360 Degrees of Serendipity

Monday May 30, 2010

Yesterday returned to the cold, overcast and slightly deary kind of May day I’ve grown accustomed to in Michigan.  We stayed home and watched The History Channel from morning until night.  It was our typical winter weather Sunday and I was happy when the sunshine came out again and all things boating were a go.  Last year I ruined a perfectly beautiful Memorial Day after drinking too many Sambuca shots at a friend’s birthday the night before and there was no moving my ass from the living room floor.  Once we got out this year I assumed Matt would want to get the sails up as soon as possible.  I was all set to start pulling and winching lines when he suggested we just rest for awhile and get the sails up later.  Although I had gotten myself geared up for a sail I had no problem switching to lounge mode, pulling out a sport-a-seat and a magazine.  The dodger and bimini provided a perfect amount of shade, and all I was missing was a tall handsome servant named Geoffrey serving me chilled wine while I relaxed.

As the day wore on Matt was no closer to getting the sails up and I had relaxed in the cockpit, the cabin, and had even taken a nice nap in the v-berth.  I had gotten to the point where I had been doing nothing for too long and now I didn’t want to do anything productive.  Matt must have been on the same page as me when I asked if he wanted to go out (just cause I’m a good wife) and he asked if I wouldn’t mind sitting at the mooring for the rest of the day.  No problem here.  For a few more hours we lounged around snacking, relaxing, and enjoying our home away from home.  The only productive thing we did do is when leaving Matt had me pull out the camera while we circled the boat for a 360 degree view.  Enjoy!!





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Maiden Voyage

Saturday May 29, 2010

With the sun rising and slightly warming up the cabin we were able to get a couple hours of sleep where we weren’t shaking and shivering.  Temperatures quickly warmed up and we realized as nice as it would be, we couldn’t stay in bed forever.  Our friends Becky and Tyler were supposed to arrive around noon and we wanted to be underway by 1:00.  After unmaking the bed (a much easier process), running to the bathrooms to wash my face and brush my teeth again, and then taking the dog the bathroom where she actually went right away this time after holding it in all night, I was ready for, yes, more chores.  We busted out our spiffy new hoses and filled all 3 of our water tanks.  With fresh water now available I went to work washing the new dishes and silverware I just purchased along with any other dishes and silverware that came with the boat.  Mazzii just sat on the settee watching me wash everything piece by piece trying to conserve as much water as possible.  We wouldn’t have access to fresh water for awhile since we’d be at a mooring from that night on and wanted it to last as long as possible.




About 30 minutes before noon I got a call from Becky letting me know they were running late and would be to the boat by 12:30 or 1:00.  Matt and I were behind on a few things anyway and didn’t mind the delay.  Although once 1:00 came and they were nowhere to be seen we started to get a little antsy.  Matt is a stickler for time, one of those “If you’re on time you’re late” kind of people.  A quick call to Becky confirmed she just dropped her kids off at her mom’s, left a vehicle at Torresen’s so we’d all have something to ride in when we arrived, and were only 20 miles from Eldean’s.  We decided to stop at the BBQ being thrown by the marina on this picturesque Michigan day.  We also figured the entrance to the marina would be the perfect spot to spot our friends when the arrived, before they could get lost amongst the mass of boats.  After our meals had been finished and we were still waiting I made another call to see if maybe they had gotten lost along the way.  Nope, turns out they were catching every single red light between Muskegon and Holland.  They had only made it about half way so far.  With another 20-30 minutes to waste we decided to walk the docks and check out the other boats.  Matt heard a rumor there was a 38ft Sabre in one of these slips and he was determined to find it.  We walked up and down docks A-D without luck, skirted around a wedding that was being set up at the restaurant next door, and checked out the Z dock Serendipity used to call home.  It was a quiet dock all the way at the end facing the beautiful houses set on the hillside of the lake.  This is where we would be if we decided to stay at Eldean’s.

When Becky and Tyler finally pulled in the parking lot we were a mix of excited to show them the boat and excited to get on our way.  We brought them to the end of E dock and helped a nervous Becky make the 2ft jump from the dock to the boat.  I didn’t know if she got seasick on the water so I offered her one of my patches to use on the ride.  All she heard me say was the word ‘patch’ and goes, “Oh my god, the boat needs a patch?! Are you sure it’s safe to sail?  We’re not going to sink, are we?”.  I laughed and assured her that, no, the patch would be for her to keep her from getting seasick over the side of the boat, or even worse in the cockpit.  We gave our friends the same grand tour of the boat and they were as equally impressed as Chris and Jack.  Then while giving a run through of what we were doing that afternoon Tyler asked if the marina had beer for sale. He mentioned they were going to stop along the way but since they were running late they skipped it hoping the marina had a general store.  The marina unfortunately did not sell beer, the closest place I knew of was Meijer and that was at least a 10-15 minute drive each way.  Since it would be impossible to make the 26 mile trip to Muskegon without alcohol (we only had about 8 Bud Lights left), Becky and I decided to make the run to the store while the boys got everything ready to go.  We picked up a 24 pk of Bud Light for the guys which she guaranteed me would be gone by the end of the night.  For ourselves we settled on two 6 packs of flavored Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  I know, how girly of us.  On the ride back I asked her if she’d seen Dick DeVos’ (of Amway) new summer cottage on her way in the first time.  She looked at me a little strangely and I told her it was the new 30,000 sq ft house on the lake with a 10,000 sq ft guest house.  Her eyes bulged and she replied, “That was a house?!  I thought it was a hotel!!”.  Ahhh, you gotta love how much money is in this area.

When we arrived back at the marina we bundled all of our goods in our arms and got some strange looks from passer-bys who probably thought we were stocking up for a weekend rager instead of an eight hour sail.  By the time we got to the boat the guys were more than ready to leave.  We handed the drinks and snacks over and practically had to jump aboard before they left us behind.  Within five minutes all the dock lines had been pulled off and we threw the boat in reverse to get on our way.  With never having been in a slip before I’m sure we looked like student drivers with multiple times of backing up and pulling forward until we were sure we wouldn’t come in contact with any solid objects.  There were a few “Oh my god, look out, look out!!” moments, but soon we were clear off the docks and on the way to the channel.  I laughed a little at Matt who was used to steering with a tiller, and now that the directions were backwards (or correct I should say) he kept turning left when he meant to turn right or right when he meant to turn left.  That was until I took a hold of the wheel and did exactly the same thing.  Once out in Lake Michigan we raised the mainsail and set the autopilot.  Which by the way, is one of the best inventions ever for a boat.  I had spent two summers being the helmsman at the tiller because Matt can’t hold a course to save his life.  Five minutes of him at the helm and the sails start luffing because he had fallen so far off the wind.  I soon discovered it was easier for me to stay at the helm than to constantly adjust the sails.  Plus that was something I had never been too great at, so we both just stayed where our strengths were.  Not that this is a good idea, everyone should be competent on working everything on a boat.  But still, the first time I clicked on the autopilot and stepped back to let the boat steer itself was utterly amazing.  I was free to move around the boat.  I could turn my gaze from straight ahead (I always stared straight at my course, one of the reasons I was so good at keeping it) and enjoy the scenery of the shore and the dunes.  I seized my new independence and ran below to get everyone drinks.




We sat around the cockpit and enjoyed the silence that wind-powered movement brings.  That movement however, was little on the slow side.  I warned Matt that if we kept this pace we would arrive in Muskegon well after the sun went down.  It wasn’t an issue of sailing in the dark, we had radar, it was the fact that none of our ropes had been attached to our mooring ball and trying to slide our boathook into the lone ring on the ball was not going to be an easy task, light or dark.  He assured me that our pace was fine and we carried on drinking and talking.  We also spent multiple times bringing Mazzii above and below deck since she couldn’t decide where she wanted to be.  Three hours into the trip we should have been about halfway, just passing Grand Haven.  I stared into the distance and did not see Grand Haven although I could still see a speck the Holland lighthouse be.  I pointed this fact and we grudgingly turned on the engine.  Soon enough Grand Haven came and passed as the sun started to slip below the horizon.  Even though I was a little disappointed we wouldn’t make it to the mooring in the light, I sat back and enjoyed the sunset.  Becky was also disappointed we wouldn’t make it back in the light, but mostly because she was afraid of sailing in the dark.  She kept having visions of us hitting a log sticking out of the water and throwing us out of the boat.  I don’t know where the vision of logs came from, and  it might have just been the Mike’s Hard Lemonade in her talking, but we made sure to give her a good mocking for it anyway (sorry Becky, I love you).

As we got closer to our destination the wind we had been missing all day decided to pick up.  Matt was sitting comfortably in his Columbia jacket with jeans and boat shoes, the rest of us were sitting in the cockpit with jeans, light jackets and no socks or shoes.  We were all freezing and I was trying to pull out anything I had from the cabin to keep us warm.  Lesson learned.  Even though the day highs might be in the 80’s, prepare for it to drop into the 50’s at night.  We even had to put a towel on the dog because her life jacket wasn’t enough to keep her warm.




Finally around 10:30 we came up on the Muskegon lighthouse and started our way through the channel.  Vision wasn’t great through the panels of the dodger since it was original to the boat and a little ‘aged’ we’ll call it, so I stood on the side deck shouting directions to Matt.  We made it safely through and then came the task of catching the 3″ ring on the mooring ball.  Luckily there were two boat hooks on board so Tyler and I each took spots at the front the deck with hooks and flashlights in hand.  The plan was to have me go for it first and if I missed he was right behind me to make an attempt.  I was not very confident in myself, I lack a bit (a lot) of hand-eye coordination.  I was poised and ready as we made our slow pass up to the ball.  I placed my hook down and angled my flashlight.  I expected us to have to make 3-4 passes before one of us finally hooked on and was caught by surprise when I got it on the first attempt.  I probably would have done a happy dance if I didn’t have to keep a firm grip on the hook.  Matt took over and I went on flashlight duty as he dangled over the side attaching the pendant.  Becky who stayed in the cockpit, thankful we didn’t hit any random floating logs began to clean up our mess from the day.  After putting the boat back in some kind of order we all piled in the dinghy to begin our trip home.  Another hour long trip down 31 to retrieve our cars at Eldean’s (what is with all those red lights?!) and another 45 minute drive home we collapsed into bed shortly after midnight.  It had been a long day, but after spending some real time on Serendipity on the water I could not wait to get out and spend the rest of my summer enjoying what I had been waiting all winter and spring for.

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Friday May 28, 2010

‘Slumber Party’

Today was an exciting day for Matt and I as it was going to be our first overnight on the boat.  This was something I did not enjoy on the Hunter, and my heart would sink a little every time Matt suggested a ‘weekend on the boat’ as I always felt cramped and claustrophobic in the cabin.  The Sabre however is a completely different story.  I could not wait to plant my butt on her for a long weekend.  I had the day off of work and Matt was going to be home at 1:00, so it was my job to have everything packed up by the time he got home.  This included 4 days worth of food, clothes, bedding, pillows, cleaning supplies, life jackets, the dog, dog food, dog bedding….and the list goes on.  I had also run to Meijer and Bed Bath & Beyond looking for a specific style of Corelle dishes Matt wanted on the boat.  Needless to say, when he pulled in the driveway I was still stuffing things in bags and throwing them by the door.

Luckily we had everything loaded into both cars within 30 minutes, although we were still left without dishes.  Matt was able to find the set he wanted at Walmart and we decided to stop along the way to pick them up.  Or I should say that he sat in the car while I ran in since he can’t deal with the chaos that is Walmart, and I usually try to avoid it at most costs myself.  With new dishes, and stainless steel silverware!!, in tow we made it to the boat with plenty daylight left to get projects done.  Matt’s mom and step-dad were going to stop by around 6:00 to see the boat for the first time, and we wanted it to look as pristine as possible.  Lots of scrubbing, wiping, and polishing later she was looking in pretty good shape.  When Crystal and Jack arrived there Serendipity was ready for the grand 60 second tour: ‘Ok, come down the stairs, here we have the galley, salon, and navigation station.  If you look behind this door we have the head complete with a sink and toilet paper dispenser.  Behind this door is the aft cabin with a queen size bed and hanging lockers.  And if you follow us to the front here you’ll see the luxurious v-berth master suite fitted with it’s own vanity.’  Just joking though, she’s more than enough space for us and we’re completely in love with her.  Plus we got lots of oooooohs and ahhhhhhs from Chris and Jack, plus ‘Wow, it’s a lot bigger than it looks on the outside’.

So she passed parental approval, and left to ourselves again we got back to yet more chores.  The sails had not been put on yet and we figured they were a pretty important part of sailing us to Muskegon the next day.  From what had been glass on the water was now turning choppy and we wanted to get them attached before the wind became any worse.  The mainsail went on without a problem, but by the time we got to the headsail  winds were picking up to 12-15 knots.  Matt was handling the luff tape while it was my job to hold the part of the sail that hadn’t been attached yet from blowing away.  It wasn’t too hard when most of the sail was on the deck, but the further it was hoisted up the more it wanted to blow in the wind.  And since the only thing keeping it from blowing away was me I was practically laying on the foot of the sail trying not to get slingshotted overboard with it.  In the end Matt was able to tie the lines to the clew before I could go for a swim  and we had it furled and ready to use for the next day.

When the sun set we began our bedtime rituals, and never having done this in a marina before it was a little….different.  Change into your jammies on the boat, then walk to the restrooms to brush your teeth and wash your face (we didn’t have water on the boat yet).  Then you take the dog to the bathroom in a designated 10×12 ft spot right next to the children’s playground where she’d get stage fright and wouldn’t go.  And then back to the boat to set up the bed.  In the Hunter we had always used sleeping bags if sleeping in the v-berth, but this time we wanted to class it up and use real sheets.  I had brought a fitted sheet and top sheet from home and began trying my best to make it work.  And although getting a square sheet on a triangle cushion doesn’t sound too hard (better than the other way around I guess), working in a little space with even littler headroom turned even making the bed into an ordeal.  But I powered through it and when I put the top sheet and pillows on I was quite proud of myself.  Until I realized that night temperatures were still in the 50’s and I had not brought any kind of blanket to go on top of the sheet.  Luckily Matt and I were so tired that with a thin sheet and a towel spread on top of us we were still able to get a decent three or four hours of sleep.

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Thursday May 27, 2010

I tried to prepare myself a little better tonight as we headed out to the boat. Matt’s meal was still on the go, and the clothing of choice was still t-shirts and shorts, but plenty of extra clothes, food, and cleaning supplies were packed in the car with us. Also packed in the car was our greyhound Mazzii (aka Maserati, The Sailing Greyhound, or saildog). She had been out with us a few times on the Hunter, and we thought she’d like to get out of the house and explore the boat a little. Strapped into her West Marine PDF we stuck her in the cockpit while Matt and I pulled out supplies to give the deck a good washing. It was almost embarrassing having Serendipity out there in the filthy condition she was in next to all the larger boats (ok, not RIGHT next to), lots with hired crews to do all the dirty work on call at any time. The amount of money in this place was not what we were used to. I could even go on about how nice the bathrooms are. But back to the subject. We hadn’t had a chance to clean our boat since she went in the water, and dust and dirt were all over her. To get her shining again before the holiday weekend we pulled out the hose, deck cleaner and scrub brushes. I assume this was going to take a lot of elbow grease on my part, which I don’t have a lot of, so it was a nice surprise when a little bit of suds covered the whole bow and just a little bit of work got her gleaming. In no time at all we had a spotless deck and some extra time on our hands.

Matt decided to fiddle around with wiring and electronics to make sure everything was working properly. Since you may know by now that things relating to this are not part of my job description, I was given the manual labor task of polishing the teak with oil. Not one of my favorite projects due to it’s tedious nature, but I was happy just to be doing it in a different setting. With both both Matt and I working in the cabin Mazzii started getting a little lonely in the cockpit. She’d stand with her head in the companionway and start whining, desperate for a little attention. I’d hop up a few steps, give her a kiss on the head, and direct her back to the cockpit cushion (or the sport-a-seats we use as cockpit cushions) she was laying on. She would sit contently for about 10 minutes and the process would repeat itself again.



Since I was able to skip the unpleasant step of cleaning with bleach water first I completed my chore before Matt. Although I’m sure he could have been done any time he wanted, but he likes to tinker around with things so much that he would have been there doing it until 3 am if i let him. I decided to join Mazzii outside with an ice cold beer (I offered her one, she turned it down) and watch as the last bit of color left the sky. It was slightly strange being in such a confined space with so many other boats compared to the mooring we were used to being on. By this time of night most everyone had gone home, but earlier a few of our ‘neighbors’ were at their boats which made getting work completed a lot harder because all they wanted to do is talk to you. I love boat people. Boat people are friendly and caring and would give you the shirt off their back (I’m sure that situation actually happens quite often…..), but when you only have a limited time to complete something it can be frustrating when they won’t shut up. And the worst part is there’s nowhere to run. You politely try to end the conversation, turn your back and get back to work…but some people don’t get the hint and will keep talking. And since they’re only 10 feet away from you there isn’t much you can do except smile and nod and hope you don’t interject anything that will keep the conversation going. This is why Matt and I will always prefer a mooring over a slip. We love talking to people, but we love it even more when we have a decent amount of control over how long it will last.

Right around the time I was finishing my beer Matt was finished tinkering.  We weren’t too worried about having separation anxiety from the boat when we left this time because we knew we’d be back early the next afternoon.  Finishing up the rest of our projects and spending our first night on her before sailing her to our mooring in Muskegon on Saturday.  Ok…..maybe there would be a little separation anxiety.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

‘Maybe I’m Amazed’

Matt and I left for Holland today as soon as he was out of work. Without even stopping to eat I had him change into clothes I had laid out for him and shoved a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a can of Pringles in hi