Monday, September 30, 2013

Bittersweet Late September Sail

Been a very hectic couple of months, so we missed all of August and most of September (and from talking to our neighbor at the marina, it sounds like a lot of people were in the same situation this past summer). We originally had planned on sailing on Saturday with a friend of ours, but once again, something came up and cancelled those plans. Came out on Sunday instead, despite questionable weather (looked overcast and dreary in the morning, and not much wind to speak of in the afternoon, despite the sun coming out). Got out to Muskegon around 2ish, and took a drive down to the big lake to see what the conditions were like (not many boats out there and there were quite a few whitecaps out on the lake), and then back to the marina (lake muskegon however looked promising). Took out the boat out of the slip (after wiping away countless spiderwebs and killing more than a few giant spiders), and she really didn't want to back up the way I wanted her to, so we did a complete 180 turn in the marina lane and headed out past the Milwaukee Clipper into Lake Muskegon. Not very ambitious today, and more than a little nervous and tentative after having been away so long, so just raised the main and puttered around the lake at probably 2 knots of speed for a couple hours. A pleasant sail, but nothing overly exciting.

We've come to a difficult decision this month, and we think we are going to put the boat up for sale. We'll need to contact the broker and do a little research on the prices of comparable boats out there. We just haven't used it enough in the past few years to justify the marina costs and upkeep. I don't think we will completely give up sailing, or on the 'sailing retirement dream' that started this whole thing, but we may want to concentrate on chartering in the future, which may give us the opportunity to sail in different locales, rather than always being stuck in a certain radius around Muskegon. It's been a fun adventure these past 10 years, but practicality beckons. (photos of today's sail to come, once I get them off the wife's camera). I think we may have one or two more October sails planned before haul out, but it is hard to be completely certain. Weather and extenuating circumstances always seem to be getting the better of us this year.

Monday, July 15, 2013


The winds were not predicted to be all that favorable for sailing all weekend, but we decided we would spend the weekend out at the boat nonetheless, look at it as a chance to use the boat as a 'summer cabin', go to the beach, relax at the marina, etc, and if the opportunity presented itself, sail. We got there late Friday evening, already dark, and we were worried that the gate would already be closed (and we had neglected to write down the gate code), but we lucked out and the gate was still open. We got everything loaded up and the shore power hooked up and the beds made, and hunkered down for a night on the boat (that is, after Tim managed to break the handle off the toilet, which we then decided to leave alone for now and tackle the repairs on Saturday).

As usual, when in 'vacation mode' Tim was up at the crack of dawn, and, after making himself some breakfast, took Lady out for a long walk out to Lake Michigan, where we ended up at the 'dog beach' (after getting booted off what we thought was the 'dog beach' by a helpful law officer). Lady normally doesn't even like to get her feet wet, but we met a nice gentleman who lent us a tennis ball, and thanks to doggie peer pressure, Lady managed to eventually go out to where she was almost floating (about chest level) to fetch a tennis ball. Terri eventually joined us after I sent her a text warning her that I didn't think the dog would be up to the walk back to the marina, and that I thought she might need a car ride back. We got lunch at the hot dog stand (where Lady got a free hot dog and her own bowl of water), and then Tim tackled the toilet repairs back at the boat. Ended up having to take the entire pump mechanism apart to fix it, and after much struggle ended up putting it all back together again successfully, and it seems to work better than it did before (it always seemed to squirt a little bit when you were pumping, but it seems to have fixed that problem). At this point, we noticed that more and more sailboats were venturing out onto the lake, and that the wind seemed to be picking up slightly, so around 4pm we unmoored and headed out for a sail. Despite the low winds (5-10 perhaps) we still managed to get some fairly decent speeds, especially out on Lake Michigan where we approached hull speed at times on a beam reach to the southwest (averaging between 5.5 and 6.3 knots). The return trip was a little more tricky, where we had to sail on a close haul most of the way back, fighting the waves and only averaging about 3 knots. We ended up having to sail uncomfortably close to the lighthouse on the return trip, and it was interesting to see that someone was videotaping our approach and turn into the channel (if they ever stumble upon this blog, we'd be interested to see either photos or video that they took), and we were pleased to be able to put on a good show for our turn into the muskegon breakwater. We weren't able to sail out of the channel, but on the return trip we successfully did it (nearly relenting at one point where our speed dropped to under 1 knot), and sailed halfway across Lake Muskegon before putting up the sails and motoring the rest of the way back. Terri took the controls as I flaked the sail, and she did a fine job putting us in the marina dock (she rarely takes the tiller for this maneuver, but its nice to see she can still handle it). We got mighty sunburned that day, and our night was rather uncomfortable, and we headed home Sunday morning after tidying up.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sunday visits

Last Sunday, Terri and I headed out to the Lake to check on the boat, and possibly sail if the weather was right, and go to the beach, if not. Winds were pretty stiff, and it looked like the few boats that were out on the lake were struggling, so we just did a little cleaning and organizing, and finished installing the new throwable, then headed out to the beach (where the water temperature was still a very chilly 55 degrees and the waves were crashing on the beach, much to the enjoyment of the several wind surfers in attendance).

The following weekend, we gave Sunday afternoon another try. Beautiful scattered cloud cover under a blue sky, with the wind about 10-15 when we left the slip (which we think freshened to 15-20 as the day progressed), and we got up to some pretty decent speeds with just the main sail across Lake Muskegon. Sailed all the way out the channel on a beam reach (winds from the north), and once out on the big lake raised our headsail and got our top speeds of the day of 7 knots, briefly, before realizing that we were a bit over canvased, and we had a short spell of verbal squalls while we worked out a way to reef the mainsail and shorten the jib (the adrenaline was flowing pretty good out on the big lake today). We got about an hour away from the channel, and the waves, which started about 1-3 started building to 2-4 and the breeze started picking up and the clouds started getting bigger and darker, so we turned around and headed back, getting up to 5-6 knots on the return trip and at times a bit white knuckled with our combination of heel and occasional 4 ft waves on our port side. Sailed most of the way down the channel (at 5 knots, doing better than most of the power boats), until the breeze died just past the submarine. On the way back to the marina we practiced a 'heave to' maneuver so we could flake the sail, and after a few tacks and getting tired and hungry flipped on the engine for the last little leg to the marina entrance. Lady got to try out her new hot pink 'boat coat', and the lake was as busy as I've ever seen it (at one point we were playing chicken with a thousand foot freighter and the lake express ferry coming from different directions), and the breeze was borderline 'too much' at times but we got some practice with various skill sets that have been a little rusty. Hoping to get out more in July.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Launch & first sail

I believe this is the latest we've ever launched the boat. Got a bit behind this year on boat prep, and everything associated with it, and it eventually went in on May 31. We were busy on Memorial Day weekend, and the following weekend was Festival, so our first sail this year took place on June 11. We invited the Van Otterens out for a Tuesday sunset cruise since band practice was cancelled for that day. Had the lake to ourselves. The winds were light and the breeze a little chilly, but we managed to get the boat up to about 5 knots at times, averaging about 3 and a half. We were able to sail partially down the channel towards the big lake, but then once out on it, the waves seemed a bit overwhelming so we tucked tail and headed back to Lake Muskegon. On the way back in the channel, we managed to sail all the way, and then the breeze started picking up a bit so Tim flaked the main and we proceeded back towards the marina under just the headsail (which proved to be a mistake, as the boat's speed suffered greatly on the return trip). We then decided since the breeze was ideal, to take the boat into the slip under sail, just for the experience (this being our third time doing this, and it seems each time was with an audience). Handed over the tiller to Craig once we raised the sails, and he pretty much captained the vessel the entire excursion, and he seemed to be having a pretty good time of it. I just insisted on taking over for the slip exit and entrance. Battery 2.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Waiting for Launch

This year we've gotten a bit behind in our spring prep and launch reservations, so here it is Memorial Day weekend, and we still aren't in the water yet. We've done about the least amount of preparation this year that we've ever done, just pretty much taken the cover off (which now needs to be repaired as it got a rip in it over the winter due to a poor job of setting up the 'tent boards' underneath the canopy), and cleaned up and organized the interior and dock lines. We got a new throwable to replace the old one and need to install a cradle for it, and we've renewed our license and need to remember to put them on the boat as well. Hopefully we'll be launched this coming week.