Detroit, MI, USA

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Wild is the Wind?*

June 13, 2018

Last Monday morning, we woke up hoping for a calmer night so we could sleep better. 

No such luck. 

As soon as we got back to the DYC after work that evening, the wind off the dock blew us backwards. It was a warm, sunny day, and the small craft advisory was scheduled to end at 9 PM, so we settled in and waited. 

As predicted, the winds quieted around 9 or 10 PM, leaving a clear, beautiful night.. temporarily. 

 

An hour or two later, the winds picked back up in full force, and then some. Vashti always bobs around more than her neighbors, but that night we reached a new level of forcefully fighting the elements. As the gusts howled by, Dave wasn’t able to sleep. He went out in the chilly rain to check the dock lines and adjust the spring lines to see if he could ease some of the stress on our boat, the dock, and ourselves. He ended up adjusting the lines several times, but the storm didn’t let up, and nothing made much of a difference. 

 

Dave noticed that one of our bow lines was beginning to fray, and the mast was moving with every gust. He was concerned that one of the cleats on the dock wasn’t faring well from the strain. At that point, we decided to use whatever was available in order to stay safe. Fortunately, the well next to us was vacant that night, and we were able to extend a bow line to one of their cleats to absorb more of the shocks of our boat’s movement. I found myself perched on the stern, struggling to remove a pin in the backstay between 40 mph gusts of wind. Patience. 

Lengthening the bow line helped. Tightening the backstay helped. There was nothing else we could think of to do with what we had on hand. 

 

It was dark. It was raining. It was late. The wind was relentless. 

We were anxious

 

We hunkered down for a mostly sleepless night, and I researched dock line snubbers. I ended up going with the rubber ones from West Marine over the bungee-style ones. They look beefier, and the other style appears to be better suited for a chain anchor rode. There are quite a few boats here using similar rubber snubbers, which is a good sign. 

 

Since our side of the dock is unprotected from westerly winds, and the shape of Vashti’s hull makes her prone to more movement at dock, I got a line snubber for each corner of the boat*. We have also re-tied our stern lines to the pilings farthest from the dock, since we didn’t do so the previous weekend as planned. We just have one cleat on the stern, so ours is a variation of how everyone else on the this side of the dock cross-ties their lines to combat the winds. 

 

 

 

So! New plan for keeping Vashti securely in place: 

1. Move her back within the well (longer bow lines, increased distance from the dock)

2. Move stern lines to the pilings farthest from the dock (best and strongest protection against the wind)

3. Add line snubbers to both lines from both bow and stern (increased line stretch and shock-absorption)

 

That isn’t too hard, or too time-consuming. 

Sadly, we discovered that our dock lines are too large in diameter to fit any of the rubber style of line snubbers reference above. A month later, changing the orientation of our dock lines seems to have made a world of  difference. (2018/07/07 - TF)

 

Here's how we are currently tied-off: 

 

 

*I ordered our line snubbers in the wee-hours of Tuesday morning, June 5th, with three-day shipping from West Marine. As of Tuesday, June 12th, they haven't arrived, and in fact, just shipped today. 

This is far from my expectation, and I'm glad we have only experienced manageable winds since. 

 

**Wild is the Wind is the Bon Jovi song that played at random as I got ready to publish this post. It felt appropriate. 

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