We started this adventure on the south side of Chicago at an old world Yacht yard, Crowleys
that we found to be close to Carmel and used to handling big sail boats like ours. Amazingly they haul, store and launch 700 boats a season. In the peak of launch season we saw them launching 20-25 boats a day including raising the mast on maybe 10 of them. We met some huge characters and craftsmen of the trade. It's a dirty, industrial setting that has serious work going on every day.
Once we launched out of there our first stop was Hammond Marina so if we discovered anything like the leaking water pump on our genset we were close to folks who had worked on Big Frisky over the winter. We kept her there for a couple of weeks while we cleared out the house and got it on the market. We made the decision that the place to move aboard would be Michigan City as we had close friends who have a family home there and we knew the marina. It was there that we began to learn what the small towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan would be like.
We entered the harbor late in the afternoon and the marina staff had gone for the day. I've learned long ago docking in unfamiliar marinas is made so much better if you have at least one person on the dock you can hand off the spring line to and once attached to the dock can get the other two points secured on the dock side without have to worrying about crashing into the front of the slip or drifting away from the dock. As we entered the fairway we were told to take any slip on there was one boat that had a someone in it and I unabashedly asked or help. Sure enough she dropped everything and raced out to the first slip we were headed for. When I aborted the first slip and moved over to the next she calmly moved to it mentioning the current in the marina, took the line from Pamela and secured us to the dock. We scrambled around and got the 4 points covered and then thanked her for her help and her calm demeanor as it was infectious for a newby like me and I needed it. The next morning while I was walking our dogs at 0545 she had her chocolate lab out for a walk and Honu, being his normal protective self, charged after him and barked his head off before I had him on a leash. What did she do? Calmly stood there until I could scoop up all three of the pack and get them out on their walk. When I came back I told Pamela we needed to host them for drinks before we left as thanks for her help AND tolerance. When that time came there was a thunderstorm bearing down on us and they graciously offered to host our cocktail get together on their yacht. That time was magical for us. These folks who spent the summer in Michigan City were quick to welcome us and give us the benefit of their cruising experience . They had both been educators in Chicago area public schools, which as many know is God's work . In fact he also was a former college football star at my alma mater, University of Iowa. Their boat name? Hawkeye.
Heading up Lake Michigan was nothing but experiencing the kindness of strangers as our travels usually entail. From the Mi City Port Authority staff who allowed us to park our 8 x 10' trailer in the parking lot while we moved everything we owned on board, took delivery of our dinghy and helped set it up and housed my company car until the leasing company can pick it up. To all of the dock hands who cheerfully welcome us and help us secure our home to their docks, loan us their car to run to the grocery and participate in crazy schemes we invent like taking a fly by photo of us
(Thanks Jereme!) for a newspaper article that is going to be published in our hometown weekly. At every turn along the famous M22 highway people jump at the opportunity to be helpful. Freeze the meat we just bought from you so it goes into our freezer frozen? No problem, "stop by anytime before you leave, we're here at 0500". The waiter in Muskegon who told us all about our next destination, Pentwater as he had spent his summers there for as long as he could remember. The father and two son team who after assigning us a slip on the wall and me changing my mind as we arrived raced from one location to the next and in a dicey docking was able to get three lines on and together hauled all 20 tons to a stop and cheerily asked if we needed anything else before racing off to land another big power boat.
It is with this spirit of adventure and support we embark on our journey. Life is FULL of kind and generous people, one just needs to be open for their help and be gracious and thankful for it. Pamela and I learned this on our many trips together and look forward to living in the moment with those we meet and creating a lifetime of friendships strung together by the common bond of mankind.