June 24, 2017
At my age, one doesn’t consider the act of leaping. It’s just not something I do. But I found myself in need of a leap this past week.
On Thursday, I went to help my husband prep his sailboat in case Tropical Storm Cindy hit Clear Lake, southwest of Houston, where our boat is moored. Bill spent several hours adding and tightening lines to the degree the boat was centered within our boat slip. Trouble was, there was now a good three feet on all sides between the dock and our boat.
I’ve been “yammering” at my husband for years now to get some sort of conveyance for me to get on and off the boat without falling into murky harbor waters. Being a “guy” and a former Air Force Colonel, my husband has no need for such a thing. He simply leaps onto and off the boat at will. And I despise him for it.
What we’ve done in the past is loosen one side of the boat ropes, then pull the boat near the dock, where I can clamber aboard in a bit of a struggle. Likewise, when it is time for me to get off the boat, I pull a line and bring one side near enough that I can sit on the boat’s edge, extend my feet down to the dock and then scoot off.
But leap? I’ve never leapt off the boat, since that would mean I would land a good two and a half feet down on one turkey-thighed leg with an arthritic knee and weak ankle. I feared disaster.
Well, this weekend, with the boat firmly centered and tied, there was no way for me to get off the boat except leap. So I went below and practiced my leaping skills. For a straightforward leap, I measured my longest leap at about one and one-half feet. This increased my panic. How in the world could I get off this friggin’ boat if all I can leap is one and one-half feet?
My husband decided we would use the boat's ladder as a “gang plank,” but the ladder is a poor excuse for a ladder, with wide spaces between very narrow rails. He lowered the ladder across to the dock. I tested with a step, but I’d have to balance with no support on two ladder steps to reach the dock, with two gaping holes between, and the churning water below.
Luckily, good old Tropical Storm Cindy blew in about that time, with winds circling from the west. She was a gusty storm that pushed the boat just far enough to one side, I was now looking at about two feet to span. Could I muster enough of a leap to do two feet over and two and a half feet down?
Not. Instead, I sat on the boat’s edge while my husband stood on the dock. I extended my legs far enough that my toes caught the edge. When he took my hands, I told him, “You’ve really got to pull.” So we one-two-three’d, he pulled, and I managed to get my feet onto the dock far enough to land upright.
Big relief. Truly. Now that I'm home, I'm trying to practice my leaping.
If any of you are sailors, I’d love to see solutions for getting on and off the boat. Surely I’m not the only one who struggles with this.
We’ve looked at boat steps, but those must be bolted to the dock, which then causes space problems. I think I need some sort of gangplank that we can hook to the ladder and extend to the dock. It’s a quest. If you have ideas, please let me know.