Friday, August 27, 2010

Grand Haven


Tried to pack an entire summer's worth of sailing into a single day on Thursday this week. The original plan was to do an overnight sail from Wednesday until Friday afternoon, but the weather gods weren't cooperating, with Small Craft Advisories issued by NOA on Wednesday (although I think he was crying wolf that day), and Friday's outlook looking bad on the other extreme (no wind at all). So we revised our plans, and decided to take a day trip down to Grand Haven in the afternoon, take my mom and her husband out for a sunset sail, and then head back to Muskegon after dark (since we had seen a big harvest moon out the night before, and thought it might be fun to try a night sail with a full moon shining down on us). We decided also, to leave the dog behind, since she might be in the way for a lot of the planned activities.

We left Muskegon around 1, motoring all the way out to the big lake, since it looked as if the light winds were directly down the channel, and hoped that the breeze was a bit fresher out on Lake Michigan. Once out of the channel, we hoisted both sails and took advantage of what little wind there was and headed south for Grand Haven. For the first hour or so, we were going at a pretty slow to medium pace, hovering between 3.5 and 4 knots, but the waves were low and the ride was pretty comfortable, and we were in no big hurry, so we just stretched out and enjoyed the quiet. Hardly any other boats on the lake, being a weekday, and the weather wasn't overbearingly hot either, with blue skies and puffy clouds (which gave us a false sense of security regarding sunscreen, which we would discover later).

Around 2, the breeze started picking up a bit, and the boat took off, and we got in some of the best sailing of the summer, with speeds up around 6.5 at times, with a moderate comfortable heel, and made up for lost time, pulling into Grand Haven sometime around 3:30. We tied up to the seawall this time, instead of the city marina, our first time trying this method, and it seemed to work pretty well. We took a walk into town to browse the shops, and had an ice cream on the way down to the State Park beach. Taking in the scenery and slowly coming to the realization that we had both burned ourselves pretty good on the way down (Terri luckily in long pants and only really burning her face and lower arms, but I had worn shorts and a short sleeved shirt). Down on the beach we stumbled upon a fun 'sand castle' (photo above of the 'beach scenery'), and then walked back to the boat to play a little gin and drink a beer before my Mom and Al showed up around 7.

We offered them the option of a) going out for a sunset cruise and then dropping them back at their car in Grand Haven, or b) riding with us up to Muskegon after dark, where we would then drive them back to their car in our VW, and they opted for b).
Not many clouds out by this time, and the wind had dropped considerably. Wind was directly from the north, so we were only able to sail close hauled on a NW or NE direction, and were only able to get about 3 knots tops (but mostly hovering around 2.5, and then eventually 1). The water was smooth with gentle swells, so again, it was a comfy ride, but not really exciting.
After the sunset (not real dramatic, but nice and orange), we popped on the engine and headed north for Muskegon.

About the time we were even with PJ Hoffmaster State Park, the moon rose in the east, and it was a nice spectacular orange one, and lit up the night dramatically (our previous night sails had been moonless and quite dark), with Venus shining brightly on the opposite horizon. At one point, once the stars had come out, we saw the space station fly overhead (at least that's what we think it was). We got into Muskegon channel around 10ish and tied up by 10:30. Dropped them off at Grand Haven pier, and headed for home, tired and happy.

Summer went way too fast this year. Hopefully the sailing season isn't over and we can find some time to get out in the fall several more times.

(battery 2)