Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Sundays IN A ROW

Two beautiful sailing sundays in a row, and we can't believe our luck. Went out in the afternoon and got in another beautiful 3 hour sail. Winds from the Northwest at about 10-12 mph, waves under a foot (aside from the occasional boat swells) and temps in the moderate 78-85 range. We got to a top speed of 5.5 knots today, averaged about 3 and did about 13 nautical miles on our round trip to Lake Michigan and back.
We started out in Lake Muskegon and did several tacks back and forth across the pond, and the wind was frequently changing in direction and intensity depending on what part of the lake we were on, and the traffic was sometimes a little tight, but we got lots of 'coming about' practice and a few times heeled to the point where we both were getting a little nervous about it. There was a Coast Guard vessel moored to some sort of crane barge on the Southwest end of the lake, and we made a close pass in a loop around it to see if we could figure out what the deal was (earlier we got passed by a Coast Guard dinghy heading to the north side of the lake in a big hurry, which piqued our interest). Eventually we worked our way around to the channel to head out to Lake Michigan and we had grand plans of sailing out the channel, but the wind switched again about 1/3 of the way in and we had to give up and turn on the diesel, but we were able to kill it again once we reached the inner harbor, and spent the rest of the trip on sail alone.
The Big Lake was much more pleasant as far as steady winds, and we headed out in a west/southwest direction on a beam reach until it started looking like some rain clouds were forming on the west horizon, so we headed back after we got about 2-3 miles out. Once again, we passed the Lake Express Ferry both coming in and going out, and we managed to sail the channel going back in (at nearly 5 knots for most of the way, keeping up with many of the power boats who had to slow down in the 'no wake zone'). Once back in Lake Muskegon, we doused the mains'l and headed back for home on a run with just the heads'l (at a seemingly snails pace, although the gps told us that we were going about 3 knots), and sailed partway down the return channel to the marina under a half mains'l before turning on the engine for docking. A smooth return with almost wordless communication between the two of us (I don't think the sailors of 2004 would even recognize these people -- 'where's all the yelling?'). Can we go for three weeks in a row?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Launch, Sail Hank-On & First Sail

Fanny got launched the first week in June (Festival weekend kept us away the first week, and we got out the following week to put on the sails and check on her docking lines), and we finally got out for our first sail of the season on June 17 (latest yet). The morning started out looking really dreary and wet, but by shortly after noon the sun was out and there was a light breeze, so we dropped everything and headed for Muskegon. Beautiful day on the lake, with just enough breeze to fill the sails and keep us moving (our top speed today was 5.7 knots, and we averaged 3.5). A fair amount of traffic on Lake Muskegon when we started out (and we goofed up and didn't check behind us when we backed out of our slip, getting in the way of a pontoon boat that had sneaked up behind us -- we'll have to be a bit more careful at this more crowded marina), and as soon as we got out past the Milwaukee Clipper, we raised the sails and only turned on the engine once we needed to get out the channel (and come back in). According to the gps we did 13 nautical miles, and were out on the water for about 4 hours. We headed out onto Lake Michigan and got about 4.5 miles out (and by the time we turned around, we were about the only boat out there) in a northwesterly direction. The trip back was a little trickier, as the waves and wind kept pushing us north of the channel, so we had to do a few tacks on the return path. We managed to sail about halfway down the channel before the wind gave out, and motored the rest of the way, then sailed back to the marina on just the main (going about 3.5 knots across Lake Muskegon)... got in around 7:30, and got a little help tying up from our new neighbors, first time sailboat owners Dave and Rose. Looking forward to many more days like these this summer, weather and fate permitting. A beautiful father's day.