Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dead Calm

After a round of disc golf at McGraft Park, we took Megan down to the marina for a sunset cruise. Unfortunately, there was little to no wind, which died down to absolutely no wind by the time we puttered out to the big lake. We put up all the sails anyway and tried to muster up a breeze by sculling the tiller and blowing on the sails, but mostly just floated around on the smooth Lake Michigan water waiting for the sun to go down. On our way back in the channel we were treated to a 'mooning' by a bikini clad woman on a nearby powerboat (not purposefully directed at us, but we got caught in the crossfire), which is a 'first' full moon we've seen on the boat despite two overnight crossings. Pulled into the slip just about the time the sun was going down, then had dinner at a nearby eatery on the way home. (pictures to come later when I get them off of Terri's camera). Next time hopefully, we can take them both out on the lake, and actually get some wind.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Visiting the Grandparents - Summer Trip 08

(photo above) Sunrise over the Douglas marina on our last morning - (photo inset left below) Terri at the helm on the way to Grand Haven on the first day

Thursday afternoon we got to the boat around noonish, and after a few trips to the store to pick up a few things we forgot (but turns out we didn't need after all) and a quick lunch at McDonalds, we eventually hit the water around 1 or 2ish. The wind and waves were beautiful on Lake Michigan, and we were able to sail most of the way down to Grand Haven on a reach averaging around 5 & 1/2 knots. The wind died about a half a mile north of the GH channel, and we had to resort to the engine the rest of the way. Tied up around 5ish, took a long walk down to the pier, had a ice cream and started our weekend long cribbage tournament.

(photo right) Lady perched in her bunk on our first evening in the Grand Haven marina

The next morning we gave my mom a call, and her and Al met us down at the marina, where we explored the sidewalk sales downtown, and then gave up on taking them for a boat ride, because the weather had turned cool and gusty. We instead went back to their house to try out their new 'fire pit', burning brush and drinking beers all afternoon. We got back to the boat around sunset and sat in the cockpit with them as the sun went down. Then back to the cribbage match for the rest of the evening.

Saturday morning the plan was to get up early and head for Douglas, where we had reserved a slip at Tower Marine and meet Dad for dinner (driving up from South Haven). We hit the water around 11, and the wind was pretty light for the first hour, we only got around 2 to 2 & 1/2 knots, with Terri hinting that we should turn on the engine every 15 minutes or so. I was determined to sail down there if at all possible, so I stuck with it, and eventually, around noon, the breeze picked up, and we made some good speeds down to Port Sheldon, where the wind kind of died all of a sudden (around 2).

(photo above) Some of the impressive dunes south of Holland (or north of Holland, I forget)

At this point, we were quite far from shore, and the water motion was quite rolly, so I turned on the diesel and headed toward shore on a more comfortable tack (leaving the sails up for better maneuverability), and eventually I found some better breeze just north of Holland, and we made a nice healthy sail most of the way past Holland, and nearly to Saugatuck channel. At this point, the waves were starting to get rather large and uncomfortable, probably in the 3-4 ft range with the occasional 5 footer, so when we got in sight of the Saugatuck breakwater, we put the sails down and motored down the river to our marina slip. It was after 6 when we finally got into Douglas (it is a long slow trip down the river into the harbor here), and we were surprised to see that the marina was already closed for the night, and our promised slip had a dinghy parked in it, and a mooring line tied across the entrance by the neighboring boat. We drove up to the haul out slips and temporarily tied up for Keenan and Terri to try and find someone to help us find a slip (in hindsight, we probably could have put Keenan on the dock and had him untie those lines and move the dinghy, but we weren't sure of the etiquette at the time). We eventually ended up in slip 33 instead of 53, next to another Chris Craft sailboat. Our most expensive marina so far, at 57 bucks a night, but had a nice heated pool, laundry facilities, and free coffee and donuts in the morning.

(photo inset left) Sunset at Douglas beach on our last evening - Terri got lots of cool photos here which I may feature in their own entry when we get home.

Dinner with Dad at a local greasy spoon on Saturday night, with some really good pie, but Dad couldn't come aboard due to the high dock and the long step onto our decks, and he also wanted to get back home before dark. We had a quick dip in the pool and then our usual late night cribbage match before bed. Poor Terri still hasn't won a single hand.

Turns out the fellow next to us in the Chris Craft is another freelance artist, and the wife is an author and we had a good long talk over breakfast. We've got a small craft advisory on the lake for Sunday and are debating on whether or not to head home today, or wait it out and go home tomorrow. Supposed to be big waves today (3-5 ft) and 10-20 winds. More later when we make some decisions. (and photos when we get them off the camera)

We decided to stay in Douglas for the day Sunday, and head back to Muskegon on Monday instead due to the weather reports. Since Keenan had pressing engagements in GR on Monday, we gave our friend Candy a call and asked her down to Douglas for the afternoon, so she could take Keenan (and the dog) home, and we would continue on north alone on Monday. The day was quite hot and sunny, but with a nice steady breeze in the shade. We mostly hung around the marina taking it easy, nursing our sunburns and playing some more cribbage. I took a long walk out to the Douglas beach in the morning with Lady, and after we took care of our paperwork in the marina office for our extended stay, we headed into downtown to explore the shopping (not much to speak of, a lot of art galleries and a few eating establishments, not quite as highbrow as what we've seen in Saugatuck). There's a nice little baseball field downtown right in the city square, and from what we learned from the informational signs nearby, there has been baseball teams in this town since around 1900, and there still is an 'old timey' baseball club that plays there quite frequently.

Candy got over around 4, and we had a few games of cribbage with her, and we ordered a pizza and had it delivered to our boat slip (first time doing that since we've had her), and then Keenan, Lady and Candy headed home around 7:30. Me and Terri had a nice quiet evening swim in the pool, then hiked down to the beach for the sunset. I have a job due on Monday, and since I probably won't be able to hang around for the sketch approvals (I usually provide 3 concepts for this client), I decided to just finish up all three concepts and send it over to NY in the morning and hope for the best, because we want to hit the lake running around 10 tomorrow morning. Hopefully we shall be home Monday night. Been a fun weekend, and probably is the last time we'll be able to do this sort of thing with Keenan.

The Trip Home

(monday) Me and Terri packed up and left Douglas around 10 in the morning. Took us a half an hour to traverse the Kalamazoo River waterway to Lake Michigan, and we hoisted the sails outside the channel around 10:30. The weather was predicted to be 2-4 ft waves, with 10-20 mph winds, but by that morning, the wind prediction was being modified to 'variable', with 8 knots reported at South Haven and 2 knots reported at Muskegon. We figured that the wind would pick up during the day, like it usually does. It started out rather flukey, especially with the big waves, and the boom slamming around in the troughs, but we managed to do about 3-4 knots most of the way to Holland, moving from a Reach, to a full 'Wing and Wing' sail set up at one point. Once we reached Holland, I tried beating into the wind offshore as a way of getting a bit more reliable wind, and hoping that further offshore I might find different conditions. About 3 miles out (this would be the furthest we've ventured from shore yet) I managed to find a nice steady westerly breeze and headed north on a reach, where we did our best speeds of the day, hitting 6 knots at times. The waves were a little less bouncy out there as well, and this stayed with us for a couple of hours, until we got well north of Port Sheldon. Just south of Grand Haven, the wind suddenly died to nearly nothing, and the waves started growing in size. The rollers which were about 4 foot at the max when we left in the morning turned into 5 and 6 foot swells that got increasingly uncomfortable. The boat speed dropped to about 1.5 and with the waves swinging us back and forth, we decided to douse the sails and turn on the engine for the rest of the trip (unless conditions improved - they never did). From south of Grand Haven to Muskegon we just puttered along on the engine, letting 'robo sailor' do most of the work, while Terri took extended naps, and I busied myself slaughtering flies. Pulled into our slip a bit after 6 pm, making pretty good time all things considered.