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Land Ho!

Woo-hoo, we just had a great day sailing on Lake Michigan! There were blue skies, a few clouds to protect us from the blazing, beautiful sun. We had a perfect breeze that died down throughout the day (instead of picking up) so we had no problems taking down the sails. It was almost perfect! As much as we want to, we can’t stay out on the water forever. Oh no, now the butterflies are starting up again … How do we dock the boat? What are the steps again?!?

full sail with sun in background

Get Ready, Get Set …

new buffalo harbor entrance

We’re motoring back to the New Buffalo Harbor entrance. The red and green harbor markers can both be seen so it’s probably time to give the once over. I put my shoes and socks on again (no stubbed toes!!!), and lay out the boat hooks – 1 for me up front and 1 for Kyle in the back – just in case we need to push off something. I slowly and carefully walk or crawl around the boat to put on dock lines and tie on boat fenders.


Once we hit the harbor entrance,  I stop everything and help Kyle navigate.  I don’t want to be a distraction to him.  While he doesn’t need a lot of help, this is one of our ‘lessons learned’ from our journey home so it’s now a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).  New Buffalo Harbor is pretty incredible with lots of traffic on the weekends, beautiful homes on the inlets and condos with massive boats lining the channel.  Unfortunately it’s also shallow so we have to weave our way in, and thankfully power boaters recognize that we have a deep draft and get out of our way!

Double-check everything

Actually, nothing happens quickly when navigating the channel.  Kyle slows us down as much as possible, and we often wave other boats around us.  It gives me time to review the 3 most important dock lines.  Did I put the lines around the chalks?  Are they outside of the lifelines?  Are they straightened properly with no knots?  I unhook the lifeline gate so I can easy step off the boat to tie us up.  I review and repeat the steps I need to take.  Don’t trip on any of the lines … remember ‘Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast’.

Pay attention

Fortunately the boat slip we rented this season is towards the end of the dock so we can make a wide turn and slowly float towards it.  Nothing happens fast, and then all of the sudden everything happens at once.  Kyle likes to call this a controlled crash but I prefer not to hit anything along the way.  Don’t blackout! 

our dock slip

Help others dock

We have very friendly neighbors in the marina, and most of the time we have help to dock the boat.  I’m learning to get better so I can do this for others too (at this point I’m not sure if I’d actually be a help or hindrance to others so I don’t offer my ‘help’ yet).  I’ve learned that I want them to assist with the bow line so I’ll walk it forward and gently throw it to them, making sure they catch it.  I’ll keep the spring and stern lines and step off and quickly tie up.  Most of the time, Kyle is able to get the boat stopped and is helping me before I even have a chance to get the lines around the cleats.  I’ll take the bow line from our helper and thank them so they can be on their way.  Whew, we’re here and we’re safe!

Great job, Captain Kyle!

kyle and kara on the boat

So far, I’ve been able to compliment him on a very nice boat docking experience. Because of our mental and emotional preparations, we are working at being gracious towards each other. We want this to be a pleasant and enjoyable experience. We even got a compliment from a dock neighbor … “You guys are so nice to each other; it often takes decades to learn this.” I know we have a lot of work to keep it up – it only takes 1 bad time to ruin all of the love bank deposits.

Ain’t no party like a dock party ’cause a dock party don’t stop…

Cleaning Again?!?

Of course, there’s always cleaning to do! Now we slowly have to hook everything back up and start putting things away. Cleaning up the trash, taking empty water jugs off the boat to refill for next time, and closing the boat up. Once again, we each have our own set of tasks to do and we take our time. I’m grateful that Kyle let’s me do my own things and doesn’t boss me around. It makes me want to ask him what he needs help with so we work together better. Usually the cockpit needs wiped down from the bug carcasses that we’ve killed while on the water. The biting flies are the worst! And they always seem to bite when driving and I don’t have a free hand to use the fly swatter!

marina pool

Kick Back & Relax

Whew! We made it home safely, the boat is cleaned up and everything is put away. Now it’s time for a dip in the marina pool to talk about our adventures and discuss ways to improve. A cold beverage sounds about right too! 🍻 👍

What are your thoughts?

Let us know what you think of our sailing adventures by sharing your feedback in the comments below. Do you have advice for me on how you dock the boat?  I need to get better and better!  We’d love to hear from you!

– Kara from Zeke Life

Live like Zeke
You’re such a good boy!

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