The fantasy, The reality, The memory GIBRALTER
Nothing ever just happens. Most meaningful achievements are the result of planning and work, and the best part of the planning is the fantasizing that I do while I’m doing the work and the planning. The fantasies are the dreams that fuel the work and keep me interested in the project. And the fantasies never look anything like the reality. I have been in the fantasy and dream making business for a long time and I enjoy laughing at how different the reality is from the fantasy. Sometimes, the reality is actually much better than the fantasy, but mostly it is just different – not really better or worse.
Such was the case yesterday when we arrived for the first time in Gibralter, and we had the opportunity to learn how to Med- Moor. Alec and I have been cruising together for 20 years now, and I love that we still have the opportunity to learn new things. Usually learning too much at once isn’t good – big lessons are usually costly and big inconveniences, but little lessons are always fun and interesting. Such was the case yesterday. It’s not inconsequential that most of the recent learning experiences have happened after overnight passages. Now – a word here about our overnight passages – for us, a 1-day passage of 22-26 hours is really the worst. We would much rather keep going for 2 -4 days because in 22 hours, there hasn’t been enough time to re-coup the lost sleep of the 3 hours on 3 hours off schedule. By day 3 and 4 we have fallen into a rhythm and things get easier for us. So, when we arrived here after 23 hours underway, we were both really tired, having lost sleep the night before and not having had enough time to re-coup that sleep. Learning when tired is not the best, most conducive environment, but I was open and totally receptive when the dock helpers arrived to hand me the slime lines. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Med-Moor, Ill segway to your briefing here…
The med-moor is designed to maximize dockage by eliminating completely the finger piers which come out of the dock. What you essentially end up with is a long line of boats next to each other with no dock or finger at all between them. How do you tie up then? you ask? Well, that is the tricky part. After Alec threads the needle between 2 boats on either side, backing down with nothing more than a tiny fender (or in Gratitude’s case several fenders) between us and the adjacent 2 boats, I get lines on the dock from the stern on the port and starboard sides. Ok – The stern is now attached to the dock, but the bow is still free to swing side to side into our neighbors. So to prevent this, I take a lead line from the stern and walk it up to the bow where I pull said line until it reveals the “slime line” so named due to it living below the water line and full of mud and ich. I know Ich is not a technical term but it’s the only word I can use here. So, the line full of the ichy muddy substance now dripping all over me and the deck of Gratitude which must be pulled as tightly as possible to secure us tightly enough so that our bow doesn’t move. We do this on each side of our boat. Remember though that we only have a walkway on the starboard side – so it must be handed up to me on the boat deck on the port side where I try to walk it up to the bow mud dripping all over on the way. Ensuring that Gratitude doesn’t drift or “sail” into another boat until we are tied securely, Alec must remain vigilant at the controls.
So, there I was ready to accept the second line with 3 lines firmly on Gratitude when I completely lost my balance and SPLASH! In I went. I had told Jack earlier that it is ok to look unfamiliar when you explain to people that you have never done something before. “We will honestly tell our dock helpers that we are unfamiliar, and they will help us, we just don’t want to look totally inept”. So, floating in the water and laughing nearly uncontrollably while still trying to secure one’s boat to the dock is sort of what “inept” looks like but I digress. Yachties reading this will appreciate that when a new boat enters the marina there is always a bit of anticipation wondering what level of entertainment the new boat is likely to offer. We always hope to obtain nothing more than a cursory nod of approval from our new neighbors rather than the full on “get a cocktail – we are going to enjoy this” level of attention but that is one of the wonderful things about boating (and flying too for that matter). No matter how long you have been doing it or how good you think you are, there is always a new lesson right around the corner. Yep…. We are still learning….
So the dripping wet image of me being fished out of the water and the ensuing hour spent cleaning up cat vomit and Alec trying to figure out why we have no electrical power connected to the dock – These are the realities of the “glamorous” cruising life. But this morning we awoke to coffee on the flybridge in a new marina in a new country filled with new possibilities. Welcome to Gibralter!
The best part of cruising is the people whom we meet along the way. Below are friends who came to say so-long on our way out of the inlet. We will miss you Nicholls Family!!!