this time when I threw the boat into reverse, she backed out smoothly! We called for the next opening of the bridge, then found our way into the community channel and into our basin. Docking into our new slip was a breeze, since there isn't any current, but the wind did carry us down a bit, and the slip is quite a bit bigger, so I had some trouble getting the windward sternline on. That shouldn't be a problem in the future, since we'll leave the lines attached to the pilings. I like our new slip!

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Changes last made on: Sat, Oct 27, 2001
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