(Yes, I realize the following doesn’t begin to compare with all of the hurricanin’ going on now, but I want to finish this summer’s blog…….)
Note to self#1: Do NOT doubt your weather-predictions skills……..especially since all of the technology you use lays it right in your lap.
Note to self #2: Err on the side of caution EVERY time, instead of 99% of the time. In other words, don’t get cocky.
Note to self #3: It is 4 hours between places to hide
After dropping off John in Elk Rapids in the East Branch of Grand Traverse Bay, I decided to boogy up and around the Leelanau Peninsula and head south for the beautiful beaches of West Michigan. Approaching MISTAKE ALERT: Ah, don’t worry, the storms in the Doppler images shown in northern Wisconsin and the U.P. right now will continue to move northeast, not move in the typical NW to SE pattern that has happened all summer, every summer. Yuh big dummy.
This portion of my trip is shown in yellow
Turning south and putting Leland behind me, I noticed a storm cell to my southwest. Oh-oh. Lightning & rain. However, I got lucky. The cell split and I went right through with only a drop or two of rain. See below (I’m the black dot) ……………
10 minutes later………….
MISTAKE ALERT! Still many hours from any safe haven, I then saw the following on a Doppler Radar app….
I needed to get to Frankfort but it wasn’t going to happen. There was nothing I could do except get out the “foulies” (rain gear) and keep motoring.
Then, ka-blam. Only a mile from the safe Betsie Lake at Frankfort, all hell broke loose. 40+ knot winds blowing toward shore forced me to steer at a 45 degree angle out away from shore and into the wind & waves to keep from running too shallow or plowing into the breakwaters at the harbor entrance. Driving sheets of horizontal rain…….there was water flying in all directions. Swells about 8 feet. Lightning all over the sky. (I know, I know……these are baby conditions for some of you readers.) There were other fools scrambling for safety, too, except none were in sailboats. As these fishing boats powered past, all I could see was was a bubble of water. While looking into the sky, I recited this once again, “Ok, I’m a dip shit–go ahead and hit me.” With my forward progress usually 6 knots, the poor diesel workhorse under me could now only manage half of that. When the boat slammed into an especially large wave, I’d be stopped dead and she’s have to start from scratch.
Occasionally, I’d get a peek at the harbor entrance lights once in a while as the rolling waves would allow and it sure seemed like I wasn’t getting any closer. Finally, just as I was about to pull a hard left to enter the channel, I noticed the storm letting up. Of course.
Radioing ahead to the municipal marina, I was met by the harbormaster in the light rain. He couldn’t believe I was out on the lake. I was soaked from head to toe. And pissed. And thankful.
One of my most ardent readers suggested I have more visuals, so here we go….. 😉
Our route is shown in purple
Day 1: Elk Rapids to Petosky
6-hr motor to Petosky. (Minor) Mistake alert: With the wind blowing away from the marina’s dock, it took me 3 tries to bring ‘er in close enough to tie up.
Heard the grumblings of a big (BIG!) wind on its way
Note: Click all pics to enlarge
A new sight…
Day 2: Across Little Traverse Bay & Back
Due to an impending Small Craft Advisory for the afternoon, we motored 30 mins across the bay to Harbor Springs to check out a boat parts store to pick up an impeller. Installed it in the afternoon while the big winds picked up. We rigged 8 lines to the boat to hold to prevent bumping into things. Ended up being a GALE just to our north.
Day 3: Attempt to Travel
Since the big blow was forecast to wain in the afternoon, we decided to start out in the slop and make a run to Beaver Island. With sails up and reefed (shortened), we proceeded to get pretty thrashed while having to tack for 3 hours in 17-19 knot winds before I decided we’d turn tail back to Petosky, and wait it out yet another day. I was trying to entertain but wasn’t that much fun out there!
Day 4: Finally Leave for the Bridge
Motor sailing (motoring, but with the sail up, thus the name), we boogied up and around and caught sight of the big, beautiful Mackinac Bridge around midday. Spent the rest of the day making it larger on the horizon. John was able to fulfill his trip bucket list of cruising under the bridge! We pulled into the marina in Mackinaw City, tied up, discovered we were at the wrong marina, and stayed put.
Day 5: Back West to Beaver Island
Woke up at first light to 50 degree temps & got going almost immediately. The annual Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven had ended a day or two ago and several of their vessels went past us in the opposite direction. It was nice of the United States Coast Guard to put on a parade of their ships for us.
Motored into the little, quaint St. James Bay of Beaver Island in the early afternoon. The water reminded me of the Caribbean–beautiful blues, greens, aquas, and whatever colors you ladies know that fellas don’t. I had the harbormaster talk me in via radio because I was unsure of the depths and the clear water made the bottom look closer. Surprisingly small marina that was mostly full of “loopers”. No, not a “pro jock” (See Caddyshack & the Dalai Lama monologue). These are people that are in the process of traveling the 6,000 mile long Great Loop–the Great Lakes down through various waterways through Tennessee & south to the Gulf of Mexico, then back up the east coast & finally back to the Great Lakes. Or wherever they started.
Interesting history, this Beaver Island. A guy declared himself king. (Oh, king, eh, very nice. Ow’d you get that, eh? (Sorry, now the Holy Grail is sneaking in)) At this point I shall yield to Google if you want to know more…….
Day 6: South to Charlevoix
Almost perfect breezy day. We caught it and flew!
Mistake alert! We needed to putter around in the little bay leading into Round Lake near Charlevoix, in order to wait for the drawbridge. Not being a local, I wasn’t aware of the Beaver Island ferry hiding just on the other side of the bridge. Nor did I know that this rather large, wide vessel would be piloted by a person who wanted to go through NOW! Just as the bridge lifted, I started us in and s/he started out. Not thinking the narrow channel would hold us both, I had to quickly steer to the side of the channel. Sides made of iron. A sickening “scrrrraaaaaaaape” was heard. However, no visual evidence was ever found for said scrape. Anyone ever been in this small Round Lake next to Charlevoix? Billions and Billions of dollars there. Wow. More concerts and festivals and ice cream in this port.
Day 7: Back to Drop John in Elk Rapids
It was a 5 hr motor across the glass-like water. Deciding to stay the night in the municipal marina rather than trying to snag a mooring ball here like last time, we tied up and unloaded and said our goodbyes. Gotta tell you that John has become a very instinctive first mate and a valuable deck hand. Very cool to see that.
I attempted to hook up the shore power, the boat’s plug in to the marina’s electricity. To no avail. They had just updated their equipment and apparently my old boat was now obsolete. Here only. Spent the night without charging things back up. No biggie, but it bugged me that they could not give me even a slight break in price.
MISTAKE ALERT!Getting tired of this theme yet? I’m only trying to make this stuff interesting for my three readers……
After staying alive from my home port to northern Door County to Northport near Traverse City, I tacked all day with challenging wind and waves to Elk Rapids. Here I was to pick up friend John, who would be my crew for a week. Planning a trip to sail under the Big Mack Bridge & back, we met at a mutual friend & college buddy’s new, gorgeous house on the bay.
MISTAKE ALERT: Never try to grab a mooring ball in 15 knot winds and 3 foot waves. Better yet, never try to grab a mooring ball in 15 knot winds and 3 foot waves during your first try ever.
What’s supposed to happen is that you motor up alongside the 2-feet diameter floating mooring ball and grab a line running from it with a long-handled hook and attach it to the bow (front) of your boat. The ball has a very heavy anchor which allows the boat to stay there enduring whatever Ma Nature can dish out.
Friend Chuck (local small-animal DVM), monitoring my progress from his picture window 500 meters away, via text: “Need any help?”
Mistake-Maker: “Naw, I’m going to try this on my own. Besides, I’ve seen it done on YouTube once.”
I promptly swung the hook into the water to snare the line and whiffed.
The 5/8” diameter line disappeared under the boat. Oh-oh. This feels familiar. I flipped her into neutral and waited. No sickening sound of a prop being tangled. Whew. But wait, as the wind and waves worked their magic on her, the boat started to turn ass into the wind. YES! She’s tangled around the prop after all and the wind & waves, now banging hard on the Tessa Marie’s flat stern, are starting to put tremendous pressure on the fouled prop. Quickly I nabbed the line with the hook below the swim ladder and muscled the boat against the forces which gained me a couple of feet so I could tie it to a cleat. Now the pressure was no longer on the prop.
I waited for what seemed like the longest 30 minutes of my life for help to come.
Chuck arrived on his personal watercraft. I grabbed the swim goggles I had aboard and prepared to enter the churning slop to view how much money I was going to have to lay out. Chuck insisted that a mask & snorkel would be a much better idea, but you know me.
NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE #1: Climbing down the short swim ladder on back of the boat, I had to hang on for dear life. She was bucking like crazy. Finally dropping into the water, I immediately started bopping while the boat was weaving. It was like being in a washing machine. In all of my lifeguard & Senior Lifesaving teaching and training, I had never been in a situation like this. Already gassed, I attempted to take a peek at the carnage below. Caught a glimpse of the line caught in the gap between the rudder & the rest of the keel, but not the prop! Came up with my breath completely used up and tried to grab a quick breath. Since the waves were crashing off the flat back of the boat, as I fought to take a breath, I ended up with a big slap of water in my face and a sufficient amount of water in my mouth & trachea to cough and gasp instead of exchange air. Then down under the water I was pushed. On the edge of the panic I learned about in water training, I managed to reach up and grab the bottom rung of the swim ladder. Since it was quickly moving 3 feet up and down, my single-handed grip was quickly broken and once again I was sent below. With the next bob & weave, I grabbed ahold with both hands and managed to hang on through a couple cycles, then was able to stick a foot on the bottom rung. Waiting for the timing to be correct, I got the other leg nearby, and then both feet were on the ladder. Finally able to scramble back aboard the heaving vessel, I was completely spent. I’m sure Chuck saw the look on my face that I had just narrowly escaped drowning. He yelled to me that he was going to go get his mask & snorkel.
While he was sitting on his watercraft near shore, his mask was tossed out to him, but it went into the drink. 15 minutes of searching yielded nothing, so off to the store his brother and sister went to purchase another set.
When he got back out to the boat, I had recovered from the earlier attempt and decided to try again myself with the same goggles. Being SO MUCH wiser this time, instead of climbing down the bucking bronco, I just jumped in feet first, and this time I had a square seat cushion-type personal floatation device with me to hang onto.
NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE #2: When I surfaced, I got slammed back down under water and caught another lung-full of water along the way. All the floating square did was get in my way. Sorta swimming around to the side a bit, I grabbed ahold of a line hanging off the side of the boat & gain a breath. I steadied myself enough to give the stuck line a single kick. A mere 30 seconds into this attempt, I was so tired I didn’t think I could make it the 5 feet back to the ladder so I managed to wave Chuck over to me with his watercraft and I quickly grabbed its side. I spent the next minute expelling numerous gut-wrenching dry heaves. (I’m sure Chuck thought I was a goner again.) After 5 minutes, he dropped me at my gyrating ladder and I climbed aboard once again.
Chuck is Mr. Clutch-Mr. Pressure-Mr. Cool. He tied his watercraft to my boat and slipped into the water wearing the brand-new mask & snorkel. Duh. Oh, plus a full ski lifejacket. Double duh. He calmly paddled around in the chop like a turtle. With his face in the water, it took him about 2 minutes to kick the fouled line free. Charles is The Man.
Next, under his direction, we managed to set up a system of lines to transfer the load back up to the bow where it belonged.
I left the boat out in the stiff wind and waves overnight. In the meantime, Dr. Hero, his family, and John & I were invited to an amazing steak dinner with new 15 friends and family at the gorgeous cottage of another college friend, Marty, and his wife, Sandy. It was quite literally the best steak I’ve ever eaten. In fact, after the previous 2-hour drama, the food and drink never tasted better. Thank you so much to the entire Elk Rapids crew who showed us unparalleled hospitality. John & I will never forget the pampering we received from Marty & Sandy, Chuck & Kim, and their families and friends.
Dr. Charles: Your patients and their owners have relied on your wisdom and experience for over 30 years. Man, am I glad that you are also an old salt.
Trying to rig up a line that would allow me to be able to leave a dock single-handedly more easily:
I lost track of the end of the line while watching my bow drift toward my neighbor. All of a sudden there was a loud, fast THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP. Oh crap. I just wrapped the line around my prop. As I quickly popped the transmission into neutral, the engine died. Oh crap again. That can’t be good.
THEN (GET THIS)
While leaning overboard a bit to catch a glimpse of the now twisted line, I found myself coming up for air. Yes, ladies & gentlemen, I SLIPPED OFF AND WAS IN THE WATER between the boat and the dock.
Lucky #1: Still grasping the twisted line and treading water while fully clothed, I saw the Tessa Marie starting to slowly pivot around the end of the dock and toward the next boat over. Ok, picture a fat old man trying to use his old sidestroke to pull this big fat (in a good way, honey) boat to the dock. Tiring quickly, I finally reached the dock and grabbed a post and tried to muscle her over.
Lucky #2: A boater on the other side of the marina saw this cluster**** and darted over. I handed off the line and he secured the boat to the dock.
Lucky #3: The marina owner and I were able to untangle the fouled line fairly easily without having to go diving.
Lucky #4: There was no damage except to the line.
There are no pictures or video of this occurrence. At least I hope not. Thus, it didn’t really happen.
Part 2: Washington Island-Across Lake Michigan-Between the Manitou Islands-to Northport, Michigan
How’s that for a title?
It’s the middle section of the green leg
The wind was forecast to be almost perfect for my first “crossing” of the year. Leaving right at sunrise, it started slow but soon was amazing. The Tessa Marie maintained 7.5kts all of the way over. Made it in less than half the time as earlier passages.
Check it out (Click photos to enlarge)
Apparently banging a sailboat upwind right in her wheelhouse for five hours is hard on ‘er…..
It was a day trip up Wisconsin’s Door County and another day over to Michigan to pick up sailing buddy John at a mutual friend’s near Traverse City. A trip via sailboat under the Mackinaw Bridge was on his bucket list.
Due to wind being right on my nose, it was a full day of motoring at 6 kts (6.9 mph) from my home port of Oconto, Wisconsin to Washington Island. As I arrived for the night and saw the approaching storm both via doppler phone app and naked eye, I decided not to anchor where John & I did last year (when we got lost on the dinghy trying to find the sailboat in the dark). Instead, I headed for the only marina in Detroit Harbor. As was the case last year, the staff left early so there was no one there to grab me and help me in. And then the wind picked up. I picked out an empty slip & turned ‘er in. Luckily there was a sailor there nearby and helped me in. Five minutes after all lines were secure, I noticed a fishing boat approaching the marina. MISTAKE ALERT: Of course, I had just taken their slip. Having to quickly move their fenders (dock bumpers) and tie-up lines to the other side, they were not happy. After telling me I had to move, I helped them in and offered alcohol and managed to humor them enough to let me stay. I decided to only tie up for the night and not use their facilities or power.
Of course the storm went around the island.
I left to begin my Lake Michigan crossing at sun up. Having met the marina boss last year, I called him later and told him I had to tie up there overnight but didn’t use anything other than their dock cleats friction. I’m just honest like that. He decided he’d only charge me as a 25 footer rather than a 35 footer. YOWCH. That’s still around 50 bucks. How’d that work for me?
Next up: Photos & video from the trip across Lake Michigan, between South & North Manitou Islands, and up and around the Lelanau Peninsula to Northport (It was a blast)
Torn between selling my boat Tessa Marie and trying to squeeze one more season out of her, I decided I would make her purdy and hang a for sale sign aboard while getting a couple more Lake Michigan cruises in. Estimated that it would take me an extra week or two to redo the exterior teak on my boat in addition to just getting her ready for the season.
It took me six. Now the reader should be able to understand the title of this post.
Starting in early May, back and forth to Oconto (WI) I traveled. Forty-five minutes each way. About four times a week. The boat finally made it into the water June 26th.
Each time I headed back up I packed so I could stay overnight a day or two in a row. On the boat. While she sat in her cradle. Like camping except with none of its fabulous comforts. After toiling for 8-10 hours per day, I would get crabby and pissed off and drive back to my apartment grumbling all the way about how stupid I was and how much effing money it was taking and how I now have to rip this off her and do that.
But, I’d always find myself back up there the next day or so.
Anyway, Tessa Marie looks sharp now for her age, and after having to fix her plumbing and starter switch, she’s in the water and waiting for wind so her bent & old owner will come up and get into more sailing adventures, errrr trouble.
Photos: Here are the befores. Imagine them fixed for the afters.
From doing some cosmetic work on the Tessa Marie that took weeks & weeks longer than planned, to coming very very close to dying a few days ago, this short sailing season has had lots of bone-headed rookie-like errors.
Stay tuned for the backlog of photos ‘n phoolishness.
Day 1: In Wisconsin, northeast up Green Bay from Oconto to Sister Bay
8 hours of sailing with medium-low wind blowing right from astern. Mistakes 1-5: After a few accidental jibes (when a goofy helmsman allows the wind to grab the mainsail and whip it quickly & forcibly from one side to the other; it’s hard on equipment and the heads of anyone 6’5″ or more), we threw up the whisker pole & flyed wing & wing for a while before deciding to give in to Ma Nature and adjusting our course to keep both sails on the same side of the boat!
Day 2: Continuing up past Porte des Morts (Death’s Door) to Washington Island
5 hours of medium wind from the side (beam reach) that shifted around as we neared Death’s Door. Had to sail in circles in order to avoid the car ferries scurrying in and out of Washington Island.
Carefully motored around Detroit Harbor between Washington and Detroit Islands. The water in this harbor is listed on the nav charts as being pretty shallow for a sailboat, but with John up on the bow we were able to sneak quite close to shore to hide from the increasing winds. We anchored in about 8 feet of water and luckily it stayed 8 feet deep for hundreds of yards in each direction. This bay reminded us of the Caribbean. The water was a slight turquoise color and we could see the sand and weeds on the bottom below us as if we were looking through air. All around us we could see long, narrow patches of sand where previous mariners had dragged their anchor. It was a gorgeous bay and has a lot of history to it.
After anchoring, we set up the dinghy, tossed our bikes in, and motored a mile north to Shipyard Marina. However, the old Johnson outboard started acting up….zoom….die…..zoom….die. Only way to keep it running was to continuously squeeze the primer bulb on the fuel line. Got to the marina and caught the owner before he was leaving for the day. Learned the problem was probably a bad fuel pump caused either by old age or 10% ethanol gasoline or both. Great.
Rode our bikes a few miles into the tiny “downtown” of Washington Island and explored.
Learned what “bitters” are in the oldest continuously running tavern in the country, Nelson’s Hall. Apparently this place was allowed to stay open during Prohibition due to the fact that the owner was able to market bitters as a medicine and call the place a pharmacy.
No, silly, we didn’t drink all of that. The tray was from a private party going on.
Mistakes Alert! (Yes, it’s plural.)
Mistake #1: As the reader could imagine, we ended up biking back to the wounded dinghy well after dark. Mistake #2: As we pushed off the beach on this moonless, jet-black night, I remembered that I had forgotten to leave the requisite mast light on. Mistake #3: I failed to mark the location of the sailboat on my phone’s GPS. Mistake #4: We didn’t plan on the expected heavy winds to arrive ahead of their forecast. Result: We had no idea where the boat was on the other side of the bay, and had a sick engine trying to push us through increasingly rough water to try to find it.
Embarrassed by my lack of preparation while hosting another person, I steered in the direction I believed the Tessa Marie was anchored. As we approached the far shore, my now wet passenger & I could not see her. Ok…..which way? Well, let’s try heading along the shore to the right. After motoring (and squeezing) for 30 minutes we were beginning to think we had chosen the wrong direction and would have to double back. Since the motor was no longer responding well to my manual fuel pump system, I was starting to think that we would be spending the night in the dinghy tied up at the shore or in the woods near the shore. Mistake #5: With NO extra clothing onboard.
I’m telling you it was black out.
Moments before I was going to turn around and backtrack, John, with his surgically-rebuilt naked eyes, thought he spotted something. I steered in that direction and sure enough, like a ghost, our floating home began to appear. I had to be within 50 yards to see her while John picked her up from a couple of hundred yards away. Ok, so maybe my night vision HAS decreased.
Since we had anchored close to the shore with an island between us and the 20+ knot wind, the Tessa Marie sat motionless in the water. Aboard and relieved, we got into dry clothes, chatted for a bit, and then bedded down for the night. No harm, no foul. Lessons learned. But derrrrrrrrrrrrr. C’mon captain!
Day 3: Hiding from the scao-y winds (yuh chicken shit)
When we got up, I called the marina across the bay to secure a slip for this windy day and night. We easily pulled anchor and motored across the bay. Initially told we would have a port tie up, we scrambled to get the lines and fenders (bumpers) moved and set on the starboard side as the dockhands were now standing in that position on the dock. Luckily, my first mate has turned into quite the sailor and made the switch in seconds.
We spent the day riding back into town, hiding from rain, and seeing the (in-)famous Kap’s Marina where I had stayed a few nights last year as a brand new sailor. The grumpy ‘ol Kap didn’t disappoint when we ran into him!
Day 4: Hightailing it all of the way back
While locating the only spot with reliable internet service and hiding there during the rain yesterday, all sources showed a day of potentially powerful storms would arrive the day after tomorrow, so we decided we needed to head back to my home marina tomorrow. Naturally, the wind was forecast to be right on our nose, so we’d have to motor all of the way back.
That’s what happened. 13 hours straight of dieseling. We did try to sail in the middle of the day, but we didn’t have the luxury of having enough time to tack (weave) our way back. We motored past Chambers Island–where I anchored very early this summer–so I could show John. We also cruised past Green Island, where I had tried to hide from a storm early on.
Good thing we left when we did and didn’t mess with tacking because only two hours after we safely tied up on my home slip, the thunderstorms hit hard. Good call, but we ended the trip a day early. Here are a couple of pics taken on the trip back………
Don’t tell anyone, but after making great time for two-thirds of the way across Lake Michigan, the wind died. At about 1 am, I started the diesel and motored north (see map). On autopilot, I stayed alert until the eastern sky just started to become faintly orange but then fell asleep after that. All of a sudden I was awaked by a loud, close boat horn. Jumping to my feet, I saw a fishing boat about 20 yards off my port side and its path and mine would converge in less than 20 seconds! I quickly disengaged the autopilot and steered away while hollering apologies to the boat’s crew. Its captain yelled at me something about not sleeping because big freighters could plow into me. I looked around and noticed it was now completely daylight and there were dozens of boats within a mile of my position.
Oops. As I think back on it, this captain saw my boat and his would converge for several minutes, but continued his course just to teach me a lesson. Well, it worked.
Tired of the sun, heat, humidity, etc., I became a whimp.The Tessa Marie has been tied up since August 1st and I’ve only been up to sail her a couple of times. I’m getting itchy again to go on a couple of trips–especially when it’s cooler.
I mistakenly made “Leg 3” public previously. My apologies. This was all supposed to be in chronological order. My fault-but I’m not impressed with the ease of using this blog service.
June 6-June 10: Ludington to Pentwater
*Click photos to enlarge*
While pulling into a slip upon arrival at the Ludington Municipal Marina, a couple of rookie dockhands allowed a dock post to tangle with one of the boat’s lifelines and break off the top loop of a stanchion. Got a free night at the marina for that.
View of the Pentwater area. Notice the channel entrance into Pentwater Lake. It needs to be dredged and I almost ran aground the first time through there this year. The blue dot indicates my favorite anchorage in the entire Lake Michigan area so far….in a tiny inlet named “Little Bayou Bay”. Based out of there for what seems like most of the summer, I would take my dinghy into town and tie up just north of the marina you see on the eastern shore.
Here’s the Tessa Marie at anchor at our second home in Little Bayou Bay in Lake Pentwater……
…..and there’s the dinghy at the…well, you can read.
In Pentwater, located among the dozens of touristy shops, was this quaint little nautical antiques/ship’s store called the Brass Anchor. The proprietor is a feisty little lady, and she and I discussed the world’s problems off and on for a couple of days.
(During my last trip there, I learned that Donna is battling some serious health problems. Hope you’re feeling better these days, Donna!)
In the foreground of this photo is my new friend Simon with his Aussie friend Warrick. He runs a popular tank/tee/sweat shirt shop in downtown Pentwater and he does the screen printing on them right there for you. Simon is a native of Israel and is probably the most “colorful” person I met this summer:
“You divorced? Come on. You find woman. Come on, my man. Easy to get woman. You have boat, no? You find many woman with boat, my friend!”
To my delight, I discovered that several of the harbor towns on the northwest coast of Michigan have community bands–with each one better than the next. This one in Pentwater, driven by the sousaphones and piccolos, was wonderful to experience while sitting on a hill attacking a waffle cone from one of the half dozen ice cream parlors. Among other things, this summer will be known as the Summer of Ice Cream. The farmers’ markets were wonderful, too!)
May 29: Sister Bay up & around Portes des Morts and then south past Algoma & Kewaunee
May 29-June 3: Kewaunee to Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Motored back north to Kewaunee for the night.
Early in the morning, made my first Lake Michigan crossing of the summer. The wind picked up a couple of hours after sunrise and we boogied along with a nice 12kt breeze from the south. Beautiful sail. Made it to Ludington in 10 hours.
Now I know why the previous owner was getting rid of her. He knew that within a year this would happen and that would break and these would become obsolete or old. Wait, that’s what she says about me.
However SHE didn’t spend all day on a hot boat tearing apart a shitter to replace its hand pump. Did she? Thanks, darlin. Since the pump broke AFTER the last deposit, this dumpage remained within the plumbing. All hoses had to be removed and emptied. Yes, I had my face down less than a foot away from someone’s you-know-what for, oh, about 8 hrs. And it’s still not fixed. Mr. Handyman here couldn’t manage to tighten down the last bolt on it so it spews “gray” water all over.
Seeing a guy about it tomorrow about it in a White Lake, MI, about 25 miles (5-6 hrs) south of here. I turned around while attempting this trip a couple of days ago. The 24kt sustained wind banged us hard.
Supposed to blow back up tomorrow by late morning so I am outta here at dawn, as are several other cruisers tied up there at the Pentwater Muni Marina.
After having a hot meal, I dropped John off with his wife and sister back in Pentwater, Michigan and illegally piloted the dinghy in the dark back to the Tessa Marie on the anchor in a little cove. Closed up the boat due to the approaching t-storm. It came and went overnight with little incident.
Had to wait out the rain this morning and then pulled anchor and headed over to the big marina in town to top off my fuel. There is where I met the first jerk of my travels. He thought I was being a bit too something on the phone and when I pulled up he let me have it. Wow. Later I learned that his father, who owns the marina, is where he learned it from.
Desiring to head 15 miles south to good ol’ White Lake (see last August’s adventures) in order to be closer to friends, I shrugged off the predictions for big winds on the Big Lake. I cruised out the channel and into Lake Michigan and headed south with no problem.
Not so fast. Soon, the wind was whipping up to a steady 24kts right in my face. Big waves soon followed and they started pounding. 6kts of forward speed became 3kts and the boat was laboring. To hell with this. A quick 180 and I was headed downwind at 7.5kts at the same RPMs.
Tired of the wind and sun, I’m paying for yet another night at a marina.
Cindy. You are a great wife and a wonderful person. He is a lucky man. Thanks, Dollface, and you rock!
How was the headline, ladies and gentlemen? 😉
I return John to the world tomorrow. Sure has been a fast week. She is picking him up wherever we can to tomorrow. Hopefully, that will be back in Pentwater. It will take us 10 hrs with no help from the wind. Wonder if they’re holding “my” anchorage there.
This is the first time I had anyone aboard for an extended period and it was pretty cool how he picked up the ways things work. Even showed me a thing or two. (Oh, you know SOOO much, Craig) Teamwork, I guess.
You rah rah.
Back to the solo thing.
Ok, so who wants to drive to Lake Michigan and sail with me?
Back down in Frankfort after motoring north most of the day yesterday. That’s a 9-hour up-and-back. But what a sweet 9 hours it was. First the gorgeous South Manitou, then a fun and educational sail back today.
Why back already? The winds late tomorrow and Saturday are supposed to be nuts and we don’t want to be stuck way up there since John’s wife will pick him up this weekend wherever we are.
Educational? I vowed to try new things on this trip because I have an extra set of hands. So when the wind decided to be exactly from behind, I decided it was time to try to figure out the whisker pole.
As most sailboats do, the Tessa Marie has had two aluminum poles (spars) strapped to her that I’ve never touched. One of them is designed to hold a front (fore)sail out sideways so it works better in wind directly form behind. We got it up & running in minutes thanks to John’s instant problem-solving ability, and it worked really, really well! Another rather brisk sail. This time downwind. I no longer need to avoid that condition.
Oh….the record? Tonight marks the 4th night in a row on the anchor instead of a marina. Wow! Big boys!
Ok….things on an old boat break. Drain hoses and heads (toilets) come to mind–I’ve apparently already suppressed many others.
But to have to deal with Mother Nature as well?
Wait. Who said?
After nearly a 5 hr motor, John & I made it to a really cool little bay on the east side of South Manitou Island. Oh look it up, for crying out sideways. Wow….we’re far away from civilization. Except for the four other boats anchored nearby. This is a highly advertised anchorage because of its position as a stopping place between West Michigan and the Grand Traverse Bay atea. Yes–visualize.
We planned on making it up to Grand Traverse Bay tomorrow & messing around for a day or two. Not anymore. Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, we’re seeing huge winds. Well above small craft advisory minimums.
Nope. Homie don’t play that.
It’s right back to where we started tomorrow to sit it out. Then John’s time aboard will have ended.
My poor boat….ignored for two weeks while tied up in a marina by herself.
Actually, I think I have good excuses. The week spent with my mom and ailing dad was followed by a fantastic two-and-a-half day driving marathon from Milwaukee to Seattle to move my son to his new job & life. That’s over 30 hrs pulling a U-haul trailer over plains and through the mountains and being one-on-one with my favorite man. I stayed 3 days to check out life in Seattle. It was incredible and I had a GREAT time. Thanks for asking me along, son.
After flying back to my truck, I picked up my old pal John and headed up to my poor forsaken sailboat to start another adventure. Sailing across Lake Michigan had been on his bucket list and the timing now finally made it possible. The next day we (mostly) motored to Sturgeon Bay to find an anchorage and take in the Independence Day fireworks.
Arising early today, we motored a couple of hours straight west toward Frankfort, Michigan. While John took a cat nap, the winds picked up and he awoke to full sails, a healthy heel (tilt) and no diesel.
We had a blast! We flew at around 7kts all day with the wind in the perfect direction. Yee ha! Those factors, combined with low humidity, temps in the mid-70s and no bugs, made John’s first trip across one for the books.
We’re anchored for the night in Frankfort and watching the weather. Tomorrow is another destination, and undoubtedly, another adventure.
Like discovering today that the head is broken. It’s always something……
My poor boat has been ignored for a couple of weeks. As much as she’s my second favorite girl, she slid down the list of unforeseen priorities that arose:
Parking on the northwest shore of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan so I could head to my home town to assist my mother with my father’s hip fracture, repair surgery, and rehab. No, neither of us wielded a scalpel or designed physical therapy programs. I meant I served as support to my folks. C’mon.
Having the opportunity to drive from Milwaukee all of the way to Seattle while pulling a U-haul trailer to accompany my son as he moved to the Pacific Northwest for a new job. Days of driving 12 hours, 15 hours, and 5 hours gave me (us?) immensely enjoyable father-son time. We had an absolute blast and we constantly awed by the sights we experienced!
Updating family and a few friends about the heart attack and subsequent stent surgery endured by my poor aforementioned 84-yr old father. He has been through a heck of a lot during the past three weeks but has battled through it all. Knock on wood.
After flying back to my truck that was parked in Milwaukee during the trip out west (not literally–C’mon), I have driven the four miles down to the Milwaukee terminal for the Lake Michigan Express Car Ferry. It runs back and forth between Muskegon, Michigan, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is a catamaran and travels at around 35mph, which allows it to cross in about two and a half hours–as compared to the SS Badger, the huge car ferry I’ve seen a lot on Lake Michigan–which takes four hours. My pal John is on his way over her in order to be able to sail back over to West Michigan, a crossing that is on his bucket list. Having four such voyages under my belt, I feel as though I am ready to have a passenger onboard with me. Besides, having a first mate will certainly make things easier for me. It might even allow me to try a couple of things with my Tessa Marie that I haven’t been able (or brave enough) to do single handedly (ie, rigging up and using the whisker pole–a short, mast-like spar used to hold the foresail out sideways even if the wind changes and wants to push the sail to the other side).
Tonight we make the 1.75 hr drive up to Green Bay, grab some provisions, and drive .75 hrs more up to my boat in Oconto, Michigan. We’ll sleep aboard while at the marina, then tomorrow prep and travel the 3-4 hours directly east across the bay of Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay where we’ll toss out an anchor, try to catch some 4th of July action, and spend the night. Tuesday, we’ll navigate under the three draw bridges in the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal and sail for northwest Michigan toward the Manitou Islands, or north or south of there, depending on the wind direction. All of the above depend upon the weather, of course. I’m not taking any chances, especially with a passenger.
I still have a lot of catching up to do on this blog……if I have the gumption….but I have to jump back into life on the water just over a week ago.
So I’m motorin’ up the west Michigan coast trying to get more north for a crossing back over to Wisconsin, and three hours south of Manistee, I got a phone call from my mom. My dad had fallen in the middle of the night and broke his hip and they had spent the night in the hospital.
I needed to get there. Calling the Manistee Municipal Marina, I reached Kelly–one more in the long line of great marina people around Lake Michigan. I inquired about a transient slip there and recommendations on a local car rental service. After explaining the situation, she explained that she would take care of everything. Sure enough, an hour later, she called me back with the news of a slip in their place as well as apparently the only rental car left in Manistee County. At the airport. One car left. Kelly explained that she would be off work by the time I would arrive and she could personally take me the 6 miles out to the airport.
It’s been like that just about every stop.
I arrived at the marina a couple of hours later and begin to pack my stuff and scramble off the boat and into Kelly’s car. That’s when I saw it.
My boat was sinking.
While locking her up, I happened to glance down into Tessa Marie’s cabin and see two inches of water. Normally, a couple of inches in the bottom of the boat in the bilge is no cause for alarm. Just flip the bilge pump switch and it’s quickly pumped out via a through-hull (any of the numerous openings out of a boat). However, a couple of inches up over the top of the two foot deep bilge and rising above the sole (the walk-on floor) is really not that great of a thing to see in a boat. Especially your own.
I quickly flipped the bilge pump and nervously watched for a lowering of the water level. Didn’t happen. It pumped for 20 minutes before I got on the phone and called each of the four different marinas in the area that do boat work. Being late Saturday afternoon, no one was willing to come over to stop a sinking sailboat. I was on my own.
I pulled off the board that separates the engine compartment and the cabin (for noise & looks) and there, next to the engine, was a hose that was spewing water. Gallons & gallons per minute. What the!? Tracing it to the bottom of the boat, I noticed that it had a seacock and I quickly closed it and the water instantly stopped. Almost. The seacock wouldn’t close all of the way. The trusty bilge pump quickly emptied the boat and I pulled the rugs out and hung them out to drip dry. Throwing things in every direction, I climbed into the storage area next to the engine so I could investigate where the (now free end of the) hose belonged. It used to feed up into the bottom of a simple cockpit drain. Whenever there is water in the cockpit for any reason, it drains through there, down the hose, and out of the boat. The coupling broke off and the hose then fell down to the bottom of the engine compartment, below “sea” level. Thus the gushing. As soon as I lifted the end of the hose up in the air and tied it up, the remaining stream stopped.
Stopped but not cured.
(Later I tried several marine supply stores in the whole west Michigan area and NO one carries these drains. Really? You have to order them and wait a week? Really? Remind me to tell out about my new “home” marina in Oconto, Wisconsin)
Three hours late, I sped toward the hospital, two and a quarter hours away, in a car with broken AC on one of the hottest days so far. In a car that I had to exchange in two days (2.25 hrs each way).
Next post I will tell you about getting back to Wisconsin after a week. Can’t wait to tell you about my Lake Michigan crossing and John and the Hi-Seas Marina in Oconto. Next time.
By the way, my father’s surgery to fix his hip, and his recovery went/is going pretty danged well. If you are curious about the details of that, check out the “Friends of Les Morford” Facebook page.
Thank you Kelly. Thank you Kelly. Thank you Kelly. (and the rest of the staff at the Manistee Muni Marina–everyone please patronize this place!)
Thank you to ALL of the staff at Spectrum Health United Hospital who had a hand in treating my father. All 19 of you. Your amazing compassion and skill was greatly appreciated by our family.
Thank you to ALL of the staff at the Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center who had a hand in treating my father. All 16 of you (at last count). What he said. (Above!)
Sorry. Next post will be shorter. Still trying to figure out an appropriate length and style for you five readers! 😉
So much has happened. Let’s see. I last wrote while I was in Oconto, WI. That seems like ages ago
Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.
*Left at 9:15am to head north
*As usual, wind ended up on the nose. Dieseled for a bit, then the wind changed and I booked
*Then rain. Then wind. Want to get to the north side of Green Island to anchor for the night but I have 3NM to go and I saw my first flash of lightning. Again.
*With island well in sight, the sky opened up. Finally made it behind the island when…
*All hell broke loose. Full thunderstorm. Not wanting to anchor, I just tooled back and forth along a 100M section of island, trying to stay out of the wind as much as possible. Sitting there out in the open with a long piece of metal sticking up into the air. Tore out the crotch of my apparently cheap rain pants.
*Living through that, I continued in the rain to hours to the north side of Chambers Island and anchored nervously in a little cove too close to shore for comfort but by necessity. Discovered I had a great app to moniter my exact position–very useful to use to check & see if my anchor holds. However, there was no cell signal, so there was no communication with the outside world.
Saturday, May 28
*Wind shifted in the early morning. Threw my GPS position off & made me nervous. Just had to trust I set the anchor well.
*Napped off and on. Lazy. Avoiding pulling anchor against a stiffer wind. Finally got to it mid-morning and motored 2hrs to Ephraim–the beginning of the touristy part of Wisconsin’s Door County (peninsula). Cell phone’s back. No one at the marina is answering their phone or VHF radio. Finally got ahold of someone and they sent me north to Sister Bay.
*Heavy wind by this time and I decided to let out my big foresail (genoa) so I did and I let out too much. Lost control of it. End of one of the lines (sheets) popped through its pulley and both of them starting whipping around wildly. Heading into the wind, I finally grabbed them and then was able to furl up the sail. Motoring, battered and out of breath.
*Broke an instrument housing at my helm while turning it so I could see it while under my protective dodger. Great.
*Pulling into the marina at Sister Bay, I had to pull into a narrow slip with this big cross wind. A group of people waiting for a boat ride stood nearby and someone shouted that they were going to watch my attempt to dock and rate me.
*For some reason I pulled it off perfectly. Barely needed the two male dockhands. The group of spectators give me quite the round of applause and we all had a laugh. Lucky as hell.
*Got my bike and was able to get provisions. Met more cool people. Expensive place, though.
*Met Dan and his first mate, “Dr. Z” (Dr. Zen). We sat & talked for awhile about the philosophy and turned me on to it. Won’t bother you with details but it’s a fairly major mind shift from my prevailing thought processes and am beginning to incorportate some teachings…..
(A few days later, I consulted Dan about the timing of my passage across Lake Michigan and he was spot on with the weather & etc.)
*Left at 1:45pm
*Motoring. Up and around and between the tip of Door County and and Washington Island–so called “Death’s Door”. As soon as I turned back south on the other side, it was time for big waves again to bash the hull.
*Wind died at 8pm . Will try to anchor in Bailey’s Harbor.
*Anchored successfully in the dark and with no wind. However, after a couple of hours of attempting to sleep with the large, residual waves of the now absent wind, I decided I’d have to motor all night.
Problem with the west coast of Door County-there’s nothing there.
*No problems during the night except bugs, bugs, bugs, and impending fog.
*Motored 17 hours since yesterday. That’s like driving the majority of the way to Florida for you Michiganders & Wisconsinites.
Monday (Memorial Day)
*Arrived in Algoma at 7am, covered with bugs.
*Had to float around in the harbor waiting for 8am and someone to be at the Sunrise Cove Marina. Did not want to tie up somewhere because I did not trust the charts (electronic or hard copy).
*8am came and went and no one answered my calls.
*Tired and paranoid I was near fumes on my fuel, I motored on to Kewaunee, where I had left my truck.
*Arrived at 10am and again, there was no one there to greet me. More confident of the water depth here, I decided to go ahead and tied up. As I was almost there–finally! A dockhand pointed me in the direction I was to go and raced over there in his golf cart. (No need, another perfect docking).
*Feeling like crap due to being up all night.
*Ran into Green Bay with my truck to grab epoxy for my instrument console repair, groceries, and to check my PO box.
*Met Tom. Retired union negotiator (the other side). Told him I wanted to sell my boat because at this point I was not having any fun. He wants to crew for me and go to Georgia Bay in Lake Huron. Ummmm……
*Glued instrument dealie and went to bed at 8:30
Tuesday, May 31
*Met owner, Chad. Got rates. Too expensive. All of Wisconsin is too expensive except with John at Oconto.
*Back to Green Bay to pick up a rechargeable vac.
*Visited friend Mike at his house project, which we call “TOH” (this old house). He’s a fellow divorcee and questions his choices, too. Although not as much as I do. Or, as much as I used to (remember the Zen introduction).
*FINALLY figured out and used my Coleman stove. The victim: mac and cheese.
OK, ENOUGH FOR NOW. I’M RUNNING OUT OF LAPTOP BATTERY HERE IN PENTWATER MICHIGAN. MORE UPDATING WHEN I CAN….. and when I figure out a better format.
Sat tight at the Hi Seas Marina on the southwestern shore of Green Bay, a whopping 21.98NM northwest of the marina where I put in. Watched a teeny thunderstorm pop up that was literally about 3 miles across. Then the wind changed from the south and I could have ridden it north. Not wanting to relive yesterday’s worries, I babied out.
BUT, I got a ton of stuff done that apparently couldn’t be done before I left. Two of the more notable chores included figuring out how to display a Sparty pennant (Ready everyone: GO GREEN), and the unfolding and using of my foldable bike which I rode into town to grab some provisions. I had to move out of my apartment so fast that I didn’t have a chance to cook, let alone freeze them. So I rode 4 miles round trip on this little 25-inch-wheeled ugly orange foldable I found for a few bucks on Craig’s List. I imagine it was a sight to see.
When I got back, you won’t believe what happened next. See below.
Ha. As I was unloading my groceries, I left the bike on its kick stand next to the boat and since the dock is a floating dock, when I stepped my massive girth off the dock and onto the boat, the dock moved and I heard a big splash. And it disappeared quickly. Into 13 feet of water. Luckily, John had a grappling hook.
Late in the evening, I invited my fantastic host, John, back to Tessa Marie for some frozen Girl Scout Mint cookies that I couldn’t avoid a couple of days ago, and iced-cold milk. I’m happy to say he readily accepted although opted out of the ice-cold milk. I thought him to be pretty whacky for that. He and his wife of 30 years, Cheryl, bought this private marina in ’02 and it is the most fantastic place. And the cheapest I’ve seen yet. Two bucks to wash and dry a load of clothes? $27 bucks a night for a transient slip? $1600 for a slip for the summer? Nice.I must say, besides grumpy old Kap on Washington Island last summer, everyone in this business has been amazingly great. Especially John. He repeatedly dropped everything he was doing instantly to wait on needy Craig. Oh, and he’s a fellow Class of ’74 graduate and turns 60 in just a few days. To all you people out there who aren’t reading this blog: Please give this place some business if you can. (http://www.hiseasmarina.com)
No offense South Bay Marina in Green Bay, but I wish I knew about this place last summer. Although it’s a 30 minute drive from Green Bay, I wouldn’t have to motor 45 minutes each way out into the bay before raising sails. In addition, the guts of Door County is just a couple of hours across the bay vs. a full 10 hour motor from Green Bay. Oh well.
Tomorrow I’m off to Green Island just off the Marinette, WI/Menominee, MI shore, to hopefully anchor tomorrow night before proceeding up past Washington Island and up to the Garden Peninsula of Michigan to the state park there. Weather permitting, of course. I only have to worry about t-storms for another 6 days straight.
I’m hoping my posts are less frequent which would indicate less marinas and more anchoring out in the middle of nowhere….
Note to self: Even if you’re frustrated by setbacks and raring to go, uhm…..slap some sense into yourself.
I shouldn’ta left today. That 16mph (probably knots, now that I think about it) turned into 20. In the south end of a long body of water. Um, hello….that is a long fetch, silly boy……lots of distance for the waves to build up. And build up they did. I don’t know if the video turned out or not (coming soon?), but TODAY, my FIRST day out in 2016, was the HAIRIEST day of all of my (limited) sailing days. Even worse than the swells on the 3rd day of ownership last summer near Washington Island, WI. Today the Tessa Marie bashed and muscled her way through hours and hours of 8 footers. Boom! Hisssss.
20 knot winds
Motored through 8-10′ waves for hours
Put up the foresail & had a little fun
Noticed an approaching storm front via iPhone app
Headed the 2NM toward shore for cover only to discover there wasn’t any nearby
Had TWO PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY FAIL ME: My depth sounder and my purchased tablet navigation app………………..
Thinking I had plenty of water, I suddenly found myself bouncing off the bottom. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I ran my boat aground again. AGAIN! Luckily, when the waves lifted me,
I could power a few feet of a sharp turn. Then thud, then lift up, then thud. Sickening. This occasion, however, I believe it was a soft bottom under me. I’ll find out next fall.
Back out in deeper water with the storm approaching, I totally expected to get hit by lightning
The storm seemed to part as it approached me. Perhaps I actually performed the name change of my boat properly and the gods cut me a break. If you believe in such things….
As it got dark and the rain got heavier, I decided that I had enough excitement in one day and that I would try to get to the marina in Oconto.
Got there in the driving rain and found my way to John’s flashlight a mile up the Oconto River. He helped me in and here I sit listening to it rain.
One summer’s worth of craziness on the very first day.
I think I’m just going to have me a microwave New England Clam Chowder and sit here and think about it.
Been trying to get out of here for a week and a half. Weather, mechanical, technology, weather, weather, weather. But mostly, weather. I thought I was finally all set this morning. Had my daughter follow me to Kewaunee to drop off my truck so if I (ever) make it back to this area, I can dock there and have transpo. So, now I’m homeless (sorta) and carless. However, it’s been foggy all day and now it has thickened up enough where I can’t see past the marina. I don’t want to start a trip like that. Thus, I’m going to tread water AGAIN and possibly delay the start AGAIN and pay yet another night of transient fees here AGAIN.
Where am I headed? I dunno. For starters, I’m thinking about the Garden Peninsula of the UP of Michigan. Come on–you know–Big Bay de Noc? North of Washington Island? East of Escanaba in Duh Moonlight Dare, yah know? After that–across Lake Michigan to Beaver Island where I have a discounted slip waiting for me if I use it more than 30 days this summer. Tentatively thinking I might use that as a centrally-located base. Who knows?
WHY am I doing this? Because I have been thinking about it since last summer. Being alone, it was ALL I was thinking about. And man, was I alone. (Oh, you’re not going to be now?) However, after busting my butt for 3 weeks to move out, put most of my stuff in storage, get the boat ready to go, and move in—-I’m thinking I’m too old for this sh–. (This is, afterall, a family blog.)
I am ready to unplug and go. Or am I? Last year a little (lot of) fog didn’t faze me. Well, that was after you had been out for a month getting used to things. There I go again, talking to myself. Better stop that and go check the visibility. If it’s better, I’m off up the west shore of the bay of Green Bay—stopping for darkness and thunderstorms. Rumor has it there’s some weather around here.
I am going to post new blogs whenever I’m on wifi at a marina. Or, if I can get a grasp on my data usage with my phone, I might try that.
She’s now named after my one-and-only daughter. I think it’s a sweet boat name. The Tessa Marie. Sounds perdy, ain’t it?
I am a week late pushing off and waving goodbye to everything I know. Why late? Apparently goblins got aboard during the off-season and goofed up some things that worked fine last fall when I put put the boat on the hard. Oh, and human error might enter into it. More on that later…..
Speaking of goofing up, look for lots of dicey situations and mistakes coming your way soon.
Those of you who live in the Great Lakes area know that winter is still trying to exert her dominance. Yes, “her”. I mean, if we use the term “Mother Nature” then certainly her daughter would be Winter. Sorry, not my rules. Anyway, I digress…
STILL not able to start to work on bringing the soon-to-be-renamed Daybreak back to life and I’m getting stir crazy(ier) around here. Yesterday, I spontaneously decided to drive 40 minutes up to Sturgeon Bay (WI)–the site of several rookie cruising experiences last summer–to have my first look at the West Marine store up there. After spending 90 minutes moving foot-by-foot through the store wishing that I had bottomless pockets, I picked up a hand bearing compass as a back-up for the onboard GPS unit. My continuing research into this hobby has led me to the understanding that a sailboat needs redundancy. This type of compass is used to grab bearings of landmarks on shore and using a straightedge, draw them on the nav charts accordingly in order to establish position & speed. This is called Dead Reckoning. Think “triangulation”. Although I have not had the training in that yet, I am learning it on my own, assisted by good ol’ YouTube and the many articles I find online.
Double digress! The real topic of this post is what happened on the way home.
Following the east shore of the Bay of Green Bay southish on the way back to the City of Green Bay, I wanted to stop and take bearings, time, conditions, and etc., on visible landmarks across the bay to practice with my new device. After a few fruitless attempts to see anything sticking above the horizon way across the bay, I decided to shut it down and head “home”. Feeling a bit peckish and perhaps even esurient (See Monty Python’s The Cheese Shopskit) I followed my phone’s GPS to the tiny Door County hamlet named “Brussels”. Yes, Brussels. In this area of the world, we also have town titles like Poland, Luxemburg, and Denmark, to name a few.
In the middle of nowhere, I came across an establishment that, from the outside, appeared as though it was one of the many cheese & sausage shops in this state. The Belgium Delight(seriously) looked so cute that I had to check it out.
The place was nearly void of customers and a quick glance around the place made me smile. This was definitely old school and “right off the boat”. It was jammed full of knick-knacks.
The waitress instructed me to have a seat. It was so quiet. “Ma” was nearby and you wouldn’t believe her accent. The day’s confectionaries were listed on a little marker board and a moderately-sized list of cheesecakes had been wiped off leaving a single choice–blueberry. Actually not that hungry and being a sweet freak, I ordered a piece of blueberry cheesecake and a small milk. I was told that it was the last piece, and it was in front of me in seconds.
It was made from scratch and it was the best cheesecake I’ve ever had! I’m not just saying that. As you can imagine, I’ve had a few pieces in my day. It was stunning. When the waitstaff asked me about it, all I could do is look up out of the top of my glasses and simply say, “Wow”. Soon its creator (and co-owner of the restaurant) came out to chat. I told him that he needs to open a separate business just to sell his cheesecakes. Online…..whatever. Man alive.
Everyone employed there was related. In fact, they had farms next to each other. I learned that their breakfasts are standing room only, that they also specialize in tortes, booyah (with noodles, of course), and other Belgium fare, including “jutt”.
I hurled rave after rave at Dean, the owner-baker, about his cheesecake. He then disappeared into the kitchen and a minute later, brought out a side of his famous potato bacon soup for me to sample. Soup? No…..it had the consistency of the OTHER side he brought out, his German potato salad! Ok…..dessert first, meal second. Because Ma bragged up his seafood (pasta) salad, out came a bowl of that, too.
While I sat there eating this incredible food, the four of us (with the grandson still in the kitchen) talked and laughed and told stories for quite awhile. After bussing my own dishes (well, come on….they GAVE me stuff) and full of food and smiles, I finally headed off into the night. The 40 minute drive home was spent in white-out conditions of a spring snowstorm.
After I got “home”, I googled The Belgium Delight and read numerous customer reviews. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw several poor reviews. They weren’t about the food, they were about the service. Ladies and gentlemen, there is less urgency here but if you can take the time to be friendly and chat them up a bit, you will not find nicer people. And as I found out, they will open right up and treat you like you saw them treat “the locals” as many of you said. You need a “Do Over”.
This was an unexpected adventure that I had to include on this blog even though it really doesn’t have much to do with sailing. It was so fun that I had to share it.
If you are ever in the area, you need to find this place:
Belgium Delight 1100 County Rd. C Brussels, WI 54204 (920) 825-1111 Dean and Gary Vandertie, owners
Yes! I just received an email from the USCG Legal Command in Virginia that informed me that the damages to my baby, Daybreak, will be covered in full!
Readers who have been following this blog since my first post might recall that the damage occurred when one of their vessels accidentally rammed me when attempting to come alongside and tie up in order to execute a safety inspection–on the second day of ownership of the boat.
The wait is not over, however. According to the notification, there could be up to a 90-day wait for the check to arrive. (There was also a clause in it that said, “….subject to the availability of appropriations….”, but I’m choosing to ignore it!)
Because of the possible 3-month delay, I am considering starting my Great Lakes tour this summer without that repair, and having the work done early next fall.
I just received word that my damage claim against the United States Coast Guard would be “adjudicated” tomorrow. The kind lieutenant indicated I would hear from him this week.
If I do hear from him and the news is good, then I can finally begin plans to schedule repairs on poor ‘ol Daybreak. That is, after the 4 to 6 weeks I’ll have to wait after that to receive a check. Again…..all of this assumes the decision comes out in my favor.
After that, I have to figure out how I am going to be able to come up with my own cash for the keel damage I did on my own (See Craig & John’s Big Adventure), as well as boat insurance, slip fees, a handful of maintenance items, and the probable long list of unforeseen costs. This might be a short-lived, post-divorce diversion! Helloooooooo money pit!
(Sorry……weak attempt at an attention-grabbing headline)
Those of you who have read my (mis-) adventures may recall I had some unusual “contact” with the United States Coast Guard during my second day of possession of Daybreak last June:
“The USCG boat pilot now decided that since they were there, they were going to do what they do most of the time out on the water—-a safety inspection. The helmsman told me via radio that he would come up broadside and tie to me and ……………………….. two guys would jump over & inspect me. In very rolling seas, this young buck sailor brings his craft quickly near me, showing off his skill and the bow jets he had. However, he somehow allows our boats to collide, and collide hard! He sort of came up under me on the port side about 20′ back from the bow. All hands on deck looked at the same time at the same place on my hull where we hit, which was down out of my sight. Right away, the pilot waved to me and yelled that they’ve decided not to board…….and please have a nice day! Didn’t take much time for them to skidaddle, either. Hmmmm. What’d they do to poor Daybreak? Well, at least I’m on my way!”
Since then, I have been in contact with both the legal offices of the United States Coast Guard at Virginia Beach, and the USCG base at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to file a damage claim and then check on its progress. Estimates are over $3,000 for the repair. Expecting a ridiculous amount of red tape, I gave myself until March 1st to be patient with the process before I became a squeaky wheel. I mean, is it wrong to want to have the hull repairs to be finished in time to launch my vessel as soon as the weather cooperates?
Well, yesterday was March 1st.
Fully prepared to call before noon, GET THIS! The lieutenant I’ve been corresponding with called ME around mid-morning. He indicated that the paperwork was finally processed and that he should be getting back to me with a decision within a few days! Luck? Coincidence? First-of-the-month priority?
We shall see.
If they don’t come through, then my poor girl will be seen on the Great Lakes this season with some deep (but covered) blemishes.
(No, that’s STILL not my boat pictured in the header above).
Being on a budget and knowing there will be repairs this winter or spring, I wanted to be able to perform many of the winterizing procedures myself. This first time around, I had to rely on help and information from a lot of sources.
The first thing I used for reference were the notes that I took while conferencing with Pastor Ken, the past owner. I took several pages of notes during our last session together when I picked up the cradle from Hessel, Michigan, in September. Of course, not having performed any of these procedures, I could only try to imagine what he was talking about while taking these notes. When it came time to actually do the things he told me to do, these notes were reduced to a list of things that had to be done, but they weren’t good enough to follow and it was my fault.
Yea for YouTube. It is amazing how many things you can find videos for online, and winterizing a sailboat was no exception. For everything I had to do, I had a video loaded on my tablet.
One of the most important duties I had to perform was the winterization of the diesel engine. While Daybreak sits in subzero temperatures, she had danged well better not have any water in her at all due because ice expands. Thus, all of the water that is in the hoses that bring fresh lake water in a through-hull opening needs to be forced out and replaced with pure antifreeze. The same goes for the fresh water storage system for the sinks and ‘fridge, and head’s system. I had to change the oil & filter, unhook, force antifreeze into, and by-pass the hot water heater, and replace the impeller.
Because I was hauled out a couple of days early due to a forecast of horrible weather, I wasn’t able to do most of those things while still afloat. Thus, I had to climb way atop DayBreak after she was gingerly placed on her cradle to do most of this work. Friend Mike & I had to figure out a way to start the engine and have suck in a steady supply of water to warm up, then quickly stick that hose into a bucket of antifreeze to have that pulled into the engine before shutting it down. Thus, we had to have numerous 5 gallon buckets full of water to use while the diesel was to warm up. Each had to be lifted 15′ up aboard. Luckily, Mike is much experienced at such concepts so he suggested we remove the engine’s thermostat. That way, the engine wouldn’t have to run that long to warm up and we could begin sucking up antifreeze almost immediately. We did so and it worked great. We had to wait until the exhaust port, located on the aft end of the boat, began to spew antifreeze before shutting down the engine. It was hard to tell the color of the fluid blowing out so I hope I let it run long enough to completely fill the guts with antifreeze. A cracked engine will be the indicator of that in a couple of months when I fire her up for the first time.
Here’s the video of the slick process of lifting a sailboat out of the water & placing it on a cradle for the winter:
All of the other RV antifreeze that I had to pump into the holding tank/hoses/water heater/sinks/toilet was easy enough although it was messy & took me a couple more gallons than I would have liked. The hand pump that ex-owner Ken provided to pump antifreeze into the hoses didn’t fit, even though he told me he used them regularly himself. I’m sure it was something I was doing wrong.
The final challenge was to install the 2-piece winter cover. The only thing I had to go on was a panorama pic I took of its frame we set up on the ground at Ken’s storage shed up at Hessel. After figuring out how to strap that onto Daybreak, my daughter & I managed to figure out how the canvas went on. It took a few times but finally, by trial & error, we got it installed. Pretty slick! Finally, I had to strap it down really really well so it wouldn’t come off, of course, but also so there wouldn’t be any chaffing. I’m sure Ken would chuckle if he saw the finished product but it’s staying on and doing a nice job. This cover is nice because it allows me to keep the boat completely open. When I was shopping for boats last spring, every single one I looked at had a strong mildew smell. Except Daybreak. Ken claims that is because it’s wide open. I’ve been aboard two times this winter and it does NOT smell like mildew.
It DOES smell a bit like diesel fuel. I looked in the bilge and sure enough, there’s a couple of gallons of diesel fuel in there now…..accumulating all winter. I had suspected that. Friend Mike & I will take a look at that this spring before launching. Ken said he could never find the leak and even had it pressure tested. He also said he could never get the new fuel gauge to work so I’m thinking the two are related.
I’m still trying to come up with a new name for this vessel! Help!
Friends–I emailed the link for the original post “My First Solo Cruise–22 Days Across/Around Lake Michigan” to the people on my contacts list I thought might check this out. However, I do not desire to bother anyone with further alerts. Thus, if you would like to know when things are added, please “follow” these blogs.
Look for a “Follow” button on the right side tool bar. You’ll need to scroll down just a little. I am learning this format and it’s very buggy.
Family–I’ll send alerts. 🙂
Best pal John, from across Lake Michigan, took the “fast ferry” from Muskegon over to Milwaukee and when I picked him up, it was being announced that the return trip east would be cancelled due to the weather. Indeed, it was quite windy and it looked as though the swells were at least 6 feet. John indicated that it was a very rough trip over and several people were suffering from the effects of motion sickness. Yuck.
We attended a Project Pink concert in Sheboygan. This is a Pink Floyd tribute band, and they do it very well. Their female voices are spot-on imitating the wailing (for lack of a better word) parts from the famous Dark Side of the Moon album.
The second part of his visit was a planned overnight trip aboard Daybreak up to Egg Harbor and back. Egg Harbor is a tiny little resort hamlet on the west coast of the Door County Peninsula, about half-way up. I tried to contact someone in the municipal marina there for weeks prior to this excursion, but no one answered their phone and there was no voice mail. I anticipated having to pull in there and go for a walk to find someone for service.
Monday, October 19, 2015
We left in the morning with a pretty good breeze from directly astern (south). We let both sails way out but had to be careful of accidental jibes (alt: gybes). Since the wind was at our tail and was pushing the sails way out to one side, it is possible that a slight change of the direction of wind could whip either sail quickly way over to the other side. In the process, anyone 6’5” or taller could possibly take a killer blow to the head as the mainsail’s boom swung through. We didn’t have to worry about this due to our height. However, the other thing that can happen is when the boom swings quickly way over to the other side, and the lines finally stop it, the pulleys & attachments can be torn out of the boat. We did have to worry about that. Now, if I knew how to rig up all of Daybreak’s features, I would have had a pole in place that would have locked the foresail in place and just make sure I’m headed in a direction that would not snap the mainsail back the other way. Perhaps next summer. Mistake alert: Well, needless to say that letting my attention to the wind direction wane for a few seconds caused this accidental jibe to occur. When it starts to go, it happens so quickly that all you can do is holler “watch it” as the boom swings violently overhead. Luckily, it did not damage anything. Mistake alert: Then again. Pay attention! One accidental jibe in one’s lifetime is enough. Now I have done it once during sailing classes in Florida, twice when I was bringing Daybreak home when I bought her in June, and three times today. Derrrrr. After that, I took a course that would insure that even if the wind veered, it would still hold the sails in place. This, however, meant that we’d have to zig zag (jibe). If we must. By mid afternoon, the winds turned gentle and we were only doing about 3-4kts. More for fun and experience, I decided to try my hand at setting up and running for a bit “wing on wing (wing to wing)”. This is where the helmsman maneuvers carefully so that the mainsail is caught by the wind and is pushed to one side of the boat while the foresail is pushed to the other side. Picture the sails in the shape of a an inverted “V”, as viewed from aloft. This is very precarious as an accidental jibe is even easier to achieve because the wind is basically directly from astern (from 6 o’clock, if you prefer). THIS is where the aforementioned whisker pole is paramount. Mistake alert: OF COURSE, I allowed another accidental jibe. And again, we were lucky. I scuttled that technique in a very short time and we continued our zigzag jibing.
By late afternoon, the air was becoming very light, so we fired up the diesel & motor sailed an hour to the entrance of the harbor of the town of Egg Harbor.
Alert! The biggest rookie mistake I made all season is ahead…. As we approached the marina, of course no one would return my VHF radio or cellphone calls to the marina. With the marina in plain sight just on the other side of a breakwater made of hundreds of two-ton slabs of shale, I motored Daybreak slowly toward the entrance. As I have mentioned before, normally a sailor has the advantage of having green buoys to keep on his left while approaching and red ones on his right, and I expected nothing different. As early dusk was at hand, we struggled a little identifying the color of two buoys very only 15 meters apart located just off the end of the breakwater. I steered between the green and the red. No problem. Very slowly. Man, that red one sure is a weird color….. Just as we both instantaneously read aloud the hand-painted message “DANGER! ROCKS!” on this ORANGE buoy, we felt a sickening scraaaaaaaape, followed by the slight perception of being lifted slightly aloft. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have officially run my poor boat aground for the first time. On rocks. THAT can’t be good. Ok……. don’t panic. Let’s see what reverse will do. A little movement back, then crunnnnnch again. Let’s try forward again and to starboard……hey, we’re moving more now……… then scraaaaaape & we really lifted upward. Damn. Bet I really did it now. Tried reverse. No movement. Full throttle reverse. No movement. Tried forward. Full throttle. No movement. We are really stuck. Nice. How much is it going to cost me to get out of this new predicament? And who do I call, etc. Of course, there were a few spectators walking out to the end of the breakwater. A lady asked, “Can we do anything?”
With no options popping in my head (other than firing up the smartphone for tow/salvage services), I decided that I would grab the bow (mooring) line and leap onto the breakwater that was about 8-10 feet off our port side and see if I could He-Man this 7-ton vessel off the rocks. Yeah right, Mr. Macho guy. I made the leap fairly easily and then scrambled across several of the giant slabs to get more leverage. After getting my feet set for a mighty heave, I looked up and saw Daybreak, with John standing at the helm, floating by me! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, merely removing my fatness off her considerable weight, she was floating free! (As my mom said to me later when I told her this story: “Well, does that tell you something?!” I love it, Vesta!) I had John slip her into reverse and idle Daybreak out a little. When her bow passed me, I jumped and grabbed her lifelines while bracing my feet against the side of the boat, and managed to climb aboard. Shockingly, she remained free. I took the wheel and we both laughed. As I should have done all along, I had John walk all of the way forward to look at the bottom while I swung the boat wide around the end of the breakwater. We slowly made our way to the dock and picked out the easiest port-side tie up we could find. We tied up and just for the heck of it, plugged in the large shore power cord and quickly discovered we had electricity! Wait, there’s WiFi, too. I walked to the office to pay for the slip, but it was closed. It appeared that we would be getting a free night at the marina with all its lavishness.
We walked around the marina for a few minutes and ran into some Packers fans hailing from Texas that were in town for the recent game, and had we had a few laughs. At that point, John & I decided that we would not cook the meal we had planned using the grill mounted on the very aft end of Daybreak. Instead, we headed up to a nice restaurant on the main drag a couple blocks away & had some brews and a nice dinner. Afterward, we decided to walk across the street to the only other eating establishment in this tiny village–a Mexican restaurant–and watched some Monday Night Football. Talked to a local patron who was there pouring down the brews as she waited for her little girl to finish her dance class next door. Hmmm. Interesting young lady.
Didn’t stay up very late.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Woke up early, & saw that John was dead to the world, so I walked around a bit. We pushed off around nine & motored (widely around the breakwater!) out of the harbor & discovered that that wind direction had taken a 180 since yesterday and picked up considerably. Perhaps 15-20kts from the north. It was considerably colder. Since we had to head southwest, that meant letting the sail go out sideways again and zigzag. However, since the wind was so strong, I decided to only use the big genoa foresail (headsail) and guide her at an angle that would take us more west. Instead of zigzagging numerous times, we would cruise for several hours to take us near the west shore of the bay before jibing back to the southeast. Doing so allowed us to haul butt and now we didn’t have to worry about any wacky accidental jibes. And hauling we did! Between 6.5 & 7 knots using just one sail. What was really fun was that by the time we got out into the open water of the bay, the swells had grown quite large (for me). Whatdoyou think, John? 6-7 feet? Since the wind (& thus the waves) were faster than us, each new wave closed in on us and picked us up from behind (bow pointing more aloft). As it overtook us, we’d surf down the wave for a second. Since the wind was not directly behind us, add some nice rocking back & forth as this happened. Quickly steer to starboard up the wave, then quickly to port on the way down. We finally got tired of doing that and let the autopilot take over and it was much easier! For some reason, the autopilot didn’t seem to correct so much with each wave. Hmmm. First time I learned steering techniques from this inanimate mechanism.
Feeling our oats because of the excitement and the realization that it was within our confidence level, we howled like wolves and screamed “Arrrr” (pirate talk, of course) often. Had a blast all of the way back. Ended up jibing only 4 times total. Arrived back at the home marina in the late afternoon.
Friends–I emailed the link for this to the people on my contacts list I thought might check this out. However, I do not desire to bother anyone with further alerts. Thus, if you would like to know when things are added, please “follow” this blog. Thanks!
You can find the Follow button in the tool bars on the right hand side of the screen. Just scroll down a little bit. You do not have to start, own a blog, or join. This link just has you list your email address. Sorry about the confusion.
Family–I’ll send alerts. 🙂
Tuesday, August 4—One day before departure Running around like crazy over the last 2 days getting things done. Mostly getting the dingy ready (figuring out the industrial-strength mega air pump, getting the outboard engine secured , etc). Took Daybreak over to the dock hands to do the first pump out ever. A pump out is the procedure where a powerful vacuum hose is attached to an external port that sucks out all of the waste from the holding tank (water from the sinks and the junk from the head (toilet)). Nice start on the narrative, Craig. Also wanted to top off the fuel tank.
Mistake alert:At the pump, the diesel fuel kept flowing and flowing! Finally Anders the Dockhand hollered “Stop!” and was looking at the bow. I jumped onto the dock in time to see a steady stream of diesel fuel coming out a hole in the bow! Both Nicole the Dockhand and Anders flew into action and threw the absorbent towel boom into the water to sop up the mess. Luckily, the leak was now only oozing. Why? What’s going on? I climbed all the way down into the most forward compartment in the boat — the anchor locker — and discovered that fuel overflow went into the anchor locker! Someone had re-routed the overflow hose in there instead of through a hole in the side. I tried to call the ex-owner but as usual his phone wasn’t on. Due to leave on my trip in the morning, I feared the worst application of Murphy’s Law ever. I wanted to look at the setup, so I motored the boat back to her slip and started removing cushions in the (front) V berth so I could get near the fuel tank. I removed a few screws and moved a panel but could not get a clear view of the hoses, and etc. On my knees, I felt around on the back side of the bulkhead along the floor and put my hand in a nice puddle of fuel! What why is this on the other side of the bulkhead wall of the anchor locker?
Just then, Andy the Harbormaster (who had called earlier to check on things) stopped over to see things for himself. Apparently he didn’t believe his subordinates about the “damage” or the amount of spilled fuel. I showed him the anchor locker, explained the story myself, and he left happy. I took some pics of the pool of fuel with my camera because that it allowed me to see behind the bulkhead. I grabbed a “diaper” (a one foot by one foot quadruple-layered paper cloth designed to wipe up fuel and oil) and easily sucked up the fuel. It looked/felt like there was much more, but I guess not. Decided to go ahead and start my journey tomorrow even though I didn’t know the true source of the fuel. Was it a leak through the wall from the anchor locker or from the tank itself? I also didn’t know the rate at which it was collecting there. Also decided not to stuff the fuel tank full when I add to it. Ha. Wait until you read about my next fill up.
Ex-owner Ken called and reminded me that he told me of the overflow release relocation and told me he had a little bit of fuel show up now and then, and even had the tank pressure tested and could never find the leak. Thanks. Glad to know that now. (Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer: “Once again, something that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!” (or when I bought this rig)) I went home, met up with my daughter, and we watched a movie while eating a cardboard (frozen) pizza.
Wednesday, August 5 I had to wait until 8am to pick up a prescription so I could not leave early. Had breakfast out at a place near the drug store, picked up the ‘script, drove home to load the frozen food I prepared for the trip and started toward the marina. Finally pulled out at 10:15.
Conditions: 68 degrees. 2’ waves. Sunny and cool. Wind from the north at 6kts. Guess what direction I was headed? Yup. The first of many days headed dead into the wind.
Mistake alert: Trying to do too many things at once, I clunked into one of the marina’s buoys on the way by. Dumbshit. (The first of many smooth moves.) After 45 minutes I decided to check the main bilge (area under the floor (sole)) and it was half full! Since when? For how long? I flipped the bilge pump switch and it was emptied in a minute. However, I could see a tiny river of fluid running down the incline, from the up by the bow, into the bilge. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have a water leak. No–what? Fuel AND water leak? Now what? I left the cabin sole open so I could periodically check down into the bilge. It’s pretty damned early in this trip for all of this crap to happen.
Mistake alert:Oh-and I might have ruined the VHF mic by pulling on the cord. Later on—–it’s ok. What was I thinking starting this endeavor?
After 7 hours of motoring at 6 kts (get used to it), I finally got to Sturgeon Bay. Can anyone tell me why the colors of the buoys marking the way in the canal are reversed? It’s supposed to be: “red, right, returning”. While heading into (returning to) Sturgeon Bay I should have had the red buoys on the right, green on the left. It was the opposite, something that is supposed to be observed in Europe and a few other places. Mistake alert:Um, you really oughta know these things beforehand.I finally approached the first drawbridge of the three I would have to negotiate.
Never done drawbridges before. On the VHF radio, I had heard the drawbridge operator tell a few folks to go to channel 12, (Mistake alert:)so I started hailing him on 12. No answer to my oft-rehearsed (and read verbatim) request. Back up to channel 16 where I should have stayed, and barked it again. This time it was answered and I was asked to move to channel 12. Figure that out. Once on 12 again, I went off script and asked if the two bridges (that were only a block apart) were still on the hour/half hour, 15min/45 min rotation, respectively, as listed in all of my nav literature. He confirmed it was and asked if I wanted both bridges opened. I did because I was going all of the way through to Lake Michigan. While I waited, I had to idle, backup, turn circles, etc., because the current kept pulling me.
The bells started to clang right on time and the bridge began to open. Then it stopped. “Open it a little more?” I thought. Nope. That was it. So, I had to maneuver my craft so the 45’ mast passed between the raised halves while looking at the top of my mast? I was sure I was going to hit but I think that is a blue sky background depth perception perspective I have never had to deal with.
The next bridge was only about 200m up the canal so I had to tread water again for a few minutes. The little black bastard (LBB) flies have found me. The ones that are quick and go for your ankles. Got to take a photo of a coast guard cutter (My boys! (see my journal from late June)) and I should have taken a pic of a ketch (one of the types of sailboat with two masts) that was at least 60 feet long. Mega bucks!
The 3rd bridge was really high but I still needed it up. Waiting on the other side to come through was a Green Peace-ish ship for the Great Lakes. Its skipper waited for me, so I proceeded through first. Next, the canal narrowed considerably and I could see the end of it opening up into Lake Michigan!! Wait, why aren’t I reaching it faster? A quick glance at the knot meter reassured me that I was still at 6kts but looking at the scenery, I would see I was barely making any headway. A current! Except for when I was at sailing school in Florida, that is my first experience with a strong current. My poor girl had to work at it just to stay even! Finally I made it past a very cool looking USCG base and into Lake Michigan!
Up went the sails and quickly I was nicely heeling (boat’s lean due to the wind) and boogying along at 6kts. I should have paid attention to the time. It’s getting dark and I have to find a place to throw a hook (drop anchor) and still have time to pick up while there was enough light. Since I’m on batteries now with the engine off, I want to save all the juice I can. I’m not even close to my target of Algoma, Wisconsin. Found a place in 15 feet of water, but with a rocky bottom…..not a good choice for anchoring, but I had no other options. I got everything ready to go to drop anchor. Since I was in 15’ feet of water, I counted out 15’ X 7=105’ (standard equation that even I can do) of the rode (anchor line) & marked it. I dropped it, and then gave the boat a little juice in reverse to pull the rode tight and set the anchor. I went forward again, grabbed it and yanked it hard and felt that it was set nicely! I hope. I rigged the radar reflector up high so I could be seen easier, and then turned the mast light on for the night. At first it didn’t turn on but the second flipping of the switch did the trick. It was now dark. I was about ¾ mile off shore in 15’ of water. No bugs. Just a little breeze out here. Alone. Quiet except for the sound of the lines against the mast and the breeze through the pine trees on shore. Check that, it’s the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. Closed up for the night and tried to cool off.
Got the idea to check out the sky and I’m glad I did so I came back out on deck. Haven’t seen stars like that in years. Years! Slept like crap. The noise of the lines inside the mast kept clanging inside it all night. There were gentle swells all night and it felt like I was being rocked. I set my phone alarm for 6am. I need to pull anchor tomorrow morning early–before the breeze starts up (See the previous journal for a refresher on why!–Coming soon).
Thursday, August 6th Woke up at 5:30 and hustled to leave. Bagel & cream cheese down the hatch, fired up the diesel, and went forward nervously to try to de-anchor. There was only a gentle breeze so I was able to pull Daybreak TOWARD the anchor rather than have to drive her up to it (Again, see the last journal). Popped the anchor free with no problems and got it up to the bow & tied it off. Back to the helm to motor into deeper water. I set the autopilot and went forward again to properly stow the anchor. Let’s see….at least 50 miles need to be traveled today. The wind, as usual, was not from a direction suitable to get to south. Only way I’ll have decent speed is if I sail S.E. toward Michigan, then tack back. Tried it for a couple of hours but only managed to get away from land and into light air. I then tried to motor sail. To do that, the sail(s) are raised and the breeze created by motoring at 6kts actually creates a little lift and it eases the amount of work the diesel engine has to do. Even that was a pain in the ass because of the cross waves were causing the mainsail to slap around. I don’t want extra stress on this old gal. Noticed and then fixed a place where one of the genoa sail’s sheets (the lines used to control that sail, & make it more efficient) was rubbing on the life lines. Lifelines are the lines that encircle the deck that serve to allegedly prevent a person from falling overboard. Also, the huge pulley that the port genoa sheet goes through completely popped off the deck. What the? Luckily, it screwed right back on. I finally ended up taking the sails down and motoring for 7 hours. Again. There was another sailboat taking the same heading as me but she smoked me & left me in her wake in no time. Hmmm. Know what? I’m tired of motoring from waypoint to waypoint. If I wanted to motor all over, I would have bought a power boat. (No I wouldn’t—I couldn’t afford one and I especially couldn’t afford the gas). I want to SAIL from one place to another. I’m really questioning my intelligence and motives for this whole deal. The zoomed-out GPS doesn’t look like I am moving at all.
Ho hum. More LBB flies. Tired of the sun. Grubby. Crabby. Hot. Tired. I’ll really be crabby if the weather hits that I see on the radar in western Wisconsin right now. I decide to puss out and stop at the Sheboygan Centre Marina in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Arrived at 7pm. Slip open, fuel isn’t. Huge marina. You should see the sailboats. Wow. I picked up and then helped a family tie up a big powerboat next door. They had 3 dogs complete with doggy life jackets. I showered. Ahhhh. Walked back to the boat and see that the family is staying! Went below, sweating again. Investigated a strange noise that I finally determined was the water pump. Mistake alert: Took my first drink of water from the boat’s fresh water storage tank & immediately spit it out. Nice. Antifreeze. Haven’t used it enough to flush it out from its winterized condition. Yuck. This marina had the coolest anti-goose machine. Picture four plastic eagles attached to spokes of a horizontal wheel, spinning. Every 30 seconds or so there would be a loud screech of an eagle or the call of another bird of prey through a loudspeaker.
I hooked into the weak WiFi and wrote a couple of emails. Looked up the weather—dang it. Rain, then a big storm headed this way. Slept only slightly better that night. No noise at all except for the 1am and 2am dog trips somewhere to pee or poop. I don’t get dogs. This was the first marina of the seven I would visit on this trip, and it was very clean, well-tended, had reasonable rates, and had all of the amenities.
Friday, August 7th
Woke up at dawn with a headache. Mistake alert:Didn’t bring any Ibuprofen. Derrrr. Looked at the Doppler and forecast. Rain & storms coming. Might as well wait it out until noon. Back to sleep. Woke up at 6:45 and checked out the weather radar – only rain, no storms. Looked south—clear. I have a little window. Ate bagels as I chased down the harbormaster to give back the marina key. Headed for Milwaukee today. Got under way and it was cloudy, cool, and dark. No rain. Slight fog. Followed another sailboat out. I had talked its crew last night and they said they were headed to Port Washington, to the south. Like yesterday, this boat dusted me off and disappeared into the mist. I have both sails up. No wind. Now I’ll motor sail again. I hope I have enough fuel, have calm water, favorable wind, and no poor weather so I can make it to Port Washington. That’s not asking too much, is it? Wind is supposed to pick up.Mistake alert: Crap. I forgot to check the oil. I did check the bilge—it was empty with NO liquid trickling into it. What??
We (We? Me & who else?) would have run over a sizeable log 2 miles away from shore but luckily I saw it ahead of time. That would have goofed up my hull a little. 9:22am and the wind is just starting and the fog is clearing. Headache still there. Hungry as hell. This boat is very dirty. Gonna have to scrub her on my hands and knees. Ship’s log, star date……. I always wanted to say that. Fogged back up again. Sun’s trying to break through. I can feel the heat and humidity increase by the minute. Haven’t had to endure more cross waves, thank goodness. It has taken me 3 months but I believe I have finally learned to tie a bowline knot, the most widely-used knot on a vessel. Still get the cleat hitch (used commonly to secure a boat to a dock; around a cleat) only ½ of the time on the first try. Decided to stop in the Port Washington Municipal Marina, and top off the fuel.
SPOILER ALERT: Major MAJOR screw-up coming.
Tied up, opened the fill port, and opened the anchor locker to climb in to look for diesel fuel to begin to spill out, which would signal a full tank (Remember it spilling at the beginning of this document? Had the dock girl lean over from the dock and pump it while I watched and listened. I figured it might take 15 gallons. It passed 15. Passed 20. Passed 25……wow, the engine must have had to work at it the past couple of days although I stayed the usual speed–just over 6kts. Passed 30 gallons! Whoa. Please tell me when it is 32 gallons? It only holds 33. The girl stopped at 32.5 gals. You’re telling me that I was on fumes?! Good thing I had her stop when I did. I had the gal put the pump away as I screwed the cap back on the water fill port. Yes, I said the water fill port. Mistake alert:That’s when I realized my monstrous mistake. Yes. I just had the girl pump 32.5 gallons of diesel fuel into my fresh water storage tank. Oh my God. Now what? In my defense, the C & C Yachts people messed up because the port-side water fill hole is located within 12” of the fuel fill hole. Panic is setting in. Deep breath. Ok, what to do? The dockhand hurried off to her supervisor to rat on me (or to find out protocol) while I crept down the companionway (down into the cabin) to turn off all electrical breakers.
Walking to the marina office, I was once again thinking how it would be possible to get rid of this horrible mistake I bought this summer. In actuality, Daybreak was probably wondering if she could dump her new dipshit owner. Once in the office, it was apparent that a couple of dockhand kids and their boss, a woman perhaps in her mid-40s, were dropping everything and attending to my problem. The boss lady, Lynn, was in the middle of finding the name and cell number of the guy she thought would be able to help me. I called and explained everything to him and he told me that he had just loaned his equipment to a friend for the afternoon. Then he told me that I “probably shouldn’t put fuel in my water”. Forgetting that I was desperate, I snapped back at him, asking him if he was effing joking. This is a family blog. He said he was, and that he would try his best to get ahold of his equipment and call me back. 30 nail-biting minutes later he called to say he was on his way.
He runs a small company with a few workers & always gives them Friday off so he can stay at the office and do paperwork. Luckily we found him. He arrived and we went aboard to have a look at the water tank. He instantly discovered that the fill hose was not even connected to the tank! Good news! I didn’t contaminate my whole water system! Bad news……..the bilge (very bottom of the boat under the sole (floor)) now had 32.5 gals of diesel fuel in it. He brought in a truck battery and a bilge pump of his own to suck up the fuel into a 5 gal bucket. Then we would carry the bucket off the boat and up to the top of a huge, empty, plastic storage tank in the liner of his pickup truck. I tried to do all of the hauling of stuff because I needed to be punished in non-monetary ways and because I hoped he’d cut me some slack when it came to paying him for this service. I had NO idea how much it was going to cost but I didn’t care. Since the marina was next to the finish line of a 50-boat sailboat race from Muskegon to Port Washington that would be arriving soon, the marina staff was eager to have the parking spot at the pump vacated. My expert guy told me it would be no problem starting ‘er up and motoring to a different slip. I learned a lot about the differences between gasoline and diesel fuel that day. Bottom line is it is much more forgiving than gasoline. After an hour he had removed as much as his hose end would allow. He told me the next step would be to get a gallon of Dawn dish soap and pour it into the bilge and then add a bunch of water to it and let it slosh around for a couple of days while I sailed. He then added, “After that, I’m not going to tell you what you need to do with it”.
As far as using the boat, he said that fuel fumes are not the same as fuel smell and that smell would be the only thing left and it would take a while for that to dissipate. I was surprised on how quickly it disappeared. I slept on board that night and only occasionally perceived it, and barely at that. Luckily, my sniffer is ¾ shot. He charged me just over 2 bills but I was so grateful, I gave him 3.
Now late in the afternoon and at least 4 hours from my planned two-day stop near my son in Milwaukee, I called and convinced him to do the 45 min drive up to me instead. He agreed and was there by suppertime. We went to a restaurant next to the marina and had “Friday Night Fish”, a Wisco tradition, and a beer. We then retired to what he called the “hideaway” (my boat) and we broke out my new cheapie playing cards. He wanted me to show him how to play the Michigan/Indiana/other nearby states? card game called “Euchre”. Because he has played a lot of card games in his life, he picked it up almost instantly.
Saturday, August 8
Got up, microwaved two containers of a frozen egg/ham dish that ended up quite rubber-like, and soon headed out to sail. Sailed for about 4 hours. Perfect conditions! We hauled! Almost 8 kts! Michael was at the helm most of the time.
Mid-afternoon we headed in. We went to find some plastic for my dingy registration numbers because I left them behind (Mistake alert:) in GB , then hit Arby’s. He then took me back to my boat and said goodbye. I motored Daybreak back to the fuel pump and this time put 15 gallons in the right place. There was a band playing outside that evening at a nearby restaurant that I could hear pretty well from my vessel. The three ladies of the band were very very good at their 3-part country harmonies. I walked over to take a peek and walked back. Saw many couples walking around the marina while holding hands. I was very lonely. (I know….awwwww). The evening was uneventful after that & I went to bed.
Note: I can’t say enough about Lynn and her staff at the Port Washington Muni Marina. They all helped this rookie in many ways during my stay there and never giggled, laughed, or pointed at me. At least not in front of me. The marina itself is a very pretty one, has all of the bells and whistles, and is a block away from downtown. Thanks you guys.
Sunday, August 9 Waking at daybreak (see what I did there?) as I knew I would, and popped into action to begin my much-anticipated virgin crossing of Lake Michigan. I was headed right straight across to Whitehall, MI—almost exactly due east. Pulled out before it was fully light and pulled up the sails up as soon as I cleared the breakwater.
The wind wasn’t perfect for a straight east crossing but it was for a more northeastern trajectory, so I decided to do that for a while. That is, until the wind stopped dead. I pulled in the foresail and ended up motor sailing for the remaining 13 hours of a 13.5 hr crossing, with the smaller main sail still deployed. Everything for the next 12 hours was very surreal. The water was like glass and there was a thick haze, maybe even fog, for most of the trip. Along with the cloud cover, it made me feel like I was in my own little world for 13 hours. Didn’t see another vessel the entire time. I lost my cell signal 5 miles out, and didn’t even hear a partial, static-filled blurp from the VHF radio. For 13 hours.
But I tell you what—-the Little Black Bastard flies found me. Thirty miles out—that’s half way—-they found me. With a vengeance. They were merciless, and I could hear them laughing at my spraying of the wimpy 30% deet bug spray. They left welts on me all over. One sadistic thing did make the situation a little better—my battery-powered, racket-shaped bug zapper. With that in one hand and a traditional swatter in the other, I bet I left three hundred flies dead in the cockpit that I quickly ground into the boat by walking/standing on them over the next 6 hours. Finally, I started nearing the Michigan coast. Cell phone reception appeared and disappeared. Several times. I could not see the shore until it was only a mile away but imagined seeing it for the past 3 hours.
Since I was a day early to the municipal marina in Whitehall, I decided to call ahead to a different marina, the Whitehall Landing Marina. (Later: Told them I preferred a port tie-up but they gave me a starboard one. Well, then I’ll just park next to it at a portside dock.) My buddy John was at the slip when I arrived and helped me tie up. Got all settled in and then joined John & his wife Cindy for a meal at a Mexican restaurant 5 minutes away. Check this out……they left me one of their cars to use while in town. How handy would that be? (Thanks you, J & C!!!) Lake Michigan crossing #1—uneventful & made 100% of the way via diesel power.
Monday, August 10
Everyone was busy, so I just cleaned Daybreak until mid afternoon. Worked hard the whole time. John & Cindy came down to the marina and I finally got to meet my sailing “pen pal” Monica. The four of us motored back out to Lake Michigan and sailed for a short time.
Wednesday, August 12
John & I tried to sail but the waves were too much for our (my) taste (abilities). One negative of this marina—it is on the far end of a long lake. Thus, it is just like at my home marina where I must motor 40 minutes each way in order to be able to actually sail.
Wednesday, August 12
John & I tried again and this time conditions were perfect. Were out for most of the afternoon. Went back out in the evening and I picked up J & C in the channel (that had metal walls!) then went out a bit to try to catch some Perseid Meteor Shower activity after dark. It was supposed to be the peak night. However, we decided to head back in before it got too dark. We did so and then headed over to the beach to lie on the sand to see the show. Ended up seeing some excellent streaks, complete with smoke and splitting heads. Not as frequent as I anticipated, though. Sand fleas or something else bit the crap out of my feet. Incredibly itchy. Finally had enough and headed “home” for the night.
Thursday, August 13 Too much wind. I’m planning on working my way up instead of jumping in and being overwhelmed. Oh, I’d be overwhelmed.
Friday, August 14
Up early to drive with John to the annual Simsonian 5K memorial scholarship run held on Grosse Ile, Michigan, which is in the Detroit River. Steve Sims was a childhood friend who was a very successful high school teacher and coach who died suddenly 13 years ago. Had dinner with all of the common friends, then crashed.
Saturday, August 15 Did the Simsonian 3.1K trot (literally), then John dropped me off at my folks’ place in Greenville on his way back home near Lake Michigan.
Sunday, August 16 Back to Whitehall with my parents in tow. Perfect day to take them sailing. After motoring out with my dad at the helm most of the way, I pulled the sails up and we went 25 minutes out and 25 minutes back in.
Mom & Dad
By the time everything was said and done (what an odd saying), it was mid-afternoon. It was a long enough sail for them considering they had a 90 min drive home. I don’t like them driving.
Monday, August 17 With John & Cindy & Monica. Out to eat. Monster t-storm hit while there.
Tuesday, August 18
Weather report: Weds & Thurs will be dangerously windy. Need to leave now and try to get south of it. Grabbed a few groceries. Left around noon. I would really like people to know that the staff at the Whitehall Landing Marina made me feel very welcome there and did everything they could to make my week-long stay there amazingly memorable. Under new ownership, they acted like they wanted my business. They gave me a package deal for the week as a transient, were friendly each and every time I needed something or had questions, and had someone over to my boat ten minutes after I asked if someone could change Daybreak’s oil. (A note from the future: I do it myself now. Duh.)
Mistake alert:(Editing in February) Slow down, you idiot. Whitehall Landing Marina was the first place that I got so excited to get out on the water, I forget an essential preparation. Can you imagine spacing off unplugging the very thick shore power electrical cord from the power box on a dock and backing out from a slip with it still connected? It tore the box apart in Whitehall. At my home marina, tore the cover off the box. I am extremely lucky it has not torn up things on the boat end, or worse, popped off the boat end and plopped into the water while still plugged in at the source. It has now occurred at least four times. Slow down, you idiot.
Finally leaving for Holland, once again needed to go directly into the wind. I gave it a try but after a half hour, furled (rolled in) the genoa, left the headsail up & motor sailed the rest of the way. 6kts of speed. Again. Heading into 3-4’ rolling waves.
Called the Eldean Shipyard & Marina in Holland about 3 hrs out & the boss said he’d check on a slip for me and call me back. I picked out that marina because it was close to the harbor entrance. One hour out I called again and a dockhand answered the phone instead. He assigned me a slip number & said he’d stay a few minutes late to help me in. The Doppler indicated I was racing a huge storm front into Holland.
Arrived 15 min earlier than expected, got into the slip, checked in, showered, and got back to Daybreak in time to see the storm approaching. Got a glimpse of a brand new 64’ sailboat tied up kitty corner from me. Later I learned it was sailed right from the manufacturer in France. $1.5 million. Owners live in Chicago and fly their private plane up for weekends. Two guys stick around full-time to clean her and keep her ready. I decided that since there were several longer masts than my own around me, I would be relatively safe from a lightning strike, so I decided to stay onboard during the storm. I bedded down in the aft quarter berth. The storm ended up being a lot more bark than bite.
Wednesday, August 19 Spent time in the morning cleaning the boat. Hooked up a line to pull the boat closer to the dock for boarding. Mistake alert: Stupid guy (me) threaded it to a fairlead (rope guide) mounted on the side of the mid-deck and it easily pulled out the two short mounting screws. Bought a small amount of mariner’s repair chalk/sealant & stuck it back on. As the day wore on, it got windier & windier, so I spent a couple of hours rigging up extra lines to hold my vessel in place. I now have 2 port bow lines, 2 starboard bow lines, a port breast line and a starboard breast line rigged up. (Lines from the front, middle and rear on both sides) All lines are old and brittle, thus the reason for backups. I’m ready for the nasty winds tomorrow because now with all of the lines, she sits in the middle of her slip and will not touch a dock. Used the grill for only the second time and the flame kept going out. Duh. Finally, the chicken was done & I heated up some ex-frozen corn. The chicken was one of the containers that I packed and froze more than two weeks ago back at my apartment. I’m sure it has been thawed for at least 10 days. Fully expect to wake up in the middle of the night with food poisoning.
Went for a walk to explore the expansive marina. Got lost in its restaurant while trying to find a men’s room and ended up taking the back stairway up. I discovered it was the staff stairway. I popped up right in the middle of the kitchen! Derrrrr. I was immediately asked if I was lost, and we all had a good laugh. This was at 9:02pm and the place closed at 9pm. Cold front came through and it’s actually quite cool. Spitting rain off & on. Worked on some emails on the incredibly slow WiFi us scumbag transients use, then went to bed. Quite the rocking during the night. No ill effects from the chicken. Good, because I have about 6 more breasts to use up.
Awoke to increased sounds of the wind. Out on deck I saw the bobbing and weaving of every vessel here. All of the masts and rigging were whistling dozens of tunes around the area. The wind now sounds like a typical winter storm. Grabbed some coffee across from the marina in a little booth chuck wagon and walked back to Daybreak. As I approached, I saw that the bimini (cover over the cockpit made of canvas) on the 64 footer was either torn or loose, and the flapping in the ever-increasing wind will surely tear it up. Grabbed the hand held VHF radio & made a quick call in to the marina but couldn’t raise anyone. I tried to look up the phone number online but was taking forever (those danged transients with the dial up-like internet speed) so I ended up jogging the 150M to the office, and grabbed the boss. We walked back to the vessel and climbed right aboard & zipped the bimini back up. Well, if I knew we could just walk aboard, I could have done this myself.
Went back into my cabin to email my folks and decided that even though I have never been seasick, looking at my laptop screen while the world was rocking topsy turvey around me could quite possibly initiate me into the psychedelic yark boat club. Perhaps if I sit facing the front of the boat vs. facing the rocking action it would help?
Didn’t feel like taking that chance so I got up and went for a walk out to the red lighthouse at the entrance of the harbor. It was surprisingly close. Along the channel, the waves were coming through so high that they were washing over the sides up into the sand. Incredible. Finally got out to the cute lighthouse (“Big Red”) and marveled at the surf. If not for the fact that I would have died, I would have loved to go body surfing. Red flags up all over the place. Waves up and over the breakwater. Almost deafening combo of wind and crashing surf. Spotted a guy on a personal watercraft on his way down the channel, timing it so he would accelerate as a huge swell picked him up. He could then surf it for 40M. Cool looking but stupid, I thought. Took lots of pics and vids.
Walked back and then decided to walk the 1.3 miles each way to the nearest grocery store to pick up a couple of things. With ¾ of a mile to go, I remembered that I had left my wallet behind, so cursing my advancing Alzheimer’s, I headed back to my boat, made a little lunch, and got caught up on this document. It’s 2:45pm now and the wind has noticeably lessened almost instantaneously. Need to start making plans for heading south tomorrow and across to North Chicago on Saturday. Tentatively.
The Eldean Shipyard & Marina was the largest marina yet. It’s an impressive place with a lot of class and they also know how to treat their customers. Their ship’s store is well-stocked.
Friday, August 21 One of the guys from the 64 footer helped push me off. Went over to fuel up & it was uneventful. Pulled out at 11:30. Want to try to make Benton Harbor today. Out of the channel, I checked the wind. Yup. Normal for me–right on my nose.
Didn’t even raise a sail & motored yet another complete leg of my trip. Past South Haven, past several populated beaches. Stayed fairly close to the coast while skimming a depth contour line on the GPS…..always trying to take a straight line between destinations. Past the place I had walked on a beach with a girlfriend from a past life. It looked different (Duh, I’m on the water) and the water level is up a couple of feet.
Cruised past the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert, Michigan. Very ominous. Amazing amount of steam released from two long banks of buildings. There’s something very hot in there. Couldn’t get past that place fast enough (It took hours). Saw amazing houses, and a golf course or two.
When it started getting dark, it was time to look for a place to drop anchor. Dropped the hook in 15’ of water and let out 120’ of rode. It grabbed right away. I looked at the depth gauge and it showed 18’. I went forward and let out the rest of the line—over 150’ just to be safe. Pretty dark now. Still a gentle breeze. Went below and readied the berth for the night. In bed at 10. Asleep at 10:01. About time. I needed the rest considering I was crossing Lake Michigan tomorrow. FYI: Benton Harbor to Chicago is shorter than my first trip (Port Washington to Whitehall). 48 miles vs. 60.
Saturday, August 22
Woke up at 4:40 (had the alarm set for 5:00). Quickly got going. Pulled anchor in by hand again & it came up clean. Didn’t have to stress since the wind was blowing me OUT from land. Got the autopilot going, grabbed a little grub, and motored for 45 minutes until it was light enough to see what I was doing with the rigging. Up with the main—no problem. Turned away from the wind to help blow the big jenny into action. Got it half way out and then it got stuck. Now what? A nice knot formed and stopped the line at a fairlead. The pressure on it did a very nice job of tightening the knot. I tried to be strong enough to haul in a little bit of line to get some slack so I could work on the knot. Not even close. Finally decided to furl it all the way back up and work with it with a slack line. Still took 5 minutes to get that knot out. Got the sail up, found the wind, and we were off.
Holy crap! The wind’s direction is finally in the perfect direction! To the exact degree! I mean perfect! Averaging greater than 7.0kts. Nice, fun waves. Surprised how long the cell phone signal lasted compared to the first trip over the lake.
Only a couple of hours in, I picked out the Willis (Sears) Tower on the horizon. Things are perfect (sailing-wise) right now. Sure is a lot more USCG chatter on the radio in this end of the lake! Later–still a few hours out from Chicago but I have already heard three distress calls. I am flying across Lake Michigan! Yee ha! 11:00 & I got my first indication of a cell signal, then it was gone.
Several weeks ago when I was doing research for this trip, I called Belmont Marina to get a slip and the girl there told me that it wouldn’t be a problem if I just showed up. After detecting a steady cell signal, I called the marine. The girl who answered told me they have been sold out for tonight since 3 weeks ago! I can’t STAND how inept too many people are these days in their jobs. Oh really, and you’re not an inept sailor? Also, haven’t the marina workers been really great so far? Well, I guess so….
I decided to head a little north of the city since that’s where most of the city’s marinas are located in case I could find another slip. Called my good gal pal Terry to see if she could get on the horn and try to find me something. Terry was finally going to get a day of sailing in with me. Hopefully.
Back in contact, friend Terry tells me that she got me a place at the Montrose Marina, #2 on my list! Nice job, Tee! Lucky! Had to start to motor about 5 miles out due to a combo of lessening air and different course. I became aware of a very low sound/vibration being emitted from the entire city. It was very strange. I gave way to a freighter. He would have t-boned me if I didn’t hold up. Good thing I wasn’t sleeping.
Went past two different sailboat races in progress.Found the entrance of the marina, called the harbormaster and arranged for a couple of dockhands to meet me at my slip. Tied up with no problems. This is a happening place! Huge. Lots of partying going on. Cleaned up the cockpit, showered. Terry picked me up & we went over to a friend of hers for dinner.
Tired & crabby now…..not a great dinner guest. Sorry you guys. I’ve been on the road a long time. Really good food including very VERY hot enchiladas, some great fish, Spanish rice, cold tomato soup, and walnut (!!!) pie. Terry took me back to the marina and I crawled between sleeping bags in the starboard quarter berth immediately.
Sunday, August 23
Should have taken Terry sailing today. Just heard the weather for tonight, Monday and Tuesday. Not good. Not good at all. Small craft advisory. Stayed at the marina while Terry did some work from home.
Monday, August 24 Today’s the day we were supposed to sail. In the morning, Mistake alert: I made the stupid call to Terry to let the temp warm up a bit. 2 hours later, Terry arrived and it is a bit windy. Struggled to get out of the slip and bumped the tall cabin cruiser to my lee (side of my boat away from the wind). Once out of the harbor it started huffing and puffing. Decided to use only the foresail. Good thing. Gusts hit hard and one almost swamped us. Successfully reefed (brought in) the sail a bit. Still felt very wild. Luckily, there were no waves yet. Terry is enjoying the craziness, but her host is nervous. You are a wild one, Terry! Couple more close calls. I wasn’t brave enough so I decided to head in. Beat the crap out of the genoa (front sail) while struggling to furl it. Motored back and explained to Terry how I thought the docking would work and her role would be helping me dock with the strong wind blowing me away from the dock. On approach, I was coming in too hot so I had to really crank on reverse and back way up. Tried again. Stopped and backed up again. On the 3rd try I got it in and didn’t need Terry’s help. Got both the bow and stern lines set right away, then used my recent discovery, the long-handled hook, to grab the bow line onboard while standing on the dock. (I watched a guy use this technique last night when he single-handedly docked and did so seemingly without effort.) Next we started to pick up the boat and I went into one of my moping funks. Terry sat in the cockpit in the sun reading a book and munching on grapes while I got horizontal on the V berth. Terry could sense my disappointment.
I announced that if the weather was tolerable tomorrow I would head for home in the morning. The reader may recall that there was supposed to be a Small Craft Advisory later today and tomorrow. Later this afternoon the weather people downgraded this prediction. Went over to Terry’s condo and used her WiFi to hook up to my father’s computer remotely and do a little troubleshooting for him. We went to a little place for some burgers and then I had Terry drop me back off at the marina. It is still blowing like hell right now. Laid awake for quite a while. After sleeping for a few hours, I woke up and realized the wind had finally drastically decreased.
The Montrose Marina is one of several marinas run by the City of Chicago. It was set up a bit different that the places I’ve tied up before, with the restrooms and showers being located at each cluster of docks. The office is very small–no matter–and there are no laundry services available. However, it was still clean and fun to explore. As you would expect, this urban marina had higher transient fees.
Note to Terry: I owe you big-time for being such a party-pooper and a grump. (Me, that is.) You were being a great friend and I goofed up. SO…..Door County (at least), here we come! A trans-Lake Michigan trip?
Tuesday, August 25 Up at 5am, started the engine at 530, and I pulled out of Chicago at 540. Still a little breeze, but I managed to push the boat out and along the dock working from the dock. Got her almost clear and hopped way up to the deck, clinging to the life line supports (the short, wimpy fence around the deck of the boat) & had to climb over and scurry back to the helm. However, the wind had already begun to swing the bow in the opposite direction I wanted, so I continued to back up way into the main marina channel. I then motored out of the harbor until I there was enough light to see, and then hauled up the mainsail and then the jenny. Here we go! 6 kts is fine by me since that’s also my motoring speed. Soon the wind shifted so it was more out of the north. Guess which way I had to go? That means I have to head northeast toward Michigan (specifically, White Lake!), then tack back toward land, then back out, etc.
After 3 hours trying to optimize my sails to the wind, I cranked the engine back up. Autopilot is on now and I’m catching up on emails. There are lots of them. Not great for extending the life of my phone battery. Oh stop whining, there are several ways aboard that you can recharge your junk. Stop being paranoid. The boys from my place of employment called during lunch of their first day of in-service back at work. That was fun. Thanks, fellas. Speaking of that, thank you to EVERYONE who kept in touch with me during my travels. It really helped pass the time and I most certainly had a lot of time to pass. I turned down a 6-week sub job sitting in for a buddy in elementary & middle school PE and freshman Health. Probably going to regret turning it down as soon as I get home and can get a grasp on the monetary damages from this trip.
Been motoring 12 hours now toward Milwaukee. Another 12 hours by engine. Will make it there by 730pm. I will need to get fuel, then go to my slip at the McKinley Marina, and meet up with Michael. He’s coming down via bike with some brats & buns and we’re going to grill out on the boat. Yay! I realized I did not have to deal with the sun and heat during this section of the journey. I am the most tan I have been since my mid-20s when I was still lifeguarding and teaching swimming back in my hometown during summer breaks. I put on sunblock MOST of the time out here but have gotten darker anyway. I’m sure I will pay for it soon. The wind started picking up from the north (of course) at 515, getting stronger at 545. A taste of what’s supposed to come for the next 3 days? Good thing this Yanmar diesel engine is good on gas (diesel) mileage. Made Milwaukee by 7:30 & I can’t believe how early it’s getting dark these days. Michael was there waiting for me so he helped the fueling process, along with a dockworker by the name of “Gar”.
Walked over to the office and threw more money out of my wallet and then tooled over to the slip. Couple more workers over there to help tie up so there’s more money out of my wallet (tips). One of the kids was done for the year right then and there and was headed back to Madison in the morning. We grilled out in the dark and ate below.
Talked for a few minutes and then Michael headed out. Bummingly (new word?) short visit but at least it occurred. I tried to do the dishes but there was no water being pumped out even though the pump was running constantly. I found it hard to believe that the tank was empty, but upon filling it, I discovered that must have been the case. (Note: the starboard water tank has always been hooked up & functional.) Went to bed and fell asleep right away PLUS I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night!
I wish I had more comments on the McKinley Marina in Milwaukee. I got there so late and left so early that I did not get a chance to see much of it or use their facilities. All I can tell you is that the staff when I was there was top-notch!
Wednesday, August 26
Alarm at 5am. Decided to wait to eat something after getting under way. Quick trip over to the restrooms. Couldn’t find the key drop box so I decided to just leave it next to the electrical box by the slip and call and tell them about it. Guess if I remembered to call them? I then jogged way back to the boat and got going. Got out of there quickly. Can’t believe I didn’t forget to do something (i.e., like unplugging the shore power cord) Zero wind. Yanked up the mailsail. Refigured distances. 16 hrs. to Kewaunee—around 10pm. That would leave me 12 hrs. remaining for Friday. Starting a “To Fix” list for Daybreak that I can begin after she’s “on the hard” (Put up on her cradle during the winter & spring). Now……what to rename her?
This is the farthest offshore (5nm) I have been since either of my crossings. I will have the Wisconsin coastline closer to me again by nightfall, however. Always trying to motor a straight line between waypoints. Checked the weather. Spotty dense fog predicted. Nice. I can already see it way to the north. It seems to stay in the distance, though, so perhaps it’s just humid air. I hauled up the radar deflector just in case.
Mistake alert: I decide that I am going to just motor right straight through the night and down to Green Bay. That would mean a little more than 24 hrs. of straight motoring and I would arrive home in the late morning rather than the evening. Now motoring in the dark and there’s a very sweet, almost full moon. Cool reflection of it directly astern. Rolling, rolling, rolling. Dum-dee-dum.
Wait! Is it? No way. YES! I see the first Aurora that I’ve seen in many years! What a perfect seat I have. I’m headed directly north. Oh-oh, it almost immediately became obscured by clouds. No fair! Wish the moon wasn’t there—it would make this show brighter. Geez, Morf, isn’t that a little greedy? They’re back! They’re not very bright but for a few minutes they got pretty shimmery. It also took up about 120 degrees of the horizon. Little fingers of it shooting right straight up to the zenith (up to straight overhead). It was the most active right around the Big Dipper. Now a haze is beginning to block it.
Oh-oh. That’s no haze. That’s the fog. Soon, I was buried. I could not make out anything anywhere except a few of the brightest lights on shore, about a ½ mile away now. I quickly grabbed my air horn & started blasting it as required, then pumping it back up, blasting, etc.
(Looking back on it now…..this whole next series of events was pretty stupid to do.) I am surprised I do not see the lights for the lateral markers marking the entrance of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. According to my GPS, I’m getting pretty close. In fact, I was almost on top of the first buoy before I saw it. I should have slowed down a lot. It is impossible to see. I am now in the narrowest part of the entire canal, a section that is perhaps 40M wide. I am relying on the GPS to stay in the middle of the canal. My best flashlight is only good enough to illuminate a canal wall if I were to stay within 20 feet of it. This is odd: when I point my flashlight at the water, it apparently causes a small species of fish to immediately jump out of the water! Everywhere I shine it, hundreds immediately break the surface of the water. It only occurs within the circle of lighted water. This is bizarre! I want to know what they are. “Schmelt”? It is presently 2:30am. I am lucky no one else is out here. After making through this first (narrow) part of the canal, according to the GPS it widened. Now the flashlight would not illuminate anything. All of a sudden…..ZOOM! A bass boat flew by me at full throttle, headed toward Lake Michigan. Missed me by about 30’. There’s NO way he saw me. I did see the captain’s face for a split second and he was looking at me with his mouth wide open. I slowed down quite a bit at that point but still knew that if there were other boats, I would get crunched. I didn’t even hear the roar of his engine until he was right next to me!
All of a sudden, I was face-to-face with the first drawbridge!!! I saw it on the GPS but misjudged the actual distance. I mean it was not there and then it eerily materialized right in front of me out of the mist. Whoa! All stop! All reverse! Hailed the drawbridge with the radio and was instantly answered. Guy said he controls all three bridges from the middle one (I had forgotten that—and since he could not see me, he would have to rely on me to know when to raise and lower all three. As I cleared the first one, I reported my progress to him. He then asked me where I was headed. After learning my destination was Green Bay, he said that he would go ahead and open the next two for me when I arrived at each instead of having to wait for the on-the-hour/on-the-half hour/15 after/45 after timings since more fog was on its way. Excellent & thanks! I guess at 3am he could deviate from the published schedule. Yet another friendly and helpful person met on my trip! Wait. More fog? Does that mean enough fog to prevent me from seeing my hand in front of my face? I was able to see both bridges now earlier than the first one since there was more light around each and I easily got through them both.
Just then I began to analyze my fuel usage and remembered that I was not aware of any places to fuel up between Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay (8 hrs. + of motoring and no marinas, etc.). Mistake alert:I learned later that’s not the case. Again, maybe I should have done a little more homework on that? Derrrr. Let’s see, I would do 22 hrs of straight motoring, and Pastor Ken said she could do 3-4 days without refueling. Wait. 8 hr. days? 12 hour days? Hmmm….three 8 hour days = 24 hours. I need to tie up around here and both wait out the fog and then top off my fuel tank. It was 330 am and knew that I could sneak in a nap, so I pulled alongside a dock that was adjacent to several condo buildings and tied up for a few hours. I totally expected to be roused from my sleep by a condo security dude for staying there but I was not in the mood to worry about it. Fell asleep instantly. I was SO cold under those TWO sleeping bags. Forgot to tell the reader that I have been freezing for the last 6 hours. While motoring through the fog, I had to put on my spring jacket, then my winter jacket over that. Added my running gloves but soon had to add little cotton gloves under them. Mistake alert: Did not have a warm hat onboard. Dumbass.
Thursday, August 27
Woke up a few hours later, at 630, and stuck my head out of the companionway. The fog was gone and it was a nice, sunny day. Got on the internet on my phone to look up marinas for fuel but knew it was too early for any to be open. What the heck, try anyway. The first number I called was not answered. The next one was. She was working at a marina back up the canal near where I almost got rammed and was really nice. She said that if I promised that I would stay at their wonderful marina sometime, that she’d give me the phone number of the marina closest to me. After picking up a bit & coughing down an (old) bagel w/cream cheese, I called this close marina and learned they were open at 7:30. Since I had to go back under the 2 closest drawbridges (the first one the hour & on the half hour), if I made the 7:00 opening & the 7:15 opening, respectively, this would work out nicely. That’s what happened. I had to hustle, though during fueling, because I wanted to make the next openings. I had to jog about 400M to the restroom building & jog back and I remember telling myself that the current shape I’m in is shameful. Daybreak only had room for 7 more gallons of fuel. That can’t be right. However, that would have been enough to make the last leg. I don’t get it, though. Perhaps I should get the gauge fixed. Made it under the bridges, and started motoring for home at 9am. So much for my goal of arriving home in the late morning.
Sure was a nice, sunny day! Or so I thought. As soon as I started seeing the west end of the now wide channel, I could see there was fog on the bay. “That’s just great.”
Had to maintain a vigilant watch for fishing boats. Saw a few but luckily the visibility was at least 100M. Reminded me of my first trip across the The Big Lake where I could only see a few hundred yards in all directions all of the way across. Only difference is that now I can see/feel the sun starting to burn through it. Quite foggy until 1:30pm, though. Took off my shirt (because there was no one around) and enjoyed the cool breeze. Writing this atop the dodger. The water is like glass. Geez, except for that glorious passage from Michigan to Chicago, every single destination was reached by using that studly little 28HP Yanmar diesel engine. Well done! (Can’t get cocky yet, I still have several hours left.) Finally pulled in my home marina & tied up with the help of a dockhand at 4:15pm. I really wanted to get to the post office by 5pm to pick up all of my held mail. After putting Daybreak to bed, I didn’t have enough time.
Daybreak……….even though I tried to destroy you a couple of times, you have been a rugged and reliable vessel. I wish I took better and smarter care of you. I will, darlin’.
*My daughter, Tessa, for putting up with me and helping out with training missions prior to leaving, and for encouragement
*My son, Michael, for his endless encouragement, sailing with me, cards, companionship, and dinner delivery
*John, Cindy & Monica, the West Michigan hosts who I imposed upon way too much
*Terry, my Chicagoland host & whom I owe a huge adventure in 2016
*Lynn, the harbormaster at the Port Washington Marina who soothed my soul after the “misfueling” (miswaterfilling?) incident
*Countless dock hands up and down both Lake Michigan coasts who made my docking techniques more gentle on Daybreak’s hull
*Friends who checked in with me
Note: The photo of a sunken in the header of this blog boat is not Daybreak.
I would like to rename my boat. Yes, I understand that requires certain procedures. Since I am non-creative garbage (Obscure Python reference), I cannot think of anything clever. Since you read this far, perhaps something from this wacky voyage comes to mind. If so, please post a comment and let me know!
*John & I go for an October over-nighter and I try to sink Daybreak! (Much shorter story)
*Getting Daybreak ready for winter (Maybe. Perhaps in time to get her back in the water.)
……………after making a five hour car trip from De Pere, Wisconsin, to Hessel, Michigan, to look at what would be my first sailboat, I drove up again to close the deal and bring Daybreak back…….. 200 NM…….with no experience and basically no knowledge of how to operate her………………
Even though this is the newest post, it’s actually a flashback to the beginning of sailboat ownership and thus, my very first boneheaded moves. Those of you who have already read my late summer trials and tribulations, just wait until you read about how things went before that!
I already sent some of you this particular trip via a MS Word.
Picking up Daybreak
Day 0—Saturday, June 27
Left at 4am from De Pere, drove to Hessel, MI, 30 minutes east of the Mackinac Bridge. Arrived at 10:15am.
Ken (previous owner) showed me the ropes and then the three of us (with broker Jack) headed out for an hour to take Daybreak for her sea trial. Came back in and then Ken spent the next 4 hours showing me most of the rest of her features. After he left, I moved my stuff aboard, then made a trip around the bay via diesel engine by myself (of course) and practiced docking away from other boats. Didn’t do that well.
Went back in and the easy slip we had used had been taken, so I chose the next easiest spot (for me)–out right next to the entrance/exit of the marina. That made it so anyone coming or going would produce waves that would rock me pretty well. Drove into town (Cedarville) to explore. Plopped on the forward (V) berth for the night, grubby & hot.
Day 1—Sunday, June 28
Woke up at 7:30 and noticed the screens on the open hatches were covered with mayflies. After going on deck, I saw that everything was covered in mayflies. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the annual mayfly hatch occurred overnight. What a curious tradition. Everywhere I step, I crush them into the deck. Many dried up and crunchy bodies would end up making the entire trip to Green Bay with me. Most, however, existed only as dark spots on deck that are going to take quite a bit of effort to remove. Showered at marina & headed back into town to get a first aid kit & whistle (required safety equipment I was missing) as well as a couple of grocery items.
Left the dock at 10am
No problems finding my way out except in one place. Mistake alert: The GPS unit is too far away from the helm (steering wheel & controls) to be really effectively used and especially hard to see in the sun. Luckily I saw a red buoy & immediately changed course or I would have hit my keel and gone aground.
Can’t believe how long it takes between landmarks on the map. Hours just peel away and with the GPS map zoomed out, it looks like I’m not moving. Under the Big Mac bridge early afternoon.
After arriving in Lake Michigan, I decided to hoist the main sail and try her out. I swung her into the wind, set the autopilot to maintain that heading and struggled with the sail ties in the rolling seas. Mistake alert:Finally got those off & stowed then started to pull on the main halyard (line that pulls up the mainsail) and it wouldn’t move. Couldn’t figure it out. Called Ken, but his cell phone wasn’t on. Easily reached Jack and he asked about the location of the halyard. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t even unhooked the halyard from its storage point on the side stay stanchion, let alone hook it to the sail! Derrrrrrrrrrr. Mistake #2. Geez, dude, getting a little excited? Decided to stop that effort and just drive. Drove & drove & drove & drove.
Finally approached Naubinway, MI, my first planned stop along the northern shore of Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. I tried many times in vain to raise the marina there via VHF channel 16, so right at dark (past ten o’clock up here!), I threw down an anchor in 17’ of water about 1 mile west of the marina and about a quarter mile offshore.
Got settled in for the night, and soon I heard a man’s voice from right behind my boat. “Daybreak, anyone aboard?” I immediately assumed it was some form of the law who had come out to bust me for anchoring somewhere off-limits. I asked who it was and he indicated he was a “dude from Camp Hiawatha”. As I climbed onto deck I could see in the faint light it was a man in a kayak. He had seen me from ashore and decided to be friendly. We spent about an hour chewing the fat about lots of things. He is 25, recently finished his stint with the Marines, lives in Arkansas where his wife of 5 years (he was 20, she was pregnant & 18), daughter, and newborn son were. He was up visiting his father and they were both guests of his grandpa, who was a member of this hunting/fishing social club called “Camp Hiawatha”. His name was Mike. No wind & a half moon in the sky. Off to bed for the first of five crummy nights’ sleep.
Day 2—Monday, June 29
Mistake alert: Awoke before 6 am, grabbed a bite to eat & used the head for the first time. Must have goofed it up or it might have sprung a leak, but after I flushed, the fresh water kept filling the bowl and wouldn’t stop! Panic! I grabbed the only pan I had onboard and started bailing right from the toilet bowl down into the bilge where the hand-held shower head would drain into the floor of the 3′ X 4′ room, and then ran the shower bilge pump to put it in the holding tank. Every 5 minutes this needed to be done!
Meanwhile, the wind picked up quickly (Mistake alert:)and I still had to pull anchor by myself. I tried doing it the way I was taught– by motoring toward the anchor–except today I had to use too much throttle to keep the auto pilot on track. That caused me to approach the anchor too quickly for me to scramble all the way to the bow, and pull the anchor. Oops, I have to go bail. Oh oh. I’m screwed. Can’t pull the anchor because of the wind & since & can’t leave the bailing.
With the wind now at 12kts and the waves at 5’, I noticed that my depth had changed from 17’ to 13.4’. I was dragging my anchor and getting dangerously close to running aground.
Mistake alert:Around 11am I called, “Pan, Pan, Pan”, the milder form of a full-out distress call, on the radio to broadcast the situation. The Coast Guard responded quickly & sprang into action, first by radio from Sault Ste Marie, then a lady from the Cadillac Center called me on my cell.
The USCG station at Sault Ste. Marie, called “Station Sweet”, checked with me via VHF radio every 15 minutes. The Cadillac lady called the local sheriff dept & got a deputy with a boat all set to spring into action. I called the deputy myself and had him stand down, because at this point I was considering just sitting there all day or whenever and wait for the wind to die down. If I dragged shallower, I’d fire up the engine and hover. Couldn’t just drag the anchor out to deeper water because I had enough rode (anchor line) out that if I did, it would have gotten into my rudder and prop.
A dear, older-sounding man named Ed called me on my cell phone and said he was out sailing near the Mac Bridge when he overheard my conversation with the USCG. While he said that he couldn’t get to me, he offered to talk to me for a few minutes and try to help me figure a few things out. He was really a sweet man and I felt quite honored by this. At one point, he even called me “Captain” which I still get a kick out of. He called me back several times, including once much later that night, just to see how I was doing! Aw!
Meanwhile, I tried to get Ken on the phone and he didn’t have it on. Got ahold of my childhood friend, Captain Douglas A. Berry, a nuclear engineer who lives in South Carolina and has a more than a decade of Great Lakes and ocean charter sailing experience under his belt. We talked about the head (toilet) and he told me to find and close the seacock that controls the inflow of water from the lake—that’s the source of the water going into the toilet. I had thought about that myself before but didn’t know where any specific seacocks were yet (Mistake #3). I shut off the very first one I found, located directly under foot under the cabin sole (floor you stand on, not the bottom of the boat below it) in the main bilge (place where water is collected and pumped out between these two “floors”), and the water stopped filling the head!!!!! One problem down, one to go. Doug, you duh man.
The Coast Guard sent a boat to me from the Sault Ste. Marie. Boy, am I glad they came, as it turns out. Well, sorta. Read on. Their craft was diverted temporarily to an unknown worse disaster than mine, but was quickly back on course to me. I was told that it would be a couple of hours before they would arrive. Luckily, I hadn’t lost any ground in the last couple of hours so the anchor must have grabbed really well. I sat low and lamented my situation.
Their 42’ vessel arrived with 5 young men aboard and the helmsman nosed his bow over to me. Two youngsters jumped aboard. Told me they were fresh out of boot camp. I explained the drill on how to stand and point toward the anchor so I could drive to it, then they’d yank on the rode to pop the anchor free once we were directly over it, then haul it up.
Mistake alert:As we got into our positions, I turned the key and pushed the starter button. Nothing. The battery was dead. It seemed apparent at that point that instead of running the electronics on the two monster house batteries, I had selected the wrong number on the battery selector dial and had chosen the starter battery to run the electronics, and ran it down. Ok, let’s think. How about if I move the engine starter’s cables to the monster “house” batteries? Sure, sounds good in theory. Except if, after you take off the wires, you (Mistake alert:)don’t remember where they belong. Derrrrrrr. In addition, we tried to turn the key a couple of times to see if there was a connection and thus, a good starter, but now the key wasn’t working! It would turn around 360 degrees in its socket, without making any connections. Great. One of the kids said they’ve dealt with that same problem on their shiny boat, so I got him a screwdriver and had him go at it.
Ken finally called me back and we argued a bit about what I did with the toilet and then we argued a bit about the batteries. He’s being very, very patient with me and I’m trying to be patient with him but this has been going on now for 6 hours. Of course it’s not his fault I’m so raw at this. Ken & I think we finally got all of the wires back into their original positions, and just about the same time, the young Coast Guard guy gets the key to click into position. I go over and (get this….) turn the battery selector to the correct position, and the normal key alarm goes off! We have a tone! I have one of the guys push the starter button and VROOM!! Mistake alert: Geez. I must have tried to start it when they arrived using the weaker, but longer-lasting, house batteries. I didn’t run down the starter battery as I thought. From the beginning, I was trying to start it with the weaker house batteries designed for running electronics, not the battery that provides a big pop to turn over an engine. What a dumbass.
Got set back up for the de-anchoring procedure and we did it easily. I should have been more explicit with the anchor stowing instructions because when I got up to the bow that night, it was all in a mess. No matter.
The USCG boat pilot now decided that since they were there, they were going to do what they do most of the time out on the water—-a safety inspection. The helmsman told me via radio that he would come up broadside and tie to me and that after the two rookies hopped back, two other guys would jump over & inspect me. In very rolling seas, this young buck sailor brings his craft quickly near me, showing off his skill and the bow jets he had. However, he somehow allows our boats to collide, and collide hard! He sort of came up under me on the port side about 20′ back from the bow. All hands on deck looked at the same time at the same place on my hull where we hit, which was down out of my sight. Right away, the pilot waved to me and yelled that they’ve decided not to board…….and please have a nice day! Didn’t take much time for them to skidaddle, either. Hmmmm. What’d they do to poor Daybreak? Well, at least I’m on my way!
Finally able to resume my journey at 5pm with six hours ahead, I steer into the wind and waves for Manistique, MI, on the northern shore of Lake Michigan, about 30nm away. A few hours out, I managed to call the harbormaster at my next stop in Manistique, by cell phone. She sounded to be college-ageish and was a very VERY nice young lady from the first contact on. I told her of my situation and my intentions of stopping there for rest and fuel. She said she had a place for me and would be there to help me in.
I love it when the autopilot works. It was set for long periods of time on a course w/o changes while I adjusted the throttle to maintain around 6 kts. I was able to move forward in the cockpit and lean back against the coaming (walls of the cockpit) and close my eyes. Amazing how sleepy I got from the rocking caused by the waves.
The hours and miles crawled by.
I called Haley (the nice harbormaster) at 9pm to tell her that my ETA would be around midnight. The she told me she’d set her alarm and get out of bed & be there to meet me! At this point, I didn’t argue. I did give her a very nice tip later. (Don’t tell the city of Manistique!)
The seas settled to ripples. I was motoring further from shore as I’ve ever been, but it was in a straight line to my destination, so I was no longer concerned about staying close to shore. This is the first time motoring at night. I was headed right at a cool Jupiter-Venus conjunction show with a ¾ full moon at my nine o’clock.
I’m a master of this GPS now.
By the way, the free iPhone app called “Skipper” was my backup. It was nice because I could put it right next to me. With the boat’s GPS screen mounted way forward in the door of the companionway (opening down into the cabin), this made this phone app quite useful.
Arrived at Manistique at 12:15. Had to follow a narrow (& shallow!) channel and stay in the middle, which made the GPSs invaluable. The preferred method would be to be familiar with a harbor before tackling it at night. I didn’t have that luxury. Luckily, the moon helped a bit. Finally saw the marina up to the starboard and saw that I had to do a 180 in the narrow channel in order to tie up on my port side…..the only side I’ve ever practiced on and the only side in which tie-up lines and the fenders were located on my vessel for now. Sure enough, there was Haley. She cushioned the bow a bit & tied it up. Pretty decent docking for a rookie although even as a beginner in Florida I never had any real problems with that skill. Talk to me after I’ve done it with a nasty wind and/or current, though. (Update from 5 months later—I’m not as good as I thought.) Chatted for a couple of minutes, signed zee papers, paid for the slip, and then took a quick shower. I paid for two nights because I wanted to recover and I wanted to try to practice actually sailing a little before continuing on my way.
This is a municipal marina and it is gorgeous! Off to a second night of crummy sleep.
Day 3—Tuesday, June 30
Up to this point I hadn’t answered texts or phone calls because I was either too busy or feeling overwhelmed, and I ignored a phone call at 9am. At 9:30 I heard a voice outside say, “Hello?” Knew it was Haley but was too tired or lazy or both to reply. Phone rang at 10am and I knew it was Haley again. I answered. It was. She wanted to know if I needed fuel & since I did, I got up (Finally!). We had to untie the boat and walk her about 20’ aft to the pump. She’s a pig! But in a good way, hon! (The boat, not Haley.)
I was astonished to know that I had only used 7.345 US gallons of fuel during the approximately 19ish hours of motoring I’ve done so far. Nice! One way mariners keep track of their fuel, especially if their fuel gauge is inoperative like mine, is to figure out how many gallons per hour they average. Ken claimed that Daybreak was quite efficient with her .8 gallons per hour & she could go 3-4 days, 12 hrs each day, on one tank. I’m sorry, how about .4 gals per hour!? (As it turned out, that would be the only topping off I would do the whole trip!)
I finally looked at the hull where the USCG vessel smashed me and discovered two fairly deep gashes. One was about an inch long and the other about 3 inches long, but both appear to have broken through to the balsa core. That’s not a good thing. Especially since I have probably been getting water in it for the past day. Sailboat owners know that water in the core could possibly mean the end for a boat.
Decided I’d leave and motor out of the harbor into the “Big Lake” and raise the sails to practice! Scared, I motored out against a good wind until I rounded the bend near the end of the channel then…Vroom! 14kts of wind! Got a good distance away and then prepped to raise the mainsail. Put on the fancy life jacket and the safety harness & clipped onto the safety jack (lines that run the length of the craft on each side designed to keep you onboard). Then I stepped up on deck to undo the sail ties. This time I remembered to actually hook the main halyard to the sail. With this amount of wind, near the end of hauling up the mainsail, it actually got too hard to do without a winch, so I whipped the line around one, grabbed a winch wrench, and cranked on it until the sail was all of the way up! Ok, what’s so hard about this? (Don’t get a smart mouth yet, Craig) Cleated the dead end of the line (took the loose end of the line and wrapped around a cleat), killed the diesel, and shut off the auto pilot. Since she was in irons (pointed right straight into the wind and thus not getting any power from the wind), she stalled on me right away but, as is usual, slowly fell into a close haul (wind hitting the sails at about 45 degrees). That should have gotten her moving a little. She’s a pig, though. (Really, honey, in a good way!) However, I could only feel quite a bit of sideways movement. Finally she slowly got going and after a minute or so, reached a whopping 3.5kts.
It did allow me to get my first “feel” of her, so I messed with sail trim (pulling it in/letting it out) and wind angle (by steering). I found her groove (best combo of each) easily enough, but it wasn’t where I expected. It was more in between a close reach (45 degrees to the sail) and a beam reach (90 degrees to the sail). Hmm. Wind & waves were like they were yesterday: moderate wind and 3-4’ waves. A lot for me, child’s play for veterans. Came about (changed direction to keep the best angle to the wind) a couple of times easily, then decided to up the stakes. Yanked out the 150 (150% larger than the mainsail) genoa (front/fore/head sail), and boy did Daybreak take off! Whee! Spent some time getting the feel of this configuration and, after messing with trim & direction, found her groove & decided that it was the same as it was with just the mainsail furled. Came about a couple more times easily. Why doesn’t a foresail get torn up easily since it luffs (flaps) so wildly and hits the side stays (cords that hold the mast up on the sides)?
Mistake alert:Went forward in the cockpit for a second and didn’t notice right away that the auto pilot had failed and I was turning downwind quickly (Mistake #8 or whatever). Yup, all of a sudden, the new direction of the craft caused the mainsail to catch the wind from the other side while it was way over which caused the boom to swing quickly from one side of the boat to the other, crashing and trying to pull the block (pulleys with ropes attached to the boom) out of the floor. Yessiree, Bob. I had just performed my first accidental jibe. Did it once at school in Florida and my teacher chastised me for not paying attention to the subtle changes in the wind. This time, however, it was simply that the boat turned because I trusted the autopilot. Still, it’s Mistake #9 & I’m lucky I’m not 6’5” tall or I would have been knocked unconscious and probably off the boat. I’m also lucky nothing was damaged. Mistake alert:But then, while trying to gain control, I let it happen again!!!! This time it flew back to its initial position. Idiot. That should count as 5 mistakes. Two accidental jibes in a lifetime are too many and I have done it twice in the first hour of my sailing life.
While quickly hauling in a genoa sheet (line that controls its tightness/trim) as fast as possible, I felt a pop in my right latissimus dorsi muscle (under the armpit & wraps around to your back). Yes, old man. You pulled a muscle pulling on a line that offered no resistance. You just moved too fast for your poor old body. This got sore quickly and became very unusable. I developed a golf ball-sized knot there, too.
Wanting to get back into the slip & still have some day left, I headed her into the wind and furled (pulled in) the headsail, then headed back toward the harbor on a broad reach (wind behind me) with only the main sail being used. Turned into the wind again, set the auto, and dropped the main sail & quickly scrambled up to strap it down.
Returned to my slip via engine without incident. Stowed things and picked up, then showered at the nice marina.
Walked a third of a mile into downtown Manistique and went into a family restaurant that looked like a bar from the outside. Ordered a large water, a large Pepsi (just because), and an order of beer-batter cod. The salad arrived in seconds, followed by the soup of the day (shredded beef with mushrooms and thick, home-made noodles) in seconds. I was the only person in there at the time. At this point, I started catching up on this journal. I really had only made a couple of comments just when leaving Daybreak’s ex-home port a couple of days ago.
The soup was fantastic and the fish was among the best I’ve ever had. Considering where I live (and thus how many times I’ve had beer–battered cod before), this was amazing. I got stuffed. Is anyone shocked? It was the first hot food I had in four days. Perhaps that’s why it all tasted so great. Sat for quite a while writing this document. Enough time went by for two couples to come in order, wait, eat, and leave.
What the heck, I figured I deserved it (What, by showing all of the sailing skill I have?), so after my bill arrived, I ordered a piece of lemon cheesecake and a milk. Oh yea, baby. Of course, the only way the milk is served is as whole milk. Piggy boy. I should have put a Mistake alertback at the beginning of that meal.
Back at the boat, I took an early evening snooze. Shocked again? Looked at the weather with the 6 apps and 12 websites I had available. Oh-oh. A storm approachith. I moved all of my navigation planning stuff into the laundry room of the marina since it had a table and chairs, because if lightning was visiting the area, I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit in that floating lightning attracter if I had another option. Hmm. Did you know that attracter and attractor both are acceptable? Planned my route and dictated an email by voice to a lieutenant at the SS Marie USCG station who is in charge of public relations, to squeal on the teenagers who were given that muscle car boat of theirs. Figured if he wasn’t the right guy, a PR guy would know who I should contact. Told him I wouldn’t be reliably reached by phone for a bit but he could email me any time.
I feel bad about reporting the collision since these guys helped me out of a huge jam. However, just in case something comes up, I wanted to have the proof of a contact being made. By the way, there was no storm. I saw the Doppler with my own eyes! Can weather be unpredictable? Stay tuned.
Day 4—Wednesday, July 1
Didn’t sleep well again. It did rain from about 2-5am. At 4am I saw a couple of flashes so I started scrambling to disembark, but decided to wait for the thunder report. Heard none. Went back to sleep and it happened again a few minutes later. Again, no thunder. Then it hit me: it was my phone. It flashes when it receives a text or email. Funny. Emailed my father that if it stopped raining, I’d head out, but if the forecast was correct about it raining until 11am, I would stay put another day.
It stopped and I scrambled to leave. The diesel popped to life immediately. There was no wind at all in the harbor so I pushed the boat’s bow away, then the stern, then hopped aboard and took her out. Time: 6am. As I got out of the harbor, I saw it was foggy, but I proceeded anyway. There was no wind and there were only gentle, rolling seas.
Dug out the radar reflector from a locker, eyeballed it a bit while trying to remember what Ken had said about it, and managed to figure out how to attach it and raise it up to the port spreader (the top of the “T” on the mast). Imagine two round, thin pieces of aluminum about 8” in diameter with a groove cut in each so that they would slide together at right angles to each other. Oh what the heck: Here’s the shape: + so if you were to cover it with tissue paper or something, it would look like a ball. (But it doesn’t have any covering, just bare aluminum placed up high so another vessel’s radar would “see” me easier). There’s no radar receiver on Daybreak, so I can’t detect anyone, but I just made it easier for others with radar to see me. Worry not, the visibility was still acceptable, varying from a hundred meters to perhaps a nautical mile.
Now it’s gently sprinkling, so I gather my things and move forward & under the dodger (removable plastic windshield & short cockpit cover). Luckily, I can adjust the auto pilot and steer with a hand-held remote from up there. Yes, a remote for a remote. Sorta. With the water so calm, I’m making really good time. Fog lifted around 10am. Why?
The wind picked up and was now blowing from my 4 o’clock, out of the north, that’s why. I knew that soon I would be cruising along side some bigger swells that would overtake me at a 45 degree angle from behind. That meant a lot of rocking, and rocking it did. Wow. I found a cozy new spot. My shoulders are just a little less wide than the opening of the companionway, so if I sat up there and put my feet on the ladder below, I could brace my shoulders for each impending roll & keep myself in place pretty well. Little did I know it would also make me pretty stiff and sore tomorrow. It was getting tippier and tippier and I could hear things down in the cabin sliding and rattling.
Then things left their places on the flat surfaces (and the surfaces even had 1” rims around them) and crashed to the floor. I watched as the box of crackers below me on the mattress of the aft berth (bed) hold fast while the full, rectangular, plastic-lined sleeves of crackers slid almost all of the way in and all of the way out, again and again.
It’s been quite rough for the past two hours. I put on my winter coat a little while ago and am rotating between gloves and bare hands. It’s July.
Oops. One sleeve of crackers managed to fall to the floor. Crunch. I scrambled down to rescue the second one from the same fate. It’s raining in earnest but I’m dry under the dodger with my remote. Hmm. I must have tweaked my left hamstring yesterday, too. Old man.
Coming up on a big island called Summer Island. Last night I tried to find info on it because I wanted to stop there tonight. I could only determine that 1/3 of it is private land and the other 2/3 is owned by the state of Michigan. It’s used for its fishing and kayaking spots and allows rough camping. A slip, or even mooring, is out of the question. I can only use it as a wind block as I slide by on its lee side.
Yes, the lee side of Summer Island is a bit gentler. No cell service for the first time on this trip. I am far from inhabited shores. No cell service means no phone apps. That means no weather updates or Doppler. I still have the boat’s GPS and the VHF radios have computer-generated voice weather updates that loop all day. Beyond summer island is Poverty Island. Wonder how you get land on that. After rounding Poverty Island, I change course slightly and head for Washington Island, just off the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin! Just realized that the course change will make it so I will be perpendicular to the ever-growing swells. It will be worse than before. That should be wild.
I’m continuously amazed about how alone I am out here. The last vessel I saw was the Coast Guard’s sailboat-damaging vessel, two days ago! (No, not even in the little Manistique marina yesterday and today.)
At 11:13am, I see Wisconsin! I believe it’s Rock Island, and just beyond it, Washington island. Right now I can’t exactly make out Rock Island itself since it is in front of the huge Washington Island. It appears as though it is one big island.
Definitely feeling the calmness of the lee side of Summer Island. This is the closest to shore I’ve been since I left at 6am.
Back into the chop now, Poverty island will be too far away to offer much protection. Too bad because I now have another large open water transit. Just noticed that the towel I borrowed from the “Y”, the kind with the big purple stripe on it, disappeared from where I hung it up to dry on the end of the boom. Ooops. As predicted, the recent course adjustment brought Daybreak perpendicular to the wind and waves, and the rolling is pretty scary now. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to, but the amount of heel (tipping) the boat is doing is amazing. Just had the grandpa of all heels. Everything that hadn’t flown to the floor below decks has now. Mistake alert: I am crushed by this: the new coffee cup my sweetie daughter gave me for Father’s Day fell 3.5’ feet to the sole and put a big chip in it. I haven’t even had a chance to use it yet and see the constellations light up when it has hot contents. I’m sorry Tessa. I can still use it, though! It’s been by my side for the whole trip, if that helps! Wilson! Willlll Sonnnn!
At 11:30 the life jacket went on. Ain’t nowhere on no website about the possibility of 15kts + wind. Predict this.
I really need to reach the lee side of Washington and Detroit islands. Can’t get there fast enough. Now I know why no one else is out here.
Finally on the shielded (lee) side of Washington Island and it’s a lot easier going. I want to make a dash south of the island and then turn & run downwind along the west coast of Door County & tie up for the night in Sister Bay. I would then be in the bay of Green Bay!
Back in the wind now and the waves are even bigger! The only way I dare to proceed is to hit every wave head-on & try to turn and run laterally between waves or at least between the biggest. It looks like a movie….bow way up in the air, then it rapidly points down & dips into the water. The water splits and flies 20 feet to each side with a deafening hiss. Again and again. She sure is a stout boat! You’re a tough old girl, ain’tchya?
I have too far to go in this crap for my comfort level before I can swing away from the wind & head with it. We’re getting beat up and the engine has to work too hard. I don’t know how hard to push my girl. Jim! Spock! Bones! We can’t push her any harderrrrrrrr!
Last night I did my homework and learned that there’s a marina on the south side of the Washington Island that’s all nice & protected from this north wind, so I decide to head there–first for the cover, and second, to put up for the night. Problem is that I have to backtrack and go perpendicular to the waves back the other way. I fight through it for a while, steering in that direction and attacking the smaller waves while quickly turning into the monsters. They were mostly monsters. This was nice….I had to yield to a car ferry. He had the right-of-way so I had to turn away more than I wanted. Luckily, the harbormaster was near his radio and responded immediately to my “Kap’s marina, Kap’s marina, Kap’s marina, this is Daybreak, Daybreak, Daybreak” call. He assured me that he had room and that the approach was deep enough for a sailboat and he would be there to help me tie up. I had several other questions for him but he never answered my calls again.
Finally I hit the protected water of the island and had to maneuver down a very narrow channel toward shelter. I still couldn’t visualize where I was going so I actually motored a little past the turn into the marina until I realized I was headed toward the car ferry docks. I pulled a 180 and started toward a little opening leading to some boats. With an absolute minimum of 5’6” of water depth, but desiring double that, I watched my depth gauge nervously as it went from 14’ to 9’, 8’, 7.5’………then back to 9’. I still didn’t know where I was supposed to dock until I heard an “over here” and quickly whipped her in that direction. He was standing next to a new sailboat and motioning me to the slip next to her. He grabbed my bow and I tossed him the bow line & he cleverly and quickly tied both a bow line and an aft spring line (running from mid ships up the same place as the bow line is cleated) with it while I fumbled with the fenders (bumpers that prevent boats from smashing into and/or rubbing the dock) and the stern line. I went below and picked everything up and then did some tidying on deck & in the cockpit.
Last night’s municipal marina was a palace compared to this place. And also almost twice as cheap. The old dude seemed miffed when I whined about the cost of a night here. “That’s because all them Michigan marinas are owned by the government and Wisconsin’s aren’t.” Whatever, sir. I’m happy to have a place. This poor guy comes across as a complete grouch.
Picked up the boat and then went to find Mr. Personality. First, I walked to the closed office, then to the bait shop/bike rental building where a sign on the door said to go to the nearby restaurant. Sign on the restaurant door says, “Closed on Tuesdays”. So, does that mean I don’t have to pay today? Mr. P found me on my way back to the boat, opened the aforementioned closed restaurant and collected my money & had me sign in, etc. Started to explore the marina area. Next to the marina was the car ferry dock. During daylight hours there was a ferry leaving (and of course, arriving, duh) every 30 minutes. Funny, they didn’t have any problem with the waves.
Just past the ferry dock was a general store. Closed. Check this out—its listed hours: 12-3 on Saturday! That’s it. Laughed out loud (and you know me) at that. Noticed several little businesses and residences within view that had For Sale signs up.
Across the street was a pizza-by-the-slice place that was open! I walked over to case the joint for supper possibilities since it was a three mile walk into town for other options. Guy running the place alone was at the window on hold with Directv. I asked him if the island was dying and he chuckled because today the weather was putting a damper on things, whereas normally the line for the ferry is around the corner and out of sight. Now off hold with Directv, I was instantly captivated by the way he was dealing with the poor Customer Service Rep. I have finally met my sarcasm equal!!! I just sat on one of the outside picnic tables listening and laughing. After 10 minutes I walked quickly back to the boat to throw on sweatpants and a jacket because it was downright cold. Feels like late October.
Back at the take-out place, I bought a couple of slices of pizza & slithered back into my nest with my meal. The pizza was average, though the fresh sausage topping was very tasty. Guy gave me a buck off for being so patient while he was on the phone. It was worth it just to hear his skill. Turned on the radio on the boat & listened to public radio & a discussion of how the state govt is ramrodding the proposed budgeting for the new Bucks stadium down the taxpayers’ throats. One of the reasons I picked up this boat is to get away from our state (and national) govt idiots. How’s that working for me right now?
Brewers baseball game on next. Think I’ll shower tonight so I can leave early in the a.m. Talked to college buddy and fellow sailboat owner Dr. Chuck Morrison on the phone today. He knew I was on the journey and had already checked in with me a couple of times. Thanks, pal. Feel asleep to the Brewers game, woke up later, got up and turned off the radio & crawled back in my sleeping bag (which I USED to fit in). During the many times I woke during the night (as usual now), I could hear the wind howling through the rigging and could feel the boat shift against its fenders
Day 5: Thursday, July 2
Awoke at 5am & grabbed my phone to check the weather. No good. Even stronger winds out of the north. Even though it was against my spirit (and my bank account), I heeded Chuck’s advice to stay until the wind lets up. Dang it. I wanna get home. Well, not “home”, but back to my apartment. Speaking of home vs apartment, I will mention here that a tremendous amount of emotions have been present since the start of this trip. Needless to say, I have had a lot of time to think about things. There have been several “Ah ha!” moments. Of course I shall not bore you with them here.
Since there are very limited options at this place to help pass the time. I’ve decided to begin typing this long-winded piece you’re reading into MS Word. However, I decided to write it by hand first, then into the laptop. That way, more time is used up. Isn’t that terrible? I bet at the end of my days I’ll wish I have these 24 hours back that I so dearly want to fly by now.
Next, I tap a message to my family to bring them up to date on my plans for the next couple of days. I’ve figured out that the run from the northern tip of Door County down to the city of Green Bay (through the bay of Green Bay) will be the longest stretch attempted in this journey—about 65nm. Called Andy, the harbormaster at my destination, South Bay Marina in Green Bay, to update him on my delay and my plans. I originally told him that I would be arriving on Tuesday evening. Oops.
Tossed on the only shirt I had left that was clean (along with the other usual & customary garb required by our society of course) and walked over to yesterday’s closed restaurant in hopes of finding them open and offering breakfast. I lucked out on both. I ordered blueberry pancakes so (and this is the truth) I could slop on the sugar and then enjoy a time-passing crash shortly thereafter. I was the only person there but I ended up refilling my own coffee. Apparently, I literally was the only person in the restaurant. Left exactly 20% for a tip & and not a penny more. Looking back on it, I should have left exactly 15%. Back at the boat, I typed this out for a while and as expected, took a morning nap. Got up and began to take inventory of everything on board. I opened every drawer, box, and emptied every shelf. Wrote everything down. Why? To help pass the time.
Heard some talking next to my boat & climbed out to find that my neighbors with the new Hunter sailboat were preparing for departure. In this gale?! (It wasn’t really a gale, but I’ve told you a million times that I exaggerate.) The couple onboard told me they were going to make a run for Sister Bay, which would mean they’d have to get back out to that boiling ocean, motor perpendicular to the wind and monster waves, and then finally turn away from the wind for the last stretch. I thought that was crazy and so did Mr. Personality, who showed up to help them push off. He said that the Coast Guard was out chasing people off the water all over the northern peninsula. The couple shrugged it off and motored out. Never heard anything about them after that so I assume they made it. The guy had his wife onboard. Tell you what, I would never gamble with another person’s life. Wouldn’t even do it to myself, and I’m the king of self-flagellators. You know me.
Next, I physically re-arranged things in Daybreak’s inventory according to my own system. Ken had accumulated quite an assortment of things during his ownership. Luckily there wasn’t a whole lot of switching.
Do I or don’t I visit the Coast Guard building 40 meters away from me? There are NO TRESPASSING signs all over the place. I’d like weather & wave info from them, if possible. Fortunately, there was a shift change at the CG station and I witnessed a young man being dropped off by his wife. As she drove off, I yelled over to him asking if I could approach and ask a weather question. Sure! In fact, come on in! He was the only person in the building & said the rest of the crew was out on patrol until mid-afternoon. I asked him what he knew about the weather and he sprung into action. We first went over to a huge table that was like a drafting (mechanical drawing) table with a slightly tilted top and with huge drawers. He slid one open, and grabbed a huge nav chart. We went over my proposed route and then we went into his office to turn on the computer so he could access weather info. 15 minutes later the computer was still booting up, so I asked him for the websites and he told me they were ones from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). I told him I could get the same websites and I thanked him for his time and advice and bid him ado.
My experience with these service members is that people skills must be an emphasis in their training. They are SOOOO nice, polite, and accommodating. Every one of these two crews, without fail, called me “Sir”.
Went back to Daybreak and looked up these websites and learned the wind would continue for the rest of the day, but would let up and actually be behind me and pushing me tomorrow. Couple minutes later, the CG guy came by with a printout of the wind map I just saw.
Up until this point, I was considering following my ex-neighbors’ lead and leaving in the chop. It was 2pm. Since I already paid for the upcoming night, I asked Mr. P if he’d refund my payment if I didn’t use the 2nd night. I told him I was thinking about leaving soon. He asked me why I thought I should get a refund. “Because I’ve been here less than 24 hours, that’s why.” “Well,” he said, “How ‘bout if we split it?” What?!!! That, and actually having a little common sense, finally led me to concede the day and stay. Besides, if I left and didn’t DIE, I would arrive at my new home marina after midnight with NO guidance about where to park.
Discovered that I had over $17 dollars of loose change in the bottom of my gym bag, so I scooped it all up and dragged it over to Mr. Sarcasm and bought a seafood sub for lunch, and just for good measure, a fancy turtle sundae ice cream dealie on a stick—the kind that that you could buy at a grocery store.
Another short nap, then walked around a bit. Then worked on typing the boat’s inventory into MS Excel and getting a bit more of this journal typed.
Around 7pm, I stopped back at Mr. Sarcasm’s to pick up a “Bag of Fries” that he bragged about, but discovered he closed 20 minutes early! Does anyone make any money here? So, I walked over to Mr. P’s restaurant, ordered a “Chicago-style hot hotdog” and fries, neither being on their dinner menu, and carried out. Oh, and a giant CC cookie and some milk. You know, for dessert. You know me. Guess what kind of milk it was? Whole milk, of course. Double treat. Hotdog was average at best. Fries were fantastic.
Noticed that even though the winds were still howling, it had turned into a beautiful, sunny day. Finished typing inventory. Took a shower and shuffled back to the boat, freezing. Closed the boat up completely that night because of the temperature. No bug hunting in the cabin before bed tonight or last night due to wind and cold
Which reminds me……… When my wife decided our life was over, I decided to part with many of my earthly possessions I’ve accumulated over the years just to try to help me move on. For some reason I kept a wacky bug zapper that looks like a racquetball racquet & uses a couple of AA batteries. I brought it along on this trip and it worked like a dream when I went through the cabin at the end of the day to hunt down insects. They couldn’t hide well in that small area. It was easy to just place the device against the wall or ceiling & trap the varmint, and then pull the trigger. Zzzzzzzt. Very effective. Leaves a nasty fried life smell in there, though. Off to bed and didn’t sleep well (you know me)
Day 6—Friday, July 3
Woke up at 5am and noticed there was NO wind! Quickly popped in a microwave meal and snarfed it down quickly. Emailed my dad to say I was off soon. Shoved off an hour after sun up at 6:10 by myself since there was no wind & Mr. McGruff wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Out the channel & into the bay and it looks like it is going to be a beaut day. Water like glass.
After an hour, I round the tip of Door County and point Daybreak SSW toward Green Bay. I noticed ahead that the water was darker. In class I learned that means either it’s deeper or wind is goofing with the surface. I was hoping it was the former. Nope, as I get there (or it to me) I discover it is just the whimpiest of breezes. Soon, little 1” ripples develop, with the wind still from the north.
After an hour of beautiful water and nice scenery of the bluffs on the west side of the peninsula, the breeze shifts from behind me to about 1 o’clock. Not the perfect 6 o’clock winds I wanted but this was nothing so I’m happy. Betchya the wind doesn’t stay at 2kts, though.
(Proof reading this in February, I laugh at what I wrote. Of course I learned about a week later while practicing in the Bay: Get your sails up, newbie! Wind from one o’clock?! I’d have to tack, but so what!?)
No need for a jacket. Just a long sleeve shirt (remember the last one from yesterday? Double duty now) and sweat pants. Clipping along in smooth water at 6.5kts.
Cruised by many of Door County’s popular hang outs: Sister Bay, Ephraim, Fish Creek, Egg Harbor, Sturgeon Bay, etc., but while a couple nautical miles out. Surprised that I could see Michigan to the west. Barely, but it was there.
Never experienced this before: Know how on hot days when you look down a flat road, the heat rising off the road creates a mirage? Same thing happens over long distances on water. The water turns a shiny white just like a road and the object you’re looking at becomes oddly distorted. Motoring, motoring, motoring.
FINALLY approaching the first marker buoys to guide vessels into the port of Green Bay. However, it turned out to be a huge tease as these are placed a good 3 hours out (at my pace). I looked at the map and counted 14 pairs of marker buoys I would have to pass through to reach GB. Apparently the bay of Green Bay is very shallow and they have to maintain a very long dredged channel through it for the big ships. Hmmmm. Perhaps I should have looked into that before I paid the deposit to dock here. At that point, I couldn’t see any evidence of the city of GB either with the naked eye or binoculars.
Finally, while using my crummy binoculars, I was able to make out the tiny arch of the Leo Frigo Bridge, the large & very high bridge for Interstate 43 that spans the end of the Fox River as it empties into the Bay, and the port city of Green Bay beyond. The Fox River drains the huge inland lake, Lake Winnebago, & flows north past the “Fox Cities” of (mainly) Oshkosh, Neenah & Menasha, and Appleton on its way to the Bay. I kept looking at the horizon every 15-30 minutes but the bridge didn’t seem to appear any bigger.
The breeze had picked up & was coming from about 5 o’clock now so just for the heck of it & since it’s so easy, I unfurled the genoa to see if it added any zip. After messing around with it for an hour, I furled it back up.
30 minutes out, I called Andy at South Bay Marina on channel 16, except a young lady answered the radio. I explained that I was supposed to alert Andy when I was 30 mins out and she told me to come on in.
Now, for the first time all trip, I had to worry about sharing the water with a few boaters. Finally a few hundred meters out. Marina lady told me via radio that it would be the second dock. What the heck. What does that mean? Where? How to get in? She said I’d be able to tell. Why wouldn’t I want to have a map of the place in my hand?
I could see the marina, but according to my GPS, there was no channel extending over there from the dredged path I was following. When I got close, I just took a leap of faith that they knew what they were doing and so I took a sharp left & headed over shaky water into the entrance of the marina.
Right away saw that I would take a right turn almost immediately. Then I saw the second dock. Since I had stood next to the slip a couple of weeks ago when I picked it out, I knew the destination (just not the route). I looked down to where it was and there were two gentlemen there waving to me. As I idled up, one of them said, “Welcome home”. I turned into the slip, they cushioned me and tied me up and said someone would be with me in a couple of minutes. I went below and started carrying things up that I wanted to take back to the apartment. A college-aged gal came over & shuffled me the legal stuff and a bag full of goodies and said that Andy would be there in a half hour to collect the fee. I told her that they’ve got my boat as collateral, but sorry…..I was on the way out of there as soon as my daughter drove up, thank you very much.
Friday, July 3, 2015, 4:00 CDT: The trip’s end
In order of appearance, thanks to:
Jack, the Yacht Broker
Pastor Ken, the Previous Owner
Michael & Tessa, my Adult Children
My mom & dad
Michael, the Kayaker
USCG staff & crew, Suite Ste. Marie
USCG staff, Cadillac
Captain Ed, the Unseen Good Samaritan Sailor
Captain Douglas A. Berry, Advisor Extraordinaire
Haley and the City of Manistique, Michigan
Kap the Grump at Kap’s Marina, Washington Island, WI
Captain Dr. Charles Morrison, DVM
Andy and the dockhands at South Bay Marina, Green Bay, WI