In Bristol Fashion

DSCN2914“What day is it?”
“Uh. Tuesday. I think,” my wife, the XO, answers somewhat tentatively.
“I don’t even know the date. How cool is that?”
“Is it important?”
“Heck no. I already had my birthday!”
It’s so true. It absolutely does not matter in the slightest. There is no place we need to be. We’re just enjoying the beautiful summer weather on our boat. So comfortable with cruising Narragansett Bay, we pick our next destination moments before leaving. In fact, I’m actually making phone calls en route. We know we’re heading to Bristol R.I., but not exactly where in Bristol, and since there are a few choices, I’m checking my cruising guide for marinas that have moorings and pump-out service because our holding tank is so full we can’t use the head.
“But Captain Rick, why didn’t you take care of that at your last port of call?” you ask.
“Because they wanted a whopping sixty bucks! Ridiculous! Extortion! Piracy! I won’t pay it!” I answer. And I didn’t. So now we’re peeing in the sink.
The first marina I call, Bristol Marine, informs me that there’s a self-service pump-out station at the town municipal dock on the east side of the harbor, just past the ferry landing. I thank the nice lady for the info, and reserve a mooring.

The ferry landing.

The ferry landing.

At the pump-out dock, this gent helped us dock.

At the pump-out station, this gent helped us dock.

After pumping out, I hail Bristol Marine on channel 69 and get an immediate response from the Dockmaster who is apparently standing on his dock watching us approach. But instead of saying: “Head north toward the shore and pick up number 12 on the outer edge”, the conversation went something like this:
“Ok Ginger Lee, drop your speed to dead slow and pass in front of our dock. over.”
Really? I usually go full speed when I pass a crowded dock full of boats.
“Okay. I’m passing the dock. Over”
“Do you see that sail boat with a blue hull and black canvas, named Andiamo? Over.”
Duh! It’s like two feet in front of me!
“Yes. I see it. Over.” 
“Very good. Pass it slowly on your starboard side and be carefull not to hit the Boston Whaler next to it. Over.”
Are you sure I can’t hit that Boston Whaler? I love running into boats.
“Copy that. Which mooring number? Over.”
“Okay. Once you pass Andiamo, turn slightly to port, or left, and pass the white trawler named Riddley, on its right side, and proceed carefully toward the sailboat with the red sail cover. Do you see it? Over.”
Hello! I’m running out of water! Next stop: the beach.
“Yes I see it. Is that my mooring right next to it? Over.”
“Ok Ginger Lee. Now I want you to carefully loop around the sailboat with the red sail cover, and head back toward the dock. Over.”
Just tell me the damn number!
“Yes yes. Looping. Heading back. Which number please? Over.”
“Do you see the mooring in front of you, marked twelve. You will need someone up front with a boat-hook to catch the line that’s floating off it and attach it to a cleat. Over.”
Are you sure we need a boat-hook? I thought the pennant would jump out of the water and cleat itself!
“Good copy. Number 12. Got it. Ginger Lee over and out.”

"I thought the pennant would jump out of the water and cleat itself."

“I thought the pennant would jump out of the water and cleat itself.”

Is it better to assume every boater in an idiot? I suppose you can’t come right out ask someone if they actually know what they’re doing. “Hey buddy. D’ya know how to handle that thing?” And many times when you visit a new harbor, you sometimes need a lot of detailed direction to get where you’re going, so I get it. It’s better to be cautious. But for me, just tell me where the mooring is and I’ll handle the rest. Everything looks a lot different from the helm, and I know how this boat behaves.

The micromanaging Dockmaster approaches.

The Dockmaster approaches.

We finally meet the dockmaster. Not only is he a really nice guy with a lot of experience, he knows the area well. “Normally, Bristol Harbor is very windy,” he offers, as if apologizing for his micromanaging demeanor. As far as I’m concerned, no apology is necessary. You are who you are, make peace with it.
Before he leaves he graciously turns us on to some excellent places to check out. I can’t wait to explore them!

Safely moored at the very end of Bristol Harbor, RI.

Safely moored at the very northern end of Bristol Harbor, RI.

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