Dock Lock Broken

Dock lock: the inability to finish your boat projects (or at least those that are truly necessary for cruising) and actually cast off all lines to start the adventure you’ve been telling everyone about for so long.

Our original plan was a Monday, 9 May departure. That plan changed slightly when our life raft delivery was unexpectedly pushed from Friday to Monday, dashing all hopes of leaving the dock at slack tide that day. [A side note… We have been moored in a lovely marina – great harbormaster, full shop at our disposal for boat projects, wonderful neighbors. There’s only one issue: we can’t come or go from the slip except at slack tide. Several people warned us of the consequences early on, complete with their own stories of ignoring the warnings they received, and we chose to honor their recommendation and never tempt fate. So, we moved our departure date to Tuesday, 10 May.]

Slack was a bit earlier than we’d have liked, at 0555, although neither of us slept much, anyway, with the excitement of starting our journey dancing in our heads, so waking up was no problem. We cast off, patted ourselves on the backs for hitting Donut House in Anacortes the prior evening, and settled in to enjoy our donuts and coffee on a beautiful morning. We texted a friend so we could wave as we passed her house (albeit too far for either of us to see the other). Conditions in Rosario Strait were good, only a slight chop, nothing out of the ordinary and as we neared Thatcher Pass, our entrance to the San Juan Islands, autopilot engaged, we were content. Then, BANG!!! We hit something. What the… ??? We weren’t close to land, rocks, anything. “LOG!,” I yelled, as out of the corner of my eye I saw the submerged beast we had just t-boned pop out of the water at the side of the boat for another go at our hull. Wags quickly threw the boat into neutral and disengaged the autopilot while we determined if there was any damage to the rudder. After a few minutes to assess – thankfully, there was no damage other than a slight rub on our freshly polished bow – and allow our adrenaline levels to normalize, we continued on our way, with a heightened awareness of all detritus in the water. Coming off an extremely high tide, in an area known for logging and transportation of logs via waterways, it’s not at all uncommon to see full-size tree trunks in your path. Most are easily seen and avoided, but our morning experience had us in a slight state of paranoia. “Log, one o’clock!” “Log 10 o’clock!” This became our chant, of sorts, for the rest of the day.

Our first stop of the day was Bedwell Harbor, Pender Island, to check into British Columbia. Canadian Customs agents were on hand and ready for a boat check. As we sat on the dock listening to them open what seemed like every compartment on the boat, we hoped they would see eye-to-eye with us on which bottles were considered “ships’ stores.” To our delight, they were friendly and expedient and didn’t confiscate anything. We did need to pick up a few items that we weren’t allowed to bring into Canada, such as fresh fruit, and the store in Bedwell wasn’t yet stocked for the season, so we headed around the point to provision in Port Browning, where there’s a grocery store a half mile from the marina (they have the best homemade chicken pot pies, if you ever have a chance to visit). The harbormaster gave us an end spot on the dock to allow us to pull in easily and leave the same way. Unfortunately, when we got back from our provisioning run, the wind had kicked up to a healthy level, in the wrong direction, pinning us to the dock. One of the dock hands was fantastic in his efforts, and willingness to nearly sacrifice his own body, to help us push 18 tons of boat away from the dock as the wind acted as our challenger in a feats of strength competition. We escaped with a slight (but still painful) rub down the port side of our stern – again, nothing a buff and polish won’t fix, but for those keeping score… Nature 2, Wagners 0.

Some may think we would be discouraged by all this unwelcome excitement on our first day. We reminded ourselves, though, that this is an adventure, and adventures are made up of good, bad and everything in between. Anchored in a beautiful bay that evening, with the sunset glowing shades of pink and purple, and the sounds of nature settling in for the night, the good made up for the bad, and we looked ahead, knowing that everything from here on would be new, be it good, bad or in between. At least we’d broken dock lock.

4 Comments on “Dock Lock Broken

  1. I have never been at sea on a sailboat but have been all over the world submerged on a nuclear submarine and always loved being at sea and the adventure. I was on the first nuclear submarine to surface at the North Pole in the winter but beginning your journey as a reader is very exciting. You have a skill with the written word to bring us right with you and that is so special.


  2. Get the bad out of the way on day one and enjoy the rest of the adventure! Gorgeous pics. Looking forward to following along, and joining in soon!


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