By this time, all the preparations had been made for our Tag test: the crew was ready, they knew what to bring, all our safety postings and watch schedule postings and meal schedule postings and weather predictions and navigation plans and crew briefing notes and safety notes and who knows what other lists were ready. Cool Change had her new mainsail, her new windlass, her new chain, her new refrigeration system and her new electrical system; she was ready. All that was left was to remove any excess from the cabin so there would be room for four, and drill those last few drills into my muscle memory: backing into the slip, crew overboard, which dock line to attach to the dock first, depending upon the wind direction, etc.
So after a Saturday of emptying out the cabin to make room for two more crew members, we took off Saturday afternoon for some more side-docking practice and then anchored out in Richardson Bay again. It is so beautiful there; watching the lights of San Francisco come on as we are sipping a glass of wine from the forward deck, wrapped in fleece blankets with our little “Mr. Heater Buddy” to take the chill off the evening breeze in the springtime on San Francisco Bay, is one of my favorite things to do ever.
Not that I needed the practice; after all, I had been practicing for months, and we had been preparing Cool Change for months. But for some reason, I was getting myself all worked up about passing this stage. Would I be found worthy? There was really no reason for the concern – all the hard parts of the testing were already finished: I had passed as Skipper with an Instructor on board, evaluating my every move, and I had passed the written test. This was just going to be a simple matter of taking our own boat out for the weekend, jumping through some hoops the Instructor on a companion boat asked me to perform, and making down to Half Moon Bay and back without any major incidents. What could go wrong?