We make it back to the dock, but not without more angst. I approach the marina bow-first and try to line up with the dock. With the throttle in forward, I find myself zigzagging all over the place. “With twin-screw boats, you have much more control with one engine going astern,” Gasiorek says. Line up your boat with the dock by “steering” the boat with short bursts in reverse, and put it in forward only for momentum. But don’t give it too much juice. “The famous motto,” Gasiorek says, “is ‘Go slow like a pro and fast like an ass.’”
In short order, I master the “ass” part. Pete jumps in and takes the helm before I turn our training session into a real-life crisis. He lines up the boat and pulls it in without incident. I get ready to jump to the dock when Pete hands me a PFD. “Every time we do lines, we wear life jackets,” he says, “regardless of the situation.” I also violated another cardinal rule: never do something before the captain tells you to. Any time he gives an order, repeat it back so he knows you heard him.
I step on the dock and back into reality. Training day is over and we all survived. I’m not ready to take charge of an oceangoing tanker any time soon, but I’ll feel a whole lot better the next time I run a Whaler.