When two boaters talk about a run down the coast, and one says he’s going off shore while the other says he’s taking the inside route, it’s the guy who’s heading out of the inlet who comes off as Mr. Macho and the other as Capt. Chicken — afraid to go out into the big, bad ocean.
But that perspective is way out of touch with reality.
Anyone can make a straight line from one sea buoy to the next. just point the bow and hang on. But to get through the confusing traffic, sweeping currents and poorly marked serpentine channels of an inshore route, well, that takes seamanship and talent. That takes a real man.
Outs and Ins
I get a call from john the night before we’re to take our boats south to kick off our vacations.
“We’ll meet at the gas dock around 7 and be out of the inlet by 8,” he says.
“OK,” from me, ashamed of what was next. “My wife’s coming along so I have to take the inside route.” A long pause and ...
“Got you by the short ones, huh?” You could hear the smirk. “Ah, don’t worry, buddy, I’ll meet you down there.” Click.
The next morning john and his friend Mark turn to head out of the inlet. As I watch them smash through the rollers, I feel like one of those spineless guys you see following his wife around a furniture store. Then again, I’m the one at the helm with a cup of hot joe and a bagel while john’s all white knuckles and already encrusted with salt. This may not be so bad after all.
Distorted Line of Sight
Going inside is never boring. There’s always something to see, and you’re always busy. Off shore all you see is water, hour after boring hour of water. Sure, you get where you’re going faster, but to me the idea of going boating is not to make time — it’s to spend time. Although right now I can see that it’s not going to be easy.
I’m in a channel with a strong crosswind. If I just aim at the next marker, I could be pushed sideways onto a shoal. So I envision a line between the mark I’m headed for and the last marker I passed on my downwind side. If I’m on the channel side of the line, I’m safe.
It’s dangerous to only look ahead, and even more so if you don’t know how to aim your boat. Don’t use the tip of the bow as your guide if your helm is off to port or starboard. You’ll be looking at an angle to the boat’s actual heading. To aim a boat accurately, you have to sight down the centerline, or a line parallel to it. use a stanchion, a cleat or even a strip of tape on the deck directly in front of you to line up your forward sight. And keep checking the marker or point of reference behind you to make sure you’re still running a straight line.