I thought that Merry and I had a clear understanding that we would sail from Frankfort to an open anchorage at South Manitou Island, after a stop at the huge Sleeping Bear Dune. The first part came off. We passed the famous lighthouse at Point Betsie. The wind was out of the south at 14 mph, and the waves 3 feet or so, as we reached the great dune. We anchored, putting our new 37 lb Bruce anchor down, even though we had never used it before, and since our boat has no windlass, I was not sure that we would ever get it up again. The water temp was 74, and I was able to use mask and fins to see that the anchor was entirely buried in the sand. I convinced Merry that it was so rough, that we should wear our wetsuits when I rowed us ashore in Dimples, our 8 ft dingy. We were able to run the dingy ashore through the surf without too much of a problem. We walked down the beach and found a trail that led up into the dunes. The dunes were full of unique and beautiful wild flowers; we took pictures which we hope to post. We finally got to the high point where we could look down at our little boat. We made our way back down to the beach to discover that the wind and waves increased. We attempted to launch or dinghy but it took waves over the bow resulting in 4 inches of water in it. Merry shouted for me to get in and start rowing. We kept getting thrown into the beach. Merry gave a mighty push on the transom, and did a nose dive into the dinghy her posterior pointed to the sky and her face in the floorboard. We finally got to our boat and were able to set sail.
From North Point to Milwaukee! It took us about 7 hours and we arrived in the dark of night. We picked up a can at McKinley. (Hmmm... it is hard to believe that we could have driven this in about an hour - but must admit that the sailing was beautiful, that is ...until the attack of the FLIES!) I have quickly learned to talk like a sailor as I swing multiple flyswatters.
Onto Sheboygan, shopping, hot tub, pool time, ...a respite after storms and bugs. Yes bugs (plural) - every possible place that a mosquito can truly drive one crazy - ears, toes, fingers, the middle of my back have been bitten. So, when not swinging a fly swatter I am madly scratching.
A beautiful motor sailing crossing to Ludington- a wonderful harbor. A fantastic dinner at P.M. Steamers. We spend the next day swimming in icy waters using tri-athalon wet suits, sailing the fatty knees dinghy without be run over by the Badger car ferry, time in town at the Friday festival - free ice cream, music, etc. , a workout before writing our blogs and plan our next leg of our trip. All is good - we may be slow- but we are having fun!
07/15/2011, North Point Marina
I have been telling everyone around "J Dock" at North Point Marina that we would have sailed months ago had it not been for my wife's unreasonable demand that we turn the perfectly serviceable ice box on our 30 foot family weekend coastal cruiser into a proper refrigerator. In vain, I pointed out that the traditional Lake Michigan sailor's fare of canned Dinty Moore beef stew and Hormel Chili does not reguire refrigeration. I put up a good fight, and lost only because everyone else in the whole world took Merry's side on this issue, including every person on our beloved J Dock besides me. Larsen"s Marine in Waukegan was going to give me an installation proposal in March, but I told them to "hold off", I had to talk to my wife! So we didn't order the darn thing until 3 weeks before we sailed, which is why our boat was still at North Point when the tornado hit! This happened on the Thursday before July 4th, in the late afternoon, and we were not down at our boat. To our good fortunate Frank, our longtime dock neighbor, was on his boat and ran to our boat when he saw that the back tube of our new Bimini had come out which was twisting with the canvas flapping all over the place. He saved the day by pulling it down and tightening a set screw. Others were not so lucky, 2 boats had their furling Genoa sails come out and were dismasted. Many boats lost all of their canvas and a big cabin cruiser had its fly bridge torn off. One boater was running to his boat to rescue his dog and the storm picked him up swirled him around and dropped him so that he broke his leg. We have a small rip in our canvas and the back tube in our Bimini is bent, but we were lucky.
This won't keep us from sailing. The new refrigeration arrived and Larson's did a great job installing it the following week. On July 10th we said goodbye to our family and our son Brad drove us down to our boat so we could spend the night prior to our departure the next morning. However, our departure was delayed by another a storm with winds of 55 mph and lots of lightening. I wanted to shield our new electronics with my own body! However, we were again lucky and our boat survived although a couple of other sailboats had their Genoa's unfurl and suffered damage. We finally departed from North Point under power around 2 in the afternoon. Our dock had no electricity or water and most of the boats had been moved, so it was mostly a lonely departure. Nonetheless, our adventure begins!
Great friends have celebrated our departure, a beautiful compass rose quilt, clever cakes- sailboats, buoys - sharks- life preservers, provided great company and delivery of our fatty knees dinghy (Dimples) to our harbor , included a facial prior to departure... fond farewells and yet here we are .
Friends at J dock are wondering if we are really going to leave. It feels a little like your ninth month of pregnancy ... when interested friends ask "when are you going to have that baby"!! Our baby is currently... refrigeration. Wiley kept dithering about whether or not we should have (or should spend money on) refrigeration - after all couldn't we just get ice along the way.
However, St. Merry - as his old law firm used to call me - was not so saintly and demanded to be able to keep food that would keep food poisoning at bay. So, we are waiting for the arrival and installation of refrigeration. We will keep you posted but hope that we will be leaving around the 4th of July - if not before otherwise Wiley's new name will be the "iceman".
05/11/2011, Winthrop Harbor, Illinois
So our kids think we are senile... what else is new? We are spending all of their inheritance by pouring money into a hole in the water - our sailboat - Les Miserable - or hopefully less miserable. We need to leave on our trip before they can have us committed!
Our plan, now that Merry is joining the retired life Wiley has lived, is to sail the Great Lakes to the Erie Canal and on to the Inter coastal - to the Bahamas. We will return home as often as needed but plan on a minimum of a full year of traveling should we find that we can continue to enjoy (tolerate?) :-) each others company.
So far to prepare for our adventure and update our boat we have added new instruments (plotting, depth, speed), new cushions in and out, new sails, replaced the stuffing box, dutchman furling system, Bimini and dodger, dinghy motor and dinghy dogs (flotation), purchased charts, installed new LED anchor lights, had the mast and rig inspected, completed our Captain's licensing course, etc. etc.
We are currently working on sanding off 19 years of old bottom paint (a real fun job - NOT!) , cleaning and waxing the hull , and looking into purchasing refrigeration for the boat. Wiley's latest pride and joy is the new 37 pound Bruce anchor!
We continue to plan on leaving during the last week of June and have a long list of to do's as well as hope to do before then. We will keep you all posted.
Green became the color of our arrival and stay in Indiantown Marina. Twelve days ago we recovered our boat in Indiantown Marina from seven months in the burning heat and torrential rain of the fetid swamp and jungle that is called Florida. Les Miserable had been over-taken by the swamp. The deck was spinach green mixed with a black mildew. The ladder we had locked up had vine grown through and around it. A strong tug on the ladder resulted in a long length of vine following me as I dragged it to our boat. Ah, but how could we complain when everything at home was blinding bright white from all of the snow and deep freeze that lingers in Chicago-land.
The swamp jungle would completely take over in a short amount of time if things were left unattended. It truly is amazing to look around at all of the boats left tied down in the boatyard and see how algae, mold, mildew, plants and frogs have taken over. Yes, frogs! Kermit is right though it is not easy being green - "people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky". However, it was not easy for me to pass over them, as they hopped out of and hid in every nook and cranny on the boat. (Additionally, dead frogs are gray not green - you can only imagine how I know that little fact (x's 6)! These are Florida tree frogs and they are about 2-3 inches in length. They are adorable when they are not on our boat. Southern Florida had an unusually wet summer and fall that resulted in this new adventure for us.
We were delighted to find jobs well done by the marina; our new bulkhead was firmly in place in the V and we now have a fuel gage on our engine panel. The new fuel gage means that we no longer need to completely clean out one of our large lockers in the back of the boat and drop over into the locker upside down with our head hanging in the locker to see the fuel gage. This is a special gift as you can imagine how checking the fuel levels could turn you a lovely yellow-green when you are out in this position in a rolling sea.
We have spent our time scrubbing the boat, cleaning the teak, unloading all of our supplies from the U-Haul truck we drove down, putting on the sails, shopping for and loading groceries, and taking in the Palm trees, green grass, and warmer weather. We continue to wait for a new battery, a new battery charger, new blocks for the main sheet and reefing lines, and a new winch. However, as you can only imagine this brings be back to more green $$$$.
We had a short visit with my father and Pat in Summerfield, Florida on our way down in the truck. Unfortunately, my father had a "kink" in his esophagus and had to have a procedure so that he could eat and keep food down. He is amazing - he was patient and then recovered quickly. He was home the same day as the procedure. Pat, as always, is a wonderful loving caretaker and made us feel so welcome even though they were dealing with this new health issue. Pat had us over for a lovely dinner and of course sent us off with special treats.
Two days ago I decided that I should take our anchor rodes out of the locker. I let out a scream as 30+ little frogs came jumping up! My hero, Wiley, came to my rescue and hosed the little mites down the anchor well drain - off they went swimming in the harbor only to return to the boat and begin to climb their way back up and onto the boat once again! My time was spent hosing them down the side of boat and "encouraging" them to find other homes. However, a couple of them had returned by the next morning to what they know as their home - but cruel woman that I am - they were once again deported (Wiley claims that I denied them due process by not giving them a deportation hearing ).
We have talked with our sons back home in Geneva and Algonquin and we were concerned about the dangerously cold weather they were experiencing. Sub-zero temps with wind chills in the -20 to -40 degree range! We "kindly" sent them a photo of us dining in Stuart by some Palm trees -they are a bit jealous and have requested that we send them no more photos with sunshine and stuff that is green surrounding us! Kermit sings... "When green is all there is to be - it could make you wonder why, but why wonder why. Wonder, I am green, and it'll do fine, it's beautiful and I think it's (where) what (we) I want to be."