Saturday, July 24, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
|South Shore Yacht Club at First Light|
Light rain followed the fog and wind and waves picked up. The wind was on our nose and kept increasing from 10-20 knots. By the time we reached the Chicago Light, the wind was 20-30 knots.
We didn't know how bad the storms were behind us. The Milwaukee area had inches of rain and tornadoes. We, however, were safely at harbor where we dined one last time on Speakeasy before going ashore.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Jack Klang, a resident of Suttons Bay, MI and an expert on single-handed docking has been a great influence on me. He's a master of the spring line. For our trip, I got two beautiful 50-foot lines and mid-ship cleats that affix to Speakeasy's track. All set.
In practice, I may be the worst line handler on the Lake. I've dumped the spring line in the water several times, given dock hands lines with knots, missed lassoing cleats, and (this may be the worst of all) aimed for the wrong cleat so that I couldn't stop the boat before the bow hit the dock.
I'm totally incompetent and must mend my ways before something really bad happens.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday morning. as we approach the “open on demand” bridge in Sturgeon Bay, I’m at the helm. Radioing to the Bridgekeeper, Mark is prepared to give Speakeasy’s height (48’ from water line to the tip of the mast) but since he isn’t asked he doesn’t divulge! Mark’s from Wisconsin. (More about Cheeseheads, the Musical in a later blog.)
Speakeasy glides slowly in neutral. Cars and vans continue to cross. Then the barricades drop.
Slowly and symmetrically, the bridge opens above us.
I put Speakeasy in gear and give her some throttle. But not much. Gracefully we slip under the open arms of the bridge.
Once we leave the bridge behind, we cruise through a man-made channel and past a magnificent lighthouse out into the Big Lake. Ready for a new adventure. Together and heading in the same direction.
Later today, we talk about our wedding vows. We plan to use images and memories from this sailing summer. Special to us and hopefully to our guests on 10-10-10.
Case in point. We had only an exposed wall to tie to in Algoma. Last week it took all of the harbormaster's wits to keep a boat from sinking. Another boat wasn't as lucky.
Another example. The dock hands in Kewaunee included a man on a cell phone, his 4-year-old daughter, a power boater from Marquette, and the harbormaster. We prepared for a port slip, but had the end of a dock shared with another boat. The dock had a cutout in it so that the entire length was not on the same plane It was only a port tie if you swung wide into very shallow water and played current against wind.
I'm in a foul mood so here are other complaints. We were given no instruction about wifi, which is important for this blog. The bathroom was nearly out of paper. The office was open for a couple minutes when we arrived and a couple minutes before we left. This cost twice as much as Menominee. Take me back to Michigan!
|Speakeasy in Kewaunee|
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The library is one of the spots where one can pick-up a yellow bike and ride it to another bike-friendly spot without charge. The library also has a story garden with plantings themes from well-known tales.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
As a test, I took the PowerBook to the lounge to upgrade Safari. Which I couldn't do in Leland or Pentwater where I had tried. The software downloaded without a glitch. Later in the evening Beth and I returned to blog and check weather for an early departure. The wifi was working but it suddenly disappeared. In the early morning, however, I could check the weather from Speakeasy using the extender. So, I'm not certain, but I suspect heavy usage is to blame for most of my wifi problems.
The Wirie folks are very responsive to my email queries. They suggested that it might be mast interference or too many access points on the same channel. On Beaver island, there are several open wifi spots near the harbor and even more private ones. With many fewer boaters vying for the bandwidth, but many more local users, I could get better performance before noon.
In many harbors, I've gotten better performance without TheWirie than with it. In Menominee, MI, for instance, I could not keep TheWirie active for more than a few seconds without a disconnection. Without TheWirie, I had a stable connection. I suspect software.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Although I have studied the chart of Beaver Island, including the arial photo provided in Lakeland Boating’s Lake Michigan Ports ‘o Call (aka The Bible), finding the red buoy to go around is difficult for me. A building with a day-glow red roof makes it even harder to spot that red buoy. Mark yells, “Don’t aim for the roof, aim for the trees to the right of the roof.”
The gusts are fast and furious. The flapping, clapping noise of the sail is infuriating. I steer to reach the private marina with whom I had communicated before everything went haywire. Now Mark wants to anchor to fix the foresail, but I don’t have enough control and am afraid Speakeasy will run into an anchored boat.
As we pass the municipal marina, I see that the width of the slips is generous. We must dock here.
As I make my approach, several boaters miraculously appear on the dock. Roland (I learn his name later, of course) gestures for me to use my handheld to communicate, but I can not hear him. Besides holding it in one hand and trying to steer with only one hand is hopeless. I let it drop to the floor of the cockpit and watch Roland’s hand signals. He motions for me to come into a slip with starboard tie up. Mark quickly puts on stern and bow lines and gets a couple of fenders into place.
I approach the slip with one thought running in my brain: This is not the time to come in slowly. I must use power. I must overcome the wind and the waves with the diesel engine. No success. At the last instant, I put the boat into reverse and give it as much juice as I can. We veer off, missing the dock. The boat is like a wild bucking bronco.
Now Mark takes over the helm. I move to the bow of the boat. People are yelling. I balance myself on the deck and grab the bowline. I know I must toss it to the man awaiting it. I must not let it fall into the water. If he cannot catch it and stop the boat, Speakeasy willl crash into the front of the dock.
“Throw the line,” this stranger yells. I hesitate, breathe deeply and throw the line. He catches it, snubs it on the cleat and Speakeasy is stopped in her tracks.
It’s over in an instant. Speakeasy has been reined in. The sail still thrashes out of control, but we are in a safe harbor. Two men jump on board to help us get the lines in the right places. Then when they leave, we reposition Speakeasy so we can get the electrical outlet cord into the dock outlet. We turn on the power. We sit down. We don’t do anything. The adrenalin burst subsides. We are exhausted, but safe and sound.
And the day had started so differently!
Let me set the scene. We awaken at 4 a.m. in Leland Harbor. We stumble over the gang plank to use the heads. I am startled to find the cleaner woman in the ladies’ room. “Now I know why these bathrooms are so clean,” I declare.
“I have to get an early start,” she responds. “I like to be finished by 5:00 a.m. It’s too busy to work in here at night.”
By almost 5 a.m., we are almost on our way. Mark makes coffee in the percolator. Then I turn off the LP, throw out the jacklines for future installation, and tidy up the salon.
I start the engine and have an overwhelming desire to make a blueberry run. Since I have already left our entrance fob in the Marina Building, I plan to knock on a window, but lo, and behold, Ms. Early Bird Cleaning Team of One opens the door as I approach. A sign. A veritable sign. I believe in signs when I’m sailing.
Blueberry dump accomplished, I head back to Speakeasy and take the helm. Mark releases the bow line. I hand the stern line to him as he jumps aboard. I turn the wheel to port and ease us out of our improvised slip. We motor around the boats -- giving the Hinkley a wide berth -- and leave the harbor (red light to port and green light to starboard.)
Hello, stars! Big Dipper, Small Dipper, Orion, and many more. Breathtaking. Light wind as we put up the main sail.
We sip our coffee and salute a new day!
Later I fix fresh blueberries raspberries and strawberries on a bed on Siwss Muesli and cover with Fresh Naturaly Yogurt. Health fiends have nothing on us.
We sail. Actually we motor. Light winds require it. Three hours after departure, we have a blueberry pie break. Delicious.
As soon as possible we kill the engine and sail. Mainsail and foresail. Five knots. No other boats. On course.
We wing and wing for hours. Then the winds die a bit. I want to watch the World Cup Finals. Surely we will be able to do that on Beaver Island so Mark turns on the engine.
At the same moment the wind increases forcefully.
We make it in and learn several hours later that The Netherlands has lost to Spain. Anti-climatic after our adventure.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
We have been living on Speakeasy for a week; however, this is my first blog.
Leaving Arcadia – well-named lake -- like glass. Quietly motoring out the channel, I have a glimpse of what it might be like crossing into heaven.
Influenced no doubt by the knowledge that my mother was born in Arcadia 98 years ago in 1912. I remember how frustrated she became in the new millennium calculating her age. “Beth, I just don’t understand how to figure out how old I am. I was born February 14, 1912.” By then she was 88 but she couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t subtract her birth date without what’s that called, taking away?
Seque to the sand. I cannot get enough of these dunes, especially here where they drop almost vertically into the limpid lake. This morning some are still shrouded in clouds. A big puffy mass of air with a misty underbelly. The sun will soon warm the clouds into submission.
To portside, which since we’re heading north is actually lakeside, two fishing boats perch on the horizon like complacent seagulls.
Now a monarch butterfly flits across Speakeasy from starboard to port and wishes us fair sailing.
Directly ahead, a fine black strip crosses the water like a low-slung breakwater. At 10 o’clock (the way boaters point out objects – using the bow of the boat as 12 o’clock on a wristwatch), the breakwater appears to open – or so it might seem if we were delirious and seeing a mirage. But we’re not. We have lots of water (only beverage while sailing), sunhats, sunsreen and even a sun umbrella that casts a welcome shadow over the helmsman, currently Mark.
Back to those creamy Palomino colored dunes. Small bushes and dune grass barely keep the golden sand from cascading into the water. Three hundred miles of sandy dunes skirting up the western shore of Michigan. Should be on the Register of Historic Places as the dunes are eroding away.
Today we’re motoring 5.7 knots per hour in 60 feet of water. We’re making our own wind which registers at 2.2 knots.
The clouds above cannot make up their collective mind. Cumulous crowd out mackerel-shaped ones whose striated wispy strips hang over the lake. Magical.
Friday, July 9, 2010
We woke to fog in lovely Arcadia. The many swans that flew in with their machine-like thumping sound were gone. However, when the fog lifted, a swan appeared with two cygnets in tow, feeding just 200 feet from Speakeasy.
The fog was gone for 10 miles but returned as we approached the Manitous. A phone conversation told us that fog was lifting in Leland, our destination. We hoped it wouldn't be foggy for 20 miles. We had used the new radar heavily while entering Arcadia, but we were not expert users yet. Fortunately, the fog lifted as quickly as it engulfed us. It soon became hot and Beth began using our beach umbrella in new ways to keep the hot sun off of her. A boat, Puffin, passed us with a bimini. Why didn't we have one of those?
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Not sure what day it is. Got out of Pentwater about 9. Rain with periods of dry and sun. Dinghy strapped to mast in a bag gives more room in the fender locker. Engine running well and all day due to the very light breeze. As we past the Luddington Light, we thought of both Vera and Ruth whose ashes are strewn there.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Beth and I scurried to get our laundry to Snug Harbor before our planned breakfast with her cousins at the Cottage--a favorite of ours in Pentwater. I volunteered to wait for the clothes left in the drier and gave my order to Beth to get the usual--salmon omelet. I hurried back to Speakeasy with the dry laundry and threw it in the galley and on the ladder. The forward hatch was closed, I could see, but I wouldn't take the time to close the companion way (or check the other ports). Soon after I sat down for my delicious omelet, a huge and long down pour came out of no where. I should have gone back, getting soaked was better than wet electronics.
When we returned, most of the laundry was wet. Most of salon cushions were wet. My bag with new Macbook Air and iPad was wet, but not soaked. I pulled out the iPad and check the Air, which was in another bag. It was dry. I put it back in the bag--a big mistake, it turned out. The bottom of the larger bag was wet and it seeped through to the Air bag and the Air, which has streaks on the screen now. I was mortified. Beth was devastated. Hadn't we learned anything after losing a keyboard and iPhone on a previous cruise?
Later, we forgot these problems because the cousins had fresh salmon and trout. We let chef Bob do the grilling and we prepared ready-made salads. Cousins brought Beach Bum beer and we had a great time telling stories and eating delicious fish.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Our cruising fleet of Columbia Yacht Club has taken to gathering for a yearly night sail to South Haven for the long Independence Day weekend. We set sail about 9:30 on the evening of July 1 and had a delightful sail in light winds and flat water. About 10 boats sailed that night and about that many joined us later for a sizable presence in a small town.