For the larger part of that first year aboard, I was a boat bachelor. Consequently, Eolian did not leave her slip during that time, until Jane came to stay as well. But even then, we did not go thru the locks into Puget Sound, but rather went East into Lake Washington, where on both occasions, we found no wind.
At a Christmas party aboard Challenger (which was tied at the end of the Fairview Marina dock) Greg from Patriot, who had been moored right next to us in our slip at Fairview, talked about his recent move to the Shilshole Bay Marina, out on the Sound. He said that the wait list was down to zero, and encouraged us to apply. We did, and were told that we had our choice of slips, available immediately!
This old log entry shows an increasing confidence in our boat handling abilities - confidence that my memory of those times says really wasn't warranted.
Saturday, Jan 30, 1999
Yeah, a dinky little trip like this should not even be recorded. But it is really the first time Eolian has been off the dock in over a year (not counting two abortive sailing trips to Lake Washington). We had really spent way too much time at the dock.
We had agonized over the timing of the trip - our old slip lease expired on 1/31 (Sunday), so it would be financially inconvenient to wait a week to make the move. But the weather forecasts were terrible! For both Saturday and Sunday. Well, when we woke up Saturday to calm winds, we decided to take advantage, given my novice status driving this big girl. The weather was cold (right at freezing), and raining (of course... this is Seattle).
I did very well in backing out of the Yale Street marina - and I learned that the strong tendency to turn to port while backing can be almost eliminated if I would just open the throttle in a burst (rather than trying to be gentle and leaving it at idle), and then slip it into neutral (thrust overcoming the unbalanced torque effect?).
I learned that, even if it is not at the moment raining, it will be under the Aurora bridge - in big fat drops.
We had the good fortune of having a brand new Bavaria 42 ahead of us, opening the bridges for us. No waiting.
By the time we got to the locks, my hands were numb. The rest of me was warm & dry (using our new foul weather gear), but my bare hands got really chilled in the cold rain. Jane and I had very productive discussions about procedures and anticipating what might happen at the locks. So when the lock master directed us to the starboard side (I had been anticipating the port side), we moved like a team and got rigged for the other side quickly and efficiently. I managed to bring Eolian to a stop, in contact with the lock wall, about 3' short of where the lock master wanted us finally. Perfect.
We went thru with the Bavaria and 3 other boats - it was crowded in there. Because we were going to the sea, and therefore starting at the top, the lock workers were able to help everyone get tied up. As the water was drained from the lock chamber, we sank, and the chamber filled up with diesel fumes from the idling engines (I had never thought of that before...) While we were dropping, Jane visited the cabin, and reported that the Red Dot heater (uses hot water from the engine) had the cabin toasty warm.
Jane got kudos from the lock workers... it seems that a woman on one of the other boats had trouble freeing a mooring line from one of the bits in the lock - she was chided 'To the galley with her'... but Jane flipped the bow line off the bit with one deft motion, and yelled back (pointing to me) "HE'S going to the galley"
When we reached bottom and they opened the downstream doors, we drove out into fresh air... that smelled of the sea! I was ecstatic.
Getting to the sea was a true transition. It was a very strong sensation - we knew we were home, where we belonged. Pulling into our assigned slip, still in very light winds, was just like driving the old O'Day 25 into her slip on Coeur d'Alene. Piece of cake. I brought her to a stop and Jane just stepped off onto the dock with the spring line. Maybe I am getting the hang of this... but we need a LOT more practice - in less than ideal conditions too.
The very next day the wind picked up to gale force (35+ mph), and it has been there since. That single day was the only window of opportunity in 2 weeks - and counting.