Managed to get out one final time before summer officially closed its doors this Labor Day weekend. A busy month for work and weekends have kept us away from the boat for most of August, and we are already talking about where we're planning on hauling Fanny out for the winter. But I still hope to get out several times in September and October.
The winds weren't promising as we checked the weather channel in the morning, 5-6 mph predicted, but decided to go anyways (and bring swim suits should our plans get foiled). As we neared the Lake however, the flags were fluttering a bit, so we went for it, and took the boat out hoping to catch what little wind we could (the fact that we could see several other sailboats out on the big lake was also a good selling point). Despite the light winds, we still managed to do around 3-4 knots on a close reach most of the way across Lake Muskegon, and might have been able to sail out the channel had we more patience, but we turned on the engine and doused the headsail for the fluky part of the channel between the dunes, and once out on the big lake, had a beautiful 5 knot sail on a beam reach for an hour or so before heading back. Our trip today was bookended by encounters with the Lake Express Ferry. She was just coming in as we were raising sails by the Milwaukee Clipper, and then while we were about to traverse the channel to go out to Lake Michigan we heard a 'securite' announcement on the VHF that the Ferry would be leaving her dock in 15 minutes (which caused us to worry a bit that we'd be stuck in the channel with her, which probably added to our decision to turn on the engine at that point), and then, once out on Lake Michigan, we made our decision to turn around and head back once we saw the Ferry heading across the lake towards Wisconsin (at which point we were one of the furthest boats from shore, aside from some way way way out on the horizon). We had a brisk sail back toward the channel, and then managed to sail down the channel at about 4-5 knots (at times passing powerboats, woo hoo!). Once on Lake Muskegon, however, the wind ended up being at our backs for the return trip, and we drifted along slowly home under headsail, until we finally gave up and doused it and reverted to the engine for our trip back to the slip. Beautiful afternoon. Been too quick a summer, like most of them.