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The learning curve begins!

So what is it like to take possession of a yacht with very limited knowledge or experience on how to operate it? We all have to start somewhere right? And being thrown into the deep end has always worked for me, but it’s a challenge!


I’m getting there with this boat. You could certainly say I am a novice sailor as my background in sailing is limited to windsurfers and hobie cats. I did completed an RYA competent crew course in 2017 followed by a RYA Day Skipper Course later in the same year. My theory was that doing courses would at least get me on the water however I didn’t have a boat, nor did I know anyone who owned a boat, and so sea time was limited to that which I paid for (and those courses are not cheap!). Since then I have done virtually no sailing.


And now we have a boat! And she’s lovely. Her new name is ‘Acqua e Sapone’. It means ‘Water and Soap’ in Italian which is how Italians can describe a girl who is naturally beautiful with no need for make up. Just water and soap! We think our boat is Acqua e Sapone. 


When I bought her, the previous owner gave me an induction, going through all the bits and pieces from how to start her, to flushing the toilet. It was a fair bit of info to take in over about 45 minutes, but I think got most of it. My biggest concern though, with this newly acquired expensive investment, was operating her. Specifically docking her. I was given a couple of demos by the previous owner however I was then on my own.


The boat felt a big as the titanic when it was up to me to bring her in alone. Getting the right angle, the right speed, when to hit reverse to slow her then when to put her in neutral…hang on, is that neutral? Then why is she still moving!?? Panic sets in as I race to the side to throw the ropes around the pier. Missed!! Missed again! Oh no, she’s moving away…got it! Then as I pull that rope tight I still need to get the other line tied. I head to the bow, pick it up and throw it…missed! Missed again! 3rd time lucky…is the engine still on forward? Why is it pulling away? I pull with everything I have to bring her closer to the wharf and eventually tie her off. 


It was a few more docks before I started to feel comfortable and get into my groove.


With my heart still pumping hard and the adrenaline flowing I make my way to the wheel and turn the engine off. Jeeez that was full on, I thought. Surely it will get easier. It was a few more docks before I started to feel comfortable and get into my groove. I’d say within 5 docks I was, not exactly confident, but not a heart pumping adrenaline mess on approach. We’ve had the boat for just over 3 weeks and I’ve probably docked her about 10-12 times now, and only just starting to feel relatively relaxed about it.


I’ve been going out on the harbour most days with my family and/or friends and each time I have been acquiring a new skill. Or at lease tried to. Today I docked in reverse for the first time! I wasn’t nervous, but quite cautious as I took her in slowly. It went ok however I grazed the bimini cover a little! But it’s just such a joy getting to know this boat! And figuring out, bit by bit how everything works. Or doesn’t work! We’re making a list of various things that need to be repaired…little things though, and mostly cosmetic. She is slowly becoming our boat. My wife is equally in love with her (as is our 2 year old) which makes it all a greater pleasure.


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