The day started out splendid, we had partly cloudy with a light breeze from our aft quarter and a new to us boat. Things were going great, so… About half way down the river the sky darkened and winds went from 5-10 to 25 and gusting to 30 shifting to our nose. We ended up beating into the wind with 3-4 foot waves for about an hour or so. It was during this time while I was standing in the downpour that I decided to let a little jib out to try and stabilize the boat and smooth the ride. Unfortunately for me that didn't prove to be a great idea. Earlier we had been using the autopilot and enjoying the ride. I disengaged the wheel from the autopilot when the winds picked up and put it on standby. When I brought the jib out I put the autopilot on and went about tending to the lines. While pulling on the furler and the sheet I started to feel the boat spin. I looked up and noticed I was turned 180 degrees out of our intended course. I had forgotten to engage the wheel and the boat spun in the wind since the autopilot couldn't actually control the boat with the wheel disengaged. Now I had a jib flapping and the boat spinning so I let loose the sheet, sent the jib flying and got us back on course, actually engaged the autopilot and the wheel and secured the sheets. It was about this time Lisa poked her head up from the saloon to see if I was doing OK. She was down getting out of the rain and warming up and didn't even feel anything wrong. I guess it’s not too bad when you can be completely out of control and still sail like a champion. She came up on deck helped to get the boat right and we continued on through the wind and rain.
About 30 minutes from the marina, which we had never sailed into, the sun broke through and the winds finally subsided to around 10kts. Lucky timing for us. We got all the fenders out and I discussed how we would enter the marina and what side the dock was on since I had at least seen it from the land side. Unfortunately I didn't tell Lisa the cleats were not on the ground, but on the pylons the dock was built around. This would prove to be her undoing. We slowly motored in, made the turn to the slip and she was on the edge of boat ready to jump to the dock and cleat us off. She was standing there, dock line in hand looking feverishly on the ground for a cleat to stop the boat before we ran into the dock wall while I was telling her to cleat us off. About this time the bow of the boat bumped into the dock at about ¼ mph as my reverse skills were obviously not up to par either. This noise caused Lisa to look up towards the bow, raising her eyes she sees the cleat and ties us off.
We’ve chartered several boats for up to a week at a time and never had too many issues. We finally buy our own and we get spun around in a river like its amateur hour and run into a dock. Ahh, sailing. All in all though it was a good day. We moved the boat 20 miles downriver and didn’t damage anything or anyone. Even the dock bump left no damage.
It was Sophia’s first big boat ride and she did pretty well when the sailing was smooth and sunny. Apparently she’s not real keen on the wind, rain, and clouds though. She was anxious wondering what the heck we were doing on this ridiculous loud moving thing that kept slamming into the water.
In the end we own our first boat, and we’re officially sailors living the dream.