Strong Winds and Skidding Dogs

Sunday October 17, 2010

This morning I woke up and there were icicles on my eyelashes keeping my eyes from opening.  Ok, I’m exaggerating there, it really wasn’t that bad of a night.  We came prepared this time with sleeping bags guaranteed to keep you warm down to 20 degrees, plus I was layered in long underwear, sweats, and even a winter hat.  We were worried that Mazzii was going to have trouble during the night, but with her layered in a sweater, coat, and wrapped up in about 3 blankets she seemed to do fine as well. With no immediate reason to jump out of bed we brought her into the v-berth and just lounged for awhile having a lazy Sunday morning.

Of course when we did have to get out of bed and get changed it was that little dance where you hop around trying to get one piece of clothing off and the other one on as fast as possible to prevent any part of your skin from being exposed to the cold air for too long.  Or maybe this is just something I do, because Matt in all his manliness was walking around without a shirt for some time.  We took Mazzii to shore before it got to the point where she would need to pee in the dinghy again.  Once back on the boat we got Serendipity ready for her last sail of the season.  Thinking it might be possible to get out on Lake Michigan we motored down the channel, but as soon as we were nearing the breakwalls we could see waves about 4-6  feet.  Normally not that big of a deal, and our boat has handled much worse, but with the high winds and cold temps we decided to turn around and stay on Muskegon Lake.  Mazzii had to have been happy about the change of venue because even going though the new channel she was so cold that through the mound of blankets she was under her head would just shake and shiver.

 

Please make me warm!!

Ahhhh, sun on my face

Although the winds were still near 20 knots on Muskegon Lake there were barely any whitecaps on the water, so we unfurled the jib to start zigzagging our way across the water.  Heading north past the dunes we were taken off guard when an unexpected gust of wind hit us and threw us from a 5 degree heel to a 25 degree heel in just a few seconds.  Poor Mazzii was on the windward side and the sudden angle put her into a panicked struggle of sliding and skidding trying to stay upright but unfortunately landed on the floor of the cockpit.  With a few more strong gusts coming up on us we decided she might be safest down there and would also be blocked from the wind and we padded the area with her bed and blankets.

There were still a decent amount of boats out considering how late it was in the year.  With me steering behind the wheel we watched the other boats go by, getting a lot of entertainment from a trimaran that could speed from one side of the lake to the other in what seemed like two minutes, most of the time with one hull out of the water.  At one time it was racing a hobie cat, and though it was neck and neck for awhile the trimaran pulled ahead in the end.

While Matt and I were headed back on the last stretch before the mooring, he decided he would also like to race the boat on the same course next to us.  With the other boat on our port side (about 1/4 mile away) and being on a starboard tack, the wind was filling the jib on just the right angle to where I could neither see the boat we were ‘racing’ nor our exact heading.    Since Matt was sitting on the port side and could see under the sail I told him he had to be my eyes, and he would direct me a little bit left or right to obtain the fastest speed.  Of course this perfect position was at a 20 degree heel, which still scares the crap out of me.  Matt loves the thrill of it, but since I’m still learning sailing I’m always afraid we’re going to go all the way over.  And since I’m the helmsman that would need to correct the course, it doesn’t settle my nerves at all that I don’t know exactly what I’m doing.  But once we got to that furthest point of heeling without going any further I was able to calm down a little bit and hold course.  In the end the boat that didn’t even know they were racing us won, and we veered off toward the mooring field without either of us feeling too defeated.

Since Matt was feeling proud of my racing abilities that day he chose to continue the lessons an wanted to teach me how to pick up the mooring from the helmsman point, which is when I normally hand the wheel off to him while I run up to the bow with a boat hook.  Since I’d never been behind the helm at very low speeds or coming up on an object he explained how I would need to throw it in neutral and eventually reverse once we hit the mooring.  Attempt one was a miss with me straying too far from the mooring ball in an effort not to actually run over the thing.  Attempt two was barely closer, but Matt was able to grab the lines and start hauling them on deck.  I wandered up front to start helping, just grabbing at random lines that I assumed needed to be held.  We still don’t know which one of us was lacking in communication for this incident but as I was holding what I thought was every line, Matt asked me if I had the one for the dinghy.  We both looked down at my hands and then at the water to see the dinghy slowly creeping to the back of the boat.  Have it I did not.  At the moment I was half tempted to jump in after it and swim it back to the boat, and even if it were still September I may have, but I thought better of it and raced to get the boat hook instead.  By this time of course it was too far to be reached and would need to be rescued by Serendipity.  Starting up the engine and throwing the lines back in the water I let Matt take the wheel while I stood at the bow with a boat hook, ready to go.  Again, the second time was the charm and I was able to grab the line and held onto it while we went back to pick up the mooring lines.

Part of me was sad as we packed up our things up for the night knowing this is the last time we’d be on the water until next summer.  The other part of me was glad to be spending all of our Saturday nights in a warm bed and have a few Sundays under layers of blankets on the couch watching tv and movies.  It was a really good season on the water and I’m sure I’ll be longing to get back out soon.

I love dinghy rides!

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The Silent Sounds of Lonliness

Sunday October 16, 2010

 

Can I have this as my dinghy?

 

So on a Saturday afternoon in Michigan in mid-October you’d probably be sitting in your house with the heat kicked on and in your comfiest sweats possibly thinking to yourself, ‘Who would be crazy enough to want to spend the weekend (nights included) on a non-heated boat?  Well, we would be those crazy people.  Matt had begged and pleaded with me all week for one more overnight on the boat, even though the initial low temperature for that night would be 31 degrees.  Eventually I agreed because of all the weekends in the summer I had taken him away from it including a birthday weekend for me, a weekend at our friend’s cabin, and two weekends of my brother and his girlfriend coming into town.  Pulling into the Torresen’s lot I could see all the boats that had already been hauled out, but was even more surprised when we motored the dinghy into the mooring field and saw there were only 7 boats left in the water.  Yup, it was going to be a lonely night on the lake for us.

Since Matt had been on the boat the day before and finished installing the windlass, we didn’t have any big projects to occupy our time and chose to work on the one small one we did have.  That was to get our two oil lamps working to put some heat out.  The wicks that had been in there when we bought the boat had just about burned down and needed to be replaced.  Our lamps require 1/2″ wicks and the only place we could find that size was at West Marine costing $5 for only 2 wicks.  Matt had found 5/8″ ones at Ace for only $0.36 each and decided I could cut them down to a proper size.  So that was my project, and after using the worst pair of scissors ever I handed Matt a tattered wick which then took him close to 30 minutes to wind because of all the straggling strings would get caught.  Ugh, the things you do to save a couple of bucks.  Luckily once we got them working it was time for dinner.  For our last big meal on the boat I wanted to do something special and had brought NY strips drenched in a teriyaki glaze from our favorite meat shop.  With those on the grill I pulled out all stops and heated up a can of corn for our side dish.  The steaks were delicious as usual, and luckily for me, although maybe not so much for Mazzii, I was finally given a steak small enough to complete without having to give or throw any of it away.

 

Are you talking to me?

 

The usual after dinner routine proceeded of me washing dishes and Matt taking Mazzii to the bathroom.  With the sun setting so much earlier now it was already dark by the time they returned.  With nothing else to do we turned the settee into it’s queen size bed and scanned through the Netflix instant que before finally settling on a movie neither of us had seen.  A few hours later with a candlelight-esque glow in the background we finished the movie and prepared for yet another 10:30 bedtime on a Saturday night.  I’m starting to realize why most cruisers are over the age of 60, and it’s probably because they’re used to rising and setting with the sun. (I kid!)  I know I’m getting older, but right now my body likes to behave like a teenager’s.  If I had the option my sleep schedule would be from midnight to noon everyday.  None of this 6 am to 10 pm crap.

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A 60% Chance of Golden Showers

Sunday October 10, 2012

Before leaving home yesterday I thought to myself, ‘It’s probably going to be really cold tonight, I should bring an extra blanket or two to keep us warm’, but Matt convinced me that with the sheet, blanket, and sleeping bag that we already had aboard, we would be warm enough.  Wrong!!  Although I had actually overheated once or twice at the beginning of the night when temps were still in the 60’s outside and I was overdressed in a long sleeve shirt, sweatpants and socks, by the early morning hours when it had descent into the low 50’s I was shaking and huddling waiting for the sun to come up.  I can only imagine how cold the poor dog got with only a light coat, half her body hair and no body fat to keep her warm through the night.  After a little whining on her part (it wouldn’t be a morning on the boat without it) we brought her up to the v-berth with us where she could warm up.  As usual, within five minutes she had her gangly limbs spread everywhere, forcing Matt and I to the far corners of the berth.

That didn’t last too long and pretty soon we were up and about.  Matt had taken her back up to the deck to ‘go potty’ but it still seemed that she wasn’t having any of that.  We decided to wait a little longer before taking her to shore, again hoping that if she really had to go bad enough she’d do it on the boat and we could praise her for it.  One more time we waited outside with her for an hour while nothing happened.  We realized we couldn’t do this all day and threw her in the dinghy for a trip in.  During the ride Mazzii was in the back behind the seat with Matt, but with her paws on the inflated side she was acting like she was either going to jump out or into the front with me.  Just as I was telling Matt that he would be the one to go fishing for her if she went overboard he yelled out ‘Oh my god, she’s peeing!!’.  Sure enough I looked down to see a golden shower hitting the bottom of the dinghy.  Matt and I quickly lifted our legs as Mazzii continued to go for literally 30-45 seconds.  I expected the look on her face to be one of shame and fear, same as it has been the few times she’s had accidents in the house, but this was one of pure bliss and relief.  The real joy for me is that the pee was falling directly onto Matt’s sandal which he had not put on for the ride over.  I don’t think he found it as humorous as I did.  Once on land we let Mazzii do her other business and brought the dinghy back to the boat to be doused with buckets and buckets of water.

All this and it was still only 11:30 in the morning.  Again there was no wind to sail on, so Matt decided to run up to Home Depot and buy the drill bits he needed so we could get the windlass close to install.  My job while he was gone was to use a rust removing chemical to rid us of the rust spots near the anchor locker which formed when Matt drilled holes into the anchor shank, but not all the metal scraps had been wiped up.  I hate scrubbing.  Nothing ever gets cleaned from my scrubbing because I don’t have the muscle to back it up.  But I dutifully sat up at the bow while Matt ran errands, trying to get the last bit of rust up.  Needless to say, it will have to be worked on again.  Luckily when he got back he needed that area to install the windlass and I was downgraded to tool fetcher and screwdriver holder.  While working the wind slowly started to pick up enough to where I needed to throw a fleece over just the t-shirt and shorts I had been wearing.  So after all the holes had been drilled and lunch had been consumed, we opted to go for another sail.

Just wanting to stay on Muskegon Lake again we went down the full stretch and back, slowly adding more layers of clothes as the wind topped out around 18 knots.  The only semi-interesting thing to happen was while we were just cruising along lazily and watched the depth go from 35 ft to 12 ft in about 10 seconds.  We knew there were some very shallow areas in this lake where boats have run aground, and decided to do a quick tack to head back in the direction we were coming from.  As soon as Matt spun the boat around I was busy winching in the line for the headsail trying to tighten it.  Again with my lack of strenght, it was taking awhile.  Matt kept hollering for me to hurry up, but  I thought it was only because he likes things done quick or was trying to turn me into a top notch sailor.  But as I looked up I saw we were on a collision course with a boat only a few hundred feet from us and he needed the sail trimmed so he could steer us away from it.  Pulling every ounce of energy I had, I swung the winch handle around as fast as I could and Matt was able to steer us into safety.  That little incident didn’t deter us from sailing the rest of the afternoon, but once we got on  course and turned around again we started to think a warm relaxing evening on the couch sound appealing and headed in for the afternoon.

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It’s a Scorcher

Saturday October 9, 2012

October 9th and it’s 78 degrees in West Michigan.  We always have at least one of these days in October, a surge from the 50’s & 60’s up to the 70’s or possibly even 80, but you never know when it’s going to come (we actually had it on Halloween two years ago).  So I was very happy my first trip on the boat in a month was going to be a warm one.  Matt was able to get out of work just a hair early and we were packed and on the road by 4:00.  Luckily I hadn’t forgotten anything this time so there were no extra stops to Meijer on the way, and we were loaded onto the boat by 5:00.  We had expected to spend our two hours of daylight working on boat projects, but of course, nothing ever exactly goes the way we plan.  The amount of time I needed to work on my project wasn’t a complete fail, but the fact that the fabric I had cut and stitched for the beginnings of a cockpit enclosure being too small for the area we measured was.  And Matt’s evening project of getting the windlass set up in the anchor locker was a fail because he could not find the drill bits needed to get through the fiberglass.  So now at 5:15 we sat around the boat with nothing to do.

The sun was out, the weather was warm, and the wind had just picked up from not a ripple on the water to about 7 or 8 knots.  I suggested to Matt that we spend our extra free time going for a sail and he looked at me almost quizzically as if to say, “You want to spend time on our sailboat sailing?”, but he looked around at all the other boats trying to get one last good weekend in and decided why not?  Unhooking from the mooring we had no real destination in mind.  Normally we’d gun it for the channel about a mile away and cruise up, down, and out into Lake Michigan, but this night we decided to take Serendipity on her first sail of Muskegon Lake.  With the autopilot set in the general northeast direction we sat on the deck with Mazzii as we flew down the lake at an astonishing two or three knots.  For about an hour and a half we glided across the water enjoying the sun setting on the fall foliage, and even witnessed a few near misses of other boats that did not seem to want to get out of each other’s way.

 

 

 

With the sun dipping below the leaves and branches of the trees we pulled back into the mooring with just enough light to grill our burgers.  Dinner was al fresco with Mazzii happily chomping away on her canned gourmet dog food long enough for her to forget we had food she could try and steal from us.  The normal after dinner routine would be for Matt to take Mazzii to shore for a bathroom break while I wash dishes, but lately we’ve been trying to teach her to go on the deck of the boat for when we’re cruising and we won’t be able to go on land every 10-12 hours.  So Matt brought her up to the bow of the boat where he kept repeating ‘go potty’, and she just looked right back at him as if to say ‘ok, take me to land and I’ll go’.  This conversation went on between the two for a good twenty minutes before Matt decided that he would just leave her up there and if she had to go bad enough she would.  Close to an hour later she hadn’t done anything except sit in the cockpit and whine at us because she wanted to come down in the cabin.  He finally decided to take her in once before bed, and I settled into the settee to crochet a blanket I’ve been working on (yes, I’m actually an 80 year old woman).  When they returned we threw Mazzii’s coat on her, fluffed her pillow and hoped she’d be calm for the rest of the night.  The three of us hung out in the salon for the next hour and a half watching episodes of Californication until our eyes were falling shut at 10:30 and we decided to pack it in.  Ahhhh, boat life.  Where you go to bed an hour earlier on Saturday nights than you do in the work week.

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On the Market

Tuesday October 5, 2010

Our house is officially on the market.  Kind of makes things very real now that our lives will be changing in a dramatic way.  We thought long and hard about what would be the best time to start listing our house.  What if we wait too long and we’re ready to go by August but the house hasn’t sold?  Although we’re still going to need a place to live until we leave next August and if it somehow sells right away we have to decide if we want to rent an apartment or house.  Matt’s mom has given us the option to stay at her place if we like, and we might take her up on that offer if we’ve got less than six months and can’t rent anything on a month to month basis.

I’m just glad to be giving ourselves enough time where we won’t have to take the first lowball offer just because of a timeline.  Let it stay on the market until spring.  As long as I never have to mow the lawn again I’ll be a happy girl.  So if you do know someone that wants to take this absolutely wonderful place off our hands just after the spring thaw, you let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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