Yesterday evening was supposed to be our last Basic Coastal Cruising class...the one on the larger J/30.
We arrived at the marina at 5:30pm, met the instructor and the one other student in that class and prepared the boat as some rain clouds were building over the nearby hills. We went over the differences between the smaller J/22's we had been using and this boat. It is a larger two cabin boat with a kitchen, V-berth, head, and internal engine. It is set up as more of a bareboat charter boat and even has conveniences such as a roller furling jib.
As we left the dock, the clouds looked fairly dark, but we saw no lightening and heard no thunder so we continued. The wind was a little stiffer than we had for any of our previous lessons, so we set a reef before we raised the main sail. We had no more than raised it and turned off the engine when the rain started and the wind picked up and was gusting over 30 knots.
In those conditions, there wasn't going to be any chance of us getting to use the fancy jib or familiarize ourselves with any other sailing aspects of the boat so the instructor decided to call it short. We dropped the main, fired up the engine and headed back to the marina. Since the other student took the boat out, the instructor asked my wife and I which one of us would like to take it in. My wife immediately volunteered me for the task.
I have to admit, maneuvering a 30ft boat in a tight marina is quite a bit different than maneuvering a 22 ft one. They want this boat backed into the slip...and did I mention the slip is at the dead end of rather narrow dock channel? So, here I am slowly maneuvering the school owner's pride and joy about a foot away from other boats (that made an artificial lee shore) as we make the approach. But I remember the advice to keep just enough speed to maintain steerageway and be mindful of how the wind will push the boat and was able to successfully maneuver it into it's slip. I even made sure we didn't run the rudder into the dock. I actually got a compliment from both the instructor and one of the guys on one of the "lee shore" boats we passed on the approach. Guess I am learning something after all.
Kind of a bummer the class was cut short, but we will get to reschedule the course so we will get to take the boat out again. Getting to dock the boat and making a good show of it almost made it worth the trip down there for what was otherwise about a 30 minute lesson. Looking forward to another chance to take the J/30 out for a sail.