Mel doesn’t want to leave the wrong impression. Our posts over the last few months have focused on the Up Side. That is because the Up Side is actually what is happening, most of the time. But Mel can’t mislead her readers any longer. There is a Down Side to this. And the crew have just been on it for the last 24 hours. Turns out the Down Side in sailing is quite noisy most of the time. Allow Mel to explain.
The Amazing Marvin is no longer at the Mgarr Marina. That is because The Amazing Marvin has gotten the eff out. The marina was in an interesting setting and the staff were friendly and helpful, but the wind and swell did not get the memo and decided to be ornery. Despite a huge chunk of land between us and the northeast, a northeast wind decided to entertain us with a symphony last night.
It started with the familiar sound of creaking lines through a fiberglass hull. By midnight, the howling of 35 kt winds joined in, along with the usual snapping of halyards. It was okay at this point. No one gets that upset with just woodwinds. But then a base line came in. “BAM!” went the nearby powerboat against the floating dock. “BAM!” went four power stations on the dock, knocked over by transoms. “BAM!” went our neighbor’s fender, popping into the air after our springline got between it and the boat. “BAM!” went Mel’s knee into the wall, as the boat lurched with each swell.
At three a.m. Mel was on deck, watching Greg put a cross stern line on our neighbor to keep it from bashing into us from the side. The poor dock cleat we shared with this boat had no less than six lines going to it at one point, and it almost popped off the dock, much like the head of someone in the grip of multiple boa constrictors. Greg spent the night tightening our forward mooring lines every 1.5 hrs, as the lines were stretching and we would bump the dock.
Then, at 9 a.m., the symphony concluded. For us, anyway. “POP!” went one of our sternlines. That was it. The Amazing Marvin was outta there!
Getting out wasn’t easy. The symphony concluded with some yelling in Maltese with the releasing of the lines (OMG have you heard Maltese?? Weirdest language EVER! Philip Glass would be proud.), but no boats were hit, and no props were fouled. We almost abducted a marina staff who boarded the boat to help Mel release a sternline that had been pulled tight against the cleat. He didn’t want to go to Sardinia with us, so he consented to a rescue with a dinghy.
In the end, we lost two docklines to chafe. Two others had to have their ends cut to free them from the engorged dock cleats. We also bent or twisted one of our aft cleats, but it fared better than the aft cleats of the three boats next to us, which ripped off.
Now we are anchored in a little bay near something called “Popeye Village” on the island of Malta. It was built to be the set of the Popeye movie in the 80’s and has since been transformed into a tourist trap. For some reason, Mel is inspired to put spinach in the dinner tonight. She needs to get stronger to deal with all of those lines.
- Mel will never make fun of Greg for overdoing the lines ever again.
- You don’t need a hurricane or tropical storm to have trouble with your boat.
- Lines are cheaper than fiberglassing. And fingers. And boats.
- Those thick, fancy black docklines powerboats tend to carry are slick as shit and almost impossible to tighten on a cleat.
- Marinas are not guaranteed safe havens. Sometimes you are better off far away from all of the pointy things.
- Most importantly: wear cute pajamas when the winds are greater than 20 kts. You never know who is out there!