There comes a time in a sailors life when he knows his experience is not complete until he has dryed out his boat alongside. Oh I know bilge keelers and such do it all the time, but it is a bit different if unsupported by either water or a wall your boat will fall over on its side. For a drying out virgin like myself the process is fraught with uncertainties and doubts. However the time had come. Due to some oversight Sea Bear’s new copper coat anti fouling had not been burnished before launch. In consequence her bottom showed a unhealthy growth of weed, it needed a scrub off, I could no longer delay or prevaricate despite my trepidation.
I was cruising the Isle of Man and had never visited Ramsey, a drying harbour, before so here was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone as it were. Communicating my needs with the harbour master, he directed me to a suitable wall alongside which to tie up and await the falling of the tide.
I had of course read all about the process of drying out alongside, so went about my preparations carefully. Warps prepared, plenty of fenders, a line from the mast to ashore and anchor chain laid out on the side deck. Watching the depth sounder never before did it seem that the tide went out so slowly and I paced the deck nervously gradually easing the lines just so, tight but not too tight.
I wasn’t aware of the precise time that Sea Bear settled on the bottom, so gentle was it but soon the water level was low enough. Donning wet suit and wellies and clutching a brush I slipped over the side and scrubbed and scrubbed. The interesting bit was crawling between hull and wall and when I was done I must have looked and smelt like some wild merman with seaweed in my hair. Weed cleared I could then do what should have been done before launch and abraid the epoxy of the copper coat to expose the copper so it could do its job. Eventually all was done, pleased and relieved I could await the incoming tide with a glass in the cockpit, another part of my sailors education complete.