Thursday, August 20, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hove To Picnic

Every year the armed services presents their air and water craft on the Chicago waterfront. It's a dazzling display of flight--I've never been close enough to see the water part of the show. Since we live in the flight pattern of the show, we get a week of window-rattling jet fly-overs. To get away from the noise and vibration, one can go to sea.

We set sail from Monroe Harbor to get some comfort from the heat, but it was also a better way to get away from the noise and see the air show. At about 3 miles, we were beyond the close-in craft getting a close look and within the racers in the Verve, which were out about 5 miles. Here, we hove to and got out our picnic (thanks to Susan for this picnic tip). Surrounded by lots of traffic, but in no traffic pattern, we enjoyed lunch and the air show. What a surprise.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Repairs after the sail

After over a month on Lake Michigan, Speakeasy is dirty and needs repair. The cleaning is the usual tidying, washing, and waxing. There are a couple of broken parts that need attention: the boom vang and the head plunger.

Speakeasy has many Garhauer parts including the boom vang. Garhauer gets high marks from sailors for quality, durability, and cost. However, the boom vang fitting to the mast sheared in half a couple of days before we came back home to Chicago. I made a temporary repair with lines so that the boom vang would not harm us, the boat, or itself, but it was useless as a vang.

I wrote to Garhauer, which wrote back immediately with a part. I sent a photo of the broken part just to make sure and got an immediate varification. That's good service. The part will arrive in a couple days.

I'm not sure what is wrong with the head, but the stool no longer holds any water--it drains out. I think this is due to a faulty valve in the plunger. The result is that we often have stinky air in the head coming directly from the holding tank. I've got a new plunger, but don't relish the task ahead.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Living the Dream

We're home. The sail back from New Buffalo was fast and furious. We awakened at 6 a.m. to the sound of dogs barking....Mark's choice for the iPhone alarm. Without coffee or our daily dose of Michigan blueberries, we checked the weather forecast, then unhooked the electric and warmed up the engine. Leaving Ellen Fiedler's slip (B105) was easy. Reverse, glide. Reverse, glide. However, when I put the engine into forward, I couldn't turn the wheel. Or thought I couldn't. I'd checked it before departure. Does it jam? Do I jam? I need to check this out when other boats aren't in the vicinity. Mark yelled, "Starboard." That damn "Starboard"! Eventually the wheel responded, and we moved past the four boats on our port side without incident.

We left the channel and were on the high seas by 7 a.m. We put up the sail and jib. The winds were brisk. Our heading was 270. The winds increased. The sun came up. Photo op! The winds increased. We reefed the jib. Then we reefed the main. Although we had less sail out, our speed didn't decrease. Speakeasy was racing along at 6.8 to 7 knots. As fast as she could go! At first I was nervous. What if the winds increased? Thankfully until the home stretch, they stayed at about 20.

The final hour was breathtaking. Literally. The Chicago shoreline was within reach as the winds picked up. Mark said we'd take in the foresail. At my starboard post, I waited for him to give the command, "Release." But he didn't. Of course, if I'd looked in his direction I would have seen that he was trying to bring in the jib. When I finally did release, the foresail went every which way. We finally brought the boat back to order but it was harrowing with the sail out of control.

Now we were "So close and yet so far."

I aimed for the cut with the Chicago Light on our starboard side. I turned on the engine for better maneuverability. We went through the cut. I took a deep breath. Once inside the outer wall, I headed into the wind to take the mainsail down. For some reason, it wouldn't come down. Mark had to go up to the mast to ease it down. With gusts of up to 30, that unnerved me. However, he managed with ease and grace!

I motored around the second sea wall. Now came the challenge of finding our mooring. We'd left it more than one month ago. And it was new to us: North Juliet 14. I no longer remembered exactly where it was and certainly couldn't visualize any of the surrounding boats. Suddenly I remembered that we'd put a pale blue trash can with a hot pink protective noodle on the mooring can. In the distance, I saw it. The colors had faded but the adhesive J 14 were visible. We headed straight for it. Mark reached out and grabbed the mast buoy.

We were home! The heat was sweltering and the noise of Lallapalluza was overwhelming. I needed to get off the boat and find shade and quiet. Quickly we stashed the perishable food (including a five pound box of blueberries) in our backpacks, grabbed the laptop and one bag of dirty clothes and called the tender. At the Lakeshore Drive crossing, I spotted an empty taxi who sped us back to our loft. We raced for the shower, dropping backbacks and sweat-soaked clothes en route. After a luxurious shower in our own shower, we drank huge glasses of cool water and stretched out for a snooze. Grateful, oh, so grateful for air conditioning. Later I retrieved the Sunday New York Times and Mark ventured out for milk.

We whipped up bowtie pasta with arugula, feta cheese and Michigan tomaotoes. We drank Fonthill Sea Air Verdelho 2006 wine. We stretched out again to read the paper and slept.
Now it's Monday morning. Mark's already at work and I'm vowing to write every day.

Richard Reynolds was on Speakeasy last week in White Lake along with my brother and friends TJ and Jodie. When Richard, whom I've known for decades, stated, "Living the Dream," he caught me off-guard. I'd never actually verbalized what we're doing. But it's true. We are living the dream. Doing what we love to do and loving each other.

For now Harbor to Harbor adventures are over. Next summer we will explore the Channel Islands. In the meantime, let's see if I can turn this blog into a booklet or a playlet or at least an outlet for my need to be creative and productive when I'm not on the water. When I'm on the water, all other needs fade away.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dinghy Cruise

While our friends were cruising in their dinghies to F Dock, we
cruised our dinghy, EZ, on the Galien in New Buffalo.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stuck in Saugatuck

We didn't get to know our slip neighbors in Grand Haven until we were
about to cast off. Two motor cruiser were sailing together from
Peoria. They intended to go to Beaver Island (as had we) but poor
weather left them stuck in Manistee for 4 days.

Once we were out of our slip and past the brass band rehearsal and
dancing water display, we made good time to Saugateck--mostly motor
sailing. Our intention was to drop anchor just inside the channel and
dinghy up the Kalamazoo to the bustling tourist center.

We turned into the anchorage a couple of boat lengths from the channel
buoy and were stuck in 3.5 feet of water--at least that's what our
depth meter read. I suspect the depth was about 4.3 since our depth is
4.4. We wiggled out of the muck and backed into the channel. There was
nothing to do but head up river.

Beth radioed various marinas, but a fishing tournement had taken all
the slips. Our only chance was if Tower Marina could loan us a slip
used by a yearly customer who was away. After some confusion about
whether we were a sail or motor cruiser and more delay, we got slip 7
at Tower. By now we were in Saugatuck and Lake Kalamazoo.

We began looking for the Marina, which was on the south side of the
river in Douglas. In front of the Marina was a confusing set of
markers--no wake, green, and red. A large paddlewheel boat was coming
at us. We veered toward the Marina into the no wake zone, avoiding a
class of kids sailing dinghies. Where was slip 7 anyway? Oops! We were
stuck again. This time the meter read 3.3.

We shook the boat and tried to back out, but we were too far in the
shallows. I hailed a couple I had seen earlier in a dinghy similar to
ours. They were happy to take the anchor out so we could kedge our way
out, but we manage to only turn the boat around and get a few yards. I
should have let all the line out.

Meanwhile, Beth called Tower Marina. They agreed to tow us to the
channel. Soon two great guys were hauling up our anchor and towing us
across yards of muck to the channel, which was just 15 feet deep. We
were no longer stuck in Saugatuck.

The Call of the Blueberry

Heady matters today! We're on the boat and in port. Grateful that Michigan's blueberries make us regular. Once we've finished our coffee and fresh blueberries with peaches atop oatmeal that we've covered with heavy cream, we head for the bathhouse. Bathhouse is a euphanism. We're heading for the toilet. There in a steel stall with cinderblock walls and linoleum floors slanting to a center drain, we do our business. My family calls them "beams": a word coined by toddler Sarah decades ago which immediately and permanently replaced "BM."

Doing our beams on land makes living on Speakeasy more pleasant. The fumes emanating from the head are less odoriferous. And since we have a rule that not even a single piece of toilet paper can be put down the head, completing our "Toilette" on land is more sanitary.

Ode to a Muskmelon

The farmer lady says, "This is a good 'un" We buy it. While I fetch coffee at the main street cafe, Mark halves the melon and scoops out baby-tooth seeds and squirmy innards. When I arrive at the picnic table in the sunshine, the two juicy halves await me. As I tuck in a spoon and sliver out a bulbous morsel, I inhale the musky ripeness. A first bite summons muskmelons of yesteryear. Pungent sweetness slides down my throat. Oh, but could we return to the tastes and sighs of summers past.

But why so melancholy, oh, melon?

This is the day to let juice and memories trickle down my chin.

Praise to the lowly muskmelon--not the cantalope nor the honeydew. You catapult me from present to past and back to present. Slurp.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Market Day in Grand Haven

Last summer when we were fortunate enough to stay in Grand Haven it was Market Day. The farmers market is on public riverfront property near a museum and the fish cleaning station. I assumed that we missed the Saturday market this year because we pulled in on Tuesday afternoon. Last year we were out of pie (and other things) and our case was similar. To my surprise. We Discovered that Wednesday is also Market Day. We were in luck--an early morning stroll through the farmers' stalls before heading off to Saugatuck.

The produce was piled high with vegetables, peaches, blueberries, cherries, and apples. Also, the lady that had pie last year had a cherry pie waiting for me. Yum.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Goodbye White Lake

We returned to the scene of the accident, Moxies in Whitehall, to leave the memories behind. It's not that the memories were all bad, we had lots of fun with family and friends and enjoyed Whitehall and sister city Montegue (Book Nook and Java Shop, Utopian Market, Beth I's Pies). White Lake, we'll return.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Eight foot waves and gusts to forty!

Sipping coffee and wiping up the egg yolk with a thick slice of
buttered home made toast, we are waiting out the weather at The Favor
Cafe in Montague. The walls are painted sky blue, but through the
windows, the sky is steely gray. We walked here from Speakeasy.
Mark's foot and leg ate still swollen so it was a slow walk. Next we
will get provisions at the local food store. We hope to set sail
Tuesday for Grand Haven--once the waves and winds subside.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Counting the days and now the hours

We're picking up the car at 9:30 a.m. and driving to Muskegon where we can leave the car. My brother will drive us the last 20 miles to Whitehall and Speakeasy. We plan to stop for blueberries and peaches, corn if it's ripe. But what we really want is to be on our boat. She (boats are always feminine) is where we feel most at home during the summer. Mark has checked the weather forecast: high waves and strong winds so we may have to rest in Whitehall for a day or two before heading back to Chicago.

If we get to The Book Nook, we can blog. If not, you'll hear from us within a week or so. We have friends waiting in the wings to help us if need be. But I'm sure we'll manage just fine. I may have to tread outside the cockpit more than usual. Mark may be at the helm. But we'll be on our boat.