My Fingerprints Are Gone (Written at the End of June–getting caught up)

And so is most of the summer.

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.

Old Teak vs. New
Teak before


Port Keel Hole2
Keel damage 1


Deep Scratch Port Hull
Keel damage 2


Under Rudder Repair Before
Under the rudder


Prop Strut Repair Before
Prop strut






After bottom paint
Finished bottom


Kids help on Father's day 2017
Father’s Day scrubbing help!


Dropping her in
Dropping ‘er in


The TM finally in water
Waiting for her mainsail

More Mistakes Made (Or…….oh no, he’s back!)

Yes indeed. 

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. 

Mistakes made! (The story of the last overnighter of the season)

The Trip

**All photos supplied by John

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!

Back to normal

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.

Busy ferry dock at Washington Island, Wisconsin

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.map4

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.deaths-door-sign-in-the-middle-of-washington-island

Learned what “bitters” are in the oldest continuously running tavern in the country, Nelson’s Hall. washington-island-bitters-bar-longest-continuously-running-bar-in-the-usApparently 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.


Yes, we’re both official card holders now.
We liked this medicine!

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!

Near the ferry dock


Part of Kap’s Marina.


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………

Old lighthouse on the west end of Chambers Island
Cool cloud, but a warning


Peshigo Shoal horn









Leg 11: The first night crossing of Lake Michigan & the final solo journey of the summer



July 31: It was a last minute decision to head “home”

Leaving Pentwater at 6 pm with a perfect wind…….

Click here to experience the wind & speed……

Rare selfie of this sailor


Click HERE to see a video of this silent freighter crossing my path.



Click HERE to see a video of the entire sunset!

Do you recall reading about the Tessa Marie and the SS Badger being sailing buddies all summer?

Well, click here to check this out!!!


August 31: Almost “home”


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.

Later in the morning, while waiting for a drawbridge in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, I saw this strange vessel randomly darting back & forth across the canal scooping up surface weeds. I ain’t never nuttin like that before.

Click here to see it work.

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.

Looking back on it all……this summer flew by.

Leg 10: Weekend with two friends aboard


July 29-31: Pentwater to Ludington, eating and drinking too much, then back to Pentwater


Yeah-smile now. Wait until tomorrow morning.


Mike & John


There she is again……..The SS Badger departing Ludington for Manitowoc, Wisconsin


Sunrise at the Ludington Municipal Marina


There’s got to be a morning after……

Legs 5 & 6: Back across followed by a short drive

Leg 5

June 17: Manistee to Frankfort

June 18: Frankfort to Oconto, Wisconsin


Click here to see video from early in the crossing

Click here to see how wonderful a trip across the Big Lake can be!

Leg 6 (Sort of)

June 28-July 3

I drove with my son to move him to his new job and apartment in Seattle!


Legs 7 & 8: Sightseeing trip with another hand aboard!


July 4-5: Oconto, Wisconsin to Sturgeon Bay & across the Big Lake to Frankfort, Michigan

Click photos to enlarge……

John is REALLY excited early on during his first trans-Lake Michigan trip!


Click here for video of us cruisin’!


The TM tied up at the Frankfort Municipal Marina located on Lake Bessie


July 7-8: North to South Manitou Island & back

Been away from civilization  for a while, yuh old salts?!


John working on the teak


Rounding Point Betsie


Part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Click here for video: Oh-oh…They’ve spotted us!


South Manitou Lighthouse, located southeast of our anchor location


Looking south toward the United States Coast Guard Station on South Manitou Island with the lighthouse sticking up on the other side of the peninsula


Model of South Manitou Island located inside the ranger station on the island. West is at the top, north at the right, etc. Note the red “X”


Some temporary neighbors at South Manitou Island


From our anchorage, looking south toward the South Manitou USGC Station after sunset



July 10: South to Pentwater

Click here for video of us successfully rigging the Tessa Marie to go “Wing-to-Wing” for the first time! (With a surprise appearance by the dinghy tagging along.)

Pretty cool set up!


We’re SO excited!


Arriving back at Frankfort


Click here for a video of John battling the Little Black Bastard Flies