Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fandango Stag Party

Me and Jim went out for an afternoon sail today (battery 1). The weather looked a little iffy in the morning, with scattered thunderstorms predicted, but we pressed on regardless, and the lake didn't disappoint. We got a little of everything out there today, some stiff breezes, rollicking waves, dead calms, rain, sunshine. We tooled around Lake Muskegon for a while, getting Fanny up to 6 knots with just the main and a little bit of the headsail. Headed out to Lake Michigan, intending to sail down the channel, but got stimied in the usual spot (just about near the submarine), so I switched on the engine for a spell until we got back into the steady breezes. We got to share the channel with the Ferry coming in (and then again coming out), but other than that, there was very little other watercraft out on the lake today. The waves were pretty high at times out on the big lake, and were frequently working at odds with our sailing plans, pushing us back nearly as much as we were moving forward, but we found a few tacks that gave us some good speed. We found our best sailing running with the wind and surfing the waves in a northerly direction, and would've made good time to White Lake if we were of a mind to, but when we turned back towards Muskegon channel, it became a bit more challenging finding a workable sailing direction. Jim gave the head an inaugural usage while out on the big lake, and I'm certain it was an adventure in itself, with how badly we were bouncing around. Eventually made it back into the calmer waters past the breakwater, and managed to coax her all the way down the channel via sail power, even though a rain squall was hard on our heels, and overtook us while we were making the passage. By the time we re-entered Lake Muskegon, the sun was back out, the breeze was freshening and we had a nice sail back and forth across the little lake eventually working our way back to the Marina. A nice four hour jaunt, and a beautiful way to spend a Wednesday afternoon playing hooky from work. We stayed a little while to wash up the decks (I had worn some dirty tennis shoes today, and left a lot of footprints), and then stopped for lunch at G&L afterwards. A fun day, and we'll have to do it again soon (with our respective wives and kids if we can convince them to join us).

Unfortunately forgot to bring a camera this time, would've gotten some interesting snapshots. The photo above was of the nifty tying up job Jim did of our main sheet on our next visit.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunset Cruise with Candy

After really being bitten bad by the sailing bug this weekend at my mother's 'wedding cruise' in Chicago, and wanting to do a 'shakedown cruise' with the boat before taking Jim out on Wednesday afternoon, in order to work all the kinks out of the rigging, I dropped Candy an email in the afternoon on Monday to see if she could accompany me out to Muskegon for a 'sunset cruise' after work. She had to skip Tai Chi, but I promised her plenty of stretching and uncomfortable positions to make up for it.

We got out to the marina around 7ish, and proceeded to tidy up and get the boat 'shipshape', putting away various items below, and installing the new headsail sheets. The exit from the slip was a little undignified, and came uncomfortably close to scraping her on the dock, then reversing most of the way out the marina, then doing a tight circle in the entrance to cruise forward (battery #2). We headed east of the mooring balls and then, with Candy at the helm, I raised the main. We sailed around Lake Muskegon mostly, attempting a few 'coming about' maneuvers. Rather sloppy all over, it feels like I've forgotten how to do most of everything, and my 'sailing terminology' has left the building, I keep referring to things on the boat as "that thingamajig" or "the doohickey over there". We tried sailing down the channel, but only got about halfway before the wind stopped cooperating, and then once we got past the submarine, the wind off the big lake was considerably more gusty and uncomfortable, so I did a quick u-turn and we headed back to the little lake.

At this point, the traffic on the lake was a lot less crowded, and it was nearing sunset time. I had noticed many little tweaks that needed to be done to the rigging, so we dropped sail in the middle of the lake and drifted for a while, so I could attend to some corrections. The headsail furler was wrapped in such a way, that we were unable to completely roll up the genoa, so I did a little tweaking on that (could still be better, but at least it now wraps up all the way). I also noticed that the clew on the mainsail was all twisted up due to the hardware being attached in the wrong way, so fixed that. The reefing lines were screwed up, so I had to do a little rearranging there too (although I'm still not completely happy with the arrangement, I think I need to switch the 1st and 2nd reefing lines, because for some reason now, the white one doesn't reach a cleat to tie it off when it isn't in use).

Once the rigging tweaks were taken care of, and with Candy at the helm we did a bit more sailing while watching the sun go down, and then drifted slowly back to the marina with just the headsail while I flaked the main. The return to the slip was a bit less lubberly, and then we tidied up and headed for home. Frosties at Wendys, and a couple deer sightings on the drive home.

(photos) (top) The sunset over Lake Muskegon (middle) Candy at the helm as we head for the channel - you can see how sad the brightwork is looking this year.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Tantalizing Tease

Beautiful day to start this Father's Day weekend. Me and Terri went out to Muskegon to do a few chores on the boat in the morning. Lots of sails on both the big and little lake, a nice 10-20 knot breeze blowing from the southwest. We were disappointed to discover that the service department is closed on Saturday (you'd think we'd know this after 5 seasons), so we were unable to get our new genoa sheets (we left a note with the main office at the store to have them delivered to our boat for next time, since weekdays seem to be harder for us to get out there this year, due to work schedules. We hanked on the two sails, installed the battens and rigged the reefing lines on the main, and furled and temporarily tied up the headsail, so we will ready to go out on our next visit. We replaced the bow lines with some new replacements, and generally tinkered around the boat and watched all the other sails frolicking on the horizon. We had prior engagements at home, so decided not to go out for the brief amount of time we would have had available (and with just the main, not having sheets for the foresail), and maybe I can press-gang a crew into going out with me mid-week if the weather cooperates.

June is not looking all that promising. The next two weekends are booked. Terri's working nearly every day now either at the Girl Scouts or at the Civic, and Keenan will have Jazz camp at Aquinas all this next week.

We had a little nature excitement down at the marina, when a pair of swans and their 5 cygnets showed up in the slip across from us. Terri got a few pictures, and I'll try and post them soon.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

First visit

Boat was launched two weeks ago, but thanks to weather, workload and extenuating circumstances, this was the first chance I've had to go take a peek at the boat since then. The dock lines were pretty dilapadated, so I was a little concerned with how the dockhands tied her up. Turns out I was wise to worry. Instead of using my heavy duty spring line, they jury rigged three shorter (and less diameter) lines together to work as a spring line. They used the two new dock lines I laid out for them on the stern cleats, but used the older red dock lines for the bow cleats (which I am going to replace next time I go out there). The weather was horrible today, raining cats and dogs, so I didn't put on the sails, but I did gather up the questionable genoa sheets and take them into the service department to ask about them. They can't 'resplice' the ends, like I had hoped, but I'll be getting two new sheets, spliced with our old hardware shackles.

Surprised to see much fewer boats launched this year than in years past. Perhaps the economy is taking its toll (not to mention the exodus to the downtown Marina that Matt spearheaded for many of our neighbors). Going to be a busy month ahead, with my Mom's wedding, and with Graduation open houses. Hopefully we can get out and sail a little bit in June, but I'm not holding my breath.

The new sheets should be ready next week by the 12th. I may make another journey out there next weekend.