Boating Safety Test
All boaters in the wonderful state of Maryland are required by law to hold a boating safety card?much like a driving licence. Acquisition of such a card is typically through attendance at a two-day safety course which busy, self-important people like us don’t have time to think about. Fortunately?although they don’t like to advertise it?you can take a short, ‘boating safety equivalency test’ to the same effect. These are generously provided by the MD Natural Resources Police. You need to call to find out when the next one is, and register.
Noto Bene: The test is not easy. A passing grade is 88% or higher and questions range from the practical (What should you do if you hear five short blasts on a horn?) to esoteric (What is the proper placement of a capacity plate on a vessel less of than 26 feet?). Anyone thinking of taking this rather than the course should know their stuff; of the dozen or so people in the room on Saturday, HB and I were the only ones who passed.
What? You thought we’d fail?
It took a couple of hours to vittle the Butt; re-flake the anchor rode, which was a mess, to allow the new thirteen-pounder to stow in the well; bend on and furl the sails; and eat lunch, by which time it was about two o’clock.
As we were casting off, two helpful souls strolled along the dock to offer dubious advice, help with dock lines, and generally be on hand to watch in case anything went wrong. On Salty Walter’s suggestion, and for convenience at the time, we had moored prow in. This turned out not to be the best way to do it. The Butt has pretty severe prop-walk, and simply refused to reverse to port out of the berth.
Then she stalled. The engine will stall at very low revs, which is actually how you turn it off in the absence of a cut-off switch. Fortunately, she starts without a fuss–I love marine diesels.
So, after a moment of aimless drifting, we were off.
End of part one.