Planning a few cruises in the near future this novice captain wanted to be adept and more comfortable as relief helmsman when they traveled. Cruising is so much more enjoyable when you can switch up roles from navigator to boat driver to engineer and cook. Harold was glad to hand over the helm and worked all day as a supportive first mate.
Starting with the basics of navigation wasn’t needed as they are both active long time members of our local Power Squadron here in Vero Beach. That gave us much more time and opportunity to work purely on boat handling skills. First, we maneuvered the twin engine boat off their dock and out of the small canal behind their home. Not too difficult with the protection of the surrounding homes to block the wind.
Getting her sea legs quite nicely, Janet next headed us to the Vero Beach Municipal Marina for a little more docking practice. The fuel dock was open so we radioed for permission to do a few touch and goes but uh-oh! Time to practice a little hovering and holding position as we watch a sailboat beat us to the dock for fueling. No worries! We can always try again on our way home later this afternoon. Boating is much more fun when you are flexible.
As we cruised up the ICW we took advantage of some wide open areas in the otherwise narrow channels of Florida. Janet did a few doughnuts and back & fill maneuvers to get the feel of handling the boat in close quarters. It helps to know what the boat can do BEFORE you really need to know. When we arrived at the restaurant she really appreciated the practice drills done in the open water. This entry channel was narrow and SHALLOW. Shoaling was incredible but a deep enough cut allowed us to skirt between a 1 foot sandbar and a very nearby pier….barely! Once past the choke point we were home free…..almost. To take the excitement to a higher level Janet had to make a U-turn in between two piers to land the boat port side to the dock! Port engine reverse, Starboard forward and ta-da! we’re spinning inside of our own boat length. WOW, those practice donuts done earlier sure paid off handsomely.
Approaching the dock we focused on the landing and not on 40 of Janet’s best friends waiting for her inside Squid Lips. We’re glad that only 6 or so came out on the dock (to help??) and the rest stayed inside so they didn’t distract us.
After a great lunch with her friends from the Vero Beach Power Squadron and Vero Beach Yacht Club (remember there were over 40 people there) it was time to cruise back to home port. So, we cast off and headed to Hole in the Wall for anchor practice then back to the marina for more docking drills and then a pump out- just for fun.
The day’s not over until we put the boat back into her home dock behind the house and guess what? She glided right into the slip- perfect on the first try! Shut down the diesels and debrief on a job well done! Check out the photos below.