Hello, Goodbye

Sunday June 24, 2012

Since we’re getting down to the wire for leaving and extra money always helps I spent one of my few remaining Saturday afternoons in the office putting in some overtime (or my normal hourly rate I should say since I had a vacation day this week) to help our kitty up as much as possible.  It was only a half day but still put me out late enough that I was rushing around the house to pack up for the night as I had done none of it in the morning.  I still managed to get everything ready and by the door so that when Matt came in it was only a few minutes before we were on the road.  Loading the dinghy up with what felt like a million things we exited the channel out into Muskegon Lake, scanning the mooring balls near the edge to make sure Serendipity was still there and hand’t dragged away overnight.  Torresen’s had emailed us a new ball to try but we didn’t want to go through the hassle of moving again until the next day.  Looking past all the other boats in the way we saw Serendip secure where we left her.  After getting everything moved from the dinghy to the boat it didn’t take us long to decide that we wanted a change of scenery  and would much rather anchor out somewhere.  I thought it might be fun to make the 10 mile journey north to White Lake but it was already evening and the travel time probably would have put us there after dark.  Debating between the dunes again or the breakers the dunes won out.  While I was making a quick run to shore for Matt’s sunglasses, the first time taking the dinghy out by myself if you can believe it, he was busy attaching our fifty-five pound anchor to make sure we would not be moving at all that night.

When I returned he already had the engine running so I cleated the dinghy by the stern and grabbed the wheel as he released us from the mooring.  Making the short trip to the dunes there were three other sailboats anchored out and since I didn’t know if they were staying the night I wanted to be as far away from them as possible to prevent any could-be collisions during the night.  This left us with a spot in view of the neighboring campground which I wasn’t happy about as I could just imagine all the noise that would be coming from there all night.  It was quiet and peaceful as we pulled up though and once again we anchored without any issue.  I was already getting hungry and ready to dig in to the ribeyes I had brought out for the night.  Since I was the only hungry one on board dinner had to wait and I pulled out one of the Land Sharks Jackie had left me instead.  Getting it comfy in it’s beer coozy I placed it on the drink holder near the wheel while I spread out my sport-a-seat in the cockpit.  Going back to grab my beer I noticed how the yellow can was a nice contrast to the wheel and the dunes behind it and thought Jackie would like a picture, a little thank you to show her how much I’m enjoying her gift.  Stepping below deck I grabbed my camera and when I opened it up there was nothing.  The battery was dead.  How did I not notice that the night before when I was uploading my awesome double rainbow photos?  I could have used Matt’s phone but it was busy pumping out the Adele station on Pandora through our speakers.  Sorry Jackie, your photo will have to wait.  For a little while we sat in the calm water enjoying the music and the feel of swaying iwth the wind once more.  Not that I wasn’t enjoying the relaxation but it only took me 20 minutes to start looking for something to do.  I think all the constant work on her has made me forget how to stop and be still.  I wasn’t looking to jump into a project so I suggested we play one of the multiple travel games we received at Christmas from Matt’s mom. On board was Bananagrams, Battleship and Cranium among others.  Matt chose Battleship right away which I knew he would.

Setting the game up on the cockpit table we each hid our ships on the miniature pegs and started guessing.  My first question of ‘D7’ led to a hit and it didn’t take long to take down his destroyer.  I had even sunk his patrol boat and submarine before he had a hit on me.  It didn’t even take fifteen minutes for me to win the game.  I was ready for another round but all of a sudden he became hungry and just couldn’t challenge me again until he had something in his stomach.  Quite ready for dinner myself I put up no argument and went to grab the steaks from the fridge while he started the grill.  Assuming he had adjusted to a low heat I tossed his ribeye right on, not to come back and check on it for almost ten minutes when I was ready to let mine start cooking.  Well apparently the heat was on high and his was almost already well done.  Laying mine down next to it I let it sit there for a mere five minutes before I pulled them both off and rang the dinner bell.  It actually couldn’t have worked out better because Matt finally had a well done steak while mine was cooked on the outside it was nice and red on the inside.  Joining my delicious steak was a side of sweet corn and a bottle of Ace Pear Cider that I smuggled back from Arizona because they don’t sell it in Grand Rapids (unless specially ordered through one vendor).  It was a perfect meal to finally start the season with.  It’s the same thing we had when launching the boat last year, with the exception of boxed wine instead of beer, and I was looking for an excuse to get to my favorite butcher before we left.  Even though it was only a second year tradition it made me a little sad we wouldn’t be able to do it next year.  Just as we’re starting the season we’ll have to say goodbye to all the things that used to make up our summers.  Trips up to Pentwater or down to Grand Haven.  Bringing family and friends out at our leisure and visiting all our favorite little spots.  I guess I thought that by leaving at the end of July we’d still have most of the summer to do these things but because of getting in the water three weeks after anticipated and still having so much more to do before we leaving including lots of land based family get-togethers we’ll probably have two Sundays to take friends out and the rest will be prepping to leave.  Kind of sad, but I know we have an amazing adventure ahead.  And maybe this will force friends to come visit us en route.

Cleaning up all the dishes after we finished eating I was able to enjoy the seawater pump Matt installed to the galley sink over the winter.  Now instead of trying to conserve the fresh water in our tanks while scrubbing the dishes I could get all the gross gunky stuff off with lake water and only use fresh water to rinse after they were all soaped up.  Makes life so much easier.  After that was taken care of I went back out to the cockpit where we both relaxed in the overcast yet warm weather.  It was a great lazy evening with nothing to do and nowhere to be, something we haven’t had in quiet awhile.  When things started cooling down a little I went below to change into sweats and also came back up with my laptop to get some writing done.  Definitely the best place I’ve been able to do it so far, with the dunes in front of me, Land Shark in hand, and lazy summer melodies playing through the speaker.  I was getting a decent amount done until dusk came upon us and the Mayflies started coming out.  At first it was just one or two flying in front of your face, you’d shoo them away, no big deal.  As it became darker my bright monitor was calling out and a few of them would land on there.  I’d shoo them away again but by the time I caught one near the corner of the screen it had it’s wings all tucked in and looked like it was about to nap so I let it stay.  Just a moment later it looked as if it was giving birth so I called Matt over to look.  As we peered on and watched something continue to slide out we realized it was not giving birth but was in fact molting.  It shouldn’t be a big deal but neither of us had seen this before and watched on with amazement.  When the fly was done shedding it’s skin it flew off leaving it’s shell on my monitor.  Apparently this was the go-ahead for all the other Mayflies in the area and soon one by one they would molt on my laptop and fly off.  I thought it was cool for about five more times after the first one but when they started coming in heavily I was ready to yell at them to stop disposing of their bodies on my screen.  Just as I was getting fed up and ready to head below drops of water began falling down from the sky and we were forced below anyway where we noticed it was definitely late enough to crawl in bed.

The overcast sky the next morning had kept the sun from blinding us through the hatch and allowing us to sleep in.  Following the tradition for first weekend on the water I turned on the stove and started to make pancakes and bacon for breakfast.  I finally remembered non stick spray for the skillet and even though I’m getting better at positioning and rotating the food so it’s evenly cooked we really need a new skillet before we leave.  Doing dishes again after we’d eaten I could see that Matt had disappeared above deck and through the hatch I saw him attaching himself to the mast with ropes.  I knew we’d be working on getting the new radar installed that day but I thought I would be raising him through a harness like we did last year while removing the old one.  Setting the remaining dishes down I joined him on deck to see what he was doing without me and found out that even though I had brought him up and down just fine before he would rather put his life in his own hands and use climbing ascenders to get himself up and down instead.  I felt like I should at least be out there spotting him as he made his ascent, although what would I really be able to do if he fell?, run below him and act as a mattress?  (that was a joke for all you who probably thought I was serious).  He did instead, put me in control of his back-up halyard and to tighten the slack on it as he went up.  Getting to the spreaders and securing himself off he raised the bag containing the new radar and tools.

Since my job was done for the moment I laid back in the cockpit and gazed at him in the sky as he worked and bobbed from side to side from the wakes of the fishing boats passing us by.  The relaxing didn’t last too long as I had to read out instructions on the manual and once he attached the new wires up top I had to try and pull it through to the bottom of the mast.  Running a new wire in an area already cramped with other wires is not an easy task and we had even gone to Home Depot the night before for wire lube but figured the 16 oz bottle was more than we needed for this one task.  Going below deck I started to yank on the wire the new one had been attached to but it wouldn’t move.  Trying to loosen it up a little Matt pulled it back on his end and told me to give it another shot.  Yanking it down only as much as he had pulled it back again I got to a point where it would not move.  Huffing and puffing I yanked and pulled until I was red in the face and completely out of breath.  Trying different angles I crawled into the space between the mast/table and settee but still with no results.  Discouraged,  I had to go break the news to Matt the he’d have to come down and help me.  He didn’t seem surprised at all and I think he knew all along this would happen.  Making a less than graceful descent (maybe somtimes it is easier to go up than down?) he came below deck and mimicked all the moves I had just done with the same results of nuthin’.  Getting innovative he held the wire in one hand and pushed down on the center with his foot with all his might.  This did get the wire moving, but only because it detached from the new one we were trying to bring down.  Back up the mast he goes.

Getting positioned one more time he attached it to a new wire and had it attached much more securely this time.  When I was instructed to pull it  began to move a few inches at a time which was fine by me.  When it was getting closer to coming out the bottom it would get stuck and I’d have to employ the foot trick to get it moving again.  Finally it was out and Matt could come back down.

The rest of the afternoon was mostly work free.  About an hour was spent playing with the bimini.  We’ll be mounting two of our solar panels on top of it and have to do a little refitting as the fabric was having issues lying flat with the new reinforced bars so now we’ll have to do two sets of bars, one for fabric only and one for panals only.  After doing a few measurements and making a few marks we set it all aside to do some people watching of all the other boats now anchoring near us.  Since the sun decided to make a full appearance everyone was flocking to the beach, powerboaters and sailboaters alike.  The powerboaters are good about staying really close to shore but since the sailboats have to anchor in the 30 ft water (it goes from 30ft to 5 ft, nothing in between) we all have to let out a lot of scope and then make sure to stay clear so we don’t swing into each other.  Everyone had been smart about not anchoring too close to another boat, but then we watched this guy come in super close to the boat next to us on their other side.  We were thinking this guy either knew the person he was right on top of or was a complete dick.  After watching for twenty more minutes where both boat owners were in the water cleaning their hulls they swam up to eachother and began talking so it appeared that they actually did know each other.

Since we still had to go back to the mooring field and find the new mooring they had given us and attach ourselves to it I suggested we head back before it got any more crowded and someone anchored on top of us.  Not even 60 seconds after I said this a boat came cruising up on our side and began to drop anchor almost exactly where we were expecting ours was sitting.  We didn’t want to try leaving with him there and cause more issues if our anchors were now tangled so we did the passive aggressive stare-down from our deck until he shortly got the hint and upped his anchor to move to another spot.  Once we knew we could get ours up without issue we went to work before anyone else could come in.  I steered the boat while we went back and forth between forward and neutral until the anchor came out of the water all covered in mud and sand.  I pointed us toward the marina while Matt scrubbed the anchor to keep our boat from becoming even more of a mess than we’ve let her get to right now.

After the mishap of two moorings so far this year already being taken by other boats we had been emailed a new spot that should hold our weight since the pretty little spot we had picked for ourselves was meant to hold a boat 90% lighter than ours.  Our ‘new’ new spot was supposed to be near the one they tried to put us at Friday so we didn’t have any problem locating it.  Once we came up on it though there was the small issue of being right on top of two other moorings with boats on them.  Since we didn’t want our 15,000 lb hull swinging around and smashing into any other nearby boats we wanted a ball with lots and lots of swing room.  It was so tight that we felt better taking our chances on the ball meant to hold a 1,500 lb boat and went back there to hook back onto until they could find a new location for us or move the ball they were trying to assign to us.  As long as there were no storms with strong winds coming we felt comfortable our choice mooring ball wouldn’t drag and even if it did a little bit there was plenty of swing room for us.  Back to the drawing board, but hopefully Serendipity can find a home before it’s time to leave this harbor for good.

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Candy Coated Raindrops

Friday June 22, 2012

When Matt and I woke up this morning on his 30th birthday we walked out of our bedroom and expected to see the whole living room and kitchen decorated with balloons, streamers and signs, just as his mom had done the previous year for his 29th birthday. She must have listened to pleads of ‘I don’t celebrate birthdays, please don’t do anything’ because the area was not adorned with a single balloon. We went through our morning routine getting ready to go to the boat so it was pretty quick with just pulling on a t-shirt and shorts over a swimsuit. Going into the bathroom to brush my teeth I saw there was a note on the counter wishing Matt a happy birthday and that his card was in the bathroom downstairs. I could already tell where this was going, but he was busy sitting on the floor of the living room making sure we had all the necessary componets to bring out the radar and get it installed over the weekend. I mentioned his birthday card was downstairs and he should go get it. Following him down the steps we walked into the basement bathroom to see that there were signs, streamers and about 30 balloons taped all over the small space as well as a card with gift enclosed. He had a good laugh and I personally think he would have been a little disappointed had he not gotten one streamer on his birthday. Walking back upstairs I had my birthday gift waiting for him on the counter and made him open it. Wrapped in Christmas paper (I wrapped it the night before and it was the first thing I came across) were a pair of Sperry Topsider loafers.  Something for him to wear on the trip besides sneakers and sandals since those aren’t his thing anyway.  There was a period of a few years where he wore a pair of Banana Republic loafers to do everything from hiking to mowing the lawn.  I think he was very appreciative of the gift since it’s nothing he would splurge on for himself.

 Packing up the car we headed out to the boat with a quick stop at West Marine to exchange for a smaller pair of shoes (apparently they run large) and food. Before going to the marina we pulled into the offices to see if they had the situation figured out yet of what mooring we would be at. The woman who had been working with Matt on the issue was not in the office at the moment but we were told she would call or email when she got in. When we pulled into the marina the sun was bright in the sky and winds were also gusting at a decent speed. Lugging the big box containing the radar we went over to the slip that had our boat and loaded everything below deck. Neither of us wanted to sit at the slip for very long as we always feel crowded and on display.  After the crew around the docks had gone to lunch and we were sure they wouldn’t see our attempt at a departure the engine was turned on and we began to undo the docklines.  Matt was behind the wheel backing us out and I was at the bow keeping one line around a cleat until we were clear of the docks.  Backing into the area that boats are normally launched into we cleared everything with no problem and were soon making our way into open water.  I did find out though that Matt had actually turned us in the opposite direction that he was originally trying for, it just happened that everything still worked out.  Good thing there will not be a lot of marina’s in our future or if there are hopefully we get a lot more practice moving around in small spaces first.  Once in the lake we didn’t even want to bother checking out the new mooring the marina was trying to put us at but headed straight towards the dunes instead.  Forecasts had been showing for some isolated storms to come through that day but the skies were looking clear.  When we did cross infront of the channel and were able to look out to the big lake there did appear to be some large puffy clouds covered in a pink haze far out on the horizon.  I’m guessing that was the storm that was coming our way but it still looked pretty far off.  Pulling into a spot between two powerboats enjoying the early afternoon we had our new anchor set up and ready to drop.  Matt stood up at the bow with the remote for the windlass  and I followed directions from behind the wheel of neutral and reverse.  The anchor dug into place very easily which was nice because for some reason in my head I remembered anchorings being a stressfull situation.  Maybe racing has just got me much more comfortable of what a boat can do before you’re in real danger.  Plus this time we were not surrounded by the jagged rocks of the breakers and that helps ease one’s mind.

Set in a stationary spot we didn’t feel like doing any real work and I wanted to get a better glace at what looked to be the storm clouds coming in.  Since we had the dinghy towing behind us we jumped in and motored to shore.  Trying to walk up the steep initial dune I didn’t plan on going very fast since lack of treadmill time this summer has left me a little out of shape but as soon as my bare feet hit the burning sand both of us were sprinting up to try and find a spot of shade at the top.  Peering over the dunes to Lake Michigan the clouds were not looming any closer than they had been almost an hour ago when viewing them from the channel.  Practicing my weather forecasting capabilities I predicted they would reach us in four to five hours.  Walking/sprinting up one more dune we found a nice spot in the shade and sat down to relax.  With no cooler and not much shade around us we only relaxed for a few minutes before getting restless and heading back to the dinghy on shore.  Dashing down the sand at top speed we both went right for the water to cool the burning soles of our feet where we spent a little time on a beached log before stepping back in the dinghy and reboarding Serendip.

With the storms still a few hours off and being protected from the wind we pulled the large bag containing the mail sail up on deck so we could attach it to the mast/boom and clear out a little space from the saloon.  Plus sails are good to have for, you know, sailing.  Having watched this multiple times now on Island Dream before every race I felt confident that I knew what I was doing.  Bringing the tack (forward part) of the sail up by the mast I put Matt on winching duties and asked if he was ready for me to start hanking the foot of the sail into the boom.  He replied that no, the head of the sail goes up first and then the foot is attached.  Confused as I was sure I had just watched this multiple times I explained my logic to him but was still denied.  Figuring that Mr. OCD was still more versed in everything sailing than I was I let it go and attach the halyard to the head of the sail and told him to start winching.  It hadn’t even gone ten feet up when he stopped and goes, ‘Wait…no, the foot of the sail does need to go on first’.  Mmmm hmmm.  So the toggles were slid through the boom and it was finally ready to go up the mast.  Other than a small issue of where I had inserted the toggles upsidedown where the battons were (sorry for all the nautical lingo for you non sailors) where the sail had to be lowered and then raised again the process was done pretty quickly and we were putting the sail cover on.  Yes.. one more lump of fabric out of the way.  Celebrating the small victory I sat with some crackers and a pop in the cockpit.  When Matt came back up after changing into his swimsuit I wanted to get my very rare ‘I told you so’ in so I looked at him and asked ‘So how’s that logic of yours working out?’.  Straight faced he looked right back at me and replied ‘How’s that piece of food in your teeth working out?’  Touche.

Because of all the labor that’s been poured into the boat for the past, oh 8 months?, neither of us were in a work oriented state that day and raising the main was enough to call it break time.  I had finally remembered to take the hammock we had purchased years ago for camping out of my car and bring it on the boat.  Wanting to see how it would work out Matt started pulling out yards of line to attach it to the mast and the forestay.  The first attempt left his butt repeatedly bumping into the hatch as he swung back and forth.  The second attempt gave about three inches of clearance but left a little squeak.. squeak.. squeak of the furling as he swayed in the breeze.  Knowing that adding a second person would take away any of the extra space between the hammock and the boat I decided to go for a swim instead.  Teetering over the side of the deck it took a lot of preparation to get ready for my first plunge of the year as it was not incessantly hot and I didn’t have Matt to push me in before I was ready.  After a few false starts I forced myself to take the leap before my mind caught up with my impulse.  The water was refreshingly cool and took a few moments to get use to.  Since we had rushed out of the house in the morning and I didn’t get a chance to clean up I used the opportunity to wash my hair (with eco friendly products), lathering up on deck and jumping back in to rinse.  When I was all clean I let my body just float around with the breezes for a few minutes before getting chilly and climbing back on board to nestle under my towel.  Trading places I took over the hammock while Matt sampled the water.  I don’t know if he was having the same issues I was in the hammock but the wind started forcefully swinging me back and forth at more than the rocking pace I was expecting and that coupled with the vertigo from floating in the water quickly sent me below deck to lie down before I could become even more sick than I was starting to feel.

The black sheep in the cloud family

Matt tackled a few more projects while I napped and only woke me for a few minutes to listen to a song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s playing on Pandora that I had been longing to hear.  Getting another hour of sleep in I woke up still a little groggy and went to the cockpit with a Pepsi to wake up a little more.  Just beginning to stretching out over the dunes were the clouds I had my eyes on earlier in the day.  At first they came over thin and wispy but soon became thicker and darker.  Right on time at just after four hours from I watched them from the top of the dunes.  Realizing we still needed to attach our equipment to whichever new mooring they assigned to us and it would not be fun to do with a storm rolling through we upped the anchor and crossed the lake to the mooring field in search of our new home, number 103.  Not ever paying attention to mooring numbers before except our old one of 35 we didn’t know what side to start on and ended up on the opposite end at 1A.  Strolling past the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s  we stopped even searching and just headed for the very end.  Swinging around from the outside and entering the field our eyes were peeled for numbers that might point out how close to 103 we were.  This area did not seem to follow any order as 99 and 108 were right next to each other.  Looking at all the vacant balls we could not find 103 anywhere.  Then we got smart and started searching ones with boats attached to them and sure enough 103 was already comfortably housing someone.  Knowing the offices were already closed for the night we left a quick voicemail for them to call us as soon as possible but knew we’d just have to pick a random spot for the night.  One of the issues with this is each  mooring ball is weighted down with different items and we needed to make sure we were on one strong enough to hold our 15,000 or so pounds.  Turning back to go to the area we had always been in the past we’d look at open areas and try to remember what size boats had been there or areas that would give us a lot of swing room in case we did end up at one too small for us.  Deliberating between two or three balls we finally landed on one that was closest to the open water of the lake and afforded the most swing room.  Matt boarded the dinghy will all the equipment and I circled around with Serendip until he finished and called me over.  I may have barreled into the spot a little too quickly but soon we were attached and safe enough for the night.

Checking the forecast though, that incoming storm was really closing in and we didn’t want to leave until we knew Serendipity would be safe for the night.  Since we were going to pick up fried chicken on the way home we opted instead to grab it before the storm came and bring it to the boat to eat.  Driving the 4-5 miles from the marina we pulled in to Lee’s Chicken which has amazing chicken and for so cheap.  I was really craving coleslaw and a biscuit so I ended up ordering a meal that came with three pieces of chicken and two sides plus a drink for under $6.  I don’t know why we don’t come here more often.  Getting our meals back to the boat we sat out and ate as a few boats from the yacht club started to pull out into the lake.  Most of them I recognized from Wednesday races and thought maybe there was a race being held that night.  Only around five in total were headed out so my guess was they were just getting practice in or Friday races were not popular at all.  Just after we finished eating I could see a haze on the other side of the lake near the dunes and it looked like the rain was finally coming.  Hanging out down below we let it pass over us.  The storm was quick and not very strong at all.  Once it was apparent the storm was gone I stuck my head out the companionway to see if the racers had come in but instead was treated to the sun poking out of the clouds and a brilliant full spectrum rainbow shining over the water.  I had never seen anything like it before, it was actually so bright that it made my eyes hurt.  Grabbing the camera and calling to Matt that he had to come see this we both stood in the cockpit taking it in.  We could make out the full rainbow from end to end in electric colors that also included blue, indigo and violet.  The lines between the colors were clear and concise and it looked like something that had painted onto the sky instead of nature made.  Neither of us could take our eyes away and continued to stare for ten more minutes until the colors slowly started to blend together.

Staying for just a little longer there was no dragging of the mooring and we felt confident that when we came back the next night our boat would still be there waiting for us.  Even though Matt does’t ‘celebrate’ birthdays I think he got a good one in.  Boats, fried chicken and rainbows sound like an ideal day to me.  Maybe I was trying to celebrate my birthday a few months early?  After all, mine will likely be spent in the Erie canal in a one stop light town.  Could be really fun or could be dismal.  We shall see. In any case I feel I have taken over enough of Matt’s to last until mine.  Did I mention we get to go home to pineapple upsidedown cake?

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Survival of the Solstice

Wednesday June 20, 2012

This was a really exciting week for me to get out racing again, not only because I had missed last week but because one of our blog followers who lives close to the Grand Rapids area was going to come join me.  Jackie was one of the first people to like our Facebook page when I started it this winter and introduced herself stating that she and her husband were looking to go cruising in a few years as well.  We did a lot of corresponding through Facebook and comments on the website, and when she mentioned that racing might be a good thing for her to get into as well I told her she needed to come join me some night.  So after months of talking online we planned to meet up at a McDonalds on the way to Muskegon where we would carpool to the marina and she could finally experience all the fun that I kept bragging about.  When I walked into the restaurant she wasn’t hard to spot (partially because she was the only one in there) and immediately we started talking like we were long time friends just picking back up where we last dropped off.  After ordering a yummy iced coffee, just got hooked on those after visiting AZ, we loaded my car up with the beer she brought and made our way out to Muskegon without having to fight any traffic this time.  Along the way we discussed my trip, her trip, and all the different blogs we follow which turned out to be the exact same ones.  We also found out we listen to the same morning radio station and have a lot of the same interests.  It’s like we were twins separated at birth and finally got to meet for the first time.

Since we were making such good time on the ride there, when I pulled the car into Torresen’s I brought it back to the slip they had put Serendipity in while trying to find a new mooring for us.  We got out for a second to look around and while we didn’t go on deck or below I promised Jackie that I’d have to have her and her husband out sometime for a ride before Matt and I left the next month.  Looking over at the yacht club and realizing we should probably get over there I parked the car and we grabbed our stuff and walked the quarter mile down the road to MYC.  Walking down the dock to Island Dream I had Tom and Shannon waiving at me from on deck as usual and Mike and John were busy moving around getting all of the lines run.  After stepping aboard and introducing Jackie, the first words out of Tom’s mouth were ‘Would you be ok with not racing tonight?’.  Hmmmm…..the one time I bring out a friend specifically for the racing experience and we might not go.  I didn’t know if he meant that we’d just be sitting at the dock all night, but he explained that the winds were pretty high and we were short crewed and maybe a pleasure cruise on Lake Michigan would be better for us that night.  He also hinted that this would give me the opportunity to take the helm or handle some lines since we’d just be out for fun and not keeping a specific course.  I looked at Jackie and we both shook our heads ok.  Besides, it was the official first day of summer and we had two coolers packed with beer.  It was after we agreed to this that we found out the crew was split with half wanting to pleasure cruise and half wanting to race.  Part of me was still hoping that we would race just because winds were so high that it would be really exciting, and I could also show Jackie what a race was like.  While her and I stood on deck trying to stay out of Mike’s way while he still ran lines the census from Tom came back that we would actually be racing that night.  Until a shackel broke which meant we weren’t, and then it was fixed so we were back on again.

I hontestly had no clue what was happening with the on again off again race and it wasn’t until John and Mike were busy uncleating us from the dock that I had any clue on if we were even going to leave or not. Jackie and I sat up on deck with Shannon for a minute until Tom said that because of the high winds and the small crew that he wanted everyone back in the cockpit. We all made our way back and found seats spreading from one side to the other. Many of the other boats were already on the water with their sails raised and would dash back and forth from one end of the lake to the other. Heading out to where the course started we were downwind so the wind coming from behind us didn’t feel too strong but when we turned on a beam reach once we had reached the area of the start the winds were hitting us right on and it felt like they had picked up 20 miles an hour. Mike had the spinnaker all set to run while we were at the dock but with the whitecaps rolling over the water it didn’t look like we’d be using it that night. Turning ourselves into the wind the mainsail was raised and while most of us on board (myself included) were wanting to get the headsail unfurled Tom thought that conditions were too strong to let any of it out, but after Mike and John worked on him a little he agreed to let it out about 1/3 of the way.

Passing by the Torresen’s boat we found our division would be starting first and Shannon was ready with her stopwatch when the first horn blew with our five minute warning. With John being our tactician that night he would tell Tom when to tack and where we wanted to be  per the countdown and it somehow worked out that when the horn blew for the start of our division we were the first ones out of the gate, so to speak. There were no close calls of anyone hitting us that night but I pointed for Jackie to turn around and we watched all the other boats in our division fight for spots and come very close to knocking into eachother. Because many of them were sailing with a main and a head it didnt take too long for others to start passing us by. Without any work assigned on the lines Jackie and I sat aft with Tom near the helm and I would point out to her the things I actually did know were happening. Like when two minutes after the starting horn about three boats that were on our course tacked off into a completely different direction and that the first marker we were headed toward was probably close to a straight line forward from our starting spot and that while we’d all eventually have to tack that direction anyway these boats were doing it early because they most likely didn’t start on a good course or figured they could get better speed going in a different direction. I wasn’t sure if it was right but it sounded smart and I’m pretty sure I actually did impress her as one by one all the boats on our course ultimately changed to that direction as well. Maybe I could even be tactician next time. Although I’m sure all my directions would be ‘Oh, everyone else is tacking? Ok, we should probably tack too.’.

The gusts of wind were blowing on us hard as we made our way upwind and we were probably heeling near 25% most of the time. I looked back at Jackie to make sure she was doing alright and found that Tom had given her a job as photographer. This worked out very well as Tom loved to get action photos of the races but would always get yelled at by John for taking pictures while racing, and it also worked out for me because I left my phone down in my bag below deck and there were not any good moments to run down and go get it.  Finally decent photos of the race I can share from a real camera.  She was just sitting there with a smile on her face, taking pictures with one hand and hanging on for dear life with the other. When it was time to do tacks Mike, John and Shannon would work the lines while Jackie easily slid from one side of the stern to the other and I would try and find the best opening, doding between people and the wheel and usually slipping on some line along the way. Not my most graceful race ever but I always eventually made my way back over to the high side. As we neared the first marker a few of the division 1 boats that started after us had now passed us and were also rounding the mark and throwing up their spinnakers. I was very surprised to see them using their kites in winds that were gusting over 30 knots but I figured these guys were the pros and knew what they were doing. Shortly after we rounded the mark ourselves and didn’t have to do more than just tack we began to watch the destruction unfold of the boats ahead of us. One of the division 1 boats that had been flying their spinnaker had now broached and were having a hard time getting righted. They couldn’t turn themselves in a direction that would bring them upright again and their spinnaker was getting lost underwater. It was like a trainwreck where you couldn’t take your eyes away and of course Tom and I were shouting ‘Jackie, get the camera, get the camera!!’. Luckily these guys do still know what they’re doing at it was only a few moments before they were able to get their spinnaker back on board and were fully upright again.

 

Also on our downwind run we were treated to one of the smaller (but much faster) race boats, a Melges I think, with one of the crew memebers yelling and screaming about how the spinnaker was not raised properly. I think I learned three new curse words while listening to him. Have I mentioned how happy I am to be on a boat with Tom? As we sailed safely and slowily downwind there were a few more moments of other boats having out more sail then they couldhandle. Every strong gust of wind seemed to take at least one more boat down with it, usually just for a moment before they gained control and were back on their way. There was a point where we rounded the second marker to begin heading back up wind and just moments after we had passed it Mike was looking behind to a few division 1 boats that were about to round. I’m guessing they had gotten too close for comfort and one had to quickly veer way to avoid a collision. The boat that did veer must have also had an accidental jibe because as Mike described it, all the guys who were riding the high side were all of a sudden in the water because it very suddenly became the low side.  Probably a second or two later they popped back up and continued racing which fortunately meant that no one fell overboard.  It also didn’t take very long for these two division 1 boats to accelerate right past us as well as most of the other boats in the race.  By the time we had gone around the course once more and were now on our last upwind stretch toward the finish there was absolutely no one behind us.  I think a number of other boats had dropped out due to the strong winds or possible damage to sails, so it felt good just to know that we would finish at all.

While we still had almost half of the last leg to complete the only other boat racing now besides us had crossed the finsh and we wondered if the Torresen’s boat would even wait for us to cross as well before upping anchor and head back in.  I guess sometimes if the last boat is still a long way out they don’t always wait for it before packing it in.  As we tacked back and forth the last few hundred yards that little red boat was still waiting for us and when we passed between it and the marker we got our horn to signify we had completed.  There weren’t a whole lot of cheers on Island Dream but I think everyone was just tired and worn out.  Instead of heading back to the docks as usual we hugged the windward shore where winds weren’t blowing as hard and opened the cooler to enjoy a drink on the water before going back.  I tried to get Jackie to have an official end of the race drink, a Lime-A-Rita, but she said she wasn’t much of a tequila drinker and stuck with the Land Shark she brought although she did at least taste mine and said it was a lot better than she thought it would be.  Tom let me take over the helm and we cruised slowly past the mooring field that should have been housing Serendipity by this time and I didn’t get to show her off as I had wanted.  After performing a pretty nice tack we turned the other direction to mosey in the direction of the setting sun, enjoying that this was the longest day of the year.  I do love Michigan and the fact that the longest day of the year comes with a 9:30 sunset, keeping the sky bright until after 10.  I think that will be one of the things I miss most the further south we head.  Steering Island Dream closer to the yacht club Tom took back over the wheel for docking and parked us in a spot that was getting the last bit of sunlight before it fell behind the trees.  Everyone besides John was in no rush to get home and squeezed in the cockpit for more conversation and beer as Pete stood in the companionway to play bartender.  Tom’s wife Denise also joined us from where she had been watching the last of the race at the yacht club and pulled out the cheese and crackers she had packed for an after race snack.  Much more popular than the ultimate chocolate chip cookies I had brought which became slightly melted after sitting in my car for an afternoon in 90 degree heat.  I picked the cheese and crackers too.

So nice to finally meet Jackie in person!

When everyone finished their second (or first) round Tom announced it was time to take the boat back to the mooring and wanted to know who was coming with and who was staying behind.  Being a big tall guy, Mike backed down saying he didn’t want to overcrowd the dinghy and he’d wait for us at the yacht club.  Shannon and Pete stayed back with him which left me, Tom and Jackie to moor the boat.  Since I’m usually pretty handy with a boat hook having to use one myself all summer anyway I asked where it was so I could be ready at the bow to grab the mooring lines.  After I was told it was in the aft berth I searched through the cushions and sails but did not see the hook.  Being notorious for missing things right in front of my face I had Jackie look as well and when she came up empty handed I took over the wheel so Tom could look as well but with no luck.  He did come up with a hammer though and said he would just lay on deck while using the back to grab the lines.  For some reason I actually felt confident that I could bring us up to the mooring and perfectly slide in allowing Tom to grab the lines.  I knew enough to throw it in neutral early so we didn’t come barreling in at top speed but as we were slowly coming up on the dinghy and mooring ball I lost sight of them and ended up running over the lines instead of just pulling up next to them.  He was still able to grab the lines from the side before they went under the bow and since we came in slow enough we began to drift back a little where he could fully grab the lines and attach them to the cleats on deck.  I think from now on I’ll get my practice in with Matt and Serendipity to actually bring the boat up to the mooring instead of just grabbing the lines so I won’t have these kinds of issues again while driving someone else’s boat.

As Tom prepped the boat to close it up Jackie and I went about loading up the dinghy for the ride back to shore.  Finally and area her and I know how to do well!  I think Tom was actually surprised when he stepped back on deck to find everything neatly stowed away as I’m guessing most of the woman he’s gone sailing with always get on and off at docks and have never even stepped into a dinghy before.  Us two girls had no problem in one and also had no issue bringing up to shore and unloading it.  The big cooler was dropped off in Tom’s car and we wandered into the yard of the yacht club to find Shannon, Mike and Pete still waiting for us.  Since everyone was still in the mood to celebrate the solstice and the fact we were still alive we all headed inside where Tom treated us to MYC’s signature drink which includes rum and gin but I can’t remember what it’s called although I do know it was very tasty.  Jackie and I talked more about our identical interests and how eerily similar we were.  It was also fun playing with Tom trying to get him to believe that we really had only met 4 hours earlier.  There was of course talk about how Jackie would have to come out to race again, next time with her husband Ron in tow, while I would also try and get Matt to make it out for one race.

As the sun had long set by now everyone was starting to say their goodbyes it was mentioned that there would be a two week hiatus due to vacations and holidays.  Which means that I’ll only have two more opportunities to race since the last Wednesday before we push out for good will be just before the Chicago to Mac race which most of the racers will be participating in.  That doesn’t seem like nearly enough.  I’m still very sad and disappointed that I came into such a fun sport so late in my sailing career.  At least I know my ‘life’ on sailboats is just about to begin and that’s something to look forward to.  A lot.

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In at Last…Thank the Almighty, We Are In at Last!

Tuesday June 19, 2012

 

After it seemed like it would never happen but I knew it eventually would, we are finally in the water.  We are still not completely prepped and ready to leave but this is a start.  There’s a small feeling of completion accompanying at least getting ourselves far enough along to be in the water.  Any future projects just won’t seem as daunting as you’re bobbing along in peaceful serenity.  Plus we can get some enjoyment out of it now before my destructive thoughts take over.  There will be sailing and swimming and grilling to keep me sane.

Now comes the bad news of our splashing.  It appears there has been a mix up this year where everyone has been assigned with their moorings.  Our good friends Steve and Cathy on Buen Tiempo who had been our mooring neighbors for years have now been moved a few spots over.  Our faithful mooring ball, lucky number 35, has been given away to someone else and until they can find a new suitable spot for us we are at a slip.  I know a lot of people out there would be giddy with excitement at the thought of a free slip but we try to avoid them with a passion.  We love the seclusion and peacefulness of a mooring.  Being right on top of your neighbors just doesn’t do it for us.

We made a visit out to Muskegon just to make sure Serendipity made it in safe and to relish the sight of her no longer in a cradle.  Since there are still some projects going on with the dodger and bimini they weren’t up yet and Serendip looked so bare without them.  It’s strange how much difference a few yards of fabric can make.  We enjoyed a fast food dinner in the exposed cockpit and took stock of the immediate projects still to be done.  Our visit was short but I didn’t feel cheated on boat time because I’d be out racing the next night and we’d be out three days later to celebrate Matt’s big 3-0 where we might actually get in some (gasp) sailing!

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Sitting on the Sidelines

‘Wednesday June 13, 2012

It is mid June now and our boat is still not in the water.  It’s amazing how quickly it can go from ‘I think we’ll have it in by Memorial Day….ok, maybe one week later….or just one more’.  Not that we won’t be spending every single day for the next few years living on and enjoying the boat, but I was sick of having it on the hard and wanted it in the water now so I gave up my weekly racing time to help finish the last few projects before it can be splashed.  Let it be known though that when I did suggest giving up my precious racing time to Matt I was under the impression that we would be launched that Saturday and enjoy the weekend on the boat in the water.  It was only after I promised this that I found out Torresen’s does not launch on Saturdays (Matt stil had work of his own to do on Friday) and we’d still be in the yard for yet another Sunday to do work.  I may have been able to go back on my word and say that since I had a full Sunday ahead of me again that my assistance would no longer be needed for a few hours on a Wednesday night, but Matt has been working so many long and hard hours to get this ready that I would have felt way too selfish to leave him to do the work alone again.  After picking him up from work we drove out to Muskegon and pulled into the marina just as  all the racers were making their way into the lake to prepare for the start and I could only stay on land and watch them go.

Serendipity was now alone in her row as all other boats had already launched or been moved to another area of the boat yard.  Grabbing my grungy clothes out of the car I looked over to the yacht club and saw Island Dream still sitting in her usual spot and I was tempted to make a run for it only leaving a dust cloud and my regards behind.  Being the dutiful wife though I walked to the restrooms instead to get changed.  When I got back to the car Island Dream was now gone and I looked out to the lake to see the boats begin to gather, some flying downwind with their spinnakers raised.  When I looked over to our boat I was happy to see that Matt had brought down the aft cradle pads and there was plently of room to get in and work.  No more cut and scrapped hands for me today, hopefully.  Getting the Makita out of the backseat I attached it to the extension cord I had just run and went to slide it between the cradle pad and the hull.  Silly me, I didn’t take into consideration that where would have to be enough room to account for the hight of the sander as well which would fit into some spots without a problem but could not squueze into the lower areas where the pad was still within an inch and a half to two inches from the hull.  My delusions of having both sides finished in 30 minutes were gone as I realized that I would have to back to hand sanding for a good portion of it.  Hoping I’d have more luck on the other side I quickly ducked over there and found there was an extra half inch or so of leeway and I worked at different angles getting almost 2/3 of the paint of with the power sander.

When I was left with an area that could only be hand sanded I dreaded what it might do to my hands since they were just starting to heal from Sunday.  Taking another sanding pad that had once belonged to the Makita I folded it in half and instead of using just one hand this time I tried a new method of grabbing each side of the pad and moving it from right to left in a sawing motion.  This actually let me put a lot more force behind it and didn’t require nearly as much work as how I was doing it last time.  Not that it was instantanious but this new way was definitely cutting down on time and on strenght from me.  Within 15-20 minutes that side was completely done and I was able to go back to the other side.  It was looking like I’d have about an hour of sunlight left before it started to go below the trees and I figured if I could have this side sanded by that time I would be in good shape.  The painting would only take me 5-10 minutes so this was really all that needed to be done by me on this trip out.  Going back to my sawing sanding motion I did find the starboard side had a little less room for my hands which made it slightly more difficult but I kept plugging along determined to get it finished.  Off on the lake I could see all the boats racing downwind with their spinnakers up and I kept my eye out for Island Dream.  In the distance I could see their blue, orange and yellow spinnaker and watched them mesmerized while they cruised along as it was much more fun than doing work.  As they were coming to the point to make a turn and lower the spinnaker there was a crane blocking my view so I climbed a few steps up the ladder to be able to see more clearly.   I would have given anything to be out there with them at that moment and not only because sailing on a boat is much more fun than working on one.  Waiting in anticipation I saw Island Dream round the marker and the spinnaker swiflly come down and out of sight as they began to make their way back upwind.  Everything went perfectly and I think a few guys in the boat yard were very curious as to why I was jumping up and down on the ladder with excitement.

 Getting back to my sanding and nearing the end the work did slow down and there were a few areas I was cursing, but just as the sun fell behind the trees I was scraping off the very last bit of VC-17 from our boat.  I triumphantly turned to Matt to show that it was finally complete,  and better yet I had finished it all on my own this time, but I don’t think he was as excited for me as I was.  Ready to get the paint buckets out and finish this job up once and for all he said I could probably hold off on that tonight because the new through-hull he’d be putting in on Friday would need to be painted as well and I may as well do it all at once.  Since the sky was still light we tried to squeeze in one more project of adding our home port to the stern.  We assumed it would be a fairly quick project and it was.  Matt took out the step ladder and positioned the letters on the stern while I stood back to make sure everything looked even and then he scraped them on with my ok.

Loading the car up to go home for the night I was disappointed not to carry on my weekly tradition of racing tonight but I was so so happy to now be 100% completely done with sanding.  Plus after just a little bit of cleaning up this weekend and getting everything on the inside straightened out we’ll finally be ready to get in the water.  So next week when I’m back on Island Dream and we leave the docks to race I can proudly point to Serendipity in the water and say in a Forrest Gump voice ‘That’s my boat…‘.

I may not have any pictures of my own to add for this night, but I will steal some of Tom’s from the race.  Here’s the crew that was out racing while I was gone.  And I found out after I got home from sanding and jumping on Facebook that I missed some real excitement where a strong gust of wind swung the boom over the cockping and knocked Mark right in the head!  Luckily he’s ok but was out of commission for about 15 minutes.  You see what happens when I’m not around to supervise?  All kidding aside, it was fortunate that nothing more serious happened and Mark sounds like he’ll be recovering just fine.

Skipper Tom

Hey…that doesn’t look like work!

Miss these guys!!

That looks just an iiiinsy bit painful!

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Another Lime-a-Rita for Another Job Well Done

Wednesday June 6, 2012

When I walked out the door at of work tonight around 4:30 it was very warm out but the sky was filled with lots of puffy clouds that the sun would poke in and out of, and off in the distance there were a few stormy clouds  you could see rain falling down from.  I was really hoping Muskegon was still clear (as the weather report said it should be) as this was the week I decided to trade in my water repellent jacket for just a regular fleece.  Making the drive west and getting stuck in so much traffic I kept watching the sky to see if those dark clouds matched up to where I was driving.  When the expressway ended into the main drags of Muskegon the direction of the waterfront looked clear although there was still one dark cloud passing overhead which dropped a little rain on me during my drive to the marina.  It quickly passed though and when I reached the road the marina was on it was all sun.  Knowing that I was already running late and all the parking spots near the marina were probably taken I just pulled into Torresen’s and left my car there while I ran down the street to Muskegon Yacht Club.  It was already ten to six and I knew the boat pulled out of the dock at six.  Hurrying down the platform I saw Island Dream was still there and Tom and Shannon were aboard waiving to me as usual.  When I stepped on I saw the familiar face of Mark who raced two weeks ago and then a few new faces once again.  Tom had brought his wife Denise out, as well has his son Michael.  There was also one more new guy for me to meet, another Michael (B), who raced with Tom a lot and I recognized from ph0tos on Facebook.  Everyone sat around talking for a little bit while we waited for the last crew member, Jules, to arrive.  Once we all saw her hot pink Vans walking down the docks we started to get ourselves ready to leave and were gone just a few minutes after she climbed aboard.

Conditions were what I would consider perfect if I was out sailing my own boat, but not ideal for any high speed racing this time around.  Winds were probably hovering around 10 knots and altough the sun had come back out temps were mid 70’s which had me wishing I had a light jacket instead of the fleece I brought which was leaving me chilled without it and too hot with it on.  Looks like this girl has just a few more items to shop for even though I told myself I’m done because I have way more clothes than I’ll ever be able to pack into the few small bags I’ll have alloted.  This night our division was starting second and we did give ourselves plenty of time to get on the water and our sails raised before even the five minute warning had gone off for the first division to start.  There was a little scrambling to find a stopwatch to time ourselves out perfectly for our start and I was being used as a backup with my phone while Mark was also timing with something he found in the cockpit.  After the first group left and we had five minutes until our own start we tacked and jibed a few times with the last one being 60 seconds before the start.  I still can’t get used to how close these boats get to eachother and as the horn for the start of our division went off we actually had to move out of the way from boat that was supposed to give us the right of way but wouldn’t budge.  Apparently we could have called them on it but Tom decided to let it go.

This is not the boat I was referencing above

Again I had no idea what direction we were heading but Shannon and I just hugged the high side while Michael B moved around a little to make sure we’d have the lines set up correctly for after we rounded the first marker and put up the spinnaker to go downwind.  Then he joined us on the high side but would run back to the cockpit to assist with tacks while Shannon and I would help fling the headsail to the other side of the boat, I’d skirt it before sitting back down until the next tack.  Not only were Shannon and I getting into a rythem near the bow but those working the lines in the cockpit appeared to have everything going smoothly as well.  I was a little surptrised to find out Tom’s son Michael didn’t do much sailing, and since he was handling the main would have to have orders like ‘sheet/ease the main’ or ‘let out the traveler….the traveler is the one right infront of you’.  For a beginner though he was doing great and we continued along at a good pace.

I was put on a job other than rail meat this week and just before we turned the marker to go downwind I ran below deck to help the spinnaker raise up through the forward hatch with ease and without getting stuck on anything while Shannon pulled the halyard to raise it near the mast.  With the spinnaker issues we were having the previous week I could just see something going wrong and it all being my fault, but Michael B was up there to help me and let me know which corner was going to start pulling up first.  I traced it back in the vberth to make sure it wasn’t snagged on anything and when they told Shannon to go I began shoving it through the hatch as fast as I could.  It went up without incident and besides waiting just a moment for the wind to catch it perfectly the mission was a success and we were back on our way.  The spinnaker was stationed on our port side and since the wind was starting to lose it’s strength instead of sitting on the high side we were now sitting on the low side, the same side the spinnaker was on, trying to heel it over in that direction and let the sail catch a little more wind.  There were a few jibes performed while on the way to the second marker and each time it would swing gracefully from one side of the boat to the other.  Since there were no high winds and no sail or boom vang mishaps tonight and everyone was in their groove it was almost like a pleasure cruise.  The three of us upfront would dangle our legs off the side and enjoy the view and the beautiful night.  I really should start paying more attention to what’s going on behind me in the cockpit though and to the sails and how they’re adjusted.  It was after all the whole reason I started coming out, but after spending all my days cooped up inside or doing hard labor on my own boat it feels so nice to get outside and just enjoy life.  I’ll pay attention next week, I promise.

After we had been traveling downwind for awhile and I saw the boats in front of us starting to make the sharp turn around maker 2 and lower the spinnakers I made my way below deck again to help bring the spinnaker in and have it stored in a mostly neat fashion until we were ready to use it again that night.  Before we made our turn around the marker the headsail had been unfurled and we were all in position and ready.  Michael stood just above me on deck and as we made the sharp turn ourselves Shannon lowered the sail just enough so that Michael could grab it from under the headsail and set about feeding it to me where I tried to keep it in as neat of a pile as possible.  After we were set on our new course I made my way above deck to sit on the high side to repeat the whole experience again.  Between all the divisions racing there was no one directly next to us, or in front or behind, that we were personally trying to beat.  Although we were racing well Island Dream does best on a beam reach* while a lot of the other boats will try for close hauled upwind or a broad reach or run while downwind so we were on our own little course away from everyone else.  There was one other boat in our division that was taking our wacky course as well  but they always seemed to stay just out of reach.  After two downwind runs and three upwind we crossed the finish line by the sandy dunes while the sun was getting close to disappearing behind their elevation.

This night it did not even take us getting back to the docks before food and drinks were brought out.  I think this is due to having Denise on board and I thank her for it.  The boys pulled out Bud Light Limes from the cooler while us girls enjoyed our dainty little Lime-A-Ritas.  Denise had also brought sliced cheese and Triscuits and while all members of the crew were happily chewing away Tom thought it would be a great time to bring out the camera and get pictures of us trying to smile through cheeks full of food.  Those photos may stay on Island Dream’s Facebook page and not make their way over to the blog.  It was another day of great weather and great friends and Wednesdays are definitely becoming my favorite night of the week.

Ok, here’s just one

Race Results –   Time Elapsed –  1:07:07    Average wind speed –  8 knots   Average Boat Speed –  3.833  knots  Distance –  5.2 miles

*  A beam reach is when the wind is coming directly over the side or middle most (beam) part of your boat.  A close reach is when the wind is coming as close over your bow as possible without going in irons (directly into the wind, a no sail zone).  Broad reach is when the wind is coming over the back quarter of your stern, aroud 4-5 or 7-8 o’clock if you use the bow as 12, and running is when you are directly downwind.

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