Monday, September 17, 2012

Beautiful September Sail

Terri and I (and Lady) headed out to Muskegon on Sunday afternoon. The weatherman promised party cloudy and warm with 13-15 mph winds over the weekend, but it was looking kind of overcast when we left home. The wind wasn't quite that strong, but the sun eventually came out and when we got to the lake, it looked like every available sailboat on the lake was out in the water (with several out on Lake Michigan as well, despite what looked like 3-4 foot waves). We untied and headed out into Lake Muskegon and raised the sails just past the Milwaukee Clipper. We could see that a regatta was going on and were trying to figure out the race course, so we could maneuver around it. We crept around the south end of Lake Muskegon, with one back and forth tack to avoid the boats that seemed to be streaming towards us, and eventually made our way to the channel to head out to the big lake. (it was quite impressive seeing all those boats making their turns and then raising their spinnakers to head back to the far side of the lake on a run -- we counted about 60 boats total on Lake Muskegon Sunday afternoon).

The channel had wind coming right at us, so we had to turn on the engine briefly for the passage, and once out on the lake, we were able to get pretty decent speeds on a beam reach, despite being bounced around by the big waves. We headed out a ways, and decided that the bouncing was getting a little too much and headed back behind the Lake Express Ferry, which was returning. Our best speeds of the day were achieved on this return trip to the channel, sailing down the waves and getting up to about 5.6 knots. We managed to sail completely down the channel on the return trip, and once we got back on Lake Muskegon, the winds picked back up and we had a nice close reach trip back to the marina at about 4-5 knots. A beautiful day. Starting to think about haul-out time, but hoping to get a few more trips out on the lake this season.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day, End of Summer

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.