A beautiful sunny day in the Berkeley Marina. 60 degrees, 20+ knots WSW, a perfect sailing day. A steady stream of halibut fishermen coming into the marina, a steady stream of sailboats beating out of the marina. The occasional sea lion coming around. A 6 foot man lying on the dock, head under water waving a deck brush up in the air with his free arm.
Hmmm, that last part is odd. Doesn't sound like sailing.
I had a newbie going out sailing with me; we rigged the boat, got ready to back out, kicked the boat into reverse, and the engine's RPMs went down. Weird. Just for kicks, I put it in forward to see if I was going to have the same problems again and sure enough, the RPMs go down, the engine sputters and makes weird noises. Put it in neutral, rev the engine and all is right with the world. Long story short, my head underwater was confirming that the prop was spinning. My uneducated mind says, "crap there's something wrapped on the propeller". When I spoke to somebody who knows what he's talking about this diagnosis morphed into "you idiot, that's electrical, did you check the distributor cap for moisture?". Whoops, project for this week.
I knew we could sail back into the slip. I wasn't worried about our ability to sail around the bay in the winds (top gust was 26 knots). What I couldn't figure out was how to get out of the slip safely with someone who has never sailed. If the main was up (which it needed to be) then as soon as I got beam to, the boat was going to take off so I had to have my bow far enough down the slip that it wouldn't take off into the dock. That meant that I was already pretty close to the slips behind me (when motoring out you turn earlier). With the 20-25 knots of wind, I couldn't back out and then raise the sail because that headwind would have me into the boats behind me in no time. I've done this before in lesser winds, but the combo of the newbie and the high winds and there just wasn't a good option. We decided that discretion is the better part of valor and enjoyed a cold beverage instead.
Was this a sailing day...you bet it was. I learned a very important limitation in my sailing arsenal. Something to work on when I have someone with me who would know how to help when I invariably screw up and maybe with less than 20-25 knots.