Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sailing the Channel!

After visiting a small open house for one of Keenan's band classmates in the early afternoon, and a round of morning disc golf, we headed out to the boat for the continuation of my evil plan to 'completely wear Terri out'. We got to the boat around 4ish, and prepared the boat for the water, stowing tools and misc crap below, PUT ON THE LICENSE STICKERS so we are now bona-fide and legal, put her on battery number one, and exited the slip with nary a mishap. I was a little worried about the wind, which looked a little gustier than I was expecting, which interfered a little bit with our exit (she wouldn't reverse to starboard because of the contrary winds today, but I was able to turn adequately in forward to maneuver us out of the marina with little fuss and bother). We sailed around Muskegon Lake with just the headsail in a similar manner that we did last time we were out here, and it gave us enough power to sail around the little lake and get into position to exit the channel before we had to resort to turning on the engine. We wanted to check out the conditions on the big lake before committing to raising the main (which involves a bit more work in putting away once you've opened it up).

As we were traversing the channel, we noticed that a few of the boats returning were doing so under sail, the wind being in a favorable direction for a change for it to be possible. I mentally jotted this fact down for our return trip, seeing as how this is something I've tried for a number of times, but have not been successful in doing (the last time, a kayaker passed me on the starboard side and asked me if I "wanted a tow", we were moving so slowly). Once out on the big lake, we were a little leery of raising both sails, but after moving so slowly with just the headsail up, I put Terri at the helm and raised the main while underway (not the smartest way to do it, but we lucked out and didn't have too much trouble). Once we got both sails up, we started making some good speed on a beam reach, nearly 45 degrees from shore heading out to open water. We got a comfortable routine going and opened up our picnic basket for a light snack/dinner (bread, cheese, pickled bologna, cherries, mango & nectarines). We got quite a long ways out into the lake before we decided to turn around and head back.

We couldn't quite steer directly back to the channel on a beam reach, so had to do a couple tacks on a close reach in order to maneuver ourselves in position to hit the channel opening dead on. Once we reached the channel, we switched back to a beam and managed to keep quite a head of steam under sail until we reached the submarine dock, at which time the wind began to get a little light and flukey and started moving to our stern. Terri played with the headsail for the last little bit, and we were reduced to a crawl that we had to measure by our shadow moving along the breakwater wall in order to convince ourselves that 'yes, we really are still moving'. And eventually we actually did it. All the way down the channel without having to break down and resort to the motor. And to put the icing on the cake, a fellow sailor was watching us from the breakwater on shore and yelled out to us "Every Sailor's Dream! Sailing the Entire Channel!" and explained that he had been out earlier in the day and tried it himself and only made it 90% of the way. So... triumph and witnesses to boot. Not to mention that just about this time, we heard a hoot and a holler from our port side, and saw Matt and 'Starry Night' passing us going the other way. Eventually, we found the wind again, and picked up speed, taking a leisurely cruise the long way around Lake Muskegon back to the marina. A four hour cruise. Nice long enjoyable ride tonight. Didn't quite make it to sunset, but we did enjoy a few 'sundowners' on the deck once we got Fanny squared away in her slip. A long day. We're both pooped.

A lot of chatter on the VHF this afternoon, a maritime warning about a 25 ft log floating out in the lake, a boat fire on Mona Lake, a disabled floating vessel down by Grand Haven. Saw a smallish freighter leaving the channel behind us (presumably heading northwesterly), and the Lake Express Ferry ahead of us leaving the channel.

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