June 26th Drummond Island: The plan was that we would leave Mackinac Island today and anchor at Harbor Island, but the plans changed. We pulled into Yacht Haven on Drummond Island and saw that they were dredging. Yacht Haven is famous for low water levels. One of the dock hands convinced us to pull into the inner harbor instead of staying on the outer wall to fuel. He assured us that it had been dredged to 8 ft. We got stuck, not once, but twice. We broke free of the dirt bottom eventually and moored to the inside of the outer wall. The dredger was moved to where we were stuck. Apparently, we were the guinea pigs and we failed the test. Anyway, Harbor island looked too crowded to set anchor, we were tired and it seemed since we were already here we might as well stay.
I'm thinking Jim wished we hadn't. The guy we sold our first sailboat (S/V Second Whim: 38 ft Morgan) to keeps his trawler here on Drummond Island. He came over to "visit". I was taking a nap with Mia when he came to call and woke up to overhear some of the discussion. Leopards never change their spots. He sputtered about politics and tried to incite Jim. Jim's a class act, though and didn't bite. One of the dock hands talked to Jim later and asked if he knew the guy. Jim rolled his eyes and explained the connection. Apparently, the man has no fans here either. I'm hoping that we don't run into him again.
Other than running into cantankerous old men and running aground, the day on Lake Huron was fantastic. We flew the asymetrical spinniker from Mackinac to Detour Passage. With the wind on our stern at 15, we averaged 9 knots. It's an 1,800 square foot sail and it takes a bit of work to get her up and flying, but I'm becoming more comfortable with my job controlling the halyard, clew, and tack lines and the wheel. Jim wears a tether when he goes to the bow to get the sail out of the hatch and setting it so that sock rises and releases the sail without incident. The tether keeps Jim from going up with the sail as well. It's worth the work. It was a fast, comfortable sail that even had the cats happy. They were actually walking around down below, eating lunch and being happy felines. Normally when we are sailing they find a spot and stay in it since there's always the fear that their little 8 pound bodies will fly across the cabin.
Our phones are now picking up Canandian cell towers, so mine is turned off. Jim's phone will be on while we're in Canandian waters (tomorrow we will check in with Canadian Customs and actually be in Canada).
June 25, 2012 Under the Mighty Mac Again: It never gets old, I tell ya. I remember the first time that we sailed under the Mackinac Bridge and being scared out of our wits that our 72 ft mast wouldn't make it. The bridge is 113 ft and we have plenty of clearence, but it surely is an optical illusion that makes it appear that doom and destruction are about to occur. It is quite the structure spanning the Upper Peninsula to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It's amazing to see it from below.
We had some great sailing today which made the cats very happy. Mia was actually purring as we sailed through the Straits of Mackinac. They both seem to hate the sound of the engine as much as I do. It was a great day on the water despite that it was a bit chilly. I was really surprised to find how hot it was on the island when I went for a run once we were in port.
We've done some shopping, got some dinner and Mia has had her walk around the perimeter of the boat on her leash. Annabelle chooses to skip this particular activity and sit on the top of the ladder and observe the marina coming and goings through the hatch.
I've been asked this question about the cats, so I might as well address it here since I know it's on some inquiring minds. Cats poo and the pee. It's best to have two litter boxes for two cats, but this is a boat afterall. They have one and they need to share. We've placed their kitty head in the mid berth, out of the way of our typical living area but within easy access to suit their needs. Cats are very clean animals. They get testy when their box is not clean. So we shovel the icky stuff out often and totally change the litter every few days. If we're in port it goes in a bag that goes to the trash. If we are at anchor it DOES NOT GO OVERBOARD. We have a contraption that is very much like a Diaper Genie. It seals the waste and the smell until we can empty it in a garbage can. The girls seem to be happy with this arrangement. We have those things that go under rugs so that they don't slip under the litter box so that it doesn't slide when we're sailing. It's all working so far.
Well, it's an early morning take off again tomorrow. We're headed for Drummond Island and a few days at anchor. We will be clearing through Canadian Customs in the next few days. Mia and Annabelle have all their paperwork and are ready for their inspections!
Lovely Weekend June 24, 2012 My dreams when sleeping onboard Somewhere are much more vivid than the dreams I have when sleeping on land. I’ve had some dreams over the past few summers that still have me wondering, “Wow, Did Somebody Slip Something In My Lemonade??”. They usually occur when the boat is rocking or there’s a gentle rain fall. Last night was one of those nights. I dreamed that we were sailing along in open water and suddenly a forest of tall, dark trees emerged from nowhere. I was steering around the trees and the sails never luffed. Then, a voice came over the radio and said, “Somewhere, Be Careful”. This of course freaked me out, so Jim took the wheel. Funny, I didn’t find the forest growing out of the water strange at all, but the voice on the radio scared the living daylights out of me. I looked around and didn’t see another boat, a fairy in a tree or any indication that there was another soul around with a marine band radio. Jim was getting really annoyed with the voice that was directing us around the trees. He kept muttering, “I have my electronics. Who is this fool? I know what I’m doing” Then the trees disappeared and there appeared these medieval structures that led us through a route to the open sea.
I’ve heard it said that dreams are simply a way that your brain organizes the information received through your events of the day. We spent a pleasant day in Charlevoix watching the marathoners and half marathoners flood the streets, (maybe those tall, lithe, tanned runners were the trees in my dream) I cleaned the living areas of our vessel, groomed the cats, did several loads of laundry on board and at the marina. We went out for lunch and went shopping. Jim picked up a shirt that I thought was simply awful. The hipster store clerk convinced Jim that it was an awe-inspiring garment and that he himself had the exact same shirt. (could this tony young guy be the voice on the radio?). I really enjoy Charlevoix and the architecture . We ended up going to dinner again last night with Dan and Brigid at one of the restaurants in town that was designed by Earl Young. (Possible relating to the medieval structures?). It was a crazy dream, but a marvelous day in Charlevoix.
It’s raining this morning, but I went for a run along the lake front, through the lovely neighborhoods, and back to the marina. I really enjoy running in the rain and I wasn’t alone. There are still a lot of runners hanging about from the big marathon yesterday, or maybe just wannabes like me that were inspired by the glory of the hardcore athletes yesterday. We’ll stay in port one more day and visit the grocery store, give the cats another day of respite and head out tomorrow morning to go through the Straights of Mackinac. Depending on the wind, we will either moor in Mackinac or anchor at Government Island.
Weekend in Port, June 23rd, 2012: I was a grump yesterday morning. Jim roused me from my slumber in the wee hours and forced me to accept that I was now in the Eastern Time Zone and said it was time to leave Frankfort. We had a long, rough day crossing from Manitowoc to Frankfort. We were in 5 foot swells most of the day with varying wind conditions. Once the waves calmed, so did the wind and of course we had to turn on the dreaded motor. It is what it is. The cats fared okay. They weren't traumatized since they were duly drugged with the formula our vet gave us for cat sea sickness. They stay down below in their comfy spots of serenity and commisserate with each other. I was just tired and begged for another hour of sleep.
But our leg from Frankfort to Charlevoix was uneventful. We saw quite a few freighters which we take as a good indication that the economy is recovering. The beauty of the sun rising over the Michigan shoreline soon had my grumpiness chased away. The water was flat and even though there wasn't much wind it was a pleasant day.
Once we were squared away, we met up with go-fast boaters, Dan and Brigid, who Jim met last year when I took a side trip to visit my parents. They took us for an exhilerating ride on their amazingly fast boat. We ended the evening with oysters at Whitney's (nice restaurant across from the marina) and dessert at Kilwan's before turning in for the evening. Good company, good times. We have some chores to do this morning to get the boat ship shape again and then I can get some needed rest. We're staying put in this gorgeous spot until Monday.
JUNE 21st, 2012 Real Quick: Jim wants to get moving early this morning and start our crossing of Lake Michigan, so I only have a few minutes to update here.
Yesterday was a rough ride, but we left Port Washington and made it to Manitowoc in time for a nap before dinner. The winds were steady at 30 mph yesterday. We used some muscles that are now sore this morning. The cats were exhausted too. But, I gave them their dosage of kitty dramamine before we left so they were a bit loopy anyway. They did well.
We should be in Michigan late today unless we change our minds once we experience the conditions out there. It's looking quite calm right now, though.
AND NOT TODAY EITHER June 19, 2012 We're not leaving today either. It's still quite breezy, but the reasons are personal and not fit for a blog so suffice it to say we're onboard and we'll leave it at that.
The cats were in rare form last night racing around the boat, throwing toys in the air, and jumping on our sleeping bodies. They've adjusted well. Cats onboard really aren't as unusual as one would think. The ancient Egyptians carried cats on their boats up and down the Nile and spread the idea of domestication of cats eventually worldwide. Cats were common on ships of exploration and trading to protect the cargo and crew from vermin that spread disease and ate their food. Nothing like a fierce feline to keep the rats and mice away. Annabelle saved me from a pesky fly yesterday. She's been promoted to Chief Fly Killer. She's earning her keep. Cats were also common onboard military vessels right up to WWII. I added "The Ship's Cat" to my reading list. Written in verse, it's about a cat's exploits onboard the Spanish Maine. (Full Title: The Adventures & Brave Deeds Of The Ship's Cat On The Spanish Maine: Together With The Most Lamentable Losse Of The Alcestis & Triumphant Firing Of The Port Of Chagres.
I was also reading this morning about the age of piracy and the superstitions of having cats onboard. It was considered good luck to have a cat onboard, especially a black cat. It was believed that if the cat was well fed and cared for that the mariners would have pleasant voyages, but if the cat went overboard that there would be horrible storms. We'll be keeping the cats safe, onboard, and dry...trust me. I won't be trying to debunk seafaring lore.
UPDATE.... The situation spoken of above cleared itself up by noon, so by 12:30 we had the boat ready to leave the marina. We have this prep down to a science now. The cats even know what direction to go when they hear the motor crank up. Mia heads for the mid berth to curl up in a favorite blanket and Annabelle goes to the top of my closet where she can see out the porthole in our state room and be compfy ontop of her favorite quilt. We had only 4 foot waves today and at the most 20 knots of wind, so it was comfortable for both human and feline.
We're now moored in Port Washington. We took a walk into town after fueling and squaring everything away for the evening. The fuel is cheap here. Somehow Port Washington has gotten around the recreation tax and we only paid $3.49 for diesel. The gas dock is short, though, and there was barely a foot of water under the keel. There are many, many fishing charters out of Port Washington and they need to be manuvered around and avoided. Port Washington is a cute town and we've spent plenty of time here in the past. We toyed with the idea of going to The Port Hotel for dinner, but neither one of us felt like dressing up or combing out our hat hair. Jim says that the prime rib he orders when we go there is the best he's ever eaten. I'm no judge of that since I don't eat it, but it is a nice establishment and we may hit it up on the way back. Port Washington is a sweet little town, though. We couldn't help but reminisce about the times we visited here with Orient Express (our last boat) with Brandon, John and Trevor onboard or when they marched in the Fish Days Parade as members of the KUSD bands. I'm looking forward to going for a run tomorrow and hitting the famous stairs at the church in town. That should be a nice work out. I'll try to remember to bring my camera. We've had our dinner onboard and Mia is now telling us that it's time for bed. She's been promoted to Chief Time Teller. Good Day...Good Night all. It should be a fine night for sleeping. Even though inland the temperatures are creeping up to 100, the 43 degree water temperature here is keeping the air cool and crisp and comfortable.
NOT TODAY June 18, 2012 I donned my running shoes this morning instead of the topsiders. I had a good jaunt along Racine's lakefront, but the wind is already kicking up and there are good 4 to 6 foot waves building on the lake. They're supposed to be 8 footers by this afternoon. So, we're staying put. We picked french fries and chicken off the boat yesterday. We didn't eat frech fries and chicken yesterday, but they were serving some up on the boat next to us. I'm really not sure about our pier neighbors and their habits, but another weekend of their antics is something I'm hoping to not experience next weekend. So, this dangerous lightning, hail, driving rain, and high winds must pass soon. We're ready to take off if just to escape the marina escapades of the redneck yacht club we're moored next to. Brandon, Aimee and Brody's Father's Day present hasn't arrived yet, so there's another reason to stick around. Jim wouldn't think of leaving port when there's a present waiting for him at home.
SUDDEN STORMS: June 17, 2011 I found myself singing raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...last night to Mia. She was a little shaken up by the sudden storm that struck late last night that had us heeling in the slip. Jim was more worried about the pier neighbors and their grill and turkey fryer on the dock. With gusts up to 40 knots we expected the inappropriate pier party gear to come flying at our hull. It didn't and the cats were fine and it passed as fast as it hit. The weather report for tomorrow is calling for sustained 40 knot winds and driving rain, though. We don't mind starting out in 40 knot winds or in rain, but with the combination of the two we may delay our departure. At least we know our dock mates are weekend warriors and they will take their inferno inciting cooking gadgets home with them and we can stow our fire extinguishers and wait out the storms.
We have a Father's Day meet up with the kids today and plans to get our car back to the land home. It's a beautiful morning. Trevor stopped by last night and we got our fix of Olde Madrid before we leave Racine. If you ever find yourself in Racine, Wisconsin, you MUST visit this restaurant and try the gumbo. It's amazingly good. So, Happy Father's Day to all. We'll be watching the weather reports and making decisions based on what they have to tell us.
THE TO DO LIST June 15, 2012
Ticking off all those items on the todo list has kept us VERY busy this week. It feels so good to have the list whittled down to near nothing left to do. While sipping my coffee in the cockpit this morning and realizing that I'm already into reading the wind mode, I was ready to head out of the marina and sail away. I skyped with my parents instead, stowed some more of our supplies, and looked one last time for my missing eye glasses. Yes, once again, I have misplaced my glasses. I'm wearing a spare pair, for now, and I replaced my prescription Maui Jim sunglasses at a painful expense that will never have me removing the string that holds them to my head ever again. Maybe I need one of those stupid strings for my regular glasses. My daughter in law reminded me that I was wearing my sunglasses on top of my head and my eyeglasses on my face and interchanging them when I went outside. Don't judge, this system usually works. This was the last time the glasses were seen. Oh well, I'm ready to set sail even if I have to leave the glasses behind.
Today's last chore is sewing fender covers out of the fabric that Jim purchased a few months ago. I just never got around to it. So, there will be another trip to the land home today to sew and pick up a couple last items, like the bread pan we forgot to pack, check the mail for some items we ordered for the trip and finally relax.
Yesterday, we visited the grocery store and grabbed two carts and filled them to the brink with the foods we can cram into the freezer and the voids under the couches. We both have had our hair cut, visited with our house sitter, had dinner with friends and family to say goodbye, and stowed our summer clothes. We really are ready to set sail now.
The wind is supposed to be out of the south at 20 on Monday. If it holds, we will make our crossing of Lake Michigan. If the wind is fickle and light and not what's predicted, then we'll fly the chute and head north. It's a fine feeling of freedom to not know the destination, but to know the departure date. I like the unpredictability of that.
SAILING WITH CATS: June 14, 2011
I know, I know....I've become a crazy cat lady. I'll make no excuses for myself. Thank goodness that Jim isn't immune to their little tricks to endear themselves into our homes and hearts. When you have a son who is employed by the Humane Society, it's even harder to resist adoption of the "perfect kitty" that needs a home. This is how we ended up being a two cat family. Trevor rescued Annabelle from a garage about 8 years ago. She's the feline version of Eliza Doolittle. You'd never imagine that this little duchess was ever a stray that was living off the streets. We do spoil her. When we first bought Somewhere, Annabelle hated the boat so much that we ended up tearing up seat cushions and pretty much the entire main salon to find her hidden and cowering in a void under the floor board in the bilge area. It wasn't a pleasant experience for her, so we would leave her with a cat sitter on our previous crusies(namely, Trevor, her original knight in shinning armour that saved her from the mean streets).
Annabelle lived a solo existance in our house on land and seemed happy enough. Then, in December, a pretty little Siamese mix was found living with a colony of feral cats in Chicago. Trevor cared for her and knew she would be the perfect (purrrrfect) addition to our family. So, we adopted Mia. We went through a bit of hissing and adjustments. One cannot just throw two cats together and think that harmony will come naturally. This just doesn't happen. Cat behavior is a science, I tell you. We discovered Feliway: The plug-in "air freshener" that diffuses a natural substance, odorless to humans, that mimics a cat's facial pheromones to calm cats in stressful environments. It works. They are friends now and share napping quarters and toys and a common dining area. Life is good in cat world, but Mia is needy and a quite frankly, high maintenance. She howls when I leave the house, or the room for that matter. She won't eat if I leave for more than a day. We had no choice. The cats must travel, by boat, with us for the summer.
Just like it's unlikely that stressless cats will result from throwing two cats together, so is the case when introducing them to unfamiliar surroundings, especially when the surroundings are in constant movement, have strange noises everytime the wind blows through the rigging, and the litter box is in an unfamilar place.
So, we took all precautions to make them happy. We had a rug made for the main salon that we put in the land house first so that they could play with their toys on it and get used to it. We plugged in the Feliway, carted their favorite toys, scratching posts, canned food, kibble, cat nip, quilts and essential "kitty head" to the marina. We purchased harnesses for their strolls above decks. We barricaded the tunnel that gave access to the bilge. We slowly introduced them to their new digs. It's taken three weeks, but they are now true boat cats. They have sailed and learned that when we tack, it's best to go to the low side. They've scouted out their favorite port holes to peer out and cubby holes to nap. They have been living on the boat full time now for a week. We returned to the marina last night from an all day outing/farewell dinner with family and friends to find cat toys strewn from stem to stern. They had obviously had a fine time while we were gone. They greeted us with yawns and stretches like they didn't even realize we had left.