Since much of our sailing this season was limited to day sails or short cruises, I had a lot of practice leaving and returning to our slip. I was getting pretty good at it...until I wasn't.
We were returning from a few nights at anchor a few weeks ago. As we were approaching our slip the wind was in the high teens coming from the WNW. Those aren't the best conditions for our marina since it isn't protected from NW winds. As we were motoring down the creek I thought about how I could compensate for the wind and I believed I would be okay. I made my usual approach, turning to starboard, then backing toward the slip and turning the bow to starboard to line the stern up before backing in. I told myself not to turn the bow too much, or the wind would catch it and turn it too much. I also told myself not to back up too much or the wind would push me past the slip. Well, in spite of my efforts, the bow was pushed too much and the boat was pushed past the slip. No problem, I would just try again. This time the boat came too close to the pilings before I was lined up. On the third try I turned to port to make the approach. I have never approached from this direction because there is a wall on that side and I don't have as much room. However, by turning to port I would be able to back into the wind which is a better way to do it when there is a lot of breeze. I turned to port, backed toward the slip and again got pushed too close to the pilings before I could get turned and lined up.
It didn't help matters that I had an audience. Two of our dock mates were chatting and watching while we were going through our docking ordeal.
At one point I suggested that we dock the boat "bow in". Since we leave our dock lines on the dock and they are set up for "stern in", George was concerned that the dock lines wouldn't reach the cleats for the bow in configuration.
We made one more attempt from the starboard approach and then finally docked the boat from the port approach. It took a 1/2 hour and five attempts. I honestly thought I had made 10 attempts. It wasn't pretty and sure zapped my confidence in docking.
Here is a picture of our tracks.