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.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Finally got out to the boat to actually take her out for a spin this weekend. Just as we arrived, though, Terri remembered that we once again, left the registration stickers for our license renewal on the refrigerator back home. Last time we came out (Memorial weekend), we lucked out and didn't get pulled over for not having the proper sticker displayed, so thought we'd try and sneak under the wire again. We got the boat shipshape in no time, put her on battery one, fired her up, and pulled out of the slip with only a few minor snafus (the spring line got away from Terri and fell into the water, and then my starboard stern line had pulled so taught that I couldn't get it off the cleat without going below for a screwdriver to pry it off...), and then opened up the headsail once we got out past the mooring balls, and slowly made a big circle around Muskegon Lake on our way to the channel, mostly on a beam reach/run with a single 'jibe ho' as we neared the shallows on the north shore of the lake.

As we got into the channel, we noticed a sheriff's boat circling around checking the boats entering and leaving the channel, and we started to sweat a little. We relaxed a bit when he singled out a power boat behind us and pulled up along side them. We got just outside the channel entrance, when the sheriff caught back up with us (we figured he noticed us earlier, but figured we probably wouldn't get away from him all that quickly). Our first time getting pulled over, it was a little nerve wracking, but we were in the wrong and we knew it. The young men on the sheriff's boat were quite nice about it, but I was wrong in assuming we'd just get a citation and we could go on about our business, they made us turn around and head back to our slip. Dang. At least we got a little bit of sailing in today, even though we never opened up the mainsail. Too bad, too, because it looked like a beautiful day, with light to variable winds and waves that weren't too big.

When we got back to the slip, we ate our lunch that we had packed, and I did a bit of work on the brightwork, scuffing the areas I've been working on, and giving them a coat of varnish. While I was varnishing, Terri went and took a nap over in the 'picnic area' with the dog. As we were leaving, I noticed one of the largest freighters I've yet seen pulling into the lake, and took the above snapshot from shore just before we headed down to McGraft Park for a round of disc golf.

ADDENDUM: About a month later, we finally got the grand total from the Muskegon Sheriffs Office: $110 for our citation. Dang! And the license itself was only 160 bucks for the three years. Don't forget to put them on again, that's for sure.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


June 10, Sunday -- Tim went out on Sunday to spend the afternoon working on the brightwork. Beautiful weekend both Saturday and Sunday, and probably should have gone out there and spent the weekend. Was a bit worried about how she fared after the gusting winds of Wednesday and Thursday, but she appeared to be in good shape. Mostly worked on the starbord cockpit interior wall and the cabin door frame, taking them down to bare wood as best I could and then treating them with two coats of 50/50 boat varnish. I should make a trip out there sometime this week and do a bit more. Came home sunburned, tired, with sore fingers, but happy to have spent some time out there feeling the rock of the boat, smelling the diesel fumes and listening to the 'wind chimes' of the snapping halyards on the masts. The boat 4 slips to the south left when I was just getting there, and had engine trouble and had to be hauled out onto the lake (it looked as if they had a few boat guests aboard who I overheard mentioning "um... how are we going to get back in the slip?" to which the captain replied "we'll figure that out later"). Later in the afternoon they returned (again towed by a motorboat), and I and a few other neighboring sailors helped them back into their slip. Talked to Captain Jim next door for a while, mostly about the weather, and how he likes to point out our boat to students as one of the rare 'Chris Craft' sailboats. Should've brought the camera today, so I could take some photos of my progress. Next time for sure. I'm not sure, but I think I left the lid of the 'power plug' open when I left. Another reason to get back soon.

June 14, Thursday -- Came back later in the week to do some additional work on the boat. Scraped and sanded the two decorative rails along the cabin top, the remainder of the hatchway framing, the back side of the traveller support and touched up some of the port side rails, then gave each of them a couple coats of 50/50 turp/varnish mixture. Need to go back and give them a few coats each of 100% varnish, and continue working on revamping the side rails. I also purchased a can of white latex paint and gave the cowl vents a fresh coat of paint, and WOW what a difference that made, they look fantastic! Would be nice to clean up the interior of the boat and give the inside a fresh coat of paint. Also thinking of taking home some of the interior woodwork over the next winter to refinish, especially the stairs. Talked a while with Jim next door about this'n'that, about private tutoring on your own boat, about the spinnaker (which his advice seems to be "just keep in the bag, its not worth the grief"), and about wooden boats (there is a nice salty looking wooden boat that just got launched that day with a family crawling all over her). Stayed from about 2-6, got a lot done, fixed the side rail with the stainless screws I purchased at Lowes, gave the deck a thorough washing, and pretty much just puttered around all day. Thinking maybe I could talk the crew into taking her out on Friday if schedules permit. This upcoming weekend is once again, booked solid.