In June, Paul and I decided to island-hop by sailing around the Puget Sound, celebrating our two-year anniversary. Both excited to get out on the water, we made sure to have a radio for the coast guard, called the marinas at Blake Island and Vashon Island to check on available slips, and mapped out our trip from Thursday to Sunday.
I just finished my sailing lessons and Paul had read all there is to know about the open water, so we felt confident enough to venture out. With the sun shining and a strong wind, it looked like the perfect weekend for sailing.
For the majority of the trip, it was a perfect weekend. We saw porpoises, seals, dodged huge cargo ship waves, met a deer, and didn’t throw each other overboard. Since Paul and I were both very inexperienced sailors though, there were a few mishaps along the way. Below are a few things we learned NOT to forget on a sailing trip:
- Power cord
At my marina, I have a power cord that hooks up to my boat from the dock. This cord allows me to use my internet, keep my new, amazing, mini-fridge chilled, and re-charges the batteries for the boat.
Every time I take the boat out, I have to un-plug the cord from my marina slip and leave the power cord coiled up on the ground.
However, marina’s don’t have power cords available for use, something we didn’t think of before leaving on our voyage. Luckily, the people you meet at marinas are incredibly nice. A fellow sailor lent us his power cord for the night so we could keep all the refrigerated food from spoiling.
Unfortunately, at the next marina, we couldn’t find a spare power cord and had to eat a lot of potatoes, chips and veggie straws on our last day sailing back to Shilshole marina (home sweet home).
2. Non-perishable food
As previously stated, you need a power cord to keep a mini-refrigerator chilled on a sailing trip. Since we forgot that important item, most of the food we bought spoiled. This included raw chicken, bacon and eggs.
Bring food that will last in case of emergency.
3. Dock-master’s phone number
You will always be late when sailing. No matter how well the wind is blowing and how close an island looks to you from your starting point, there will always be an obstacle and a lull in the wind that will delay your arrival.
Make sure to have the “dock-master’s” phone number ready so you can communicate with the marina and can adjust your arrival time to reserve your slip.
Most marinas are not strict on arrival times, but if you are speaking with the dock master, it is friendly to communicate a time so they know your ship didn’t sink.
4. Shampoo/conditioner/body wash
Although traveling by sailboat is a unique experience where you don’t have to pack to travel, not having a shower means you might forget to pack the essential shower items.
Dock bathrooms are common in every marina but unlike my eucalyptus-smelling gym that provides shampoo and conditioner, dock bathrooms have nothing.
Even though you can be fooled by the home-travel experience, this still means you have to pack for the occasion.
5. Full tank of gas
I thought a half tank of diesel would be enough for our sailing trip since I only used a quarter tank of diesel over the last seven months of owning Oswin. Paul and I did try to fill it completely, but the dock gas station was closed before we left for our first stop, Blake Island.
What we didn’t account for was the wind dying while heading into certain marinas. Not to mention, we had to dodge many ferry and cargo lanes where ships 100 times the size of Oswin own the water traffic. I used the engine multiple times to ensure we were out of those shipping lanes.
On our final stretch back to Shilshole, we ended the entire sailing trip with an incredible view of downtown Seattle. We sailed parallel to the city with the soundtrack of Little Miss Sunshine playing in the background and the sun setting behind us. It was perfection. Until we rounded a small peninsula called Discovery Park and the wind died.
“Let’s turn on the engine and just motor back into the marina, ” I said.
As I turned the key, the engine made the most depressing, “i’m trying so hard” noise that told Paul and I that we were not going to motor back into the marina.
Luckily, we had our friends Rory and Sylvia to call upon and tow us back into the marina, with their small gray dingy.
We learned our “many” lessons.