Growing Pains and Goose Eggs for All!

Growing Pains and Goose Eggs for All!

Growing pains should be expected any time you make a significant change to your life. Our first week aboard our boat was a painful experience for us – and the boat!

*Naughty words ahead*

Bang! “Oww!”

Bang! “Oww, dammit!”

Bang! “Oww, shit!”

Bang! Crash! Screech! “Oh, f*ck, oh f*ck, oh, f*ck!”

My move-in week in a nutshell.

I banged my head on something in the boat about fifteen times in the first six days after we moved aboard. Every time I attempted to move around the aft stateroom, I’d whack the spot on my forehead just above my right eyebrow. As I’d walk down the pass-through to the salon, I’d try and stand up straight on the step up and crack the top of my head on the hull. Climbing the companionway ladder – crash! That time, I hit the companionway sliding door so hard, I nearly compressed a disk in my neck.

My husband said, “it’s because you’re short.”


“You’ve never had to duck under anything your whole life. I’m tall, so I’ve spent my entire life ducking under stuff. That’s why you keep banging your head and I’m not.”

Groovy. Let me add THAT to the list of why being short sucks.

My poor brain was so tired of the physical abuse that I had a dream that I was looking in a mirror, and a giant goose egg had formed over my right eye. I looked like Sloth from The Goonies.

Sloth – looking way more heroic than me.

The Boat Participates in Our Growing Pains

Then there’s the bobstay. In a rather ambitious push to do an errand on our first time out with the boat, we took Star Stuff to the neighboring marina for a pump-out. We did several circles in the river, and I even played with the throttle, moving the boat forward and reverse to play with the starboard prop walk. No problems. The boat performed as expected.

I’d docked several times on other boats before, and this marina is an easy one to pull into. Just take a hard right and slowly drift the last 50 yards into the travel lift dock. Easy, peasy, right? Nope.

As I was crawling towards the dock, the marina guy said, “slow down, you’re coming in a little too fast.” Okay. So, ease the control to neutral. Then to reverse for a quick burst of reverse thrust. Nothing happens. “You’re still coming too fast.” Press the throttle down into full reverse, the boat lurches forward. “THAT’S FORWARD!”

Bang! Crunch! Scrape! Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!

“Kill the engine! You’re up on the bulkhead.”

The bobstay with goose egg to match mine.

Four men proceeded to push our bow off their dock and finish our pump-out, with the utmost professionalism, I might add. Even my husband refrained from giving me grief about my piloting skills. I only saw one set of disbelieving eyebrows the entire episode.

Lesson Learned: Read the Manual

I’d like to say it wasn’t my fault, but it was. I knew I wasn’t experienced enough with the boat to be moving it in close quarters and should have rescheduled the pump-out until after I had practiced bringing it into the slip a few times. So, you learn your lessons and move on. Apparently, our Volvo Penta has several stages between reverse and forward. You’ve got reverse throttle, reverse idle, neutral, forward idle, and forward throttle. If you try and “floor it” between neutral and reverse without pausing a moment in reverse idle, you stay in forward gear. The transmission doesn’t shift the propeller into reverse with the throttle, it does it in the idle station. There’s even an “Instruction Manual” left behind by one of the previous owners with the following bullet points:

  1. Shift into gear and hesitate a second for the prop to get into position.
  2. Advance the throttle.
  3. To shift into reverse, first shift into neutral, hesitate slightly, shift into reverse, hesitate slightly, then advance the throttle.

Three guesses on when I read those instructions.

Thankfully, there are friends that will commiserate and educate. There are machine shops that can take the goose egg out of a bobstay. There’s ice for my head. There’s beer for my pride. And, any day you’re still floating is a good day, growing pains be damned.