Black Friday

Friday November 25, 2011

Not that I would ever be one to line up outside of a store at 4 am for Black Friday prices, Matt still had errands for me to run when I expected to be sitting at home all day watching movies in bed and maybe getting a little work done on the dodger.  He had purchased a spinnaker pole to use on the trip and the gentleman he aquired it from was going to be at a marina just up the road from ours today and I would need to go pick it up while he had the unfortunate task of working through the holiday weekend.  For the non sailors out there, a spinnaker pole is a long aluminum pole that many boats use to attach to one end of the spinnaker while the other end attaches to lines on the mast to keep the giant sail in the air.  Since our boat has an asymetrical spinnaker it isn’t necessary (and I may have just given a completely bogus explanation since we’ve never used one) but we thought it would be good to have in days of really light wind.  It would force the spinnaker sail or even our genoa (large head sail) to stay fully open and catch any wind that may hit instead of just flapping in the lack of wind.  The size pole we’re looking for is normally $1500 new and the one we found was in great condition for only $300.

After having a quick lunch with Matt in town I hopped in my car and zipped out to Muskegon.  The place I was heading to was Great Lakes Marina, somewhere I’d driven by 100 times but had never actually been to.  When I pulled in the entrance the big white gates infront of me were closed and locked.  Calling the phone number I had been given for Al, the seller, I reached his wife.  She explained the gates I was currently parked by could not be openedand I’d have to use a different entrance just up the road.  That entrance also had a gate that was locked but could be opened with a passcode.  I was given the code and hung up with Ruth letting her know I’d be around in just a minute.

Realizing there was no place to turn myself around I backed fully into the main road.  Good thing it was the off season or I could have been waiting an hour for an opening.  Pulling into the correct entrance I felt like a country club member as I punched in the code and the gates opened in front of me.  Parking behind Al and Ruth’s truck I jumped out it was much cooler by the water than in Grand Rapids.  As I pulled on a jacket Al wedged himself out from where he had just been working under his boat and after introductions jumped under his boat cover to work on getting the pole for me.  Sliding it blindly through a hole in the cover Ruth and I stood up on tip toe until it was low enough to reach our hands and we gently got it on the ground.  Looking it over it appeared to be in great shape and I handed the money to Ruth while Al strapped it on my roof rack.  I assured him it didn’t need to be too tight as I was only going up the road to drop it off at my own boat, but with wind gusts near the water jumping up near 25 knots he didn’t want to take any chances.  I thanked them again and prepared for my one mile journey up the road.  (After meeting me and finding out I was married Ruth asked if Matt and I were newlyweds.  Do I really look that young?)

Since I had chugged about 30 oz of Coke during my lunch with Matt and my drive to Muskegon my bladder could handle no more and I pulled right up to the restrooms when arriving at Torrensen’s.  Getting back into my car I looked in my rearview mirror to the row our boat is in and saw a black Ford pickup.  Nemesis’ truck.  I wasn’t 100% positive so I decided on using a trick of driving to the mooring balls near the edge of the water, trying to glance down the row to get a closer look of who the vehicle belonged to.  That didn’t help me too much so I took a ‘walk’ down an adjacent dock to get a view of his boat and see if there was work going on there.  I didn’t want to appear as if I was staring or get too close and let him realize I was there, but it definitley looked as if there were people on his boat and a blue tarp was going up.  Since I obviously looked out of place standing on an empty dock at the end of November I quickly made my way out of sight.  Trying to get one more glance I walked through a row of boats but could not get close enough to see his.  My heart was pounding knowing he was there, the last thing I wanted was a confrontation about how dirty he might still think his boat is because of us and not have Matt around to defend me.  I would have no idea what to tell him if he started asking about his boat or how it got cleaned off or what we would do for him if it still wasn’t up to his expectations.

Since I didn’t trust the spinnaker pole to make the 30 mile journey home on the expressway I had no option but to wait out Nemesis until he left.  I figured I’d head down to the lakeshore for a walk.  Pulling into a parking spot I grabbed my mittens and zipped my spring jacket up to my neck.  The waves were rolling in force and the wind was gusting vigorously.  Walking through the sand to the beginning of the boardwalk I could seethe waves crashing over it which ruled out going any more than a quarter of the way down it.  There was one brave soul who was kite surfing in the breakers and I stood to watch him for a few minutes before retreating back to the warmth of my car.  Driving past the marina again the truck was still there and I wondered what else I could do to wast time.  Most normal people would find a hidden parking spot and suft the web on their phone for the next hour but I was still in the dark ages in that area without internet on my phone.  I figured the car could make it a few miles to the main drag of Norton Shores and I could look for entertainment there.  After finding there were no craft stores in which I could buy decent yarn for the two scarves my brother just requested I make for Christmas I settled on a spiced coffee and a Vanity Fair to read while I sat and waited.

My plan at this point was to park in the empty lot across the street from our marina and keep watch until I saw his truck leave.  I would have to be the worst person ever to take on a stake-out as I would in no way be hidden and it would be quite obvious what I was doing.  When I got to my not-so-secluded spot it was only quarter to four in the afternoon, but with the sun already starting to go down it felt like it should be 7:00.  Flipping open my magazine I looked up and did not see any cars let at the marina.  I knew this would happen.  As soon as I spend my money on something to keep myself busy I would no longer need it.  Slowly creeping into the marina I pulled into my row half expecting that Nemesis would be hiding in the shadows ready to pounce out at me.  When I realized I was alone I went about pulling out the ladder and getting the pole ready to drag up.  Climbing onto my boat to unzip the cover I looked over to his boat and saw there was no cover on there.  I could have sworn that when I was on the dock trying to spy I was looking in the right direction and saw a dark blue cover going on his boat.  Was I not even looking at the right boat?  Was he never there at all?

Once I had our spinnaker pole stowed safely under our cover I took another look at his boat.  I could have sworn I had seen him there that day.  sure enough there was a bungee cord running from his mast to the bow preparing for a cover.  Climbing down the ladder I walked around his boat and saw fresh footsteps in the gravel.  Now the question was, why did he have the cover on his boat an hour ago but not when he left?  Was he in the middle of putting it on when he got a closer look at his fiberglass and realized it would need cleaning again?  Or worse.  What if he was fine and dandy, all set to put the cover on and leave it alone for the winter when he saw me show up, notice he was there, and leave right away.  What if it was because of me that he thought there was cause for concern and is going to have th boat inspected?  What if I just completly F’d everything up??!!  I began texting Matt like crazy letting him know what I saw.  He tried comforting me saying that maybe Nemesis forgot tools or necessary parts and would finish the job tomorrow.  One can only hope.

* When the cover finally did go on his boat a few months later it was not blue but tan.  I to this day have no idea if it was him out there that weekend.


Sunday October 23, 2011

I was quite surprised this morning when we left home and I still had full use of my arms.  I was originally thinking that I’d be so sore from Friday that I wouldn’t even be able to brush my hair.  I knew I wouldn’t have Superman strength that day (not that I ever do), but was confident I would get a decent amount of work done.  To help us even more we made a quick stop at Home Depot and picked up some 60 grit sandpaper for our sanders to help push through the layers of paint quicker.  Throwing up the ladder and climing into the cockpit when we got there it looked like a layer of dirt or dust was covering our boat and the boat next to ours.  There was still a little morning dew on the deck as well, so Matt rubbed the surface with his finger and it came right off.  We knew it would need rinsing off (as well as the boat next to ours) but we figured we might as well wait until the end of the day since we were just going to make a mess again.

Ther original plan of the morning ws for Matt to work on the hull of the boat with his larger sander while I was going to try again with the Makita sander lent to us by Jack.  This plan lasted all of five minutes where we still weren’t able to supply both of us with enough power and I was forced to go back to the chisel.  The good thing about working on the keel for me is that there was actually a good spot for me to sit on the cradle while working and I rarely had to lift my arms above my head.  Matt was zooming along with the coarser sandpaper ans were were on the road to having a ton done that day.  And that’s when he pulled up…..Nemisis.

Just as Matt was going to have me walk around the boat while he was sanding to see if the dust was floating anywhere, a black pick-up truck pulled into a spot by our stern and a man got out and walked over to the boat next to ours.  We immediately walked over and Matt apologized for us running our electrical cord through their boat cradle to get to shore power and offered to move it.  We also mentioned that we think some of the dust from our sanding had landed on their boat and we’d be happy to wash it off for him.  Instead of being greeted in return with the friendly boater reply of ‘Wow, thank you so much, that would be really nice’ that we were expecting, we got this instead.  ‘We had this same problem last year when someone next to us with a blue bottom sanded and got dust all over our boat.  It’s not going to come off with soap and water.’  Turns, and walks away.

We looked at eachother in shock with a kind of ‘what do we do now?’ expression while we walked back to our boat.  That day we had been working on the Starboard side of the boat while their’s is to our Port side so luckily we didn’t have to look at Nemisis and his wife while they worked on their boat.  Sanding again was obviously not an option while they were there, at least not with the power sander Matt was using.  Both of us took shelter behind the keel, completely hidden from view of Nemisis and his wife.  We started hand scraping just to be doing something and wondered how long this other couple would be here.  We were desperate to run up the ladder of their boat and show them how easily the dust does actually wipe off but we figured the best course of action was would be to stay where we were and attempt cleaning it after they had left.  It felt agonizingly long but an hour to an hour and a half later we could tell they were packing it up for the day.  By this time Matt had pulled out the palm sander to do work on some of the hard to reach areas on the bottom of the hull.  I saw Nemisis walk up first and tapped Matt on the shoulder.  We both turned around as Nemisis explained that the dust was in fact very bad and he would be contacting the service department at Torrsen’s the next morning to see what chemicals could be used to clean his boat without damaging it.  He said we should expect to be hearing from them (Torrsen’s) soon and again walked away to his truck to leave.

This is where Matt and I differ on our feelings of the situation.  He feels our neighbor has every right to be mad since it was our fault his boat is ‘damaged’.  He also feels that this guy has every right to treat us as inconsiderately as he did because it’s understandable that he’d be upset especially if this was the second year in a row this has happened to him.  Then there’s me.  Although I agree this was our fault and we should be the ones to take care of it, I feel we should be treated better than we were.  We told this guy immediately about his boat as soon as he pulled up that day.  We admitted it was our fault and the next words our of our mouth were ‘We’ll do whatever it takes to fix it’.  Yet still we could not get one Thank you or I appreciate that out of him.

So when they pulled out we raced up our boat to get a closer look at his.  The morning dew was long gone and our finger rubbing did nothing this time around.  Matt started pulling out cleaners and we mixed them in a bowl with water and applied it to his fiberglass with a wet rag.  Nothin’.  We pulled out every cleaning supply on board and it was not getting any closer to coming off.  This sent Matt into a panic.  He imagined that Nemesis’ boat would have to be pulled into the service area to be cleaned and polished professionally.  He started calculating the cost in his head, what our deductible was and what we would have to pay out of our pockets.  He was obviously too scared to keep sanding any further that day so we moved to the next project on the list, putting anti-freeze in the lines.  It took us less than a half hour and we were still left with a little over two hours of daylight.    Since the only project available for us to do that day was sanding and Matt was still in such a panic we decided to go home so he could begin his hours of research on the internet of what takes paint from fiberglass and what the cost of a professional cleaning would be (expensive).  In the end the plan was for me to drive out as soon as the sun was up the next morning and give another attempt to clean it since I couldn’t get away from the explanation that the morning dew wiped it right off as soon as we had gotten there.

Rolling out of bed the next day in the dark I put on grungy clothes and packed nice ones in my car for work.  I made the drive out to Muskegon with a stop at Meijer on the way for some rags and cleaning products.  The first thing I did when I pulled in to the marina was stop into the service center and make them aware of the situation and that I was going to try cleaning it myself since I knew Nemesis would be giving a call there later that day.  The guys in the building were super nice and helpful with information and possible solutions for our problem.  One even said he would walk out with me to take a look at the ‘damage’.  Unlocking the ladder from our cradle he leaned it against the boat and climbed on deck to have a look at the two boats.  After standing up there for a few seconds he glanced down at me and said, ‘What dust?  I don’t see anything on either boat.’.  I explained it was a thin covering that looked like dirt and was on the cockpit and deck.   He verified that he still wasn’t seeing anything and invited me up to take a look.  When I was on our deck everything did in fact appear clean.  There had been rain the previous night and it must have washed everything off.

Upon closer inspection there were still a few small dots on the fiberglass if you looked really close.  The service guy said everything looked good enough to him and stepped down the ladder to go back to work.  That made me feel so much better because even if a call were placed to the marina that day I had someone on the inside to back me up.  Still wanting to make everything as clean and shiny as possible I pulled out my rags and started giving both boats a good wipe down.  When I finished, to me, they looked cleaner than they had before any sanding had even started.  I texted Matt that everything was ok and he didn’t have to keep stressing himself into a heart attack, we’ve lived to fight another day.

Let the Sanding Commence

Friday October 21, 2011

In our attempt to get Serendipity ready for a trip around the world, or at least a few thousand miles down to the Caribbean, we want to give her the best treatment possible.  A boat spa perhaps where everything is updated, polished, cleaned and prettied up.  This includes getting her to a bare bottom so we can start fresh with the paint next year instead of adding layer on top of layer to the old one which is usually what happens.  While some people will do this by hand scraping alone which I can imagine would be torture, we were doing a combination of hand scraping and power sanding.  I had taken a day off work and we figured that between the two of us working two days this week and two days next week we could finish this project and leave the hull bare all winter before applying a fresh coat of sea-worthy paint before it hits the water in spring.

We had two sanders to work with that day, a large 6″ Porter Cable for Matt and a smaller 5″ Makita for me.  Although after getting the tarp down near the bow of the Starboard side, running the extension cords and hooking into the wet/dry vac we turned on our sanders and found there was not enough power for both of us to be working with the power sanders.  Since we both knew Matt could do more damage with a sander than I could he continued to work from the bow back while I picked up one of the hand scraping tools and started just behind him.  I found that it was nearly impossible for me to get down to bare hull using that tool alone, even the few moments I was able to put my full force behind it.  I didn’t want to give up that early in the day and leave Matt with all the work to do alone so I kept scraping off as much as I could going from the dark gray color on top to a bright orange that was below it.

Work was already going a little slower for Matt than he expected, even with the power sander.  He was using 80 grit sandpaper to try and keep as smooth of a finish as possible but it was also making the work go impossibly slow.  It seemed like there were a million layers of paint to get through and the sander was not going from gray to white right away like he expected.  I was hoping that when he got to my area it would be easier and quicker for him since I’d already gotten a few layers in.  Once he did get to a spot I’d been working on he said it did help and that it didn’t take as long to get to bare hull on the area I’d scraped vs the one I hadn’t.  Feeling like I did have a purpose out there I began scraping with a fury just to make sure I was always ahead of him.

After working a good six hours I had scraped nearly 1/3 of the starboard side while Matt had sanded close to 1/4 down to bare hull.  So maybe this won’t be a two weekend project after all.  Hopefully November won’t be too cold and we can get a few Sundays out here to finish it so this project doesn’t run into spring and we can focus on all the other things that need to be done.

Matt’s working hard

And I’m trying to (I actually did get much further through the layers than this)

Finding Jupiter

Saturday October 8, 2011

I’m starting to think that West Michigan is beginning to have a trend in the second weekend of October of gorgeous summer like weather.  Make no mistake though, while I’m thrilled to have it right now I hope to high hell that I’m not around next year for the trilogy.  Relishing the chance to throw on shorts again they were actually a necessity from spending all afternoon in the bedroom completely overheating from the sun blazing through my window.  Also following the warm weather trend this year was not much wind on the water once we got out to the mooring.  Wanting to take advantage of the opportunity of being able to anchor without high winds we brought Serendipity out to the breakers by the pier to spend the night.  After motoring around the shallow waters for 10 minutes and debating between ourselves we finally dropped anchor in a spot we were sure would not drag us into jagged rocks or the pier should the wind pick up and shift.

Matt surprised me by telling later that night we could take the dinghy to shore and hit up Captain Jacks, a bar on the beach, for a few drinks.  Did you hear that?  We are going out for drinks!  We never get to go out for drinks.  That’s an occasion normally reserved for once a month when we’re out with friends, and more and more that’s even being converted to pizza and a 12 pack at a friend’s house to save the money of actually going out.  But tonight I had the option to go wild and possibly even order an imported beer.  Only 1 of course, we’re still on a budget.  Enjoying the balmy evening we grilled cheeseburgers and watched the locals walk the pier.  I asked Matt if he wouldn’t mind taking a detour there after dinner so I could get some good sunset photos.  After cleaning up the plates, changing into long pants just lounging on the boat a little longer we eventually got in the dink to go ashore.  Motoring ourselves in as far as possible and then gunning it before it became too shallow for the engine we glided up to a point where I was able to jump out on dry sand and pull us the rest of the way in.

When we had it towed all the way up on the sand we began to walk the few hundred feet to the beginning of the boardwalk where there were also a lot of other people out that had the same idea we did.  Once on the boardwalk we could also get  good perspective on Serendip and see exactly where she was positioned in the breakers which happened to be smack dab in the middle which was funny because both of us felt that we were way too close to either the rocks of the breakers on one end or the smaller [of the two] lighthouse on the other end.  We had fun taking a leisurely walk and even stopped at some of the giant rocks on the Lake Michigan side so Matt could jump around on them while telling me I couldn’t join because I’d kill myself.  I’m sure that’s not true and I would have only ended up with a broken leg, but I stayed put all the same.  Once we finally reached the lighthouse at the end the sun was dangerously low in the sky and crowds were forming to watch it drown.  Just like everyone else around me I became snap happy with my camera even laying on the cement for some good angles while Matt looked at me like I was crazy.  I have to say though, I think they’re some of the best photos I’ve gotten all year.

Once the sun was down we made our way back down to the dinghy where we’d relax on the boat a little more before going out for drinks.  It wasn’t even 8:00 yet and we didn’t want our night to be over by 9:30.  Being the gentleman that I am I told Matt to hop in the dinghy and get the engine ready while I pushed us off.  Figuring that if I had my jeans rolled up to my knees I could keep them from getting wet but of course the only pair of long pants I had with me for the weekend besides my sweatpants ended up soaked from the knee down.  Getting back on the boat I quickly took them off in hopes that an hour of laying out would get them dry before we left again.  I was not going to make my debeut at Captain Jack’s in sweatpants.  Once I did have my sweats on for lounging on the boat we took our sport-a-seats up to the coachroof (raised part of the deck) to watch the sky turn all shades of orange and yellow and pink before becoming dark.  Just as it was hitting twilight there was a large tanker that began to enter the channel, probably over 400 ft long.  All of the lights on deck were ablaze and we took advantage of our close proximity to it.  Mos of the time we only see them from our mooring and don’t get a close look.  This time we could fully make out the deck and bridge and people onboard.  It was great to see it that close from anchor because I don’t want the next time something that size comes that close to me be in the middle of the night in the open ocean while it’s charging at me at full speed.  When that excitement was done we had new entertainment of a powerboat of what appeared to be drink twenty-somethings  speeding around in the breakers and by the pier.  Their stereo was blasting and they were doing donuts while hooting and hollering at the people on the boardwalk.  Since we were the only other boat out there at that point and they weren’t coming near us and were only in danger of harming themselves I decided not to blow the whistle and call the Coast Guard which was right next to us.

After the drunkies made their way into Lake Michigan and things became quiet again we turned our attention to the stars that were starting to come out.  Even with some of the lights from shore and the boardwalk lighting up the night sky there were a few bright stars standing out.  I picked out a few of the major constellations I knew like Orion and the Big Dipper but there was one very bright star standing alone that neither of us could place.  I remembered Matt’s phone had the app to show constellations of the night sky so I ran below deck to grab it.  Turning it on I brought it up to the sky where it was able to bring up constellations there were hidden to my eye.  The Swan, The Dolphin, and some other creatures that were a real stretch to what they claimed to be.  When I brought the phone up to the bright ball of light in the sky I could see it was not a star at all, but it was a planet.  I had just found Jupiter.  Not that it was being elusive to anyone else in the area but it was interesting to happen upon something that can only be seen every 13 months.

When our star gazing was done I changed back into my still slightly damp jeans, threw on a jacket and flip flops and we headed back to shore for our night of live entertainment (meaning being around people other than ourselves) and drinks.  After beaching the dinghy again and bringing it far up on shore we walked out to the one way street on our way to Captain Jacks.  It looked a little dark and not too busy from the road but since it was October we figured it wouldn’t be as busy as it usually is in the summer.  Getting closer to the door we realized we hadn’t seen a single other person and the building looked dark inside.  Sure enough it was closed for the season.  I was pretty bummed figuring our one chance to go out was not wrecked.  I turned to Matt to see if he was ready to go back to the boat but he asked if I would mind walking to the bar in Harbour Towne.  Excited at the opportunity to still go out that night I said it wouldn’t be a problem at all.  Neither of us knew the right roads to get there since we had only gotten in by water before so we crossed the street and started heading that general direction.

On the other side of the road was a playground with slides and monkey bars that looked like it would be fun to play on but at the moment I was only interesting in getting to the bar.  After making one wrong turn onto a side street we finally found our way and began to walk past the condos that led to Dockers.  When we turned into the parking lot we could see it was packed with people and were happy to know that this place was also not closed up.  The first few people to walk past us were nicely dressed and that didn’t surprise me too much since I had always thought this to be a nicer restaurant even though we had never actually been inside.  Still passing through the parking lot there was another young couple that passed us even more dressed up than the ones before.  I began to wonder if Homecoming dances were this weekend.  Almost when we reached the door there was a family walking out in their finest attire including their two young children.  It was starting to look like there was a wedding reception being held here.  I was hopeful in thinking that there were multiple rooms and the wedding would only be using one of them and not taking up the whole building.  Walking in dressed in jeans, t-shirts and flip flops the hostess stopped us as it was obvious we were not there with the other wedding guests.  She let us know that the restaurant was in fact closed for the season but will open for nights when it’s fully booked like a wedding.  Cheated again!  I was very tempted to jump someone in the parking lot and switch clothes with but there didn’t appear to be anyone in the immediate vicinity the same size as us.

Very discouraged this time we began walking back to the shore as we couldn’t think of any more bars in walking distance.  On the way back past the park we saw it was now empty from some creepy kids that were hanging out in it earlier and I thought a little play time might lift my spirits.  We spent about 30 minutes taking turns on the slide which was actually big and fun enough even for adults.  We raced around the sand and pulled ourselves over bars just like we were 10 years old again.  It was the perfect weather for this kind of activity, in the high 60’s with just a little bit of wind.  We jumped and played and slid until we tired ourselves out.  Wondering what to do with the rest of the night we knew there was one bar that was still open for the season, Bar Johnson, and thought we’d enjoy a drink there before bedtime.  I tell you though, if I get there and find out it’s closed there are going to be words to be had.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, and Matt’s Kinda Snoring

Sunday September 25, 2011

The weather predicted this weekend wasn’t supposed to be great.  In fact it was supposed to be pretty crappy with rain threatening both days.  But with both of us being so stubborn that we would spend every weekend at the boat no matter what (with the exception of my longest friend’s wedding reception that was totally worth it) we packed our bags and my macaroni casserole with thunderstorms looming in the distance.  About 10 miles outside of Muskegon the sky just opened up on us and you could barely see 100 ft in front of the car.  Taking a quick look on the radar on Matt’s phone it appeared to be a short storm with the worst already on top of us.  When we pulled in the marina the rain had let up a bit but we pondered if it was worth going out or if we should turn around and go home.  We figured we were already out there and if worse came to worse we could watch movies and read all weekend, the same thing we’d do at home anyway.  Quickly trying to unload the car we rolled the dinghy down the boat launch and get everything in.  At this point the rain was beginning to come down a little harder again so I pushed us off while Matt worked on getting the engine started.  First pull, nothing.  Second pull, nothing.  I actually had to laugh a little the situation, us stuck out in the pouring rain with all of our belongings in a dinghy that we could not get to start.  It became less funny after five or six more attempts with no results.  Finally it started and we were able to zip soaking wet to the boat.  Stepping into the cabin once on board was difficult because Matt had emptied the aft cabin while replacing fuel lines and put all of the contents into the main cabin.  Stepping over boxes and bags I stripped off my wet clothes and went to grab something dry out of the backpack.  I knew it was going to be cooler that weekend and I had packed a lot of warm clothes that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on.  My sweatpants were ready and waiting to be thrown on, but all my other clothes were at least damp because of the rain getting into the bag.  Tank top it is!  Both of us were so tired when we got there that even though our stomachs were growling and we were starving, we had to climb into bed for a little nap.  We were passed out right away and the rain continued to tap on the hatches.  A few hours later we woke up now absolutely ravenous.

While Matt went back to work on the fuel lines I started to clear of one of the settees for sitting room and threw the casserole in the oven to bake.  There wasn’t much for me to do at this point.  I had planned on keeping my nook and working on blog posts, but I didn’t want to ruin my book by starting it too early in the weekend and then being bored with it by the next day and unfortunately my blog notebook got wet on the dingy ride over and needed to be dried out.  Pulling Chapman’s into my lap I thought I’d read about electronics and see if it made sense after the fifth time reading it.  After a few pages of reading and actually retaining the information the casserole was done I was happy to put the book down.  Dinner was delicious and just what I needed on a cold dreary day like this.  Even though it wasn’t too cold in the cabin we lit the oil lamps to keep things nice and toasty into the night.  We settled into the v-berth with mounds of pillows and blankets to watch a movie for the evening.  Everything was going along fine, it was a perfect Saturday night, and then we both saw a bright flash of light from the saloon.  At first it looked like car headlights passing by, and in the half second it took us to realize there are no cars out here we both realized what it was, flames!  I bounced out of the v-berth as fast as a person possibly could, trying not to get tangled in or rip out the DVD cords from the wall.  Racing into the saloon I imagined our beautiful boat going up in flames and all my dreams being slashed.  My heart was beating out of my chest and this three seconds felt like forever until I found out the big flash of light was the lamp extinguishing itself as the wick ran out.  Phew, crisis adverted.

The next morning we woke up to rain and then some more rain.  We had known going into the weekend that this would be a no-sail day and we would spend all our time in the cabin lounging around.  This time I had remembered to bring everything I needed for pancakes and went to work cooking.  I only had one skillet to cook on, so the sausage links went on first so a little bit of the grease left behind would keep the pancakes from sticking as I did forget to bring the butter.  Ooops.  While cooking I quickly realized how heat does not spread well on this skillet as the center links were getting burned while the ones on the outside were raw.  Some rotating worked on the sausage links but the pancakes were a lot harder.  I ended up keeping all the blackened ones that the work could barely get through so Matt could have the ok ones and continue to think that his wife isn’t terrible at cooking.  Looks like we’ll have to add a new skillet to the ongoing list of things that need to be purchased before we leave.  The food turned out surprisingly better than it looked though.  After we finished and the dishwasher (me) was run, there was still the question of what to do.  I took a seat at the nav station an started working on blog posts but that lasted for a little under an hour before writers block and a little bit of boredom set in.

Grabbing my Nook I made my way to the v-berth where I burrowed under the covers to do some reading.  Matt thought this was a good idea too and joined me.  He made it less than 30 minutes before his eyes started drooping and he decided to nap.  Less than two hours after we had woken up from getting twelve hours of sleep.  I tried to fight it as long as I could, but less than twenty minutes later I was ready to close my eyes too.  At least I can blame my thyroid for being tired all the time.  Besides, Matt’s snoring was making it hard to read.

When we woke up again I checked the radars and saw nothing but red coming our way.  Maybe if the boat had not been in such a state of disarray or it was a little bit warmer I wouldn’t have minded wasting away the afternoon reading and watching movies and generally lounging around below deck, it’s been done before, but I wanted to go home where I could crawl into bed and put on Netflix.  Maybe take a hot shower and raid the fridge.  Since there was a small window in the weather before the really bad stuff came our way we decided to make a break for it and hopefully not go through another dinghy ride in a torrential downpour.  Deciphering what parts of the mess in the cabin had to come home with us we started packing our bags and loading everything onto the dink while there was a clearing in the showers.  Heading back we had a dry ride to shore and soon everything was packed in the car and we were on our way home.  And just as planned we took hot showers and then crawled under the covers of our bed to waste away the evening in front of a glowing TV screen.

Just Over This Hill

Sunday September 19, 2011

I really should bring some kind of clock or alarm to keep in the v-berth because every Sunday morning Matt and I sleep in past ten o’clock since we have no idea what time it is.  And unless someone is coming out to visit us it feels like there is no reason to get out of bed and we stay there even longer.  We finally rolled out at 10:45 without aspiration to do much of anything.  A big pancake breakfast sounded good but we didn’t have any of the fixings (mental note, pick up for next week).  Enjoying the next best thing, cold poptarts, we still didn’t have the urge to get the sails up.  I sat and worked on blogs again for awhile but it wasn’t long before my mind needed a break.  Pulling out my nook I made my way to the v-berth and got comfortable under the sheets while I caught up on my Harry Potter.  Soon Matt was next to me with his Opus, probably reading something that was actually useful.  This also only lasted an hour before we were both ready for naps, a mere three hours after we had woken up.  Something about this boat just instills a bug in you that makes you want to sleep all-day-long.

Once we had slept for another hour and ensured that there was no way we’d be able to then fall asleep at a decent hour that night, we rolled out of bed for the second time that day.  Contemplating what we wanted to do over grilled cheese sandwiches we didn’t know if we should call it a day and head home or sieze this decent fall day  and force ourselves to do something.  I suggested we take the dinghy over to the sand dunes we were on last weekend to do a little more exploring.  Packing up a small backpack with our jackets, a few bottles of water and our camera, we loaded ourselves into the dink and began to slowly motor to the other side of the lake.  We passes all the racers making their way back to the yacht club for celebratory drinks and comrodery.  Feeling like the small fish in a big pond we motored past other sailboats and powerboats passing through the channel and finally ending at the foot of the dunes.  Dragging the dink on shore we started the initial climb which embarrassingly left me a little breathless.  Once we were at the top of that hill I spotted the area I wanted us to hike to, the highest point I could see at the moment, hoping it would give us views of Lake Michigan.

From where we were standing I could see a direct path up and over three more dunes (going up and down each one), or an off the beaten trail path with a flat route over and only up the last hill.  The second route looked to take us back behind a few trees where I was sure a nice sandy path would be running along the whole thing before depositing us at the bottom of the one large dune.  Following the path less taken it brought us out to a paved road, part of the campground attached to the State Park.  I was sure the path I’d seen from the top of the hill had to be around somewhere so as soon as I saw a path of sand inbetween the brush and trees I forced us on it.  Within 20 feet it dead-ended into a forest full of pine needles and sticks.  In our bare feet we tried to avoid this by tip-toeing through parts of open sand to what looked like another trail.  That was also a dead end.  Concluding that we would eventually have to walk through the pine needles and branches I hurried my way though without a problem, but Matt ended up with a small cut between his toes.  Finally back on sand we realized the easiest way to the top of the highest dune would be to go up and over the initial three dunes that the path less taken put us right next to.  All that work to end up right where we started.  One step forward, two steps back I guess.

After a lot of huffing and puffing on my part to get to the top (Matt basically ran up it), the view was well worth the work.  From this point we could see both Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan, as well as the tops of masts making their way through the channel.  Sprawling on the sand to catch my breath we watched boats sail on both lakes as the sun tried to peak through the clouds.  Making our descent we followed a trail along the trees the overlooked a steep ridge into a valley filled with leafy green trees.  It was breathtaking.  We were both surprised at how much the landscape looked like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a place we’ve been visiting every summer (except this one) for views just like this.  It was nice to have this as a back-up sinc I was actually getting a little depressed that I hadn’t had my dune/lakeshore/scenic trail fix this year.  No doubt I still prefer Sleeping Dunes for the vastness of it along with the crystal clear water in Carribean blue shades, but this was definitely not a bad substitute.

Walking back to the dinghy we probably found the easiest way possible where we didn’t have to climb up any more dunes and only went down one, although it did drop us out on shore about 100 yards from the dinghy.  Climbing back in it we checked the fuel and figured as long as we were out we might as well make one more stop.  Matt had told me about another lake adjacent to ours that even had a bar with a dinghy dock.  This was something I had to see.  On the way over the wind began to pick up and waves hitting the front of the dinghy caused a cold spray to keep splashing me.  Ducking down to put our butts on the bottom we continued to motor at a slower pace until we reached the small channel that connected the two lakes.  Once inside it was dead calm, the wind had all but completely died out.  We admired the other boats in the slips, realizing this must be where all the large power yachts were kept because this place was full of them.  There also seemed to be a lot of Michigan/State rivalry here with some docks decked out in blue and maze with others in green and white.

Motoring under a small bridge we came up to the Bear Lake Tavern, and sure enough there was a nice sandy spot for us to put our dinghy on should we want to go in for a pint.  Then the channel opened up to a nice quiet lake with beautiful houses dotting the shores.  Right away we spotted a gorgeous blue house with white trim on the other side of the lake.  We’ve always wanted a blue house and this one was fit with waterfront property and a gazebo.  Had it not been for Matt keeping me out of the water I would have swam over there and asked if they would mind an extra houseguest for the next ten months.

Checking the fuel in the engine we saw it was running low and topped it off with what little we had left on us.  Deciding it would be best to head back now and hopefully not have to break out the paddles we turned around.  On the way out a gentleman and his wife passed us in their dinghy, him propped up on a lawn chair drinking a beer.  Now that was the right idea.  If only we had lawn chairs with us on the 4th of July we would have been all set!  Exiting the channel into Muskegon Lake the wind and waves picked up once more and we were back to sitting with our butts on the floor.  Luckily the paddles did not have to come out and we even had enough fuel to get us to the marina once we were packed and ready to head back home.  Not too bad for a day we were about to spend in bed.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Saturday September 17, 2011

While running my weekly Saturday errands I had to make a trip back to our old neighborhood to pick up an Rx refill I hadn’t yet transferred to a closer location.  Since all my other errand running spots (bank, grocery store, Taco Bell) were also in that area, I was able to spend a few hours in my old life visiting all the spots I used to visit regularly.  It was kind of a weird feeling where everything is the same, but it’s not.  Because if it were you’d go back to your old house when you were finished and wander around the familiar rooms as you did your daily business.  I chose to take a drive by the old house as long as I was out there to see how much had changed.  Creeping down the culdesac (and feeling a little bit like a stalker)  I could see that besides a few small differences it still looked like my house, with the exception of someone else’s car in my garage.  It felt strange not to be pulling in the driveway and unloading my groceries , on my way up to the bedroom to pack an overnight bag for the boat.

Pulling away I was flooded with memories of Matt and I in that house.  Watching movies on the projector while cuddled up on the couch.  Doing loads of laundry and then running them up to the bedroom where all the walls were flooded in sunlight.  And the part I missed most of all was knowing that Mazzii would always be there when I got home to follow me through the house and take up the bed while I was trying to fold laundry on it, often rolling herself on top of the socks.  And here I am in this moment with no house and no dog.  As I was beginning to become emotional and sentimental (and quite sad) I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that there was a purpouse for this.  I may be sacrificing now, but the end goal will be worth it.  We knew we were going to get rid of the house, we knew Mazzii would have been left behind.  We still sacrificed everything we knew we would, but just with quite a long waiting period for the fun stuff to begin.  I think if we had been able to jump right into the trip these changes would have been easier, but with spending a year inbetween our old life and our new one it’s hard to feel the payoff for any of these changes.

At least the boat is still a constant in my life and I always feel better when I’m there.  Since we had a late start to the afternoon we were both ravenous by the time we got there and I started dinner right away.  Although in my attempt to make spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread, I had only brought the meat and garlic bread with me.  After a quick trip to Save-A-Lot on the way (I guess you save a lot by only having one brand choice of each item and not having your items placed in any kind of bag when you leave) we were enjoying a nice meal which left me a ton of dishes to do in the end.  The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful where I worked on blogs for an hour while Matt played around on the internet.  Before popping in a movie to carry us through the rest of the night I pulled out a bottle of Witches Brew I had picked up at the store earlier that day.  It’s a red wine spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and then heated up to just under a boil and served.  It’s perfect for fall days when the air starts to get a little crisp.  Plus it’s made by one of my favorite wineries, Leelanau Cellars.  If you ever get a chance to visit this winery, please do.  It’s located on beautiful Lake Leeland, has delicious wines, and some of the friendliest staff in the world.  And if you’re up that way, also make a stop at Black Star Farms.

Snuggling up on the settee with my steaming glass of Witches Brew and a new blockbuster in the DVD player I thought ‘As long as I have this in my life, the next nine months might not be so bad’.

Just Keep Swimming….Just Keep Swimming

Sunday September 11, 2011

Last night when we got to the marina there was some work that needed to be done on the new dink before we could make it to the boat.  Matt was going to work on getting the wheels attached so it wouldn’t be so much of a pain for us to bring her up and down to the water, even though it was only about 50 feet.  My job was to ink her with her new registration numbers.  We decided against sticky or glued on pieces of fabric in case she was ever stolen from us.  Those would be too easy to rip right off.  So instead she was going to get tatttooed with a sharpie.  I had the stencils in my hand and I was all ready to go.  Unfortunately for Matt, the epoxy he used to fill the initil drill holes the day before (after a previous failed attempt last weekend too) was not fully hard and would have to be redone.  I’m sure I was good entertainment for him while he sat and watched me work for 30 minutes while I colored.

It was still decently early when we climbed aboard Serdendip, but my vigorus workout of keeping my arms at a 45 degree angle had built up quite an appetite and I was ready to eat.  Earlier that day I had gone to my favorite butcher shop by our old house to pick up NY strips again, this time in their famous home seasoning.  Knowing I wanted my steak to come out med-rare while Matt prefers his med-well, I made him throw his on about 10 minutes before mine.  Being the ‘steak-expert’ I now was from spending five months working at Outback, I could judge the temperature by of the steak by poking my finger at it to see how firm it was.  I announced to him that it was pretty close to med-well and he wouldn’t want to leave it on much longer or there would be no pink at all in the center.  Poking a finger at mine I was afraid it would be a little brown on the outer edges and begged Matt to take it off.  Forcing me to leave it on another two minutes he said he coudn’t bear to watch me eat an undercooked steak.  When i was finally able to get it off the grill and onto my plate I cut it open to find it was still purple inside.  Back on the grill it went.  Guess I’ll have to work on my finger poking skills a little.  Matt’s came out medium but agreed it was good enough to eat, and waited the two minutes for me that my steak was cooking and I was convinced it was burning again.

The rest of the night was quiet.  We both remembered to pack our e-readers this time and settled into the settes.  I started out reading something knowledgeable by Dashew and Dashew, but my concentration quickly drained and I was quickly on to the next Harry Potter book in the series.  When 10:30 came around I didn’t care that it was so early.  My eyes were drooping closed and I was ready for bed.  What the hell is going to happen to me when I hit 30?

The next morning we woke up and everything outside the hatch looked a little hazy.  I knew I couldn’t see perfectly without my contacts in, but I didn’t think my eyes were that bad.  Climing out into the cockpit there were blankets of fog covering the water.  It was a very pretty sight, so serene and calm.  But also a little disappointing since my friend Bri was coming out and I wanted it to be a sunny beautiful day she would enjoy.  After hearing about the great times Jared and Jeff had out with us (we’re all mutual friends) I wanted to be able to deliver the same to her.  For an hour or two the sun couldn’t decide what it wanted to do, it would burn up the fog and then new patches would roll in.

So serene

This cycle went on about 5 times and when Bri called in saying she was getting close the sun looked like it was winning the battle.  Waiting at the marina for her car to pull in we started talking to a few fishermen pulling their boat out of the water.  They mentioned they had just come in from the big lake where the fog was incredibly thick  and the temperatures were very low.  Not what I wanted to hear since that’s where we were planning on spending our day, but I figured it was becoming clear on Muskegon Lake it would soon on Lake Michigan too.  Bri pulled into the parking lot a minute later and we were all on our way to the boat.  Deciding to take our chances on Lake Michigan we made our way to the channel where we were still in sunny skies.  About half way though it we went from clear to slightly foggy to ‘I can’t see 50 feet in front of me’ by the time we hit the breakwalls.  Guess the fisherman were right.  We opted to be adventurous and keep going even though we couldn’t see where that was.  Our eyes were peeled as we left the channel figuring if there were any other boats out there, that’s where we’d be most likely to run into them.  After we were clear into open water we were able to let our guard down just a little and somewhat enjoy our day outside.  The temperature did definitley drop and there was tons of moisture (duh) in the air to where you could see the whisps in front of you and inhale the thickness of the air into your lungs.  All of our lifelines and stanchions were beading with condensation.  Even the bottom layer of my hair had become soaking wet.  After spending 30 minutes like this we quickly realized this would not be the most enjoyable way to spend our day and turned around to go back to the small lake where we knew the sun was shining.

Into the fog

Fortunately Matt had the GPS on ensuring we would not end up beached at the State Park.  On our way in we could hear the motor of a nearby power boat but could not see through the thick fog to tell it’s direction.  Then through the air we heard the loud blast of a fog horn and determined the boat was coming at us.  Another loud blast put it on our starboard side although we still had no visual on it.  Being prepared with our fog horn out I gave a loud blast, scaring the crap out of Bri in the process, and hoping it would give the other boat a good bearing of our location.  A few moments later we finally saw it come into sight for a starboard to starboard pass.  Not proper rules of the road, but I was just happy not to have a collision.  Bri and I made our way up to the bow to be on ‘look-out’ in case other boats we may come up on don’t have radar like the last one did.

Matt did manage to get us on a path directly to the channel but by the time the lighthouse was visible we were right on top of it.  Directing him toward the center we called back fishing boat sightings and were soon in the clear again.  I honestly have to say I’m surprised at how smooth the whole thing went considering you couldn’t see 100 ft in front of you and we were still operating without radar.  All of us agreed that we would like to go swimming at some point and since the water near the mooring was not a pristine bathing location we made a beeline for the dunes where all the other boats were hanging out.  Knowing that we might want to make a swim to shore we anchored much closer than last time, but still a few hundred feet away since there was so much other traffic.  Opening a fresh bottle of rum we hung out in the cockpit chatting and watching other boats in the area.  A few of the powerboats had anchored very close and rafted together creating mini parties.  There were a few groups of ‘boat buddies’ around us and we were beginning to get jealous that we did not have one of our own.  Feeling a little silly we would call out “Boat buddy?” to any other sailboats that passed us by, but no one acknowledged us to take us up on our offer.  There was eventually another boat that dropped anchor not too far from us but we thought we’d be polite and leave them alone for the most part.  Although when the guy on that boat started up his grill for lunch we were automatically quizzing him about what he was going to make.  It was a pork tenderloing and sounded so much better than the french bread pizzas I had brought for us to heat up in the oven.  So twenty minutes later when we had enough liquid courage to jump into the chilly water, our neighboring boat offered us some tenderloin as we passed by.  Matt was already almost to shore but Bri and I stopped by for a bite.  They guy handed us each a slice and Bri ate hers while dangling from the swim ladder and I enjoyed mine while treading water.  The food given to us was some of the best pork tenderloin I have ever tasted, juicy and moist, and marinated with a bacon-pepper flavoring.  Ther was no way I could let Matt miss out on this.  Saving half my piece I began the swim to shore holding the tenderloin above my head with one hand.  We had gone about 20 feet and Bri started struggling with the swim a little.  I told her we were still close enough to the boat to go back if she wanted.  She declined and we pushed forward.  Another 30-40 feet and she was struggling still, making gasping noises as she swam.  By this time we were half way, so I encouraged her to keep going forward.  I was starting to think she might need rescue, but that would mean letting go of my food.  With constant praise I kept encouraging her to keep going, ‘just a little bit further!!’.  Coming up on the powerboats anchored just off shore, they started to notice Bri’s troubles as well.  Or it could also be that her gasps started to sound like noises that belonged in the bedroom and was starting to draw a bit of attention to herself.  One very nice (or curious) man tossed a flotation device to help with the last bit and soon we were both to shore.  Bri didn’t drown and my pork didn’t get a drop of water on it!   (For all you that probably think I’m a terrible person, I offered to assist her in and she declined)

Not even letting Bri catch her breath we dragged her to the top of the first dune were we layed on a towel (brought over in a dry bag by Matt) where we had a beautiful view of Muskegon Lake and all the boats out that day.  It looked like a scene from a postcard and I was happily snapping away with the camera.  When everyone was rested up a bit we did some exploring further back into the dunes.  The sand was still warm on our feet and it was one of those days where you fully take in your surroundings and appriciate them because you know it might be eight months before you get to experience it again.  The sky was a brilliant Michigan blue and just popped off the color of the sand.  Finding another tall dune to rest on we sat for awhile just taking it all in.  When we decided it was time to get back to the boat we raced down the dune and took a shortcut through some trees leading us out to the shore.

With Bri being a little apprehensive about getting back in the water we filled the dry bag full of air so it would act as a mini flotation device and let her hang on to make the swim back.  I’m starting to think I shouldn’t make my friends swim to shore anymore for fear of eventually losing one of them.  Might be a good spot  to take enemies though…..  .  All of us were starving by the time we got back onboard and I threw our pathetic little french bread pizzas in the oven.  While we were waiting for them to bake we broke out the dominoes to play in the cockpit.  It wasn’t the easiest thing trying to spread out all our tiles on the  cockpit table which does not offer a lot of space, but someone would always win the game before we ran out of space.  The first win was surprisingly mine, but I was harshly punished after that by ending the next game with about 9 tiles in my hand.  We continued on like this for ahwhile, just enjoying what  was left of the sun and eachothers company.  Annoying what few boating neighbors we had left, we blasted some LMFAO from the speakers and introduced Bri to ‘The Wiggle Song’ which she had never heard before.  As the sun dropped lower and lower in the sky we realized we were the only boat still  anchored.  Although I could have continued to stay out all night we needed to get Bri back for other engagements she had and Matt and I had work the next morning.  I don’t know how many more nice days we’ll have out on the boat this year before temperatures drop and don’t go back up, or how many  more evenings we’ll be able to enjoyably waste in the cockpit, but if this does happen to be the last one it was a great note to go out on.

Whitecaps and White Knuckles

Monday September 5, 2011

Sunday morning we woke up to a tradition we like to call ‘Let’s make at least one day of the holiday weekend (usually Sunday) totally crappy and un-enjoyable’, weather-wise at least’.  Two years ago this resulted with a nice scar above my knee cap from when the tiller on the Hunter had wildly swung across the stern and over my leg.  Someone (um, me) had forgotten to secure it with a bungee cord. This year with the curse we had gone from sunny and 80 with light breezes the day before to 60’s, still sunny, but very windy.  Not that we did have any grand plans for the day, they all involved working on the new dinghy.  Now that we had brought it up on deck we wanted to make sure that all areas were water tight.  This included the area around the drain, and well as the holes we’d be drilling in to attach the wheels from our previous dinghy.  First and foremost we had to drill those holes so they could be epoxied before we could drill them a second time for wheels and screws.  Out came tape measures, straight edges, pens and sharpies.  Surprisingly the movement on deck from the wind wasn’t terrible and didn’t affect our stability.  Wheels were held, lines were drawn, and holes were made.

Ready to get to work

After everything was drawn and drilled came the fun part.  Matt had not informed me that we’d be working with it over the weekend and I had not brought any ‘dirty’ clothes with me, so I tried to assist him while keeping as much distance as possible.  I learned the hard way a few winters ago while we were making our nesting dinghy what happens when epoxy gets on your clothes and I had to say bye bye to one of my favorite fleeces.  Making sure to keep our deck clean above everything else I had gone below to grab a beach towel to put underneath the work to catch any dripping epoxy.  The rest of my job was just doing things like pouring colloidal silica (a kind of thickening powder/dust) to the mix of liquids, or constantly running below deck to dispose of paper towel before it could blow across the deck and ruin the finish.  It ended up being a much quicker project than I expected, and after a thorough cleaning all we could do was wait for it to harden which would take overnight.

Everything’s drilled and filled

She’s so pretty…..and so big!

There wasn’t much else we could do for the rest of the day.  It wasn’t nice enough to want to spend time on deck or in the cockpit so we kept ourselves below, going back and forth from watching movies, reading books, and napping.  Dinner was warmed up hot dog and hamburger that we had swiped the day before and of course more frozen snickers.  Since we already used up the Netflix movies we’d just gotten in I’d started going through our collection of DVDs at home.  Coming up to the end of the book after going ‘meh’ to half the collection I came across a movie that we’ve had for years, is a classic in a lot of people’s eyes, and have gotten a lot of slack over the years for never having watched before, and that was Tommy Boy.  We popped it into the DVD player that night, all snuggled up in bed for the third day in a row, and Matt prematurely belting out a lot of the well known lines.  Maybe it was because I was expecting a lot after all the years of hype or because humor was different in the 90’s than it is now but I didn’t find it as funny as everyone made it out to be.  Kind of a let down in my book.  Sorry to disappoint all of you that have it in your top 5 of all time.  Who knows though, maybe it just takes a few viewings before it starts to grow on you.  I know the same thing happened with me and Anchorman.  And now that I think about it, is probably the Tommy Boy of the 2000’s.

The plan for the next morning was to finish work on the dinghy before my family came out to spend the day with us.  This was after being woken up a few times in the very early morning because of the wind trying to get under it and lift it off the deck even though we though we had it secured.  So after a few times of getting up, rearranging, and trying to go back to sleep we finally got up for good just before 10:00.  Matt had gone above deck to check on the epoxy and when he came back down he said that temperatures must have been too cold through the evening and overnight because the holes were still a little tacky to the touch instead of completely hard as they should have been.  I panicked for a slight second thinking that as soon as it was placed in the water it would start pouring through the holes and we had no way of getting off the boat until it did in fact harden.  Matt assured me that it was still solid enough to keep water out, just not hard enough to be able to finish our intended project.

This gave us an extra hour to clean up before my parents and brother came.  It’s surprising how quickly that space can turn into a disaster.  It doesn’t take much, a pair of pants thrown across the settee, and un-made bed, and a few groceries sitting on the counter for the place to look like a total mess.  The good news is it usually cleans up just as easily.  Since we now had a larger dink to cart everyone around in, I jumped in with Matt to go to shore once my parents called to say they were close.  Again my brother was meeting us out separate but wouldn’t be able to use the excuse of getting lost for coming in much later than everyone else.  Knowing that he was about 20 minutes behind my parents the four of us made the run up to Subway to grab lunch for everyone.  The timing worked out perfect and as soon as we were pulling back into the marina with our food, my brother was just behind us.  Loading everyone into the dink  we brought my family out for their third trip aboard Serendipity.

As we were getting everything loaded our friends Tom and Connie from s/v Andiamo noticed we were out and stopped to talk.  When we were on their boat in July they had gone on about their new RIB and now much they loved it and noticed that we had just gotten one of our own.  While Matt was going over details with them I stocked everything below and dug into my sandwich as soon as I had the green light since I hadn’t eaten anything all day and was starving.  It didn’t take us long to clean our wrappers and go through a bag of chips.  We were ready to unhook our lines and do a little sailing.  Although temperatures had gone up a bit from the previous day to high 60’s there was still a good 20-25 knots blowing across the lake and making it cold enough for everyone but Matt to put on some kind of long sleeves.

Since we didn’t have all day to travel around we decided to stay on the small lake and just ride up and down it a few times.  With winds as strong as they were and not wanting to go through the hassle of uncovering the main we just unfurled the genoa which was more than enough to carry us along that day.  For awhile we had just set the autopilot to start carrying us toward the East (far) end of the lake when my dad decided he’d like a shot at steering.  Disengaging auto we showed him what course to keep and to try not to deviate too far from it so the sails wouldn’t have to be trimmed.  He caught on very quickly and was a pro behind the wheel.

Way to go Dad!!

Even with just the genoa up we were getting a steady 6 knots of speed.  Even my brother, who’s dream it is to own a power boat that he can hit 70 mph in, was surprised at how fast that would feel while on a sailboat.  Headed down to the East side it was a comfortable ride although there would be a wave every now and then which would catch the bow and send a little spray into the cockpit.  After coming about to start our way back to the other end, the wind was hitting us on a close reach and giving the boat a constant heel of about 15 degrees.  I  remember when anything over 10 used to make me uneasy but now 15 is nothing to me.  Matt was completely comfortable with it, and my dad a and brother were wedged into the leeward side enjoying the ride.  Then I look over to see my mom with a white knuckle grasp making sure that she was not going to slide out of her spot and over the railing on the other side.  I had forgotten that she wasn’t much for thrill rides and the heavy winds plus the building waves and spray off the water and now a non fully upright vessel, I had a feeling that she’d enjoy the afternoon much better if we were safely attached to the mooring.  Taking the wheel from Matt I suggested we head back in.

Thinking we could spend the next hour or two slightly out of the wind and enjoying a few cocktails.  Somehow it happened that we went through our last beers while cruising up and down the lake and all that was left on board were two coke zeros.  Not very appetizing.  I suggested we hit up one of the bars on the strip for a quick drink before all of us had to start making our separate ways home.  There had been a place a few miles up the road with a cute outdoor sitting area that I’d always drove past and wanted to check out.  Matt and I hopped in a car with my parents while my brother followed behind.  When the five of us walked in we were a little surprised as the inside was dark and dank and completely different from the sunny yellow exterior.  Luckily directly across the street was another pub that we figured would at least have a decent booth to seat us all in.  Same story when we walked in the door.  Very small with a bar and a few tables.  Not wanting to drive miles to find another place we pushed two small tables together and took a seat while we waited for a server to come by and take our order.  We stayed long enough for two rounds and some delicious onion rings while we enjoyed the five of us being together since it only happens once or twice a year.  In late afternoon when my parents needed to get back to their hotel to start packing and my brother needed to make his way back to the Detroit area we said our goodbyes.

Two years of less than perfect sailing weather while out with my family, but if that means saving it up for one perfect weekend in the Bahamas or Panama or New Zealand when we can all meet up again I think it will be worth it.

Shiny New Dinghy

Saturday September 3, 2011

Where’s the dinghy to this trailer?  It’s on our boat!

One thing that we keep going back in forth with on our trip is what kind of dinghy we want to use.  The discussion has gone back and forth with pros and cons of having a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) which are close to the top of the line for the dinghy world but has issues of being stolen the most, or keeping the wooden nesting dinghy that we made ourselves a few winters ago.  In the end we figured we’d start with the nesting dinghy and after working with that for a few months if we decided we wanted a RIB we’d pick up a used one in Florida where it would be much cheaper than if we were to try and get one here.  Forgetting that Matt spends any free time of his on the internet scouring for deals, I came home after work on the Friday leading into Labor Day weekend to find a shiny new dingy sitting on a trailer in the street.  I was launched into an excited speiel about how much the dinghy and trailer cost, and if we sell the trailer for X amount of dollars and our current inflatable for Y amount of dollars then it’s really only going to cost us Z, which will be a great deal!  Oh, not to mention an even better deal if we sell the nesting dinghy, but I ran out of letters without having to go back to A.

So borrowing Jack’s truck for the night we hitched up the trailer, threw our bags in the bed, and made our way to the boat to start our holiday weekend.  After a stop for dinner and picking up last minute things at Meijer it was pitch black by the time we arrived at the marina.  Not a big deal at all if we were just rolling our normal dingy to the water and motoring out to the boat, but our plans tonight involved backing the trailer into the drop off to get the new dinghy in the water and getting the old one on the trailer to take home the next day.  I was pretty sure it would end with the the truck in the water knowing our luck, but somehow everything went smoothly and without issues.

Since we had gotten there so late and had already eaten there wasn’t much for us to do.  I had rented a movie for us to watch and after rotating the tv to be viewed in the v-berth and shoving all our pillows toward the bow we snuggled in under the covers for a nice relaxing night in our future home.  As usual there’s just something about the boat that always puts us to bed early and as soon as the movie was finished we went through our nightly routine and crashed.

Weather reports for the next day, Saturday, was calling for hot sunny weather for most of the day with a few storms in the morning.  While still lying and bed and sleeping around 8:30 in the morning everything was calm.  Then we felt a few rocks of the boat and the wind started to pick up a little, and all of a sudden out of nowhere the boat was heeled close to 40 degrees which forced Matt to literally roll on top of me as a strong gust came upon us and forced us on our side.  Wondering what the hell was going on both of us jumped out of bed to look out the port side windows facing the lake.  I’ve never seen a squall before in real life, but I’m guessing this had to be one because you couldn’t see 50 feet in front of you because the wind was so thick and blinding.  Thunder and lightning began to break out of the sky as winds whipped higher and higher.  Matt turned on our instumnets and took a look out the companionway to check wind speeds.  A constant 40-45 was blowing at the moment and things looked like they were only going to get worse before getting better.  We turned on the VHF to see if there were any distress calls since we knew this was a popular fishing area for small boats in the morning, and they were probably as surprised by this sudden storm as we were.  There was one message coming through of a little flat bottomed fishing that was taking on a lot of water.  The message kept cutting in and out, but after we heard the Coast Guard reply we heard it was in Grand Haven.  Not that we really would have been able to do much anyway without putting ourselves in harms way.  Matt crawled back in bed after making sure we were secure and would not blow away.  For awhile I stayed pressed against the glass watching the lightnining touch down all around us and split off into tiny little fingers.  I don’t know why I’m so amazed by lightning, but I could always just sit and watch it for hours.  Finally when things started to calm down a little I crawled back into bed and passed out next to Matt.

We woke up for good about two hours later.  Opening the hatches and companionway the view looked completely different than it had just a few hours before.  The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky and temperatures were already spiking close to 80.  Relaxing on deck while enjoying a pop tart breakfast I watched Matt take a reading of the tension of our standing rigging and also of the other people in the mooring field make their way out to their boats for the holiday weekend.  Instead of taking advantage of this beautiful day by going for a sail or just sitting on the deck of the boat we had to head back into town to return the truck to Jack and meet up with my family who was having a Labor Day BBQ.  Making our way back home we showered, dressed, and changed cars while we made our way to my aunt and uncle’s house where my family was waiting, including my parents who had flown in for the weekend.  We spent a great few hours catching up with everyone and eating perfectly grilled souvlaki (or burgers or brats) and enjoying a few glasses of riesling.  We were even lucky enough to score a few leftover hot dogs and burgers on our way out the door.  Yes, no grocery shopping or cooking!!

After our afternoon of socializing it was straight back to the boat for the remainder of the weekend.  By the time we got back in late afternoon it turned into any other Saturday afternoon.  Too late to do anything but lounge.  We had stuffed ourselves on so much food that afternoon that we didn’t even need to make dinner that night.  Our only project for the evening was using a halyard to winch the new dinghy out of the water and get it on the deck of the boat so that the next day Matt could drill in holes to the transom and we’d be able to transfer over the wheels that were on our old dinghy.  In some ways this project went better than I imagined it would since Matt was smart enough to be in charge of winching while I guided the boat over the lifelines and onto the deck.  The only trouble came when I had blocked myself up by the bow pulpit and was slowly getting pushed back over the lifelines.  At least it was a warm enough day where an accidental swim wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world, but I somehow managed to keep my balance and maneuver my way back to safety.

The remainder of the night was spent in bed watching movies in bed again snuggled up under down covers and eating frozen Snickers.  An eventful and uneventful day at the same time.