There is no such thing as an elegant way to get in and out of a dinghy. Or at least if there is, I haven't found it. The dinghy has a tendancy to float away when you step into it. This is true whether you are stepping into it from a dock or from the back of the boat. Add waves and you have a whole new challenge. Getting into Ducky from our boat, we usually have the bow tied on, as well as a line we tie to the side of Ducky, holding the dinghy snug against the stern so we can get in and out. Well, snug until the waves move them apart. The line is also helpful when we come alongside as something to grab onto and pull us close, and I use it to help pull myself up out of the dinghy onto the boat's swim platform.
At a dock, we pull alongside and one of gets out with the painter in hand, and ties us off. Then we hold the dinghy alongside the dock while we load or unload. Nine times out of ten, Jay is the first one in when we leave the boat and the first one out at the dock. I am the first one in when we leave the dock and first one out when we return to the boat. Jay's legs are longer than mine and he finds it much easier to cope with the doing the splits as he gets in and out of the boat. He always holds the boat as close alongside as he can while I get in or out so my shorter legs don't have as far to reach. Sometimes, I feel I roll out of the boat more than step out, especially if the dock is much higher than the boat. Definitely inelegant. But, you can understand why tonight I thought he was doing what he always does - steadying the boat and holding it alongside while I was getting in from the dock. Except, for whatever reason, he wasn't.
We had just come back from a short walk around the very small village of North Haven, Maine. After an beautiful sail from Boothbay Harbour, we had arrived at North Haven Island, offshore from Rockland, Maine. We had taken a mooring owned by J.O Brown and Son in the narrow passage between two islands and had gone ashore to pay. This boat yard was started 100 years ago and the building and docks are showing their age. We had negotiated the decaying dock without incident and at the end of the dock, four people were gathered chatting. We stepped around them and readied to get in Ducky. I saw Jay holding the side of the dinghy and since we had an audience I didn't ask him the obvious question of whether he had ahold of the dinghy, he always steadied it for me and I was reluctant to seem like a nervous boater in front of the locals. I stepped one foot in Ducky and Ducky moved away from the dock. Much further away from the dock than I was capable of reaching. I never have been able to to the splits, yet there I was suspended in mid air, one leg valiently trying to cling to the dock and one in the dinghy. As Ducky drifted farther away from the dock, the leg on the dock lost its battle and trailed behind me though the water. I swallowed my yelp from the shock of the cold water and pulled myself fully into the dinghy, trying not to glare a hole through my husband who was smirking on the dock. My sandal and pantleg to the knee was dripping wet. We had gotten in and out of this dinghy dozens and dozens of times. Our one mishap and we had an audience. "I thought you had a hold of the dinghy," I muttered, studiously avoiding the curious gazes of our audience. Jay chuckled, pulled the dinghy closer and stepped in without incident, adding insult to injury in my mind.