Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bob's First Rule: Don't Fall Off the Boat

Every season, Beth reads a letter her brother, Bob, wrote to her about boat safety. The first rule is "Don't fall off the boat." It's a good rule. Our friend, Jim, always tethers himself to the boat at night or when single handing. That's a good idea. Since I landed in the water instead of on the dock the other day, I've been thinking about rule 1.

Sitting on the couch, not in the cockpit

Mark's leg is healing, but we will be here in Chicago until Sunday when we'll rent a car and head up to Whitehall. The good days of summer slip so quickly away, just as Mark slipped so quickly off the dock. If I looked in the mirror right now I'd see a perfectly formed pout on my lips. Feeling sorry for myself instead of seizing the day to tackle one or two tasks that need completion before we can move in together. I want to be on Speakeasy. Except for having difficulties with WIFI, I don't mind being removed from technology. I like having fewer choices of what to do, wear, eat, read. I relish being smack dab in the middle of nature. I especially love the constant connection with Lake Michigan. My awe and respect for the lake grows as does my concern for its future. So here I am on the couch and wishing I were on the water. Last year we had ten amazing weeks of summer after returning from our Harbor to Harbor adventure. This year we may have just as many good sailing days. So now let me clean out my files, choose a kitchen faucet, and be grateful for this day. Just this day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Looking Good

Docking is an art that can be improved with study and practice so the Speakeasy crew reads instructional books, watches instructional video, and pays attention when others are docking. Before we approach a dock or slip we review tasks, procedures, and strategy so it's not surprising that we look like we know what are about to do on our approach.

The other day we had two relative novices aboard, but we instructed them on what to expect and what to do. We took our positions and looked good. After we got in trouble and I landed in the drink the neighbors exclaimed "You looked like you had enough help. You looked good."

It turns out the being good and looking good are not the same. I guess it's not surprising that we looked good. Among the crew were three actors--two thespians and a clown.

My CPR flew out the window!

Last Thursday was an eventful day for Speakeasy! We took Sarah and Felicia out for a sail. From our mooring at Moxie's, we motored across White Lake to the channel which took almost an hour. Once out in the Big Lake, we put up our sails and turned the engine off. For an hour, we enjoyed blue sky, sun, wind, and waves of 2-4 feet.

As we returned to White Lake, we created a plan for docking. Winds were out of the north west and our slip (with starboard tie up) faces north so we anticipated that Speakeasy would be gently wedged into the dock. We put Felicia at the Port Stern ready to secure a line over the bollard. Mark stood at the bow, ready to get off the boat and secure bow lines. Sarah was at starboard mid-ship with a fender in case the wind bumped us too strongly.

I was at the helm as everything went dreadfully wrong. I turned into the slip. The wind pushed our bow to port. Mark yelled, "Starboard." It was so engrained in my brain that the wind would push us to starboard, that I didn't react. I saw the starboard stern bumping the post. I did not see Mark as he leapt for the dock. One foot on, one foot off, he slid against the dock into the water and immediately crawled back up. Finally I yelled, "We could use help," and two people from a nearby boat ambled over.

So many lessons to learn. But not yet. Sarah suggested to Mark that we go to an Urgent Care Center, but he said he was OK. We wiped the blood off and disinfected the 10 x 10 inch wound. We put on gauze and wrapped it with an ace bandage. Sarah fetched ice and we put some in a baggy and Mark put it on the wound.

We'd timed our outing so we could attend a booksigning at The Book Nook and Java Shop in Montague. We arrived in plenty of time, and I suggested Mark sit in an easy chair right at the window because it had an upholstered foot rest. As Jeff Alexander told us the grisly story of finding dead 70 dead loons on the shoreline, the room got hotter and hotter. I motioned to ask if the shade could be lowered to keep the late afternoon sun at bay, but no one responded. Later Debra did lower the shade, but by then Mark was sweating and dehydrated and possibly in shock. He leaned over and said, "I need water." I wove through the audience and asked at the counter for water but was told I couldn't get tap water because it wasn't filtered. I could purchase a bottle of water which was in a case on the opposite side of the room. As I figured out how to get to the bottled water without disturbing any more listeners, I heard my daugher say, "Mark!" I looked over, and he was slumped in the chair. I shot across the room and reached him almost immediately. I called his name loudly. He gave me a brief far-away look and passed out again.

What happened next? It's hard to remember accurately. Someone asked, "Shall we call 911" and I answered, "Yes, call nine eleven."

Fortunately, oh, so fortunately a man in an orange shirt took over. "Let's lie him on the floor. Get away everyone else. Let's lie him on the floor. Now elevate his legs." A woman brought wet cloths for Mark's forehead.

The paramedics arrived five minutes later. Debra told everyone to move outside. The paramedics lifted Mark onto a gurney and into the ambulance efficiently. By now, I was giving information to someone with a clipboard. Eventually I got into the ambulance. Jeff was talking to Mark. Keeping Mark talking to be accurate. They checked his heart, his pulse and told me in their opinion, we should go to the hospital. We drove off with Sarah and Felicia following in their rental car. I sat in the front seat with Tony. I couldn't hear what Jeff and Mark were talking about, but I did hear voices. I learned later that Jeff had shared his secrets for catching salmon with Mark.

After tests and X-rays, Mark was released at 9:55. Just in time for us to dash across the street and get his prescriptions filled. We arrived back at the cottage an hour later.

Now we're back in Chicago and Mark is recovering. We hope to get back to our beloved Speakeasy this coming weekend.

I took a CPR course in March 2009 at the Columbia Yacht and received my certification. But when faced with my first accident, I failed miserably. I have re-read my materials. I plan to re-read them regularly. I shudder to think how much worse the accident and the subsequent events could have been.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Safety Knife

Ray, the. Knife man of Stony Lake, sold Beth a fine knife, which she
use to open a box. The box contained new reels for her brother, Bob,
who chided Beth for dulling her knife by slicing paper and tape. I
hope she'll never have to use it as a safety knife--cutting her way
through lines on Speakeasy.

My very own knife!

I don't feel comfortable with knives. I'm fine with a butter knife, even a small Swiss army knife. But neither of those would be strong enough to cut a line on Speakeasy. Sailors need to be prepared. I don't want to end up like those three football players who couldn't extricate the anchor of their fishing boat and lost their lives.

So walking back from the Cottage Cafe, I suggest we stop in at a small concrete-block building painted an unassuming gray. Stony Lake Cutlery. I've gone by it hundreds of times and never had any desire to explore. But now I need a knife.

Mark and I open the door. We are surrounded by knives. Small, long, skinny, thick. Ray's smiling face greets us across the counter.

I tell Ray that I don't want a knife that I have to open up (a switch blade) because I fear that in an emergency, I would cut myself. He understands. He shows me a small knife which could be put into a black rubber sheath. Problem is, I cannot get the knife in or out of the sheath. Even after he oils it.

Then he reaches under the counter top and pulls out a knife encased in a tan leather sheath.

"Now, this here knife is an award-winning model. Won the award in 1958. Made in Nova Scotia. You won't find this knife in those catalogues like Cabala's. Only find a knife like this one at a store like mine. Why if I had to make this knife, I'd have to charge you three times as much."

Carefully he hands me the knife. Carefully I take it. I have trouble getting it in and out of the sheath.

"Do it straight. You got to slide it in and out straight, not crooked."

I practice. I'm getting the knack. He takes it back to demonstrate how I can hang it on my belt and how I can attach the string to the sheath if I'm going to use it a lot.

Sixty-dollars later, the knife transfers hands. Since I don't have a belt, I carry it. Carefully.

Mac Sunset

As the sun set on day 2 of the Mac, many boats were floating near
Stony Lake MI where we were visiting with family and friends for a few
days. It was going to be a long race with such calm conditions.

Friends need to stay in touch

Sunday our dear friends Robin and Patrick Dickson drove up from East Lansing . We hadn't seen them in one year! Friends need to stay in touch. Hugs, pokes in the shins, brushing elbows, every touch counts. Otherwise a friendship is skin-deficit, not unlike 'nature-deficit,' the sub-title of a book Patrick spontaneously gave me. Sitting on the deck, we caught up on all fronts while enjoying Chalk Hill Chardonnay. Robin has the world's most infectious laugh, and it was wonderful hearing it sprinkled throughout our conversatin. Later Sarah, Robin and I swam in the lake. Later still we grilled brats and finally drove to The Big Lake. Robin and Patrick had to get home, so we said good-bye with hugs and kisses. As Mark, Sarah, Felicia and I watched a glorious sunset, I thought about our skin time together. Yes, those xoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxo count.

A sailcloth bag for the sailor!

Guess what we're having for dinner!

Ray at Stony Lake Cutlery

Stony Lake's Cottage Cafe

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camaraderie at the Cottage Cafe

This morning Mark and I walked from our cottage at Stony Lake to the Cottage Cafe. Armed with mugs of coffee, we sat outside. Mark opened up the laptop to communicate with Chicago while I communed with the world according to Stony Lake. I chatted with Mary Chandler, local doyenne, property owner (my Bob rents a cottage from her) and banjo player with the Marek Music Makers. Also at our table was Jack Jonker, musician, entrepreneur and proud owner of a litter of puppies. Two hours floated by. No problems or perils of the outside world intervened. Nope, we're mesmerized by this almost off the map little sliver of paradise.

Of course, I was reminded that "Time shouldn't fly; it should float."

Libraries are wonder-full!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shore Duty

While Skipper Beth is in Whitehall, I have duty ashore. Pictured is
the man who wrestled the cast iron and porcelain tub out of our soon-
to-be-remodeled bathroom. He's remodeling a basement and had just
bought a medicine chest. After he took ours he exclaimed "I'm taking
the new one back."

Snuggling, asparagus, Pinot Noir, standing at the helm

It was cold last night. I battened down the hatches. Actually I battened up the hatches because I had to stand on our companion steps to slip them in place. I had nothing warm to eat. No soup nor chili nor even microwave popcorn. But as I dipped into the fridge to pull out the mixings for a spinach salad (brr!), I discovered a plastic bag with asparagus. I'd bought two pounds in Pentwater and only grilled up one pound. I broke the stems off at their natural breaking place. Topped with sharp cheddar cheese and microwaved for 3 minutes, I created a lovely little meal without leaving my cozy cabin. About that glass of Pinot Noir. It was from a box. Merlot and Cab can stand the restrictions of a box. Pinot Noir is too delicate, too ephemeral. Slush it around in your mouth after it's been boxed, it tastes like the box.

This morning it was still cold so I nestled in my sleeping bag with no desire to rise and shine. But born and bred of hearty Protestant stock, how could I justify lazing around? Why not write a serious blog? A heartfelt blog?

Since I'm snuggling in a double sleeping bag currently inhabited by only me, my thoughts are of Mark. Mark is my sailor partner. He and I bought Speakeasy 17 months ago and from day one, we've loved her and each another.

We love to sail, we love to lounge in the cockpit and let our Autopilot take control when the wind is lax. Last year Mark read John Barth's 500 page Sinbad the Sailor while I dipped in one book after another. What does that reveal about our personalities?

When the winds are up, we work in tandem to keep Speakeasy on a steady course. We divide the tasks according to our skills. I steer. Mark does everything else. He's 6'2", lithe and lanky. He can reach for lines any which way. He understands how that gasket fits into that spade around that winch and through that watchamacallit.

I steer. I stand at the helm. I point Speakeasy into the wind to raise and lower the sail. I give the call "Ready about?" when we need to tack (turn). Then "Hard to lee!" to turn Speakeasy's bow into the wind and start us on another tack. We've done a lot of that this summer. Occasionally we jibe. The command is "Jibe ho!"

When we're in Chicago, I'm good at guiding Speakeasy back to her mooring ball in Monroe Harbor. North Juliet 14.

But now we're on the road, so to speak. We're either anchoring or tying up at slips from Harbor to Harbor. As I blogged last summer, just imagine you're parking a yellow school bus without brakes and you're steering from the back of the bus. That's docking. I'm doing better this year.
I've even docked stern first!

So where's the heartfelt blog I promised? In between the lines!

We repect each other, we laugh. I'm trying to learn to whistle. Whereas Mark is focused, I skip around. Sure, I try to say,"To change the subject." But most of the time, the new thought takes over so quickly that I don't have time to transition.

Now I'm (new subject) off to the Farmer's Market!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stern First -- A First for Speakeasy!

Last year we arrived in Manistee amidst a rain storm so Mark steered us in and up the channel to our mooring at the Manistee Municipal. (The Marina that recycles everything!)

This year the weather was sunny and calm. I motored Speakeasy in and slipped her into her slip with ease. Sigh of relief. But then a glitch! Our power cable wasn't long enough to reach from their socket to Speakeasy's stern. Mark suggested we skip power; however, we planned to anchor the following night (i.e., no electricity), and the fridge was filled with food, so I didn't agree. Only one solution! Dock Speakeasy stern first.

Mark hauled the electrical cable on board. Julia (Municipal Marina) stood ready to let the lines go. Speakeasy was raring to go! Remember, she's "rassig." As you may know, sailboats have prop walk usually to port. In layman's terms, that means that in reverse, the boat swings to her port (left) side. Remembering that, I backed her up with aplomb. But the river current negated her natural swing. Somehow we made it out of the slip and into the river. I put her in forward and eased down the river. I turned the wheel. She pivots beautifully. Then I motored back up the river but missed getting her stern into the correct position. I pulled away for another try. Mark was ready to call it quits, but Speakeasy and I were determined. By now a man from a nearby boat had casually sauntered over to lend a hand. So we had Mark and me on board. Julia and helpful man on dock. I eased Speakeasy along side the ends of the docks as close as I could get. I eased her forward until her stern starboard was at the corner. Then I put her in reverse and turned. Lines were tossed. Fenders fended. She was in. Good girl! Stern first.

Julia said, "I've never seen a sailboat maneuver in stern first!"

The Library Closes in Two Hours....shhh!

After a delightful lunch at the Favor Cafe with Danny Hartman who helped me earlier to get online, I peek into the Montague Public Library located on the first floor of Montague's Municipal Building which houses City Hall, the Police Department and a Meeting Room. The library is bustling. Computers are all in use. Three little sisters in pink play hide n' seek up and down the fiction aisles while their grandmother checks out books. Five people behind her wait patiently.

Patience again! Cropping up a lot today.

I wander up and down the aisles-- surprised to find hundreds of mysteries and romances, science fiction, straight fiction but only one shelf of non-fiction before the Children's Section begins.

The poster outside proclaims, "Today is a good day to learn something new." Where are the books for that? Then I realize that nowadays we search for knowledge on line. So if I want to learn about astro-physics, electrical engineering or planting a garden, I do that electronically. Actually I'm not interested in any of those subjects just now. But I've figured it out. So I've learned something today! Case closed.

Now I've taken over a sturdy oak table. I've browsed through Birds of Michigan to find the Plover that Mark spotted in Ludington as well as the Wood Duck I claimed in Arcadia. Or was it a Surf Scoter? I'll order the book later from my independent bookseller in Printers' Row.

In the meantime, I planned to write Stern First and once again I'm being seduced by Montague.

The Book Nook & Java Shop

Live Music at 10 a.m. at The Book Nook in Montague

Yesterday I rode my little red bike on the Rail Trail four miles up the way to Hart. On the way back, I decided to explore Montague. There was nothing here the last time I drove (as in car) down this one-block long main street (Is it a main street, if it's the only street?) This time I discovered The Book Nook. Cranberry-colored walls, wooden floors, the requisite blackboard announcing "Montague Madness," Whitehall Whitewash," and "Sailor's Sludge." There's a pet store on one side and a Yoga Studio on the other. At the corner I found a pub and gift shoppe with French Provincial placemats (made in China).

Of course, The Book Nook has WIFI and it's free if you purchase a cup of coffee. So this morning I bike back with my Apple laptop in my backpack. I enter and realize that the music I had heard while parking my bike was live. At 10 a.m. on Friday morning! Sitting in the windowsill with his guitar quietly amplified strums and sings a man who could have stepped out of the 60's. How do I know? Because I recognize his music. "The passing years will show....Time after time, you'll hear me say that I'm so lucky to be loving you." Who was I loving then? I chuckle. I'm smiling again.

Oh, my! Now he's singing "Satin Doll." One of my dad's favorites. I never really listened to the lyrics before! Oh, my!

What a wonderful place. Like the General Store of Yonder Years. Four women chat about scrapbooking for granddaughers and getting exhaust pipes fixed. Two codgers sitting at a high top table compare notes about drag racing and repairing porches. One is eating a yogurt frappe. The other sips from a bottle of water.

This musician has my number! He's looking my way and serenading me with "Exactly Like You."

Next to me is a young man who graciously helped me get on line. It took fine-tuning and fiddling but he persevered. I told him him I'm practicing Patience today, and when I learned he's a seminary student, I asked if "Patience" is one of the beatitudes. I'd planned on googling it, but nicer to ask him. He said, "No, but it could be considered as part of "The Pure in Heart." We're going to get a bite to eat later so I can tell him more about Harbor to Harbor and learn more about his seminary studies.

Right now I'm bloggin' and practicing Patience (if only for a day.) The gray skies outside don't matter. Inside is the sense of community that drew me to Printers' Row more than six years ago when I stepped into the Gourmand and into a new life.

The simpler life gets, the more I like it. Why do we strive for the gold and glory? But that's another topic. In the meantime, I plan to write about the following:

Stern First: Docking in Manistee.

Blueberry Beams.

Four essential items for the savvy cruiser (see photo)

She Stoops to Conquer: An Arcadian Portrait

Sailing Home to Mama

My musician is packing up. I'll engage him in conversation. His name is Richard Ballard. "I've been playing guitar in my basement for 40 years. Now Deborah lets me play here in the mornings."

He'll be here tomorrow. So will I!

Dinghy EZ Was Not

On the pristine lagoon at Arcadia, we tested our new dinghy named EZ--a two-person inflatable roll-up model. I had difficulty getting the slats back in after I had taken them out to roll it into a small package to fit in the lazerette. a 10-minute job took nearly an hour while I wrestled with the slats and the inflatable tubes.
When we returned from the "Dingy Corral" I lifted EZ onto the foredeck fully inflated. I didn't need the frustration of putting EZ together again. Now we can simply throw EZ in the water when we need her.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lapping waves and Laptops

I awakened and looked out the porthole above my berth to see masts galore. What a glorious sight. Then remembering that my most creative time when writing Speaking Globally was at daybreak with a mug of hot English Breakfast tea, I hustled to turn on the LP, light the stove and boil just enough water to put into the thermos along with one tea bag. While I waited for it to brew five minutes, I noticed that the five photos for Paul Uhl, our Cruising Chair, had never wafted their way to his computer in Evanston. Drats. I put the laptop on the roof of the companionway. Five feet higher than the Navigation Table. Didn't help. The photos with the clever captions just sat there in the Send Box.

I poured the tea into a mug and added milk. I hate computers. There, I've written it. Mark is a computer guru, so I try to keep my fury contained. But no more. Trying to send these photos is ruining the nicest writing hour in my day. So do I stop? No.

I return to iPhoto and send each photo individually. I don't even send the largest version. The full version, they call it. I call it full of shit. Wow. First swear word of the day. It isn't even 9 a.m. and I 'm about to swear like a sailor. Why not? I am one! I'm not going to even read before I hit the publish post. Because I'd like to get back to writing.

To be specific, what I plan to do today is to transfer my witty poignant musings from three (yes, three!) notebooks to this blog. Not last year's entries. Although I may incorporate into this year's.

I like notebooks. They demand so little. Find notebook (usually the most challenging for me!) Open notebook. Find the next blank page. Preferably with wide blue lines. I like wide lines. Blue lines, please. Take pencil or pen. Write.

But only I can read my writing. And we want the entire world to be able to glance over my shoulder to know what I'm thinking and feeling. That's why I'm blogging.

I'm furious. Because now the sun hits the screen of the laptop no matter where I sit in the cockpit. So to blog, I have to go below. I have to deprive myself of sunshine sparkling on the water. Gentle breezes wafting through my tresses.

I go below and kneel in supplication before the nav station where the laptop sits omnipotent.

Any sailor will agree that the best moment at the beginning of every sail is when you turn the engine off. It makes a little beep, beep and beep. Then it's gone. The water laps against the sides of the boat. The winds reverberate through the sails and rigging. We are sailing! Leaving the noisy mechanical world in our wake.

I know I'm going to get that same satisifaction as soon as I publish this post and turn off this damn laptop. I feel the sides of my mouth begin to smile. Laptops be damned. I want the lapping.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Can You Write the Great American Blog When You Can't Even Get On-Line?

Furious, frazzled. What other 'f' words can I write to express my frustration? Mark went back to Chicago. Speakeasy and I are having a four-night sleepover here at Moxie's in White Lake. We have planned to have Speakeasy on the Michigan side of The Big Lake so we can have a lovely sail with my children and their partners.

In the meantime, I am planning to blog, blog, blog. Everything already written by hand will be transferred and posted. Last year I dreaded posting. I felt like I was hanging out laundry that had not been edited. Not even checked for stains.

This year, I have a new attitude. Let my words swing in the breeze.

So spending one fruitless (another "f" word) hour trying to sign up for Marina WIFI just about fried me.

I could have calmed my nerves by washing the kitchen floor. But the kitchen, whoops, galley floor is only two feet by two feet. So instead I talked up the hill. And over to the Wetlands Trail. An hour later I was calm. The sun still hadn't set. I returned and was able to complete the sign in. Now of course, I keep reading that this cannot be posted. So what do I do now? It's 10 p.m. I call it quits. Fizzling out. Finito.

Better by far by sea than by land

Last year, I intuited that entering a village by harbor is superior to driving into town. Now I can affirm that last year's hunch is correct! Today using my brother Bob's Ford Pickup, I drove Mark from White Lake to the Amtrak Station in Holland for his journey back to Chicago.

Then I decided to visit Grand Haven on the way back. Last year we arrived in Grand Haven on Speakeasy. We entered through the channel with the red lighthouse on our right. In the USA it's always "red right returning." We found our slip at the Grand Haven Yacht Club. We visited the Farmers' Market (Mark's rallying call, "We're out of pie!"), checked out the local museum, walked the beach, took the trolley. But most importantly, we entered from the big lake.

Sure there are charts and GPS. They don't compare to looking for a lighthouse. Miles away, we're unsure. Is that the entrance in the distance? On the interstate, you just speed by reading "Grand Haven Five Miles."

But out in the lake, we search for lighthouses and markers. As we approach the channel entrance, we check the wind and the current. As we enter, the board walk or the rocky walls wrap us in their protective arms. The waves subside. We can breathe. Then we motor up the channel. Perhaps we pass a coast guard station or a DNA research facility. We see people. And they wave. What a welcome! It's like coming home. It happens over and over again. From Harbor to Harbor.

Working on the Lake

Even while we enjoy the Lake and it's beauty, we must pause
occassionally to work. Beth was reading a telephone message for The
Great Books Foundation while we were anchored in the picturesque
lagoon at Arcadia.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Scribe

Writing on our way to Arcadia.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Waving and waves

As we motored out the Pentwater channel, fishing boats and speed boats passed us coming in. Every time I waved at the helmsperson, I received a wave. Some were energetic, some lethargic. I also waved at people standing on the channel boardwalk. A fisherman waved back. A skateboarder waved back. Farther out, I waved at a white-haired couple. No wave in return. The eldery gentleman turned to his partner. A short consultation. Then he waved at me. I wonder what she said to him. Just then a power boat sped in. Mark was on deck removing our sail cover. To warn him our boat would start rocking, I yelled, "wave." He raised his hand and waved.

I like the waving and the waves.

Big Sable Light

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A dryer sheet could have sunk Speakeasy!

Two hours of confusion. Speakeasy's two water tanks were out of water. The dock at the Muskegon Yacht Club didn't have water so I dragged a 200 foot-long hose out from the clubhouse. Not long enough to reach Speakeasy. Then an old codger appeared and turned the dock water on. We attached the hose and stuck it down the water intake in the stern. Every once in a while, a huge amount of water gushed out the bilge outlet. The water tank was discharging water as fast as we could hose it in. We had an issue. Details to follow in a later blog as it's now 7 a.m. and we need to leave for Pentwater. After consulting with Mark, Bob, and Shurflo website, Jim dove under the sink. The culprit? The cold-water hose to the hot-water tank had become loose. An hour later after both of us were in a variety of contorted positions on the floor, the clamp was back in place. We need a second clamp.

So what about the dryer sheet? We'd stuffed them around cushions to keep the damp and bugs out while Speakeasy was in dry dock. Who told us to do that? Maybe Roberta. One dryer sheet had wedged itself in our bilge tank clogging up the limber hole. That meant the bilge pump float switch didn't activate. That's why we had water all over the floor.

So a dryer sheet could have sunk our boat. Irony indeed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coal Dust in Paradise

Dick Christian persuaded us to explore Port Sheldon.  No amenities.  No slips.  We motored in the narrow manmade channel and found ourselves in  sweet little Pigeon Lake.  We anchored on the north side of the lake at 17 feet.  Famished from the day's fresh breezes, we fired up the propane grill and soon two thick pork chops were sizzling. Fresh Michigan asparagus and slivered carrots bathed in olive oil and balsamic simmered in the veggie grill pan.  The pork was succulent!  The veggies were crisp and colorful.  Later the sky darkened.  The moon put in a sudden bulbous appearance.  Within three minutes she had hoisted herself above the distant tree-lined shore.  Shimmery clouds veiled her face.  Finally she stretched a beckoning path across the lake to Speakeasy's bow.  But we were not beguiled.  We went below and went to sleep.  We awakened  and went on deck. A thick layer of coal dust covered Speakeasy. Last night we'd heard Caterpiller Frontloaders as they shoved coal into hoppers up the tracks to the top of the power plant to heat the water that had been sucked in from Lake Michigan to create steam to create electricity so that the folks in this area can watch TV instead of the sunsets.  Progress at the cost of paradise.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Small Town Talk in Saugatuck

A brisk walk up the main street in the early morning sunshine. All the shops are closed. But as I approach a red brick with white trim one-story building, I see men entering the post office. Once inside I overhear the small talk. One customer, his friend and the Post Master converse: "Here's my friend. He's from Georgia." "Like the new stadium?" "I helped build it. Only could work on it weekends." "Do they let you into the press box?" "Yup." "Better than the one we got in Geogia." "Yup. I got a VIP pass." "Heard the Lions are going to practice here." "Yup. When they get around to it." ""Sixteen to Zero. Hard to break a record like that." "Yup."

Small town talk. I hate to break it up by asking for stamps. But I do.

As I exit, a second contingent of citizenry enters. Silver-haired women in cotton knit tops, polyester pants and white tennis shoes. I wonder if they join the conversation or just collect their mail.

I like being in a small town post office. I like being in all the small town establishments we encounter on our Harbor to Harbor adventure. The hardware store, the ice cream store, the drug store. But now we're off to an Art Gallery in Douglas. Or maybe we'll just board Speakeasy and head north. We don't have to decide for another five minutes.

Speakeasy? She's "rassig." That's racy in German!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Crayon

One of the delights of a summer picnic is the children who enjoy every bit of it. One of our delightful children (among the extended Columbia Cruising Fleet family) was coloring in a dime-store book while her older sister did word-find games in another. Each was obsessed with her task. The younger sister lost a crayon on the dock, through a space between two slabs, but it didn't fall into the river instead landing on a spanner just above the water. Dorothy spotted it and I couldn't help but make it a challenging game to attempt to retrieve it. The girl didn't seem to mind one way or the other.

Lee's strategy was to spear the crayon with a hot wire. Jim thought it would float in the same direction that a wine cork would so we should dump it in the river--which is what eventually happened but not before the hot poker strategy was tried. I ran to Speakeasy to get a wire hanger and a lighter. I unwound the hanger and heated one end. I carefully lowered the hot poker through the space between two slabs and down about 18 inches to the crayon. The wire started to melt the crayon, but then it cooled and the crayon rolled. I decided on a another strategy--to create pincers to grab the crayon using the hanger. I bent the wire and smoothed the ends and gave it a good careful attempt, but instead of grabbing the crayon it spun around and dropped into the river.

Based on Jim's theory of crayon floatation, we put a cork in the river and watched which way it flowed. The wind carried it slowly upstream. We watched for some time, but saw no crayon. Then, one of our group asked again if a crayon would really float. The youngster did her own test by throwing another crayon in the river. It sank immediately.

The game was over. The stories told. Another successful Cruiser picnic.
July 6th arrives. Blue sky. Sun. Gentle breezes. And Mark leaves. He and sailing friend Dorothy (aka Mermaid Girl) take the Amtrak back to Chicago. Sailing friend Jim Haring and I continue on Speakeasy. Today we plan to get to Saugatauk.

We've already lugged the twin bikes into the salon where they are resting on the salon berth -- carefully bungeed to a shroud in case the seas get bumpy.

My breakfast of fresh Michigan blueberries, oatmeal and cream (real cream!) was delicious. How easy it would be to stay here another few days, but we haven't sailed since Friday, and Speakeasy is raring to go. Delightful that our boat has a acquired a personality. In a word, she's "rassig." Get out your German dictionaries for clarification. Or wait for my next blog.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independance Day

The sun rose on a lazy day that featured a pancake breakfast by the
Rotatarians, an art festival in Stanley Johnson Park, and an ice cream
social. All of this before dinghy rides, dock dinners, and fireworks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Preparations for South Haven, MI

Among the preparations for cruising to South Haven, MI from Chicago are filling the larder. Beth got some great lox for Friday morning. Although the weather report is for light winds and clear skies, we have lots of clothes packed in addition to foulies. The RADAR reflector and tether line go up tomorrow.