The year after we bought Knotty Dog (forthwith known as KD), we decided we should sail to the San Juan Islands for our annual vacation rather than go to Mexico or the Caribbean to a resort. It seemed like a natural progression at the time, even though we were still moored in Lake Washington we had braved the locks on several occasions to sail in the Sound, and we felt we were up for the adventure.
It started off well enough, we got through the locks (a three hour transit) and stayed at a friend’s slip at Shilshole that night, ready for an early start the next day.
Off we went, beautiful weather and a glorious sail to Port Ludlow. Having congratulated ourselves on a great passage thus far, we anchored in the bay, hopped in the dinghy and went to the bar in the harbor for a well-deserved gin and tonic or two. It was a lovely evening on the patio as we sipped our drinks and watched the sun set behind our boat, bobbing in the bay.
Time to leave the bar, hopped back in the dinghy and made our way back to KD. I stepped onto the boat. Darrin stepped onto the boat. The dinghy floated away. Yes. That’s right. We didn’t attach the dinghy to the boat before we stepped on board. I hasten to add we had just purchased both dinghy and outboard engine, and we had only put about 2 hours on the outboard at this point!
All hell broke loose as I was grabbing boat hooks, Darrin is letting out anchored chain (to drift back to the dinghy), he’s yelling at me, I’m yelling at him, the dinghy is getting further away and the bay is getting more and more shallow. What to do? The water is too cold to swim, we have no way of getting to the shore aside from hauling the anchor and getting to the marina, then we’d need to run along the shore for about 2 miles to get to the dink, provided it’s on shore and not floating aimlessly mid-bay.
Whilst we traded lots of salty sailor language about what to do and how stupid we are, we saw two very lovely ladies paddling around in their kayaks. Darrin grabbed the fog horn, gave a few loud bursts to get their attention, and they paddled over. We told them we would give them $20 for a couple of drinks at the bar if they would be so kind to salvage our dinghy for us. Very graciously they declined the money, but did retrieve the dink, at which point we insisted they have the drink money, which they graciously accepted while we secured the dinghy to the boat with about 15 different knots.
After more conversation about doing stupid things after too many drinks, we had a drink and then called it a night.
Epic fail. Sailing 101 – ALWAYS secure the dinghy to the boat before one steps onboard. Duh.