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
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.