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!)