Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Speakeasy Got Her Name

As soon as I started contemplating owning a boat, I began working on her name. Names are important to me. I thought of the elements: the sky and water and wind. One morning while I was still half-asleep, the name Starwave fell from the heavens, you might say, and splashed into the waves, so to speak. Immediately I envisioned the name painted on her hull. I saw a flag waving in the breeze emblazoned with three stars above a scalloped wave. When I realized that my design was a dead ringer for the flag of Aargau--the Swiss canton of which I am a citizen, this similarity solidified my choice.

Starwave spoke to me but not to anyone else. Conversations went like this:

“I’ve chosen the name for the sailboat I plan to own someday.”

“Really? What?”



No one understood the name Starwave.

Then I met Bob Bilhorn who has circumnavigated the globe on his 47’ Stephens sailboat Tally Ho. One day as he and I sailed up the Chicago shoreline, Bob explained why a boat’s name must be easy to recognize and remember. When sailing in Indonesia, Tally Ho had pulled up alongside a huge tanker. After exchanging names and pleasantries, the tanker filled up some empty jerry cans with diesel fuel and lowered them down. The boats parted ways.

Not long after, a huge motorboat approached Tally Ho at great speed. Bob immediately radioed on Channel 16,“Tally Ho here to approaching unidentified motor vessel. What are your intentions? Repeat Tally Ho here. What are your intentions?”

The boat veered off. Bob explained, “I knew the tanker monitored Channel 16 and would remember our name and come to our rescue, if need be.”

Scratch Starwave.

By now, Mark and I had joined forces and our boat’s name should reflect our PartnerShip. Maybe Tango Two - we love to tango. Or Jazzbuoy - Mark loves jazz. What if we combine – Bethmark or Mkbeth

Then one morning, a new name dropped from the heavens.

I nudged Mark and whispered, “Speakeasy. The name for our boat.”

“Perfect,” he replied.

You see, my company is Speaking Unlimited, Inc. My book is Speaking Globally. Mark works in the building whose dome housed Al Capone’s notorious speakeasy The Stratosphere Club.

So Speakeasy she is. Easy to recognize and remember--in case we are ever approached by an aggressive unidentified vessel.

In the meantime, we say, “Knock two times and come aboard.”

Monday, December 15, 2008


In December there was a nearly 2-foot snow fall followed quickly by a thaw and then a deep freeze. Ice. I borrowed a neighbor's car to get to the yacht yard so I could check on Speakeasy. She was in good shape. The new cover was nearly bare, which meant that the snow that turned to water had run off before the freeze. This was not the case on Speakeasy's yard neighbor, Tally Ho!

Tally Ho has circumnavigated the globe, but calls Chicago home. She's a 47' Stevens with golden masts--easy to spot in the yard. The wind had blown off some of her tarp covering. When I looked more closely, I saw her owner, Bob, fussing with the tarp that had torn in several places. He was worrying about replacing it. Bob welcomed me aboard and I could see that a torn tarp was only part of the problem. When the snow thawed, the heavy, wet snow sunk and stretched the plastic tarp between its support rods, which were made of PVC pipe. Huge pools of water must have formed during the thaw, because what we saw now was huge blocks of ice sitting on the deck. Some of the support rods had snapped under the load. The two largest blocks of ice were hundreds of pounds each.

Bob gave me a hammer to break up the ice. After a few minutes he gave me a sledge. After much pounding we were able to slide smaller 10-20-pound boulders of ice overboard until the deck was clear. Bob bought me lunch for the trouble and went back later to deal with the tarp.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting through the long, cold winter...

Sitting at my walnut dining table in this high-ceilinged loft in Printer's Row, I'm contemplating getting through the long, cold Chicago winter.  Two weeks before Christmas eve, the streets are covered with snow; however, the sun has shown today.  Now the last rays of afternoon are warmly reflected off the Donahue Building across the street.  But the warmth is an illusion.  I've been out today, and it's cold. Our 9 foot Christmas tree stands tall like the mast on Speakeasy. Lots of little lights glow like the stars did when we sat close together in our cockpit and gazed up at the summer heavens. At Crate and Barrel I found little wooden sailboats complete with canvas-like sails.  Now our tree is sporting ten of them.  They make me smile.  Would a brisk wind set them off for sights unknown.  No.  But my memory keeps returning to our amazing summer.  The summer from Harbor to Harbor that I should be writing about.  We talked about a book.  Mark diligently and creatively posted blogs on an almost daily basis.  I, hesitant to leash my unedited words for the world to see, didn't really blog.  Maybe you could say I plogged.  But after a conversation last night with playwright Rob Koon and an evocative holiday message from Shirley Nice, I have decided to write and post.  Scary but eventually maybe freeing.  

So here I sit with visions not of sugar plums but of harbors.  Many harbors.  I'd never entered towns from the water before.  I'd always arrived via plane or train or car.  It's different when you approach with waves lapping against the hull, sand dunes in the distance.  Then a lighthouse either port or starboard side.  The channels appear so narrow.  Especially when the waves are high.  Intimidating.  Frightening to approach land?  Oh, yes. I'd been forewarned by my knowledgeable brother that it's better to ride out a storm than to hurry in to a safe haven.  We didn't actually encounter any torrential storms, but we did experience wet and windy arrivals.  That's when Mark would take the helm.  I would silently pray that we would make it into the channel without banging Speakeasy on either side.  The farther into the channel, the calmer the waters and I became.  After several such arrivals, I knew I had  to take my turn. I had to steer Speakeasy into safety. And I did!  Just remembering, I'm smiling broadly. Accomplishments are important.  Goals achieved are valuable.

Maybe I will survive the long Chicago winter by writing about our warm and wonderful summertime adventure.  I will try.  Starting here.  Starting now.  Now I will publish post it. Come on, a little nudge.  Like that time we got stuck trying to anchor.  Mark hung on to the boom and rocked back and forth while I put the engine into reverse and forward and then we were free.  OK,  let's free this up. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Each boat has a similar list of storage and winterization tasks, but each boat is different too. To prepare for winter storage, I collected information from Columbia Yacht Club members, fellow sailors in the yacht yard, the yacht yard manager, and the Internet. The Mad Mariner featured a winterization series of articles that was very helpful. I also learn quite a bit from Practical Sailor and the Yanmar engine manual. What got me started was a bit of advice from Wayne, a harbor neighbor, whom we had first met in Leland, MI on Windstar. Wayne suggested that I hire a mechanic for an hour to show me what is to be done and how to do it. This I did and it was an hour that saved me days of time later.

I still was very worried about winterizing the sea water system and changing the oil on the engine. As the mechanic showed me, I must run the engine without the benefit of a large lake providing cooling water. Instead of the lake, I must use a bucket and garden hose. The very thought frightened me to death. It had to be done for two reasons. First, the oil must be warm before it could be pumped out and new oil replaced. The engine would have to run for about 5 minutes to get it to operating temperature. Second, antifreeze must be sucked into the system so that it would not freeze in the subzero temperatures of a Chicago winter.

I went to the yard, climbed into Speakeasy, exposed the engine compartment, and studied the hoses until I knew what each one did. I followed each hose from intake to output--fuel, "fresh" water (coolant), hot water, exhaust, and sea water. I removed the intake hose from the sea strainer and rigged a second hose from it to my bucket. I prepared the garden hose with water from the yard's supply. I practiced how I would start the engine by sticking my head through the starboard hatch where I could reach the binnacle where the starter switch and kill pull were located. I went through starting and stopping in my head. I set a timer so I'd know when to stop the engine. Finally, it was time to do it. I turned the key, pushed the switch, and then opened the garden spigot. I looked carefully for signs that the water was diminishing in the bucket. Yes! Yes, water was being sucked from the bucket through the engine. I knew it was alright, but the 5 minutes of running the engine from a bucket were agony.

I purchased a small pump prepelled from a drill to get the old oil out of the engine block. After a few false steps in which I pump little but air, I got the hang of it an empty most of the oil from the engine. I changed the oil filter, and filled the the engine with fresh oil. I started the engine once again to pump the oil through the engine and then topped it off with more fresh oil.

I needed to start the engine one more time to suck RV antifreeze into the sea water hoses. For this step, I needed a helper to watch the output on the port quarter. Fortunately, there is always a friend at the yard. I was especially lucky because Wild Thyme was right next to Speakeasy and her owner, Wally, was busy installer her storage cover. Wild Thyme is a Catalina 30 that spent the summer tied to a mooring ball just next to Speakeasy in Monroe Harbor. The two boats knew each other well. I poured a couple gallones of pink RV antifreeze in my bucket and started the engine. I watched the fluid decrease in the bucket until I heard Wally yell--pink fluid was coming out of the exhaust port. I killed the engine. That was that. The engine wouldn't be started again until spring.

My mechanic suggested that I put a couple gallons of RV antifreeze in each of the two water tanks and pump it through each of the faucets--galley, head, and swim platform. I had read that one didn't want the smell of RV antifreeze in the hot water tank in in the spring, so I attempted to bypass the tank by removing an intake hose and plunging bungs into the openings. This was an utter failure. All I managed to do was fill the bilge with antifreeze as it sprayed out of the the hoses. I set this job aside for a couple weeks until Beth returned from Switzerland where she was working. We decided to bypass the tank next year. This year, we would make sure the hoses were filled with antifreeze. I replaced the hoses to the water heater and began the pump. We checked each faucet to make sure it ran pink.

Finally, I tacked the head. Previously, we had flushed the holding tank with fresh water a few times during out final pump out of the season. Since then, the head hadn't been used. During our final cruise to the yard, we used a bucket instead of our fine toilet. Again, I followed the advice of my mechanic. I drained the fluid from the commode, catching it in newspaper. Once I cleaned the area and replaced the valve, I poured RV antifreeze in the bowl and pumped it through the hoses to the hold tank.

The last chore was to get a cover on Speakeasy. We were having the local sailmaker create a canvas cover for her. The alternatives were to have the yard shrink plastic over her or rig rectangles of canvas over her. Canvas covers are expensive, but they last many years and there is no plastic to add to the trash stream each spring.

I took a deep breath and hoped that Speakeasy would be fine over the cold, windy, snowy winter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Worth It

The markets have been crazy this year and have recently crashed. Since a boat is a hole in the water in which to toss money, one might ask was buying Speakeasy worth it. In order to purchase my share of Speakeasy, I liquidated my stock in Apple, which I'd held for a decade. I thought it was time to get out and within a couple of months, I was proven to be correct. I don't miss the stock and I truly enjoy Speakeasy, my partner, Beth, my new sailing friends, new adventures, and new memories. Ron Lieber wrote an article in the New York Times, which summarizes how I feel about spending on Speakeasy. A couple splurged on a boat. They are in middle age and their two sons are heading off to college soon. They wanted to make good memories with friends and family before there were only bad ones to remember.

Friday, October 17, 2008


The Chicago River is known for little among the great rivers of the world, but it is known for how engineers reversed its flow. The river once flowed into Lake Michigan, but because it was Chicago's main sewer system for many years, engineers reverse the flow so that it would head toward the Mississippi instead of the Lake. Reversing the flow required some changes. One change was where the mouth would be--a few blocks north. Another change was to raise the level of the river at its mouth so that it would flow inland. This wasn't too hard because the river barely flowed at all. A lock was built and still maintained just south of Navy Pier.

Speakeasy was ready to head to the yacht yard for the winter. Unlike previous seasons when Speakeasy went south with the migrating fowl, this season she would head inland on the Chicago River. The River goes through the center of Chicago, which has many heavily traveled streets that have bridges that cross the river. One of the bridges is an Interstate Highway. Twice each week, these bridges are raised to allow masted boats to pass. On one of these days, a beautiful Saturday, we boarded the Monroe Harbor tender for the last time this year, pulled the bridle from the mooring can, and motored to Columbia Yacht Club to pick up a crew.

Of our nine crew, only Susan had ever made this trip. The first stop was the Chicago Harbor Lock where we would enter about 4 feet lower than we would exit. Being rookies, we got to the lock in plenty of time to wait for other boats to catch up. Once through the lock, we waited for the first bridge to raise. The bridgeman waited while laggards came through the lock. This would be the first of 21 bridges we would pass through. There are 38 bridges on the River. The trip would take about 5 hours to go about 40 blocks.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg

It was a beautiful Fall Sunday afternoon. Our crew had been volunteer helpers at Camp Obama most of the day and we were stealing a couple hours from the day, the light. As we left the harbor I could see a bit of haze on the water. Further out, I could see the skyscrapers shooting beyond a bit of ground fog. Something to keep an eye on, I thought.

We sailed straight out into the Lake via a Northerly breeze--steady at 10 knots. It was heaven. We talked of the day until the day was forgotten among the snacks and wine.

I took another look toward shore to see the sun and gauged an hour before it set. The order was given to come about and head toward the sun and harbor. We resumed our chatter. Beth gave the helm to Susan and relaxed. We spoke of boats. Bequia did well in the MAC. Allegro was sailing nearby.

Suddenly, Susan said she couldn't see Allegro anymore. In fact, we could see no more that a few boat lengths. The fog that had enveloped the skyscrapers was enveloping us. Thoughts were shared. Commands were given. The horn was retrieved. The jib was struck to slow us down. All hands were on watch. Chatter had diminished to whispers.

The GPS told us that we were 4 miles out. Then 3 and 2, but there was no sign of land. Our course was adjusted to trust the GPS rather than the sun, which was 30 degrees too far south. The jib furled to half for a bit more speed. Engines could be heard. A bell. The wail of the water crib.

As suddenly as the fog came upon us, it lifted somewhat. We could see a half mile. We could see lights on shore. We could see other boats. We could see the harbor. We were home.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Lake Michigan is a large lake. Most people, including U.S. citizens, don't understand that you can't see across it, that it takes the same time to travel between Chicago and New Buffalo, MI as it does to fly to London (8 hours), and that there is a lunar tide. Other facts:
Lake Michigan is approximately 300 miles long and averages 75 miles across, covering 22,300 square miles -- which is equal to the combined areas of the states of Maryland, Massachusetts and Delaware! It is 335 feet above Lake Ontario and 577 feet above sea level. The deepest point in the lake is 925 feet (282 meters).
While sailing on the Lake, one gets the feeling that it is very big and humans are very small--especially the humans residing in a small boat. Speakeasy is a very sea-worthy craft. Boats like it have sailed single-handed around the world. Still, even though one is comfortable with the way a boat was build and cognizant that it can withstand the rigors of sailing through highly variable wind and water, I can't help but feel that the Lake is so big and Speakeasy is so small.

Speakeasy was surrounded by fresh water, but also held potable water in two tanks--one forward and one aft. Beth and I monitored this water as carefully as we could. Speakeasy has no water gauge. Usually, the first sign that we were low on water was the spurting of water at the galley faucet. We were never in danger of running out of fresh water. We'd simply change water tanks and then fill both of them at our next port. Still, it gave me pause each time a tank went dry. Were we using too much water for dish washing, bathing, hygiene?

We knew most of the tips of water conservation aboard a small boat--to bath less often and use the Lake when possible and to wash dishes in sea water (fresh or salt) and rinse with fresh water. We didn't actually have to follow either of these rules. We usually bathed onshore at one of the harbor facilities and chose the convenience of washing dishes with fresh water from the water heater.

There is another tank aboard that holds refuse from the head--the holding tank. To conserve this resource, we tried to use onshore facilities as much as possible. Most of the contents of the holding tank is sea water, pumped into it when the head is flushed. We tried to do this as infrequently as possible even though we could make use of a pump-out station at every harbor we visited. Our number one head rule was that nothing that didn't go through you could go in the head. This rule leaves toilet paper out of the holding tank and in a small zip-lock bag. This rule is based on the saying that "there are no plumbers at sea."

Paying attention to water on a small boat as we did for a month leaves a lasting impression that affects us onshore. We use less water when washing dishes, turn the water off-and-on several times while showering, and flush less often than before. I remember that great-tasting salmon that Bob caught in the Lake and would not like to see its habitat ruined by my overuse if its natural environment.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brilliant "Sound and Light" Finale to Speakeasy's Adventure

Jim Haring, good friend and master sailor, drove up to Port Washington Sunday. Mark drove Jim's car back and Jim and I spent two days sailing to Chicago.

Yesterday we started from Racine at 8:30 and decided to sail all the way back to Chicago. First the lake was like glass. No sun. Just muted shades of gray from above the horizon to the boat. Then the lake started undulating. Wide broad ups and downs. Then choppy. One patch with strong wind and white caps. Then calmer. Then waves began to build. By now we have been sailing - sometimes with engine on - for 12 hours. Chicago is visible from miles away. As we get within 6 miles, we see lightning. Jim says, "That's just heat lightning." I haven't heard that term in years. As the city gets closer and the city lights begin to sparkle, the lightning increases. Behind Chicago the sky explodes in bright voluminous bursts. We hear the huge thunder strikes. I do not want to be caught in lightning. Thoughts of Sarah recently having been hit by lightning flash through my brain. I throttle up. Can we beat the storm?

The winds pick up. We furl the jib and head in through the outer breakwater wall called the 'Gap' with the Chicago Light to our right. Red right return. I remember that we sailed through here at the start of the trip one month ago. My eye catches the instrument panel above the wheel for one split second. Gust of 50 miles per hour. I do not allow myself to think about the speed but try to keep a course. We manage to take down the main sail but the Dutchman system intended to neatly fold the sail up along the boom doesn't work in such high winds. The sail flies out almost over the side of the boat. Jim gets two sail ties wrapped around. I have enormous difficulty finding the next opening. I know I'm looking for a red light atop a tower--some 30 feet or more above the lake. However all the city lights flashing red and white make it almost impossible for me to find. In addition there's a blinking red light on some building behind the red light that I'm trying to keep my eye on. Usually when you come through these breakwater walls, the sea gets calmer. Not tonight. I turn over the helm to Jim who steers us to Speakeasy's mooring ball North Juliet 23 as if he's been going there on a regular basis. We're almost at the mooring ball. The skies open. The rain comes down so hard it hurts. Precariously poised on the bow, I reach as far as I can to grab the mast buoy that is attached to the mooring bridle. I pull up the lines and hold on for dear life. Finally I'm able to attach the two ends through the bow cleats. We are safe and sound and I am soaking wet.

Jim and I huddle below in the cabin until the lightning subsides. A Monroe Harbor tender boat comes to fetch us. We get to the Columbia dock. Mark meets us with Bob Bradley's car. He drives Jim home. He drives us home. I don't even go to my apartment. Right to 1001. Mark draws us a hot bath. He pours two glasses of wine. I stumble out of the bath, dry off and fall into bed. So happy and relieved to be back in Mark's arms.

I sleep. What a grandious finale to Speakeasy's Adventure. Yes, I'm capitalizing Adventure--from Harbor to Harbor.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It seems strange not to be on Speakeasy, not sleeping, eating, and sailing on her. I'm not testing lines or swabbing the deck. I'm not checking her oil or raising her "Don't Give Up The Ship" flag. I'm not on water and I don't see a different lighthouse every day. I'm home, although Speakeasy seems more like home than my historic condo building in Chicago.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Beth's iPhone and laptop got soaked along with the nav station contents due to a hatch being partially open (deceptively unclosed). The phone may be unrecoverable, but the laptop came back to life after the keyboard dried.

A day later, the laptop 'O' key went bad, but the iPhone came back to life. The iPhone didn't last long. It began overheating. After cooling it in the icebox, it took a charge and came back to almost normal, but not normal enough to be useful. Half of the screen no longer responds to presses so only half of the programs can be accessed, half of the keyboard, half of the voice mail messages, etc.

Friday, July 25, 2008


A harbor is a place of safe haven or refuge. This morning while on our way to White Lake from Ludington we chose to enter a closer harbor rather than suffer 7 more hours of head wind and 4-foot waves. A thunderstorm was in the forecast and we didn't want to run into it. Pentwater beckoned and we aimed Speakeasy for its light. 

Pentwater is a very special place on the Friday following the Race to Mackinac (The Mac). Many of the participants raft their boats at the Yacht Club and throw themselves a big party. We are docked at Snug harbor, just past the Yacht Club and have a grand view of the festivities. 

We were happy to get a slip because of all of the activity. Beth called on the VHF radio and was welcomed to slip 6. Something was not usual about the radio message if I heard correctly. I thought I heard "stern-first." Speakeasy has never gone into a slip stern first. We approach slip 6 and immediately see why we must dock stern first--there is already a boat in the slip, which is bow first. I hastily review in my mind and with Beth the Maryland way to dock stern first--approach the slip from the channel (preferably into the wind), turn the bow away from the slip entrance, apply reverse to draw the stern into the slip, apply lines as necessary. Okay. Got it. BUT, there was a 10--15 knot cross wind and I had never actually done this!

The first attempt was pretty good, but Speakeasy came up short and we tried again. The next attempt was even worse--too close to neighboring boats. Nonetheless, dock hands had our lines and after some fending we were docked. Safe harbor! 


Wind is the reason to sail and the reason a sail turns into a foil to propel a boat. Wind can also turn on you. We've avoid high winds on our trip, but be didn't avoid a day with no wind at all.

Up with the sun, we motored out of Frankfort. The glassy Lake was just as flat as the harbor we had just left. Knowing that the weather report called for no wind, we didn't even take the sail cover off. A course was set for Big Sable Point and the autohelm did the rest. While the boat sailed itself, Speakeasy's passengers read and told stories. We even lit the stove for a warm lunch.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Leisurely en route to Ludington

We are seated in the cockpit. Mark's reading John Barth's The Last
Voyage of Somebody the Sailor, and I've started Robert Stepto's Blue
as the Lake. The autopilot is keeping a true course of 205 degrees
towards Big Sable Lighthouse after which we'll cruise into the marina.
This is very much a day of leisure.

I've just had a cell phone call from brother Bob. Sixty miles south of
us, he's also on the big lake and he already has landed one fish in
his little boat. He will drive up and join us for dinner providing
the main course which we'll cook on our little grill on the stern.

My mother grew up in Ludington. She spent her summers diving off the
lighthouse wall. Two years ago as the sun set, Bob, Thomas, Sarah,
Felicia and I walked to the lighthouse and just as the sun's evening
glow filled the sky, I slipped her ashes out of my backpack into the
water. This afternoon as Speakeasy enters the harbor, I'll wave in her
direction. "Mother! Look at what your little girl is doing now!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Today we sailed at sunrise because of a long distance to go and fair winds. It's a very pleasant sail from Grand Traverse through the Manatou Channel when the the wether is good. It is often foggy or windy. The waves can build quickly between the islands and the shore as wind forces down the channel. Today, however, conditions were ideal--NW wind at 10-15 knots and blue sky.

Frankfort, south of the Manatous, is a lovely village--actually part of twin villages, Frankfort and Elberta--with a clean and handsome marina. Marinas are all different, most Michigan harbors have a municipal marina with some State aid and consistancy. Most of these compete with private marinas and yacht clubs for docking business.

Docks, or slips, are far from uniform in each marina. The traditional slip consists of pilings that one loops lines over at the four corners of a boat. Most marinas have some variation of this, usually offering cleats or loops in addition to pilings for tying dock lines. Some marinas have floating docks, which are lower than the normal docks fixed to posts. We've also docked on walls and ends of docks when slip spaces are filled.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The last time I anchored a boat of any kind was just after the new
year in 1984. I remember how to do it in broad strokes--prepare the
spot, ready the anchor and drop it, slow back the boat until enough
rode is let out. This morning we got out books to review the process
and vocabulary.

We are very familiar with mooring to a floating can in Monroe Harbor
and we're improving at docking and entering slips head first. By
comparison, anchoring should be a simple extension of mooring to a
can. The books are helpful, but I can't believe that anyone would ever
sail at all if they had to read and understand Chapman (the bible of
boating) before they sailed. Chapman's jargon is dense. I understand
only every third word.

By noon we had checked the anchor and rode and were ready to practice
anchoring. We heard in Leland that Omena bay had a good anchorage and
it was on the way to or next harbor at Northport. The wind was light
and on our nose, so sailing was not in order. Instead we would
concentrate on anchoring.

As we got closer to Omena, we could see that it was picturesque. Sandy
shores, trees and houses mingled together. The were a few boats at
anchor near a beach and what must be the village center.

As we got closer were realized that the water level decreased rapidly.
We circled a possible snchoring spot a couple of times, but it went
from very shallow to too deep very quickly. We moved on a bit and
found the same issue--wildly fluctuation depths. Then, Beth said "we
are stuck." Sure enough, I good see the bottom all the way around the

I'd read in a magazine the a keel could often be freed from the bottom
sand by shaking the boat from side-to-side. The picture in the
magazine showed multiple beefy men leaning out over the beam. I could
see how that might help, but I wasn't sure if Beth and I could put
enough weight into the maneuver. I tried shaking the shrouds while
Beth reversed the boat. In seconds we were free!

Lesser sailors would have abandoned the lesson there and then, but not us. We persevered. Explored the bay a little more to starboard and spied a diving bird--was it the loon? Oops! stuck in the sand again! Deeper than before.

I circled the boat to see how deep it was and where it might be deeper. I could clearly the bottom sand. There was a bit of deeper water off our starboard quarter (thanks to Bob for the "quarter"), but reverse and full reverse did not get us free. I began shaking the shrouds to rock the boat in hope of loosening us. No go. Beth and I had a conference. We decided to shake the boat and use full reverse simultaneously. "It's free," Beth shouted, but I could not feel any motion. She was right, though. We were moving ever so slowing back to deeper water. Within a few feet it was 60 feet. 

A boat had just entered the bay and anchored ahead of us. The owner, Glen (it turned out) was now in his dinghy and rowing toward us. He was either going to scold us (Beth's theory) or give us assistance (mine). It turned out he did neither although he would have given us assistance had we needed it. We told him our story--anchor practice step 1, find a suitable spot. He applauded our practice. He said most sailors don't practice and do it badly, but this was not a good bay to practice in. Its bottom was too uneven. Glen, it turned out was a sailing instructor and taught anchoring. He listen to our story some more and offered his own advice while we drifted our boats. Glen had been anchored the previous night when a strong wind began to blow. He was up most of the night worrying about whether his anchor would hold and whether or not to set a second one. Setting a second anchor during a strong wind is dangerous. One must get in a dinghy with the second anchor and place it about 45-degrees off of the first anchor. It's better to do that before the wind starts to blow. 

I don't need the T-shirt that says "Leland Michigan Simplify"

Because that is what I am doing. I'm simplifying my wardrobe, my make-up and my life. Two nights ago, I unzipped a large zip lock bag (zip lock bags are a godsend on boats because they keep out moisture and mildew.) I filled it with 4 T- shirts, 2 blouses, 3 trousers and several pair of socks. Then I squeezed out the extra air and stowed my unnecessary clothes under the salon starboard side berth along with the sail covers. Except for lip gloss and mascara, I've given up make-up. I know the real me wears eyeliner and blusher, but it's not necessary now! My plastic see-through cosmetic case contains Dial soap, Lubriderm, Neutrogena SPF 70, and Degree deodorant. The case has a little loop so it's easy to hang up in the harbor shower stalls which range in decor and cleanliness from luxurious to primitive but probably not worth a blog entry. Oh, yes, I have one toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss. Shampoo and conditioner. That's it!

Except for shoes. I have five pairs of shoes and some brand-new knee-high rubber boots on board. We have a rule that you must wear shoes on the boat. Flipflops and sandals do not count. The shoes must be skidproof and not leave marks. So I have flipflops for the shower stalls. Tevas for the beach. Sandals to walk on the boardwalks, plus two pair of boat shoes. They do keep me from skidding. In Leland we met Kimberly and Wayne. Two years ago she went on the deck of their sailboat and slipped on some oil. She rammed her ankle on the binnicle. Bones shattered. She now has nine pieces of hardware in her ankle. Knowing that reminds me to walk and not rush around the deck. Walk slowly. One hand for me. One hand for the boat. Speaking of hands, I have sailing gloves with leather palms. They are mandatory for pulling and releasing lines (on a boat ropes are mainly called lines.) I have three hats for varying degrees of wind and weather.

That's it. Except for foul weather gear and my life jacket. They don't call it a life jacket any more. It's a PFD which you can also wear on a PWC or a VLSV or a TLTB. I don't like abbreviations, but that's another blog!

In the meantime, I'm still working on simplifying my life. Ending here will help.

Monday, July 21, 2008


The distance from Leland to Suttons Bay is not far. In fact a
reasonably fit person could walk there in a couple hours. By boat, it
is nearly 40 miles and takes most of a day.

To enter Grand Traverse Bay one must go North and then circle back.
Once we made the big turn, we lost most of our wind and our
instruments lied to us about wind direction. With the motor on and
sails extended, we made no more than 5 and-a-half knots and usually much less.

Shortly after crossing the 45th parallel from the North in Traverse
Bay we saw our first loon of the trip. I mark my loon
sitings--Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and, now, Michigan. This was a
special day on the Great Lake.

How do I dock thee, let me count the ways....

So far, we have docked Speakeasy in nine harbors.  Every single experience has jangled my nerves and increased my blood pressure to bursting. Sailing eighty miles across the lake may paralzse.  (I just asked Mark --who is blogging about the loon -- how to spell paralzye and he responded, "Just like it sounds." Right!) So sailing across the lake may frighten me, but docking has become my downfall. Just imagine having to park your car in nine different parking spots. In some you have to pull up to the right, in others you have to pull up to the left.  Some are shallow.  Some have projecting rocks.  Then add the river's current going from west to east. Don't forget winds blowing from east to west. Or north to south or, hell, wind can blow from any direction.  Then add people sitting in their boats drinking beer and margaritas with nothing better to do than watch your antics.  Did I mention that you cannot just put on the brakes?  You have to put the boat into neutral and glide into the slip.  The slip is usually a mere 4 feet wider than your boat.  And remember the boat isn't really a car.  It's more like a school bus that floats.  But without brakes.  So docking has become my undoing.  I want to be at the helm because then Mark can race around the boat flinging lines at harbor dockhands and unsuspecting passersby while fending off hitting the wooden dock with a fender.  I'm never sure how to angle the boat and when to start gliding.  I pray for no wind, no current and at least three people on the dock who know what they are doing.  So far, except for Pentwater, something has always gone amiss.  But we persevere. Maybe next year we'll learn how to anchor.  


A dinghie is a small boat. It can be a sailboat like the Tech Dinghies
I learned to sail on at UW-Madison Hoofers Club. Cruisers in theVirgin
Islands and on Lake Michigan use modified inflatable dinghies as
tenders to get from anchorage to shore or dock.

The inflatables are distinguished by their bottoms (e.g., rigid,
roll-up, high-pressure inflatable), length, and propulsion (e.g.,
oars, electric motor, gas motor from 3-20 HP).

Other dinghies we've seen are all fiberglass and fold-up. Neither of
these has inflatable parts. Also, some cruisers use kayaks to get
ashore and to explore anchorages.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


"A cruise is conceived as a daytime sail from one harbor to another.
You arrive late in the afternoon (say), drop anchor, swim, hike, have
a drink, cook and eat dinner, then perhaps play cards, or simply talk,
perhaps address yourself to a specially recalcitrant part of the
boat's equipment neglected during the day. Everyone in due course
turns in, sleeps soundly, wakes up rested. The whole of the ship's
complement is up, and down, together" (Airbourne, 1975, W.F. Buckley,
Jr., p. 19).

A morning dip in the lake, cherry walnut toast at Stone House Bread and WIFI

12:56 P.M. and all is well in our world. Last night I decided to give up these blogs. I wrote for an hour in my spiral notebook. It was faster and more efficient than pecking away with one finger. Now I am trying again on my iPhone.

Sunday arrived with a placid lake covered with a placid sky. I felt like I was in a Lauren bedding dove-grey photo shoot. We walked to the beach. The water was like glass. The scallopy pattern in the sand under the water were clearly visible. Refreshing.

Now we are sitting at a little table outside the Stone House Cafe. Mark is reading The New York Times and I'm agonizing over my iPhone.

But I do have a point to make: I am where I am today. What a wonderful feeling. I hope to spend more of my time here. In my skin. Paying attention. Smelling summer. Breathing in the breeze. Hearing the bang of the shop's screen door.

I'm wearing my Swiss T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Ich Staune"? Is it a sign? I am astonished.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Leland is a lovely village that featues a river, lake, artists, shops,
and provisions. Leland Harbor is tacked onto the mouth of the Leland
River as if it were an after thought. Since Leland is the only harbor
in a 60 mile stretch, it is usually full and boats are often rafted to
the ends of slips. That's where Speakeasy ended her day--rafted.

After a nice swim in Lake Michigan, we wandered about Leland and
discovered that there would be an art walk that evening. As we
strolled from gallery-to-gallery, I noticed how tired and achey I was.
I sought out chairs on which to sit and cut short conversations with
artists and shopkeepers.

The Riverside Inn was buzzing with families vacationing in this
paradise, but I was not enjoying myself. The air felt cold. I gulped
water. We left our delicious fish meals half eaten and dragged back to
Speakeasy. I was sick.

I had difficulty sleeping and felt nauseous. I sipped water throughout
the night. Finally, about 5 AM, I made it to the head to vomit. Since
then, I'm letting Speakeasy and Beth take care of me.

Friday, July 18, 2008


In the upper midwest one can go north almost beyond civilization. I've
done this in family vacations by car to the north of Wisconsin. In
Miichigan in the Lake, North begins about at Ludington. The harbors
have more trees and wildlife. In Franfort, for instance, there was a
mink making rounds up and down the rocky harbor wall.

Beth's titles are long, light-hearted and possibly silly.

Mark's entries have short titles, often just one word. Since he's the
only one who can actually post, I am distinguishing my entries by
longer titles. Since I am typing these postings using one finger on my
iPhone, I am being more succinct than usual. Case in point.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


There are hundreds of lighthouses on the Great Lakes. The Michigan
Maritime Musem in South Haven shows examples of the basic lighthouse
types--cyllindrical, conical, and so forth. My favorite type is the
school house light, which combines a building (often painted bright
red) with a light.

Today we sailed with the wind at our back from, Manistee to Frankfort.
The white lighthouse could be seen from a few miles out even in the
haze. Although many lighthouses have been replaced with simple lighted
towers, the lighthouse, regardless of type, is a beacan for us.

The Frankfort Library is at the harbor and was full of patrons
tonight. A photographer was presenting a slide show of many of the
Michigan lighthouses, comparing historical photos to his own. Judging
by the overflow audience, interest in lighthouses is keen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This season has been filled with weather--cold, wind, rain, hail, and
worse. Summer is 3 weeks old and one of the summer patterns has
finally emerged and it isn't good for sailing--calm. Today was one of
those days. Wind was scarce and the lake was like glass.

It was time to head North and NOAA's wind and currents site predicted
that the wind would pick up later in the day so we set off about 7:30
with the engine running and sails up. This is motor sailing. By the
end of 7 hours of motor sailing one longs for the silence of sailing
with the motor off.

Lake Michigan: ferocious, limpid and undulant

 Some days we sail for seven hours on this magnificent body of water.  The water and sky are spectacular. Changes are often sudden.  Sunday we could not have managed to get Speakeasy into the big lake without great danger to her and to us.  Six foot waves, crashing white caps: ferocious. 

Today as we left the Pentwater channel, the lake was destitute of wind or wave: limpid.  Had we not motored to Manistee, we would have been "as idle as a painted boat on a painted ocean. As it was, our reliable diesel engine propelled us northward although we traveled in a haze and could hardly see the shoreline.  We even missed seeing Big Point Sable.

We changed from shorts and T-shirts to long trousers and long sleeved shirts to ward off the hundreds, maybe thousands of little gnats that covered the cockpit floor and seats.  Mark's Buzz Off hat - impregnated with bug repellent - didn't bother them at all.

Sitting on the little elevated "perch," on the starboard stern, I marveled at what I saw.  360 degrees of water. The silvery, slowly rhymic waves emblazoned with crisscross patterns: undulant. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


We would not be able to blog as much without having WiFi Internet
access in some harbors. Normally, I write a bit on my Treo 650
smartphone and mail it to as a post. These posts rely on
T-Mobile or a roaming agent of theirs. Posts are limited to a few
paragraphs by the browser's text field. The browser cannot post or
edit a post using Blogger directly.

Beth has an iPhone that can post and edit on Blogger, but it takes
some getting used to. When editing, only three lines of text are
visible because the keyboard takes most of the screen.

The Powerbook is used as a chartplotter and editor when WiFi is
available. For about $50 will provide WiFi access in
some marinas at some harbors. We were covered in Waukegan, South
Haven, and Pentwater. Grand Haven has a municipal WiFi system, but no

Mark Gillingham
Harbor-To-Harbor Blog:
Speakeasy Photos:

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes
and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000
vaccuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons." - Popular Mechanics,
March 1949

Pent up in Pentwater

Our sail to Pentwater is long and hot.  The winds die down and leave us stranded.  Mark spends what seems like hours adjusting the sails.  We gain a tenth of a knot....another tenth of a knot.  Then we lose it.  I fix lunch and snacks and try to read Bruce Catton's Waiting for the Morning Train.  

I'm excited to meet up with my brother Bob and we call each other a couple of times.  We never reach each other but manage to leave messages for each other.  His voice messages always appear with a delay of up to an hour.  Just as we are heading into the harbor, I see another voice mail from Robert Rankin.  Without listening to all of it, I call him and say, "Bob, we're just motoring into Pentwater.  We're right at the buoys.  I'm not going to talk any longer.  I will call you once we have found a slip."  I hang up and as Mark steers us through the channel, someone yells, "Slow down, you move too fast."  I look over to the breakwater.  It's Bob!  What a welcome.  What a thrill.  My brother's first look at Speakeasy is as she maneuvers into Pentwater.  

We have confusion about whether we're going to Charlies or Snug Harbor.  All I know is that we need to get the lines ready and fenders out.  Mark slows the boat to allow me to do this.  Then I see Bob gesturing for us to come into a fairlane.  Mark says, "Do you want to take her in?"  Of course I do!

I take the helm.  I think, "Slower is better.  Don't over-steer.  Don't overreact.  Where's the wind?  How strong is the current?" I am delighted to see my brother as well as another man on the dock.  Mark gives me directions in his calm voice.  I get to the slip without any problems.

I've done it!  I have eased Speakeasy into a slip in the elegant and effortless-looking way she deserves! 

Monday, July 14, 2008


Sunrise is a very special time on the water. There is the quiet of the
morning. The secret preparations to leave and quick burst of engine
noise. The fish jump and birds sing. The water shimmers as the sun
rises over the trees and lights the water fully.

Miles melt away with coffee and fresh berries. The sails make the
morning light even brighter. The sun takes over the day until it melts
in the Lake after Speakeasy is safely docked at the next harbor.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Grand Haven is a Great Place to be Tied up in"

"Grand Haven is a Great Place to be Tied up in" is the slogan for the Municipal Harbor and true in our case! We had hoped to sail to Pentwater today which was an overly ambitious goal. By 4 a.m. the winds are outrageous outside the boat. We're moored in a slip one mile inland from Lake Michigan. I peek my head up through the companionway and a gust of wind hits me with full force. It takes my breath away. Usually the winds are lighter in the morning, but not today.

We need to figure out how to proceed. In the meantime, I make coffee. I use a little Coleman stainless steel percolator. I pour water from a one gallon jug into the pot up to the six cup line. Actually there is no six cup line. The lines indicate 3, 5, and 7, but we've learned that six is just right! I put 7 spoonfuls of pre-ground Folgers coffee into the little basket. Put on its top. Then I put on the coffee-pot top. Then I climb up the four steps through the companionway to the cockpit. With the wind blowing loudly, I go to the stern of the boat and open a lazarette. A cylindrical tank of Liquid Propane is stored there. Everyone calls it LP. It scares me because I'm always thinking it might explode. I turn the knob. The gauge doesn't decrease which is a good sign.  Then I go back down the companionway to the Navigation Station to turn the switch to LP which allows the LP to flow to the little stove. So far so good. Then I push in the middle knob on the stove front and turn it to the left. Then I push in the knob on the far left. Click. Click. Click. Finally the flame flares up! I take my right finger off the middle button too soon. The flame dies. I start over. The third time I succeed because I remember not to depress the left hand button until I count ten. (One does a lot of counting on boats!) The flame has taken. Now I turn it lower. Then I hover because once the water pushes its way up through the funnel and through the basket and hits the little glass protuberance on the top of the pot, I need to let it "perk" for 5 minutes. I'm never sure when this will happen and don't want to be doing some other task which distracts me from the task at hand which is making coffee. I set the stop watch on my iPhone to 3 minutes. I reckon it has taken me two minutes to locate the iPhone. 

While the coffee is merrily perking away, I open the top of the refrigerator and dig out a plastic bag filled with Michigan Blueberries. Then I take the spinner dish out of the salad spinner, pour in the blueberries and turn on the tap to rinse these plump delightful berries. I'm not sure how clean this water is as it's been pumped into the boat through the deck from a rubber hose by me at a pumpout/fuel dock/ fresh water dock in Lake Macatawa. Which is why I use only bottled water for the coffee. But wait, that water is boiling so maybe I should be cleaning the blueberries with bottled water and using tap water for the coffee. The iPhone timer goes off. I turn off the coffee. I turn off the tap water.

I pour two mugs of coffee and take them up to the cockpit where Mark has been hanging rags out to dry. It's only 7:15. We sit and enjoy the coffee although the wind is doing its best to beat us down. Once I've had a couple of sips, I retreat down the companionway. The blueberries have drained nicely in the salad spinner. I pour them into two plastic bowls and pass them up along with real cream. Real Michigan blueberries deserve real cream.

We are curious to see how strong the wind is at the lake's edge and walk to Lake Michigan along the board walk. On the way, we come to a "cage" twenty feet by twenty feet. It's a fish cleaning station. Inside four men are cleaning huge salmon. Each man stands at a stainless steel counter which slants down to a center hole into which they toss the head, the tail, the guts. Suddenly this fish garbage disposal is activated as an entire fish slides down and is sucked into the disposal. Its head and tail convulate  like it's gone crazy. One man shouts, "Stop. What are you doing?" The other fisherman don't say a word. They just continue filleting their fish. 

We pass the bleachers where people sit to watch the Musical Fountains after sundown. Now at 8:30 a.m. the Salvation Army Bank has taken the stage. A Sarah Brown sitting in the bleachers gives me a beatific smile. Mark and I join her and the congregation of 40 or so believers. I think of my Aunt Iva and her son John who is a Major in the Salvation Army. I push a couple of dollars in the donation pail. Then we stand and walk towards the Lake.

The waves are gigantic. A red flag announces danger.  Swim at your own risk.  No one is in the water.  Triathalon runners tell us the swimming portion of their event has been cancelled.  We are relieved.

We take a trolley ride, listen to a rock band and wander up and down the main street looking at 200 vintage cars.  Old Fords, Chevrolets.  a fancy LaSalle,  a sexy yellow Thunderbird.  I spend as much time observing the passersby as I do looking at the cars.  We are in Michigan -- cars reign!

We visit the Tri-Cities (Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrisburg) Transportation Museum in the old  train depot. I like the photo of Grandma Whipple on her little ferry boat. 

We have another ice cream one.  French silk.  Not as good as Sherman's in South Haven.
Then we head back to Speakeasy and grill some brats.  Salad with  home-grown lettuce and tomatoes.  More of the berry pie.  Red wine.  The sun set is wonderful.  We do not mind being "tied up in Grand Haven."


I've wondered if all cruisers suffered repair stops along the way like they do in books. Books offer exciting boat failures of major systems like engines, sails, and steering. Most repairs that I know are routine engine checks, winch lubes, gelcoat repair, and so forth.

Our friend, Paul, has a list of repairs that are part of a checklist to complete the purchase of a new boat. He's had this checklist of warranty repairs for over a year. While at the Independance Day weekend in Waukegan, he decided to reduce the list by at least one item. It turns out that his new boat is underpowered because of small propellor. The manufacturer provided a replacement and the warranty work included hoistin a 40 foot sloop out the water to replace the prop. It turned that the new prop was defective and the time and large equiqpment used to hoist the boat was wasted. The checklist was the same length.

While we were waiting for repairs in Lake Mackatawa near Holland, MI we performed many little repairs including preparing bungs to be placed near all of speakeasy's through-hull locations, hanging a fire extinguisher near the cockpit, and assembling a radar reflector so boats with radar could spot us more easily. These weren't major repairs, but ordinary things that sailors do whether cruising or not.

The marina was used to boats that needed large repairs--hull damage, electronics, masts and other rigging, and running rigging. Ours was in the category of running rigging, but the usual rigging expert was on vacation. James was doing his usual job and Dennis', the normal rigger. We had an appointment at the rigging dock at 0800 where there was a very high pole with an electric block and tackle attached. This pole was used to hoist a man up a mast or to help take a mast off or put it on (stepping). James was not ready at 0800 because another boat was in for "warranty service." On his way to Speakeasy, he was called to a job up another mast. Finally, he arrived at our boat. I had no idea how he was going to get the new halyard into the mast and out the side port where it exits the mast on the way to the cockpit through a series of fareleads. James dropped a light line with a fishing sinker tied to it from the top of the mast. Once it was down far enough, he lowered himself and grabbed the line with a small grabbing tool. Whoa! That small line was attached to the halyard and pulled up the interior of the mast over the top and back down to the mainsail.


The United States of America has never agreed on what it wants to be.
It's a rebellious country that at times welcomes immigrants and at other
times shuns them. I'm not sure what traditional Americana is, but I
think I've seen quite a bit of it recently.

The Independance Day celebration in Chicago brings hundreds of
thousands of area residents of many races and ethnicities to a food
festival and fireworks display on Lake Michigan. There is plenty of
ethnic food and music capped by a fireworks display.

Not to be outdone, Waukegan offered food, music, and fireworks too.
The 40 sailors in our group ate at a buffet provided by the Yacht
Club, which featured corn on the cob, fried chicken, and fantastic
cherry pie. Music was provided by a wind band, which played many
interesting and difficult pieces to the delight of the audience. Much
of the audience was of Mexican descent and I observed them enjoying
Sousa marches and twirling sparklers just as I did 50 years ago. I
think that is pretty close to Americana.

South Haven had its own version of Americana with a day-long
celebration on the Black River and the beaches of Lake Michigan.
Dinghies and larger boats floated up and down the river flying
patriotic banners. Cooking was going on in restaurants, boardwalks,
shores, and boats. The day culminated in a grand fireworks display.
More Americana.

It's easy to see Americana on Independance Day weekend, but does it
exit in a rust-belt state at another time. It does in Grand Haven. In
a single morning we saw a Salvation Army Band at the riverfront, a
rock band at a park, and a classic-car show on main street.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Lines (i.e., rope) have different names on a boat according to there
function. For instance, the line used to raise sails is called a
halyard. Halyards are made of tough stuff to withstand the forces of
hauling sails up a mast or stay.

While sailing close hauled in 20 knots and 4 foot waves our main
halyard made a snapping sound. I saw it slacken and the mainsail began
to sag. We headed into the wind and dropped the sail completely.

We reset our course for Holland, MI with just the foresail,which still
gave us about 6 knots. I watched the bow carefully for signs that it
was dipping too low into the waves since our power sail was foreward
now. The waves were decreasing below 4 feet, so the danger was

Our assessment of the halyard was that it had broken at some weakened
section. However, I avoided pulling the halyard completely out of the
mast in case it could help pull in a new halyard. The halyard was
already beyond the sheave at the top of the mast and inside the mast
itself. There was no recourse but to "climb" the mast, but beyond that
it was unclear to me how to get a halyard up the inside of a mast to
the top sheave and back down the othe side to the mainsail.

We were at the mercy of Eldeans in Lake Mackatowa near Holland, MI.
Sailor friends had very good things to say about Eldeans, so we felt
good about our stop at Eldeans Harbor Resort and Marina.

Friday, July 11, 2008


There aren't many organizations that work with as much data as the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA provides
weather information in multiple ways including a Web site and radio

At night and early in the morning we check the site and the radio.
What if NOAA is wrong. For instance, southwest winds at 10 knots is
really northwest winds at 20 knots with 4-6 foot seas. That was our

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the blueberries and the fly swatter

i will cut and paste later....


I've been a tourist in many villages including the East and West Coasts and Midwest. It's easy to fall into the pattern of strolling from the beach to the shops, which mostly have the same items. I notice that families have a vacation gate to their walk that must be different than "real" shopping back home. To accommodate different generations in the group, the stroll is quite slow and deliberate. Of course, some families have a young skipper or a run-ahead scout, but even the teenagers seem to conform to the vacation stroll.

Being a tourist does not come naturally to me. I do enjoy a good bookstore, hardware store, or toy store (especially if it has a good science or hobbly section), but I'm not a great buyer. I enjoy learning the village shopping secrets--locals shop here, but this store is only for tourists. When I was a teenager I made my summer living (and school tuition) from tourists. This experience makes me very self conscious about being a tourist myself.

Friends Good Will

Our friend, Ellen, is a moving force in the Michigan Maritime Museum's sloop, Friends Good Will--a replica of an 1810 Lake shipping boat. The folks at the museum spoke of Ellen with glorious adjectives including "she's a great singer." Sea shanties are sung aboard Friend's Good Will and Ellen and the captain are leaders.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Our first morning in South Haven threatened thunderstorms and winds,
but the late morning was simply overcast. We'd slept in after the long
day sailing from Waukegan and another fireworks display with its
aftermath of noise. The plan was to take a dip in the Lake, get
breakfast in the old town area, and then get a couple necessary items
at the hardware store.

The Lake dip was cold but refreshing. There are many old and new
cottages near the North Beach area. Some of these cottages are on an
historic walking tour. By the time we showered and returned to
Speakeasy, the skies looked grayer. The radar showed severe weather
had already passed to the north and south. Rain, at least was very
likely. Hatches were closed and rain gear packed as we set out to
cross the bridge at the Black River. Rain with light hail began before
we got to the bridge so we took cover at the Michigan Maritime Museum.
In a couple minutes the wind slowed and so did the rain. We began

Captain Lou's under the bridge has breakfast but they had no tables so
we pressed on through a light drizzle. Clementine's was packed too, so
we pressed on through the light rain. The Golden Bakery had good
looking pastries, but only a cafeteria. Captain Nemo's had a table by
the window and the rain had picked up. Breakfast was over by now so we
settled for lunch. Just after we ordered sandwiches the power went
out. In the dark, we reasoned that ice cream would be better frozen
than melting and ordered some immediately. I had Turtle and Beth had
Chocolate Silk. The kitchen was slow due to the outage, but was able
to make sandwiches, which arrived on delicious rye bread. The rain stopped. 

Now that the rain stopped we could enjoy window shopping and
browsing the shops. The hardware shopping was much less casual. We
needed a good flyswatter--the cheap plastic we had was disintigrating
from the swarms of flies that kept attacking. We also needed a whisk
broom to sweep the deas fly carcuses. The broom was good but they were
out of swatters. Drats.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


It's 4:00 AM and my phone is chiming a wakeup signal. The captain, Beth, has called for an early departure for the 80 nautical mile trip across Lake Michigan. The swallows, which live under the slips, and a more exotic song bird I can't remember the song of are already awake.

The plan is to motor out onto the Lake quickly while cleaning and eating before setting the sails. Dock lines are casted and we're off.

The sun is still below the horizan as I carefully wind and stow the power cable and lines. The fenders, which we thought so highly of a few hours ago when they rotected us from the slip boards are forgotten until after coffee and then hastily stowed. The coffee was the best I'd ever tasted. The sun rose red.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


The Cruisers of the Columbia Yacht Club enjoy getting together at harbors in the southern basin of Lake Michiigan. This weekend we were in Waukegan, IL, which has a good marina with many slips. Other nearby amenities include a regional train, park, Waukegan Yacht Club restaurant, and marine services including boat sales, service, and storage.

We learn a great deal from the cruisers. Tips on docking, fueling, cruising, etc. Speakeasy's backstay adjuster was stuck. I didn't even know how bad it was because I didn't know how to use it. Basically, the adjuster pulls the top of the mast back and tightens the forestay. This can flatten the jib when sailling close the the wind, which improves the sail trim and, thus, sail power.

Really, the purpose of the club is to do something enjoyable (sail) and be with friendly others who like to do the same thing. It's about friends telling stories in the moonlight.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Day one of our cruise began as a spectacular day after a cool evening. Last minute packing and repacking was done so we dragged our gear to the street and grabbed a cab to Columbia Yacht Club. There we split--Beth to the captains' meeting and I to the dock where I was picked up by Mary driving her tender boat. She helped me load the gear and organized volunteers to unload at Speakeasy.

For the first time in recent memory the wind was light. We've had so many windy days with gust of 30-50 kts. Today we motor sail for much of the 27 miles. Or speed varied from a knot to 6 knots depending on wind and engine. Regardless of the speed we had a constant commpanion--flies. Hundreds of flies of different species. Some were smaller and others were larger. Some had red eyes. Some of the flies were biters but none of them were a match for our red swatter. Fly carcuses littered the helm until the white flooring could not be seen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


When the wind gets higher, Speakeasy begins to heel and it is difficult to control. Reefing the foresail and mainsail helps a great deal. We have only one foresail, a 155% genoa that can be furled on a roller. To reef this sail, we roll the sail so that the sail area is smaller. With a smaller foresail and a reefed mainsail, Speakeasy can sail smoothly in 30 kts or more.

At about 15 kts, Speakeasy likes the main to be reefed. At 20 kts, it likes the genoa to be reefed too. Beyond 20 kts, Speakeasy requires even less foresail until it might be completely furled.

Sue, our sail trimming expert also got Speakeasy sailing better in a light wind by reefing the foresail. This seemed counterintuitive to me, but she reasoned that the large sail was collapsing in the light wind and causing turbulance that slowed the boat. Decreasing the size of the sail increased our boat speed that day by 0.4 kts--quite an increase at 3 kts.

Weather Helm

Weather helm occurs when a sailboat is over powered by the wind. The bow wants to head into the wind and the rudder wants to follow it. This puts pressure on the tiller or wheel. It takes strength and determination to keep control of the boat. To reduce weather helm, one reduces the main sail area by reefing it--on Speakeasy, we ease the main halyard and tighten the jiffy reef line.

The winds in Chicago have been high this spring and early summer due to near-daily storms from the West. While the wind clocked at about 70 mph was wreaking havoc on an art fair a few miles north in Evanston, we were sailing in 30 knots, more or less, away from the storm. Without a reefing system it would be impossible to control Speakeasy in these winds. With all of the recent weather, we've grown confident in the system and have reduced our weather helm.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I read that lines should be replaced about every 10 years and Speakeasy is about 10 years old. I wondered if that was an old wives tale, a rule of thumb, a rubric, or what? What is the evidence? I've been collecting some. First, a few weeks ago, the clothes line part of the Dutchman flaking system failed and was replaced. Last week, a visiting sailor noticed that the spinnaker halyard had a tumor or so it appeared. The core of that line was bunched up on the outside of the protective cover and looked like a growth on the side of the line. We reasoned that the line could be dangerous if used to hoist a sail or a person. Since it was extra, it would likely have been put into service to lift a boatswain's chair if we left it installed. Instead, we took it down and replaced it with a "messenger" line--a smaller temporary line which can be used to thread a new line back up the mast without the need of a boatswain's chair to climb the mast. Yesterday, another line on the Dutchman system failed. The control line that directs the sail to fall into a nice flake on the boom snapped off near the top during a strong wind in the harbor. I was simply raising the sail while we were at the mooring can in order to flake the sail better since our attempt while coming in from a sail in strong winds was inadequate--I forgot to snug the topping lift before dropping the sail. So, three lines have failed at about the 10-year mark.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


A friend and sailor described a boat as an old cottage with
construction issues surrounded by water. Issues have kept Speakeasy
from sailing for 2 weeks. The current issue is the mismatched screws
holding the mainsail slider plate. This plate keeps the sail from
leaving the slot that holds the luff to the mainmast. The plate is
design to slide in one direction to allow the sail hanks to come off and in
the other direction to prevent them from coming off. Tension screws keep
the plate in one orientation or the other.

The issue is that the original screws are missing and the replacements
do not fit the threads tapped into the mast. I read a document on the
Catalina 320 site that put the screws at 4 mm. Threads on a screw
measured in millimeters are not the same as threads on an English screw
even if their diameters were the same, which they are not. Not only
are the screws incorrect they are incorrect in different ways. One is
too wide and one too thin. One is a straight slot head and the other a
Philips head.

The original screws had knurled thumb heads so that a sailor might
tighten or loosen the plate without tools. The current situation took
two screwdrivers. In fact one was so tight that pliers were necessary
to remove it--three tools.

This is Chicago not Dresden so the local hardware store does not have
stainless steel screws in 4mm size. This takes a trip to the boat
store. Even the boat store can't supply original screws. I opted for
4mm hexhead screws and hoped the threads in the mast haven't been
harmed so badly these screws won't hold.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Dutchman

Flaking is folding a sail back and forth so it lay without wrinkles and creases. The Dutchman Flaking System is meant to do this for the mainsail automatically "once it's adjusted properly," as the manual states. Speakeasy has a Dutchman system, which isn't adjusted properly. It's also based on old lines, some of which have signs of chafe.

During the trip back from Michigan, the wind picked up so we decided to reef--something we had just learned how to do. Reefing reduces the sail area exposed to the wind and can produce a smoother ride that puts less pressure on the sail and the passengers. However, once the sail was reefed the Dutchman control lines were chaffing against the sail. I was concerned that the sail would be damaged and attempted to adjust the Dutchman lines. When I attempted to get the adjusting line out of a cleat, it snapped. We lost the adjusting line and the topping lift that holds up the boom. That was enough sailing for the day. We brought in the sails and motored the last 5 miles to Monroe Harbor.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Power of Group

A group of sailors from Columbia Yacht Club got together over the Memorial Holiday weekend for a sail, party, and any boat challenges they could find. This is the first big sail of the season and most boats are just back in the water. Any of the boats could have some little issue with rigging, engine, and so forth. Speakeasy and her crew made the sailors weekend. We had enough inexperience to need all sorts of help and had lots of challenges for the sailors.

I had just replaced both the number 1 and number 2 batteries before the 37-mile trip to Michigan City. Nonetheless, I still had the same problem I had before I replaced them--the number 1 battery showed no power, offered no power, and couldn't charged. Word spread fast that I had a power challenge. Not long after we docked, George offered to help. Armed with his voltmeter, he tested the batteries and switch. He also checked my installation work. In a few minutes he suggested I test the switch by reversing the cables to the "1" and "2" switch points. This I did, which convinced me that the switch was fine.

The next day, Woody got wind that I had a power problem. He wanted to look at it right away and took me from my glass of wine. He was nearly giddy that there was a challenge for him. Woody did some of the same tests that George had done. He did a think aloud while perform some of them so I could tell what he was thinking. In answer to one of his questions about where a cable went to when it snaked under a settee, he challenged my answer. He searched (as did I) for the inlet and outlet of each power cable. Then, Woody found another cable, which he dredged up from the bottom of the dark space. A black negative cable that was supposed to connect the Number 1 and Number 2 batteries. We tested the difference when it was connected and not connected. Bingo. Problem solved. A good challenge.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Michigan City with Cruisers

The captain's meeting was at 0800 where there was a brief discussion
of the weather for the next few days over sips of coffee. A front was
moving in and a storm predicted for Monday with 30 knot winds, gusts,
and thunderstorms.

The sail over to Michigan City was beautiful--a steady wind of 10-15
knots and blue sky. It was cold. We kept going below to find another
layer to add to our heads, body, and feet.

We had never docked Speakeasy in a slip and had only done the maneuver
once before. I mention this to Paul, the cruiser chief, before we left
the Club Ship. Since we were the last ones in, we had 2 dozen hands at
the ready--and watching every move.

There was chaos. Beth had the fenders on port as we were told. Paul
shouted that they should be on starboard, so Beth change them. Then it
became clear that the port side was correct after all. During the double switch, one of the
fenders went in the drink. A boat pole was called for and I abandoned
the approach with a hard reverse. We tried again with lots of advice
from shore. The approach was better and I learned much. The next day,
with the wind at our bow, the docking went very smoothly and there
were only a dozen hands to assist.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's Power

The Columbia 26 we sailed last year seems so quaint now. It had no running water or head (toilette to the rest of you). It had no AC shore power and it's DC power consisted of a single battery charged by an outboard motor and a solar panel. It ran the running lights and VHF radio when necessary.

Speakeasy is a bit more complicated and I've been slowly getting the hang of it. There are two massive batteries (4D in the business), a DC control panel, and an AC control panel. I discovered this week that one of the batteries would not hold a charge. I madly read everything I could about marine batteries. I learned about house and starter batteries and of matched pairs of batteries. I learned about alternators, regulators and panel switches. I learned that marine batteries are expensive. I bought two this morning. My back is telling me how heavy they are, too.

One way to charge batteries is with the engine, which runs an alternator for the purpose. It takes a long time for a small alternator to charge a flooded (wet) lead-acid battery--hours. An alternative method is to plug the boat into shore power--a power plug on the dock--but it still takes hours to charge. To replenish our good battery and see if more charging might help the bad one, we motored to the dock last evening and plugged in. There was no power! This power struggle is getting to me. However, more experienced sailors tell me that I missed a circuit breaker so I'm off to try the shore power again. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Speakeasy Launch

There had been lots of anticipation leading to the day Speakeasy would be put in the water--into the Calumet River near Lake Michigan on the South Side of Chicago. Beth rose early on Thursday to be at the boat yard when she was picked up and carried to the edge of the river and lowered in. No scrapes, bumps, or bruises for Speakeasy. The bottom was painted and sides were polished. She had bright red letters spelling out Speakeasy, but would she float? I worried about the speedo that I screwed into a through-hull in the forward cabin. I'd never done it before. Was it water tight? Did it face the correct direction or would it only measure speed backward?

There were other concerns. We'd not had a diesel engine before, just an old and finicky outboard. Beth followed the engine technician and annoyed him with her questions. Was the drip in the stuffing box too fast? It was! Will she sink? Did you tighten the bolts enough? Is the oil ok? Where's the filter? How do you test the oil level? How do you start it? How do you stop it?

After that exhausting morning, Beth called our launch crew to make sure they were still available. One was on jury duty and the other was coming from 80 miles away. We were all ready when morning broke. It was launch day. A neighbor patiently waited while we packed gear in his car, got coffee, and collected our crew. We finally arrived at the boat yard about 10:00 still a bit groggy. It was overcast with a light 5-knot wind from the North. It was good. We were lucky.

Speakeasy was set to be one of the first boats out that day, but we had to check systems again and rig the main. We didn't trust engines. John was a rigging expert and soon had determined the lines--although the outhaul remained a mystery. We fit the main sail in the boom and replaced a messenger line with the main halyard. Battens fitted and sail raised. Sail number 612. She looked good. Then we fiddled with the Dutchman flake lines for a while. Only John had any experience with these lines that let the sail down in a nicely folded pattern so that a short-handed sailor could lower the main without the sail dumping onto the deck. The clock was ticking. The Harbormaster wanted us off. We decided that the main was good enough to raise, which was the important thing if the engine failed.

John and Jeff fitted the anchor in case we got stuck without power--a last resort. Now we were ready to check the bilge pump screws (I had left one of them lose previously) and test the engine. All systems go. The dock hands through our lines to us. We were underway. Only two draw bridges and an elevator bridge between us and the Lake.

None of us had communicated with the bridge workers before. Fortunately, another boat was sailing with us and knew the routine. She called the bridge and a few minutes later it opened. We could see the Lake ahead past the tugs and barges. What we saw were white caps. The wind had increased from 5 to 15 knots. We'd be fighting waves and wind for the next 3 hours. There was nothing to do but bundle up and head North.

We put on hats, scarves, gloves, and anything else that would keep us warm. Huddled in the cockpit, we told stories and ate sandwiches whiles waves covered our bow and weather deck. The shoreline told our progress--63rd Street Beach, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Merchandise Mart, Soldier Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Monroe Harbor was next. The waves subsided inside the outer wall. It was an easy motor to North Juliet 23, our mooring can. Jeff grabbed the can with the boat hook and he and John fixed a line to it. Soon we had the mooring bridle shackled to the can and Speakeasy was home and secure. We were cold and called for the tender to pick us up.

Ryan's Hot Wave, the Club bartender's version of hot chocolate with Bailey's Bristol Cream, warmed us up at the Columbia Yacht Club. We were among the first sailors to have boats in the harbor. We had successfully launched Speakeasy.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Clean Boat. Green Boat.

The Practical Sailor tries to give its readers a way to pollute less and lower their carbon footprint while enjoying sailing. The May 2008 issue reiterates some of the simple cleaning techniques that one can use on a boat--inside and out. The main ingredients include white vinegar, salt, baking soda, margarine, olive oil, almond oil, ketchup, concentrated lemon juice, and, of course, fresh water. To this list, add elbow grease. The simple solutions one can make are less harsh that some of the ones one can buy. To make up for the chemicals (mostly acids) in off-the-shelf solutions one may have to apply scrubbing, soaking, and multiple applications. If you don't have a Practical Sailor subscription, similar formulas are published online for household and boat use.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Day 6: Little Harbor to Road Harbor

Our last day away from the charter harbor in Road Town was exciting. We sailed around Yost Van Dyke with 15-20 kt winds, favorable for beam reaches and a ncie wing-on-wing run near the northwest of the island. It was our best ailing day of the week.

Captain Beth had an unfulfilled agenda item--man overboard practice. Once we rounded the west end of Yost Van Dyke, our wind died down to 10 kts or less. The Captain went through some dry runs and eventually two gallon jugs, tethered at their handles, were sent overboard. The scenario assumed that I went overboard and the Captain was the only other crew--a likely scenario.

On the first pass, I got run over and keel hauled--my jug alterego did. The next passes were much better. More practice when Speakeasy is launched.

We sailed on with a better wind as we approached Soper's Hole. Once we sailed through the narrows at Thatch Island, we caught a small squall. Some nice sailing, but upwind, and then it passed.

The group wanted one more chance to snorkel, so we moter sailed to Pelican Rock and were lucky to get a National Park mooring ball. With an hour left to reach Sunsail, we cast off for the last time and made a beeline for Road Harbor.

I thought it was strange that we could hear Moorings Charter communication on the radio, but not Sunsail. We thought we'd be able to pick them up when we got from behind Pelican Island, but we still heard nothing in the middle of Sir Francis Drake. We were relieved when reports began coming in and that a dock hand would steer thhe oat to a slip from the B Dock. All we needed to do was get to B.

I was at the helm and gentle poke our bow down B. This is not what I expected. No room at either end of B for another yacht. I decided to back out and wait for a sign. A dock hand reminded us of our dinghy painter, which I had forgotten. Beth and Bob monitored the dinghy and drew in the painter. We were free to peek on the other side of B Dock for room or help. Beth kept Sunsail apprised of our situation.

Before we had time to do much more, a very bad thing happened. We lost reverse. No problem, I thought, I'll keep the speed down and circle beyond the dock. Then, just as suddenly, we lost forward too. We were a drift and heading broadside at a catamaran at the A Dock. Bob jumped in the dinghy, which was tethered on the port and pulled us away from the cat. Meanwhile, a Moorings hand took our dock lines and helped us raft to the cat.

We sighed in relief and took stock for a moment. We did pretty well. We had fenders at the ready, Bob took the dinghy, we had found help on shore. Is this what the ads mean by Miller Time?

In a few minutes, a Sunsail hand come to our rescue in a dinghy. He asked some questions and went off again. When he returned, he had a plan to push us to what was left of a T dock on the far side of B Dock. There awaited two hands, who took our lines and secured us. We were home.

Julien, who had given our chart a boat review a week ago came around to see what the fuss was all about. He mused that it could be oil in the transmission fluid, a broken shift at the helm, or a broken shift cable. That last, that was it. A broken cotter pin allowed the clevis pin to work itself lose. This was waiting to happen for some time. Perhaps all week. "WD-40!" Julien shouted. "Why don't they spray with WD-40." There's a tip. Speakeasy is getting sprayed with WD-40.

After all took a long shower, we gathered to ride in Mr. Maloney's taxi to The Dove, where we had a 4-star meal a week ago. We were tired. Most of us were happy to be in civilian clothes again. Perhaps not Betty, who slipped getting back in the boat from the dock. More bruises. Damn, those high-heeled sneakers. Bob helped us toast the event with a very good bottle of Chardonnay. There would be no ordering off the appetizer menu on this night. We all gorged from the main menu and had desert.

We slept like babies while it rained all evening and through the night. The next day was a race to taxis, ferries, and planes. For a few hours more it was peace.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Day 5: Norman to Jost Van Dyke

A bit after dawn, we headed for a day mooring at Treasure Rock for some peaceful snorkeling. We nearly made our get away without paying the mooring fee, but all of a sudden a boat pulls up along side prepared to accept $25. The snorkeling was splendid.

Our aft water tank went dry at bedtime so we switched to the forward tank and planned a trip to Little Harbor on Yost Van Dyke, which claimed to have water and was near Sidney's Peace and Love and Foxy's (at Great Harbor). We got underway before breakfast so we dined on autopilot. Quiche Lorraign. The provisioner had made delicious meals for us.

Such light air, we had to motor to Little Harbor. Once passed Soper's Hole on Tortola, we tries the sails, but we quickly doused them again.

Our mooring was near a rocky shoreline that went nearly straight up to over 400 meters. The trees near the water were a Pelican rookery so we got to see Pelicans fish and groom. Snorkeling was not as good--too grassy, but we did see a Barracuda up close. While on board, we saw another turtle and schools of fish. Bob and Corkey never got close to any of them with their tackle.

Some of us walked the track from Little Harbor to Great Harbor to visit Foxy's. Bob and Sue took the dinghy. Sidney, who had visit our boat when we arrived to hawk his restaurant, appeared with two massive lobster and exclaimed that it was our dinner. Now we had incentive to return from Foxy's.

Foxy's had the usual island drinks, but it also had beer made on the island with Oregon hops. The men had to sample the red and brown ales.

Back down the track to Sidney's Peace and Love, our table was waiting. While Sidney commands the kitchen, his daughter is host and runs a boutique. That leaves no one to tend bar so it is self serve. Customers helped me get a bottle of wine and sign on our slip. When I got back to the table, five lobster halves were in front of all but Corkey, who had barbecue. I've never seen such large lobster or so much lobster on a single table.

What about the fresh water for our aft tank? "No water on the island. No water for us. No water for you." We and our guide book were misinformed. We went into conservation mode with only one day left.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Buckley's Book

In 1990 William Buckley was forming a crew for a transatlantic all-expense-paid cruise. All the crew members needed to do was write a journal and give the result to Bill for data for a book that he would write. The book became Windfall: The End of the Affair (1993).

I've missed an opportunity. There were six crew on Aegir Frey out of Road Town, BVI last week and only one (perhaps two) had any notes. If a journal were required, my skimpy notes would be much more robust. Perhaps I can get the crew to comment to my post?

Day 4: St Thomas Bay to Norman

Since we had been lucky getting moorings, getting the last one twice in three days, I got up at dawn to preare an early departure from St Thomas Bay. The weather was great for a sail with an easterly 15 kts. We had a great sail to Norman Island--aka Teasure Island.

By now we noticed that the fuel guage had not moved from 4/4. Full. The obvious solution was to measure the fuel with a clean stick. Unfortunately, the fuel cap required a wrench to remove the cap that we did not have. I called Sunsail to see if this was an issue. "No problem," I was told. Apparently, we had enough fuel for 2 weeks no matter what the guage reported.

One of the best snorkeling spots is Treasure Point, a bit of rock on the southeast side of the Mancheneel Harbor. Exotic flora and fauna awaited us and we were eager to get in the water. In addition to the plants and animals, there were caves to explore at Treasure Point.

Dinner was the best yet. We feasted on halibut and scallops--a creation of Sue's. It's so important to have a variety of talents on a cruise. We were fortunate to have several clever cooks aboard.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 3: Gorda to St Thomas Bay

We were ready for a big breakfast after a restless rainy night. A dangerous stove gimble unlatched and nearly dumped hot bacon grease on Betty. The breakfast scramble with bacon was terrific.

I tried to judge the best time to head to the T dock for our free water and ice. The aft tank was already empty and we didn't when water would be available again. When the breakfast dishes were done we were ready to proceed to the dock, but so were tree other boats. The decision was made to stand in line, which gave Beth an opportunity to practice motoring in close proximity to moored boats. Before we dropped the ball, Beth practiced shifting the transmission, which was not intuitive because it had a single lever for in-gear throttle and neutral throttle. Everyone had time to grumble about boats that treated the dock as a day mooring rather than a quick pit stop. Some boats took more space than needed too. Beth took us into dock like a pro, gently without hesitation. With Bob on the bow line and I at the stern we slowed the boat and walked it to the end of the dock so there was room for another boat behind us.

Once we had secured the boat at the dock, the crew split up to tend the dock lines, get charcoal and ice, empty the trash, pay the mooring fee, and, most importantly, fill the water tanks.

A few minutes later, we cast off to take a tour of Gorda Sound which contains resorts, no frills anchorages, and stores for locals. The bigget resort is the Bitter End. We took a long look at it as we motored past the largest mooring field in the BVI.

Our departure was much later than the previous day and we did not know how far we could go before we ran out of opportunities to get a ball for the night. Our course took us from Mosquito Island to St Thomas Bay where we got the last mooring ball.

It was time for a swim and cocktails. Soon, Corkey spotted a sea Turtle and a pelican while he fished. For a bit of Terra Firma, we took the dinghie to Virgin Gorda Harbor for a walk, shopping, and Painkillers (a local rum drink). All three women found jewelry. The men found a bottle of rum for more Painkillers onboard. Chickens. Pelican roosting.

Betty began talking of pies that she likes to make or Corkey likes to eat. Cherry, blueberry, and mixed berry. Soon we were squirming with hunger. We got in the dinghie and headed for the boat where chicken curry awaited.