August 21 After a couple weeks of racing around, watching the weather closely and making deadlines and hitting marinas at the right time we are now back on cruise mode. We’re sitting on anchor in Government Bay on the Les Cheneaux Islands located on the eastern side of the Upper Peninsula in Lake Huron. It’s beautiful.
We woke up to patchy fog and a glorious sunrise in oranges and yellows that can only occur in nature. It’s lovely to know that we’re taking a day of rest to catch up on some laundry and give the girls (cats) a break from the schedule we’ve been keeping. We had an amazing sail yesterday after we left Charlevoix. It was the fastest sail we had this summer as we sustained 10 knots, even reaching 11 at one point. But when we rounded the corner at Grey’s Reef we were back to motor sailing.
It is already feeling fall like. The water temperatures are chilly and the night air has dipped into the 40s. Neither Jim nor I shed our fleece yesterday, but the weather guessers are claiming that this week promises us high 70s, so I’m not yet resigned that the end of summer is near. We will be heading back to Canada tomorrow morning to meet up with old pals and explore a bit more.
The cats are doing great. They had a little spat this morning in the cockpit. I can’t figure what this issue was other than a favored spot to nap. Mia actually hissed at Annabelle. Usually it’s the other way around. I’m glad to see our little docile girl standing up for herself. Annabelle tends to push her weight and get her way.
Having cats onboard can be an adventure. Jim made toast in the toaster today, but also cooked one of the sparkle balls that had been batted into the bread slot. Boats are storage cornucopias. We store the toaster under a seat cushion in the main salon. How those kitties managed to get a toy in there is beyond me, but it just proves anything is possible. Their hiding spots are getting more unique too. We can’t open a locker, cupboard, or any storage area without a nosy cat leaping in. We have to check for our furry friends before we close any door. They are sneaky.
The sun is shining today after it burned off the morning fog. I have internet, for now. I know this is silly, but today is the day I shop for dresses, swimsuits and fun stuff for myself and my granddaughters on the Lilly Pulitzer site. They hold an incredible sale once a year. Today’s the day. It’s a day of deals and pretty prints, if I can keep grabbing internet from shore and their site comes back up. Apparently, I’m not the only one trying to get these amazing deals. The website was crashed due to the traffic.
August 22 We made our way out of Government Bay today into some choppy waters on Lake Huron. The original plan was to stay on the Huron side of Manitoulin Island and bypass Detour Passage, but Annabelle wasn't feeling well in the waves and quite frankly, I was tired and hungry and we pushed into Yacht Haven on Drummond Island. We fueled and then dropped anchor at Harbor Island. We're still in Michigan, officially. My cell phone is off, though since we keep grabbing Canadian cell towers and I don't want to pay the international roaming fees. Tomorrow we'll check in with Canadian customs at Gore Bay and hopefully get to catch up with Jane and Dennis. They'll be driving up to meet us.
Congratulations are in order for Trevor. He called tonight with the good news that he got the position in the clinic at the Tree House. He's been training for this position and wanted it badly. He gets a raise, hours that will be more conducive to his late night gigs, and a position that he has coveted. I'm a proud Mom! We miss our kids when we're gone, but it's assuring to know that all five are doing so well. John is starting back at school next week, Brandon is moving back to the States from Europe, Brian is a proud new poppa, and Sarah is a happy mom. Couldn't ask for more.
Well, Mia is telling me that it's TV time and I'm ready to snuggle in for the night. It was a pleasant, warm day and tomorrow promises to be a bit less windy and again, nice. It's a long haul now to Gore Bay from here, so we should get some rest.
It was a great day
August 16 Jim and I threw off the lines at Southport Marina yesterday around 3:00 pm. We were an hour ahead of schedule since we had planned for a 4:00 departure to sail across the Lake into Ludington, MI. We swore a few times over our radios to each other as we ran aground FOUR times trying to get the boat out of there. Now, we know that the Lake levels are low, but they said that they had just finished dredging. We won't be back there this summer, that's for certain.
It was an amazing evening. With the wind at 18 to 20 knots we were able to raise the sails and on a beam reach all away across the Lake, we sailed the 110 mile trip reaching a speed of 10 knots around 3 this morning, but mostly we were at a steady 9 knots. We burned 1 gallon of fuel and that was probably due to getting ourselves off the mud mounds in Kenosha.
So, I'm getting a rental car for a trip to Mt. Pleasant in the morning. I promised a lemon cake and a pasta salad as my contribution, so now that it's raining, I'm going to take care of that and catch up on some rest. We haven't made a night crossing since s/v Orient Express when we had Brandon, John and Trevor crewing and taking watches. I had forgotten how I just never really sleep on those long night legs. I'm too busy scanning the horizon and star gazing and wishing I knew more about astronomy. Mental Note: Ask Santa for an illustrated guide to the stars.
August 14 It was finally time to get on the move. We threw off the lines from the gas dock at the West Basin Marina and left our “home” of six days. Jim and I were so very impressed with the service, cleanliness, and professionalism of the staff at West Basin. That’s why it was such a shock to come back to Southport Marina in Kenosha. This was our home marina for nearly 20 years and we watched it decline under inefficient, unprofessional management. Our house is a block from the marina, so this was our choice so that we could sail across the Lake, run home, grab a car and go meet the Matthew James on the day of his birth.
Lake Michigan cooperated with our ten hour journey across. There was little wave action, the sun was shinning and it was a pleasant crossing. Unfortunately, there was also little wind. We motor sailed, but mostly motored. We were told that the marina and the city had both dredged, but we hit bottom in the entrance to the marina. Even though they had a heads up that we would be arriving (we called and made a reservation yesterday), the dock was covered in duck shit. Southport doesn’t have dock staff that will help with lines. So I was forced to jump off the boat into a bird sewer. The dock is full of grills and crap and the place looks awful. Jim and I laughed as we heard another boater trying to hail Southport on the marine band radio. I don’t even think they have a radio in their office. The marina staff certainly never answers. This isn’t a “marina”. It’s a parking lot for boats and there are no amenities (like someone to hose off duck shit from the piers), but they charge top dollar. I hate being in this marina. It’s awful.
But what isn’t awful is the beautiful little baby, Matthew James Johnson who was born as we were making our crossing. He is gorgeous. Lauren is doing great, Piper is in awe of her baby brother, and Brian is so proud! It was amazing feeling to hold him and watch his little eyes trying to take in the world around him. Lauren and Brian are fantastic parents. We are blessed with another grandbaby. It’s amazing how easily they make you fall in love with them. Matthew is no exception. His sweet little face…..ohhhh I could go on gushing. Just look at his pictures. He’s perfect.
So, today, we’re running over to the house to drop off some things that are adding weight to the boat and not really necessary. While we have a car we will run some errands ad get some groceries. The hull needs a good scrubbing, then we’ll head back out. The wind will determine which direction: North or East.
August 15th I am so sure that we made the right decision to leave this hell hole marina. I cleaned the piers of the duck shit this morning so that we could wash the hull today without wading in goose dung. I fought back the urge to puke. It was that disgusting. Jim had the same reaction to the electrical post when he was plugging in our cords. The spider webs and nasty build up of who knows what had to be scraped away before he could find an outlet. To top off our disgust, the marina offers “Free Internet”. That is, it’s free if you’re willing to walk a mile to their office and set up a password and user name. This place is run by a bunch of greedy morons who know nothing of boats, boater’s needs or how to run a marina. As soon as the boat is clean (Jim is scrubbing the hull now) and after I run to the grocery store and drop the car back off at home, we are out of here.
We stopped by the house today to pick up a couple of items and drop off A LOT more. It was weird going home and I started getting in an ugly mood when I went through the mail. I really can’t wait to get out of here. The house looks great, though. Our house sitter, Bobby has taken good care of my herb garden and I snipped some basil, rosemary, and a bit of parsley for the boat. The peppers I planted are doing great, but it was only fair to leave those for the man who has been caring for them. Unfortunately, Sarah was sick yesterday and we weren’t able to stop by to see Jim’s grandson and daughter, Josh and Lyla. We’ll be back soon enough, though. It was great to see the baby and Brian, Lauren and Piper, but our summer isn’t over yet and we need to get away from this marina before I pop somebody in the nose.
August 10-13 The last few days haven't been much about sailing, but it's been great to be able to sail to a wedding and hang out with family and friends for a few days. The West Basin Marina staff has been great to us and nobody seems to mind that we're hanging out on their fuel dock for a few days. We've had several visitors including Bob Hardy and his family, Sue and Nick. Trevor arrived Friday afternoon and we finally had wheels of our own to get around town. We've done a lot of walking the past few days and getting rides from the marina staff.
The wedding was beautiful, of course. The Tiffany details and colors were gorgeous. We had a great time with family shopping with Kathleen and Dan Friday afternoon, going to dinner with my sisters and their families Friday night and of course drinking a bit too much champagne at the wedding. Most of us met for breakfast on Sunday morning and enjoyed a few more laughs. Allyssa and Jeff make a great couple and it was awesome to be able to celebrate their day with them. I have some awesome, talented, funny, and quite brillant nieces and nephews. Good times all around.
Jim and I are now waiting out some ugly weather as we are still tied to the fuel dock at West Basin Marina. We were going to suprise some special folk on the other side of the Lake this week, but Jim's already let the cat out of the bag. We'll be heading back to Kenosha, sprinting over to the land home, grabbing our car keys and heading down to a hospital in Illinois to meet the newest member of the Johnson family!
August 9 : I learned a new vocabulary word this week:
the formation of an empty space within a solid object or body.
• the formation of bubbles in a liquid, typically by the movement of a propeller through it.
This is a word that I do not want to use or experience again. It’s what happened when suddenly we found ourselves in 10 foot waves. When I say suddenly, I mean it. Jim and I were pleasantly making our course south at a slow, but steady 6 knots. The winds were light and perfect for the asymmetrical spinnaker which we started rigging to fly. Then, all hell broke loose. The wind came up, the waves engulfed us. They started as 6 footers then grew in size like a beastly wall of water. Mind you, we are a 54 foot vessel weighing in at 46,000 pounds. It takes a hell of a lot of water action to lift our bow up 10 feet, crash water over the bow into to cockpit and cause cavitation. The noise was intense as the bow slammed back down and rose again to take on the next wave. That’s the difference in lake sailing and being out on the ocean. The waves are not spaced out. You have no time to brace yourself for the next roller coaster lift and slam in the lake. In the ocean, you can ride them. That’s my understanding and my experience thus far anyway.
So, I quickly went down below to check on our furry stowaways. They were freaked to say the least. Mia looked up at me and let out a high pitched scream. I helped them get to the aft state room where they huddled together next to our pillows. Mia and Annabelle rarely cuddle with each other. Annabelle just isn’t into that. We thought about turning around and seeking shelter in White Lake, but we were only an hour out of Muskegon, so we rode it out. The cats were fine, the boat was fine and we came out of the experience with another tale to tell. The moral of the story: Respect the Great Lakes. Conditions can change in an instant due to water levels, the land masses that affect wind and water movement, and weather conditions.
We’ve made it to St. Joseph, Michigan where we’ll be attending the wedding of my niece, Allyssa. We’re early, which is a good thing. We plan on sitting here until at least Monday in the West Basin Marina. It’s the only marina here that can handle us. Our new harbor master in Racine is the old harbor master here. He was actually here for the Wednesday night races to greet us and help us tie up. Jim and I were both very leery about even attempting to enter St. Joe. Due to low water levels, they have us tied to their gas dock where we have less than 2 feet under our keel. It’s all good though. We had thought about spending two days in Holland where our friends Tim and Julie keep the s/v Julianna, but the weather is turning for the worse and the Coast Guard put out water spout warnings for Thursday. Water Spouts, basically tornadoes on the lake, are scary and to be avoided.
So after a pleasant day with Tim in Holland and getting to hear all his stories about his first Mac race (the big race from Chicago to Mackinac), a dip in the beautiful and refreshing pool at Eldeen’s Marina, a nice salmon dinner that Jim and I grilled up to share with Tim onboard, we thought it best to get up early and make the run to St. Joe before the weather went to crap.
We had a great sail, the cats joined us in the cock pit, and Bob Hardy, an old friend that lives in the area, came down to see us. Jimmy, our new harbor master in Racine, took us to the beautiful St. Joseph Yacht Club. We met a lot of nice people and avid sailors. Our racing days are done and in the past, but it was fun to hear their stories and remember why we don’t race J.
So, today, I’m going to take advantage of the cooler weather and go for an extra long run, scrub the cock pit, use the marina shuttle and stock up on groceries and hang out and enjoy this pretty marina.
First week of August: I'll be honest, I'm not really sure on my dates anymore. I seem to have lost track and I haven't been keeping up with my journaling, blogging, or much else when it comes to pen, pencil, paper, or computer. Mike and Dana, friends from Kenosha, sailed Severine up to meet us in the North Channel after Mike and his crew raced the Hook Sailboat Race that ends in Door County, Wisconsin. So, we've been exploring ports and anchorages, chatting, visiting farmer's markets, cooking, eating, visiting restaurants, shopping and I've been too tired to write. Too tired and too fat and happily full.
We met them in Meldrum Bay on Manitoulin Island so that they could check in with Canadian Customs and we both set sail for John's Harbour. Their time in the North Channel was limited to work constraints, so we stayed on the western end of the Channel. We had an excellent time taking turns cooking amazing dinners, exploring the area and then rushing back to Yacht Haven on Drummond Island to check back into the US of A. The four of us had a blast on Mackinac Island, rushing down to Charlevoix for a two day stay on anchor then our last night together in Frankfurt, MI at Jacobsen Marina. We rafted the boats together and made it great for cooking together. We already miss them. Friends of theirs drove up to switch crews on Severine and Mike and Dana drove back to Wisconsin yesterday.
Jim and I motor sailed through some heavy wave action yesterday and holed up in Ludington, Michigan. We're sitting here now waiting out the high winds from the North East that would make for a miserable day south. My neice is getting married in St. Joe, Michigan on Saturday. Trevor will be driving my car from Chicago to St. Joe and spending some time with us. We plan on anchoring in Muskegon then Holland and arrive in St. Joe on Friday.
It's culture shock being back in Lake Michigan and busy marinas again. Usually, when we get back to the States it's late in the summer and we have no problems getting slips or dealing with a lot of boat traffic. Wave runners and jet boats are rare sights in the the North Channel and I had forgotten how darn annoying they are. We've been asked by a couple different people along the way why we didn't rent a car or fly back for the wedding. I have to laugh at that question. Why would we do that? We came out to sail. It's the journey, not the destination....geeze.