Thursday, July 31, 2014

Going Home

We've been aboard Speakeasy for 30 days and look forward to sleeping in our "big" bed tonight. Java seems happy enough, but she may be happier in her cot at home too. Sampling the hedonistic pleasures of the Lake shore in Michigan and Wisconsin has been a fun adventure. We can't see a beautiful sunset in Michigan without ice cream (Beth's favorite is French Silk) and Java can't go by a boat ramp without walking down into the water followed by a fast run around. We thoroughly enjoyed our month-long sail.
The Lake is also an historical marker of what has been before from large pleasure liners ferrying tourist from Chicago and Milwaukee to lighthouses and power generation plants. The latter make use of the cold water for cooling and water shipping lanes for coal. Some of the coal plants have been converted to gas (e.g., Port Washington) or nuclear (Zion) years ago. I can imagine how things used to be and see how they are. In the future, we will need to take more care of our Lake to remove the corrosive effects of algae blooms and toxic chemicals. After all, the Lake is our fresh water source as well as a source of great pleasure. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NOAA Is Our Friend

NOAA weather station at Kewaunee, WI.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has weather stations all over the USA to help citizens make informed decisions while they work and play. NOAA data informed us to stay put for a few more hours until the waves diminished along with the wind gusts above 25 mph. I thought the wind would help dry my nylon shirt that I had hung in the cockpit, but it just blew it away

Many Web and device applications use NOAA data to portray the information to special audiences. Sailors have many choices including NOAA's own site,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Classic: Finding a Leak

The tried and true method for finding a leak on a fiberglass boat is to use food coloring. We finally dedicated a super market run to getting the stuff and applied two colors to possible leak locations. One of them appeared below deck, so we had our culprit. It was a nasty ding on the rub rail gotten last year and not taken care of. There's a lesson for us. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sunset on the Beach

There's a slogan in Michigan (perhaps elsewhere) that one should live their life one sunset at a time. That slogan surely has sunsets like the one last night on the beach in Charlevoix. If you look closely in the photo, you can see Beth and Java walking along the beach in the fading light.

Dinner with a Freind

Leland, MI is a great place even when the wind and waves are up and the temperature is 10 degrees below normal. We don't usual get to enjoy Lelamd when the weather is nice because we push off the dock then. So it was a special delight that our single-hander friend, David, sailed Windwise south from Petosky to dine with us at the Riverview Inn.

Earlier in the day we walked Java along the wooded streets and passed a campsite of cyclists at the school. The cyclists had ridden from Frankfort that morning. Just as we had sailed from there the day before. 

We made friends with boaters who had been in Frankfort with us and Java made friends with other sailor dogs, except one Schnauzer. 

When David pulled into the harbor the wind was 20 kts from the NW making it challenging to dock, but he had help from Harbormaster Russell and others and slipped in up close to the boaters lounge. Very convenient. We invited David over to Speakeasy for chess and a new drink we named Leland Stormy consisting of hot ginger tea and rum. 

That evening we dined on Whitefish and Walleye with lots of conversation about sailing and destinations. For desert, we each had a Hummer, which consisted of ice cream, Kahkua, and rum. Yum!

Mark Gillingham | @markgillingham | 773-797-9560 | |

Monday, July 14, 2014

Storm Clouds

Sailors love beer, but a brewery called Stormcloud will been seen with some suspicion. Clouds may have silver linings but they may also pack a wallop to a small boat on the open water. Nevertheless, we stopped at the inviting deck of the Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort to sample their brews and food.

Beth tasted a bitter stout that did not suit her before ordering red wine. I went right for a black IPA that had a potent bitter hoppy flavor. Just right for me. We tried a flatbread with a wonderful doughy crust that reminded me of the wort dough served at the Bridgeport Brew Pub in Portland Oregon. The breads had inventive toppings—corn, eggs, avocado, and horseradish sauce. We ordered another. 

Java loved the pub too. She sat beneath the table waiting for crumbs to fall, which they did. 

PFD: Testing. Testing.

Each year one should test personal floatation devices (PFD) to make sure they will keep you afloat in an emergency. It's simple to test, just jump in the water. The PFD you use should be designed to keep you high in the water with your head raised. Larger adults need devices rated for more buoyancy than smaller adults and children. 

If your PDF is an inflatable design, it must be recharged following each test. If the PFD is automatic, it contains a pill that dissolves in water and allows the mechanism to discharge air into the inflatable bladder. Both the pill and air cartridge must be replaced. Manual inflatable PFDs have only the cartridge to replace. 

Beth volunteered to test her PFD in a small lake that her family has gone to for decades of summers, Stony Lake. Her brother, Bob, took her out in his boat and Beth jumped in the lake. Following are pictures of Beth wearing an inflatable PFD before and after immersion.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Harbor Towne

Developers like to create ambiance where there was something else—what is known as "nothing." In the nothing that was the dune between Lake Michigan and Lake Muskegon, developers created Harbor Towne, a marina and townhouse development. As a private marina, Harbor Towne is different, it's inexpensive. Our dock fee was $1.25/foot rather than the $2-4/foot in Saugatuck.

We walked with Java to the human beach near the pier head where Beth swam and I kept the dog off the beach per the local ordinance. Then we marched a mile south past the water treatment facility to the dog beach where Java was released to enjoy the water and fetching sticks. 

On our return, we stopped at Dockers, concept restaurant within Harbor Towne, to have a drink—beer and wine were only $3 because it was Wednesday. After. Shower in the clean and modern marina washrooms, we returned to Dockers for dinner. I had delicious mussels and Beth had Mahi-Mahi tacos. Both were delicious and served with care and efficiency by our server, Nick. 

Java was very happy with the dog run, which had a soft path of bark chips and a sand box for personal business. 

Harbor Town is in our list of great stops on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. We would have liked the city of Muskegon itself  to be a boaters paradise, but that hasn't happened yet. While the city fugues out what it wants to be, developers have figured out what boaters want.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tower Marine in Douglas

Saugatuck is a major fun-seekers boating  destination, but it can be noisy and expensive. One solution is to anchor at the channel near the mouth of the River or just off the channel near Singapore Yacht Club. Another option is to bypass Saugatuck and follow the channel markers to Tower Marine in Douglas on the other side of Kalamazoo Lake.

Friends from our Club in Chicago have moved their boats to Tower and one of them was away, so we asked for their slip. The marina has about 300 slips on very wide lanes so it's easy to get a slip and maneuver to it. The pool is very comfortable and the showers are first rate. 

It's a half mile to the center of Douglas where there is fine farm-to-table dining at Everyday People Cafe and other eateries on Center Street. Walk up and down Center Street to shop, buy stamps at the Post Office, buy a used book at the library, or fetch supplies at the grocery. 

On the way back from town, follow Union Street toward Hamilton and stop at the Summertime Market for fresh fruits and vegetables. The market also has meat for the grill and pie for dessert.

Perhaps you'll decide stay awhile like the family in the tiny house boat in the image. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

The worst night in 30 years.

We had lots of surge up the Black River and into our marina in South Haven last night. It was the "worst night in 30 years of cruising" according to one of our fleet members. Speakeasy was rolling from side to side. We had to put Java in a life jacket to get her up the ladder and off the boat. I had to assist anyone coming our going from Speakeasy. Sleeping was a rock-a-bye event. Java was not amused. That and the fireworks that seemed to go on for days. Just when you thought it was safe to take a late night pee in the grass, Kaboom, and it's a mad dash back to the relative safety of the rolling boat.

Even this morning the wind howled and the surge rushed up the river. The wind changed about 1100 and the the fog rolled it. We left through a fog bank that was about a mile wide. By 1400, the sky had lifted and the wind blew on our beam. Things started to look better. The sun came out. Perhaps we'll survive after all.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Weather to Go or Stay 7/5/14

On Saturday, waves were building in the Lake again and were to by 3-5 feet by Sunday—our check-out day. Some captains decided to leave a day early so we bid farewell to Chicago-bound boats Celestial, Kali, and Whisper. Northbound boats could leave on Monday including Kaleidoscope and Speakeasy. Allegro was waiting until Tuesday to cross the Lake. 

The art and craft fair was going on at the Park, so all had a hearty breakfast to fortify them for the art throng and subsequent crossing. Many cutting boards, made from recycled virgin hardwoods, were taken home to boats including Speakeasy. 

That evening, cruisers met at the South Haven Yacht Club for an early dinner of perch followed by a trip to Sherman's Dairy. Unfortunately the Dairy had a line stretching twice across the facade of the building. Dejected, we bid goodbye to our Douglas friends, MJ and Phil, and retired to Speakeasy. 

Mark Gillingham | @markgillingham | 773-797-9560 | |

Independence Day July 4, 2014

There is a parade in South Haven on Independence Day. It's an old-fashioned parade, animals, princesses, and fire trucks. Most of the village that wasn't in the parade came to watch and get treats thrown at them. Of course, there were also tourists who came by car and, like us, by boat.

Dogs were very lucky in the parade because pet stores and shelters threw treats to their masters. Masters even traded treats among them. Salmon was traded for alternate flavors like chicken and veggie. Dog recipes were traded too--carrots and yogurt, for instance. All-in-all a win for the canines. 

Following the parade the Columbia Yacht Club Cruising Fleet prepared a potluck dinner for themselves. Red white and blue streamers were hung on picnic tables and tiny flags were stuck in candle pots as center pieces. Ham, pork, and corn were placed on the grill and salads and pies were set out. Drinks were drunk, stories were told, and food was eaten. A fine time. 

After dinner Dorothy showed her fantastic documentary if her trip with Susan to the Subantarctic New Zealand across the river at the North Boaters Lounge. This lounge is only 100 yards away from the South Boaters Lounge next to our boats and dining. However it is on the other side of the river and in the next county. To save time walking across the bridge (about a mile), Dorothy rowed her new dinghy across and tucked it away beneath the pier. All agreed that the documentary was National Geographic quality. 

The Lighting of the Sky 7/3/14

After a night sail, especially one as rough as last night, it's difficult to be clear on things. I know without doubt that there were fireworks in South Haven although I admit I saw none if it. I was with a tired Beth in the aft berth of Speakeasy half asleep after "napping" after dinner. There must have been dinner but I couldn't tell you when or where it was. Perhaps I'll remember before I post.

I wonder if there was lunch or breakfast? I vaguely recall having apple juice on a bench outside of Captain Nemo's with Java. Could that have been breakfast?  

I did learn that the fireworks was called The Lighting of the Sky and one could follow a musical accompaniment on the radio. This I learned the next day when I saw a banner near the harbor grounds. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Devil in the Sea 7/2/14

It was a cold and wet night as dark as the devil. He was at his work piling up waves and pounding our nose with wind so we could not sail an inch. The engine moaned the whole night through. 

It was a cold and wet night as dark as the devil. He was at his work piling up waves and pounding our nose with wind so we could not sail an inch. The engine moaned the whole night through. 

About midnight Robin got ill and while paying attention the her bodily need, the Devil sent a wave to throw her off her perch, slamming her cheek into the hard settee on the other side of the boat. Beth was already comforting Java who was shivering with fright, but sprang into action to applying ice to the injured and help her below. 

Soon, yours truly was sick as well making a mess of the aft regions beyond the rail. It was the Devil, I tell you. 

I needed rest, so our only able crew, Beth,  took watch and she saw the most terrific hallucinations between the sky and sea. 

By 0400 she could take no more and I, rested and alive in spite of Himself, took to the helm and relieved our capable mate. 

By 0900 we were safely in harbor, greeted by the fleet and awaiting Whisper and Kali who were just behind. All agreed it was the Devil's night. 

To be put to music ala Edmund Fitz. 


On Sunday, July 6, 2014, Mishaum <> wrote:

Just checking in to make sure you guys got across safely.  And did you freeze mid-lake?


Mark Gillingham | @markgillingham | 773-797-9560 | |

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Mark Gillingham | @markgillingham | 773-797-9560 | |