Taking “Sister Susie” through the locks for the first time
You should know that Chris and I have taken sailing lessons. We took a 2 day class in Bellingham which was a present from Chris because she knew that I had always dreamed of having a boat so I could sail all over the world like the 16 year old who circumnavigated the world solo in his sail boat “Dove”. We took tests and everything. Then a year or 2 later we went to San Diego for an “advanced” 2 day coarse. We arrived early and took a 21 foot
sailboat out all by ourselves! We successfully navigated around the big US Navy ships all by ourselves. In the class we went out in the open ocean outside San Diego Harbor. There were big swells and we conducted man over-board drills where we successfully retrieved a life ring which the instructor threw overboard.
I have also sailed several times with a friend who has a 44 footer where I primarily learned by observation. Now with this kind of extensive experience you can understand why I would watch with amusement the boater’s errors who were bringing their boats thru the locks from the fresh water of the ship canal to the salt water of Puget Sound. The locks are great fun because you can stand at the edge and watch all kinds of boats filling up the
lock, the gate closing and the water going down and then the gate opening on the other end and the boats leaving. I would guffaw as the novice boaters would have trouble tying off to the sides while in the locks.
Yesterday Chris and I took “Sister Susie” through the locks for the first time. I was so glad that I had observed the process many times while visiting the locks so that I knew the ropes so to speak. We even read up on the protocol in advance. We waited at the appropriate place for the green light and watched for instructions from the lock master. As we slowly and carefully entered the locks, Chris was manning (personing) the bow line. I was at the helm with the stern line at the ready. I put the motor in neutral and tossed the line to the lock master. He even caught it the first time. This is when things began to go awry. The bow began to drift because of the breeze and since the motor was in neutral I had no steerage. I thought the lock master would pull on the stern but instead he let the line go. I am sure that was the best under the circumstances but as the bow hit the far side of the lock we were pretty much sideways in the lock. I think that I heard a few guffaws from the onlookers (probably a titer or two also). We finally got the boat into position and tied off. I explained to the lock master that it was our first time. I am sure it was a surprise to him.
We did a little better when we came back through at the end of our outing.