Strong Winds and Skidding Dogs

Sunday October 17, 2010

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

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

 

Please make me warm!!

Ahhhh, sun on my face

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

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

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

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

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

I love dinghy rides!

The Silent Sounds of Lonliness

Sunday October 16, 2010

 

Can I have this as my dinghy?

 

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

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

 

Are you talking to me?

 

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

A 60% Chance of Golden Showers

Sunday October 10, 2012

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

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

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

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

It’s a Scorcher

Saturday October 9, 2012

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

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

 

 

 

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

On the Market

Tuesday October 5, 2010

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s One Small Step for Man

Sunday August 15, 2010

This is the first time Matt and I had tried sleeping on the port side settee which can be made into a full size bed by adding a cushion and taking off the back rests.  We had wanted to see if it was any larger than the v-berth, but besides having our legs be able to fully extend comfortably I think we lost a bit of width because it felt like we were on top of each other the whole night.  And not only was a lack of space keeping Matt up (we have a king size bed at home to sprawl out on), he had terrible allergies that night that would not allow him any rest.  So when he announced at 6 am that he couldn’t take it anymore and decided he couldn’t take it any more and needed to find a drug store, I gladly rolled over and took up his side of the bed once it was unoccupied.  He also took the overheated and panting saildog with him, and I drifted into a peaceful undisturbed sleep.

Minutes or hours later, Matt joined me back in bed but this time I was too far out to let the lack of space bother me.  I have a feeling I was out for close to an hour when I heard the whimpers of Mazzii coming from the cockpit.  Apparently Matt had sat out there for awhile after he returned from the store and left her up there when he went back to bed.  Normally we ignore her whimpers of boredom or loneliness in the morning because they start way before we get up, but this time I decided to go check on her so Matt could get at least 2 hours of comfortable sleep that night.  It must have been loneliness that was plaguing her because as soon as I joined her in the cockpit she was content to sit and watch the passing boats.  We stayed like this for awhile, Mazzii happy to have company, and me catching the sideways rays of sun through the bimini.  Close to an hour later the lack of a comfortable seat must have set her off again because she was back to whimpering and staring down the companionway.  Again, I tried to let it go for a few minutes, but when she wouldn’t stop I thought it might be best for me to try and take her down (not in the beating sense) instead of  letting her wake up Matt.  I placed her West Marine life jacket on her which is the only way I can attempt to move her anywhere because of the nice handle on the back.  As always, as soon as I go to grab for her she backs up as if she doesn’t want to be touched or moved.  Knowing she probably wanted to be in the cabin more than she wanted to be picked up I grabbed the nylon strap to drag her toward the companionway.  And then came the hardest part: lifting a 60 lb dog with my 110 lb frame.  Normally Matt can just grab her with one hand and easily place her at the top or the bottom of the stairs, but I had to grab her with both hands as I tried to keep my balance while gingerly stepping down the steep entryway.  Never has  the motto “One hand for yourself and one for the ship” been more true for what I should have been doing.  Stepping onto the third and final step my foot came out from under me and the dog and I went crashing down the rest of the way.  Mazzii had only been a foot off the ground and past all the steps, so she landed perfectly.  I however was sitting stunned on the bottom step after slamming my bum and my elbow on the hard teak surfaces.  Needless to say the fall down the stairs was louder than the dog’s continuous whimpering would have been and Matt was up in a flash.

I’m used to falling and bumping into things all the time so I thought I’d just bounce back up, but this fall actually knocked the wind out of me and left me lightheaded.  I took the spot on the settee that had been quickly vacated by Matt.  After bandaging my elbow I announced that I would be fine after I had some time to rest.  This excuse to lie down only afforded me about another hour of lethargy before Matt announced I was well enough to get up and sail.  A completely lazy Sunday, this would not be.  We fired up the engine and cruised out the channel to of course 25 knot winds on Lake Michigan.  Luckily he was still feeling sorry enough for me that as soon as the main sheet was raised I was allowed to sit around and do nothing, just like the gremlin who caused my pain and bruising.  I could try to describe our sail a little more this day, but with the slight seasickness I was getting from the waves combined with my throbbing elbow, my sore bum, and my lack of a good nights sleep, I had my eyes closed and was trying to put myself in la la land for the rest of the afternoon.  While Matt enjoyed the wind and the waves I enjoyed my cushy spot in the cockpit until it was time to call it a night.

Come On In, the Water’s Fine!

Saturday August 14, 2010

Arriving at the boat around 5:30, I quickly hopped in the v-berth and took a nap to cure the bout of insomnia I had the night before.  When I woke up an hour later Matt had just thrown burgers on the grill, so I bumped around the boat in a sleepy haze trying to get all the condiments and sides ready.  Minutes later we were enjoying our deliciously juicy cheeseburgers and chips while Mazzii sniffed around and tried to steal bites from behind my back.  She knew it was her dinnertime too and wanted to get in on the action.  After Matt cleared his plate he went down in the cabin to prepare Mazzii’s food, which consisted of pulling back the tab on a can and dumping the contents into a bowl.  Since we didn’t want to go through the trouble of putting a harness on and dragging her down three steps just so she could eat, we decided to feed her in the cockpit.  Giving the food to her while sitting on the bench was out since it would make a mess on the sport-a-seats we had sprawled out.  Matt decided it would be best to stick her in the narrow slot behind the wheel.  Since Mazzii could not easily walk back there herself with the bench narrowing to 3 or 4 inches, Matt picked her up thinking he’d easily be able to lower her in the area.  Only problem was he forgot that any time she’s lifted in the air her legs go berzerk trying to find the closest thing to get solid footing on.  So after three shots with her legs ending up entwined in the steering wheel, and a few good laughs on our part, I had to hold her legs steady while Matt could safely lower her all the way down.

After dinner was a quick dip in the lake, something we normally never do in Muskegon Lake because by July-August it is normally overrun by algae and I feel like I’d be covered in green slime by the time I got out.  But this year the water was mostly clear, and Matt was already in it, so I couldn’t tell him no.  I also figured it was the only form of cardio I might get in while I was on the boat (although I later found out that treading water for 30 minutes only burns about 90 calories).  While Matt and I were having fun in the water Mazzii kept peering her head over the side and whimpering, probably wondering why we hadn’t asked her to join us.  Although I think at that moment she had forgotten what a body of water was, because after we forced her to try and swim the previous year at a dog friendly location on Lake Michigan she had disowned us by not coming back to our towels and leaving other pet owners to wonder if she was a stray.  Or the time we coaxed her to jump off the transom in the Hunter and she had kicked and flailed and scratched up the dinghy trying to find the fastest way possible out of the water.  Even so, Matt thought she needed another attempt at it.  He strapped her into her life vest and slowly lowered her down the steps of the transom and into the water.  It didn’t take long for her to start huffing and groaning, and Matt pulled her up before she could even be fully submerged.  I guess the battle with her and swimming is still on.

 

Mazzii after  her swim last year

Contemplating jumping in this year

After a few more hours of relaxing on deck it was movie time, and I was excited to try out the microwave we just purchased to make one of my all time favorite snacks, kettle popcorn (or as Matt likes to refer to it ‘That stuff I hate).  Throwing the bag of popcorn in I shut the door and pressed the pre-set popcorn button.  The machine whirred to life as I stood there as excited as a child waiting for guest to arrive at a birthday party.  The microwave lit up for about 15 seconds…..and then dimmed.  Matt and I looked at the amps on our Blue Sky VSM to make sure we had enough power to run it, which we did, but also turned off all but one cabin light to make sure.  The microwave lit up bright again, but after about 20 seconds this time dimmed down to the quite hum it had before.  When the three minutes were up I believe only 6 pieces of popcorn popped.  Matt, determined to get his newest toy working, and me just determined to get my snack, gave it another go.  After four more minutes of whirring and humming I had a bag of 2/3 popped popcorn and decided that was all I needed.  I spent the rest of my night watching ‘The Hangover’ and laughing about one man wolf packs while Matt was undoubtedly on his computer researching amps and watts.  In the end we came to the decision that if I wanted popcorn again it had to be light enough out for the solar panels to be pulling in energy at the same time, or the engine had to be running.  A 6:00 movie time?  I think I can do that.

There’s No Crying in Sailing!

Friday August 6, 2010

I woke up early today with the sun shining, no clouds, and fully expecting to lie on the boat and get a tan.  Although once at the boat I felt the quick drop in temperature as 18 knot winds rolled across the lake, and my fleece was quickly on.  We headed over to Habour Towne Marina just a mile up the shore for us, to do our first emptying of the holding tank.  Matt was quite nervous as this was only his second time docking, so as he carefully steered us through the narrow channel I was on starboard deck ready to throw over fenders, throw dockline, or throw myself against any boat we might collide with.  Luckily the dock was on a straight course with our boat, and besides hitting the attendant in the face with our docklines (it was my first time!!), everything went smoothly and we were out in 15 minutes.

Feeling good about ourselves and Matt’s wonderful docking skills we headed out the channel to Lake Michigan to cruise around for the day.  Winds were still around 15-18 knots out of the northwest, so we had the option to sail west out into the middle of nowhere, or south along the coast.  I remembered that Coast Guard Festival was still going on in Grand Haven about 12 miles south of us, so we set a course for there.  We started out with just the headsail doing a steady 5-6 knot, but when the wind died to 10-13 knots we decided it would be a great time to pull out the spinnaker again.  This required attaching the spinnaker to the hailyard and raising it with the jib still unfurled, then running lines for the spinnaker to the cockpit while furling the jib.  At least that’s how I think it went, and the confusion on my behalf probably caused the following argument between Matt and I where I wasn’t pulling the right lines at the right time, or when my lack of strenght made it appear that nothing was happening on Matt’s end (and yes, I was using a winch).  So after a few frustrating minutes with the lack of communication and lack of my muscles I did something which I have not done in over 2 years, and that was to start crying.  I felt so embarrassed at my girly response to a tough situation, but through my tears and hiccups while winching and Matt’s calmer instructions, we were able to get the spinnaker up and the jib neatly furled.

We were now racing forward at 7-8 knots, which is the fastest we’d gotten our boat to yet.  Matt went below to check on Mazzii, who we stowed in the cabin just before the jib/spinnaker situation because she kept sliding around the cockpit in the choppy 4-5 ft waves.  Standing in the companionway he asked me to look at the cushion below because he thought she peed on it during the commotion of sloshing back and forth.  Expecting a little dribble at most, I was surprised to see a wet spot half the size of her.  Not only that, it had soaked through all 4 inches of the cushion and onto the wood.  We weren’t really sure how to go about cleaning it since all of our cleaning supplies were boat related.  Taking it into the cockpit we doused it with buckets of water, promising to bring a sanitizer on our next trip out.

The good news is that after we had a moment to sit and relax we noticed the Grand Haven Lighthouse had come into view.  This was our fastest journey there by far (ok, so we had only done it once before), and I was just excited to get out of these waves that kept trying to put my boat at a 25 degree heel.  Throwing the engine on and pulling down the spinnaker, Serendipity bobbed through the opening of the channel and into the land of the beautiful people.  Or tanned, fit, and barely clothed teens and twenty-somethings as they’re otherwise known.  There were people over-running the boardwalk, and powerboats and jet skis crowding the channel.  We managed to make it half way down when we noticed about 10 boats anchored in the center and no good way around them unless you were in a 15 ft powerboat.  So after all the hassle we’d been through, we had to turn back and head home just after we arrived.  But at least we can say we went.  Maybe next year we’ll be able to stay.

 

The Canadian Coast Guard boat

Focused on the wrong part, but you can see all the boats anchored in the channel

Spinnaker UP

Sunday August 1, 2010

I know this is not a typical sailor’s dream, but today I got what I have been wishing for all summer.  It may have taken over 2 months, but it is finally here.  A sunny day with winds under 10 knots.  Well my wish was for under 10 knots, what was actually delivered was under 5.  Why has this been my wish you ask?  Because I have gone through the whole summer so far without one good day to lie on deck and soak up some sun without a strong wind hurtling at me and forcing me behind the dodger or to put a fleece on.  2 months into summer and I’m still pasty white.  Not that I’m an advocate for frying your skin in the sun for a good tan, I am very skin conscience, but I just wanted one (or ten) good day/s to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.  And not just a ‘the temperature outside is nice and comfortable’, but an actual feel the heat baking into my skin kind of day.  Complete with SPF 50 of course.

 

 

 

We made our way to Lake Michigan as there seems to be a strange phenomenon where if there is not any wind on Muskegon Lake you can find a little on Lake Michigan or vice versa.  Today it was close to the same on both lakes, and we’ll always take Lake Michigan over Muskegon Lake for it’s vastness.  Less chance of hitting something while you’re not paying attention. (kidding!!)  For a little while we had just the genoa which was not giving us much at all.  If we had a whisker pole things may have been a little different, but with the 3-4 knots of wind blowing over us it would not stay full.  We thought it would be the perfect time to pull out the spinnaker since this was the first time conditions were light enough to allow for it.  I’m glad Matt is such an internet nerd because he knew exactly how to raise that thing while I just stood around to hold this and hold that, and run this line here.  Then I held the spinnaker chute to help feed it through as Matt winched from the cockpit.  Within a few minutes it was fully raised and it looked beautiful.  It quickly filled with wind and we more than doubled the speed we were getting with the genoa alone.

 

 

Spinnaker up!!

 

With a little (and it still was fairly little) bit of speed going we set the autopilot and just sat back to relax.  Since there was still waaay to much alcohol left from our trip to Milwaukee I pulled out a premixed margarita and poured it into a coffee cup.  Moving my sport-a-seat onto the deck I just relaxed for a long time with the sun on my face.  When thing would get to warm I’d move back under the shade of the bimini and crack open The New Complete Sailing Manual and brush up on my very basic skills.  Matt’s a little worried about me learning everything I need to before we leave.  I’m a little worried too.  Which now that I think about it, our departure date is exactly one year from today.  Monday August 1st 2011.  Yeah….let me dig my nose into that book a little deeper.

Winds were still pretty light at about six knots, but with just the spinnaker up we were doing almost three knots.  In the summer heat we wanted to take a little dip in the water to cool off, but neither of us wanted to take the spinnaker down just to stop us for 20 minutes.  Instead we decided that swimming wasn’t really necessary, just getting in the water was.  I’m sure we could have doused each other with buckets of water on deck, but that may have led to cleaning.  So we lowered the ladder off the back and took turns dragging along the back while trying not to let go.  We had a long rope attached just in case, and it was surprising to see what under three knots of speed could create for drag.  It was cool and refreshing and all that we needed at the moment.  This did of course result in more sunning on the deck where Mazzii joined us as well.  Greyhounds are real sunbathers, and although this wasn’t the lush grass she was used to at home I don’t think she minded too much.

 

Do I look white to you guys?  I feel so pale.

The whole day was lazy and it was wonderful.

Meet the Parents

Friday July 30, 2010

Although my parents had both been born and raised in West Michigan, they have been doing a lot of traveling the past few years for my dad’s work.  Back in 2005 they were moved to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam where he was in charge of a new factory his company just built.  It was on a visit to see them in 2007 that Matt and I had fallen in love with world traveling and a different way of living that probably led up to our decision to take this trip.  Later that year my dad finished work with that company and was moved to North Carolina for a new job.  Then after a few months and a bad economy that branch was closed and he was moved through the same company to their current location of Mesa, AZ.  Even though Matt and I try to see my parents wherever they may be living at least once a year it’s always a treat when my parents come back to Michigan for one week in the summer.  We were able to take them sailing on the Hunter in ’08 and ’09 and were very excited for them to see the new boat we graduated up to.  Their first night in town last week we told them of our plans to take a few years off work and sail up and down the coast.  That’s not normally a conversation saved for the phone and I’d been waiting months to see them in person and tell them of our news.  (Which when you’re my age starts with ‘We have some big news to tell you……but it’s not a baby….)  I wasn’t sure how they’d react to us just up and leaving our lives, but the reply was “Well you’re still young, do it while you can”.  That was a very big releif for me.

Since my parents were crashing at my place while they were in town we all piled into their rental car and made our way to Muskegon while my brother Joe was supposed to meet us out there in his own car.  Upon arriving at the marina and finding he was nowhere near us yet we made our way out to the boat to lounge in class instead of in a parking lot.  I got busy stocking the fridge and cupboard with the food and drinks my mom brought as she must have thought we’d be out for a whole weekend instead of a few hours.  Always be prepared, she says.  We also picked up Subway for lunch but held off on enjoying those until my brother could join us.  This was not easy for me, I was ready to eat!!

 

 

 

While we were out there we could see all the young kids that were getting sailing lessons on lasers out in the lake.  Matt liked to tell me about them since he sees them practicing almost every Friday while he’s working on the boat.  They ranged in age from what looked like four to twelve, usually two or three of them placed in each dinghy.  While we were settling into the cockpit with cold beers in our hands we watched a few of the older cockier kids that would race inbetween the boats in the mooring field, coming within just a few inches of the hulls and then shifting their weight to turn away.  It was pretty amusing to watch until one boy decided we needed a show and wanted to use our boat like an orange cone in a slolem course.  He’d set a course straight for our bow and then lean back at the last second narrowly missing us by inches and then turn himself around and steer right back at us again.  If he wasn’t called away by his instuctor I probably would have given him two more minutes before yelling at him to get off my front yard.  Kids these days……  : )

 

 

 

 

 

After an hour Joe still hadn’t shown up so we took turns blowing up his cell phone.   He finally answered for Matt and stated that he’d been driving around for awhile but must have gotten lost because he was not getting any closer to water.  The phone was passed to me to give proper directions to the marina.  Only problem was that even with being given street names by Joe of his current location I had no idea where he was.  In all our years coming out here I’d only paid attention to the names of the streets we traveled on, and even some of those were a little shoddy.  My directions to friends were normally along the lines of ‘take the expressway til it ends, follow it to this street and take a left, keep on that street until you’re at the marina’.  Guessing at places he might be I gave him the best directions I could and told him I’d hope to see him in a little bit.  Turns out it wasn’t good enough because he had to call back 15 minutes later, but at least this time we were prepared with an address for him to plug into his GPS.

An hour and a half after the four of us initially arrived Matt was running out in the dinghy to get Joe and I was preparing the boat to leave as soon as they got back.  My parents only had three hours before they needed to start heading back for dinner plans, but we really wanted to get out to the big lake since we’d mostly stayed on Muskegon Lake in previous years with them.  When the boys got back we dropped the lines and headed out.  We were hoping for a little bit of wind this year as the last time I had my family out the water was almost glass and it was hard to let them get the feel of what sailing was actually about.  What had started out as a sunny and hot day was slowly becoming more and more overcast and I was reaching for my fleece yet again.  Winds on the big lake weren’t too strong, but enough to get both the sails up and a little speed under us.  It wasn’t a lot but I think it was perfect for my mom who isn’t into thrilling high paced rides.  For awhile we sat around talking and catching up since it’s usually only a one time a year event that we can get the five of us together at one time.

When initially planning this outing  we had promised Joe swimming so we put the sails down and let ourselves glide to a stop.  By this time there was no sign of the sun anymore and it felt like the temperature had taken a ten degree dip since we’d left.  This was not going to be enough to stop us and we all jumped in to the refreshing chill of the water which I swear has gotten colder in just five days.  The waves weren’t very big at 1-2 feet, but it did remind us ‘kids’ of being in the wave pool of Michigan’s Adventure when we were younger.  There weren’t any tubes to rent for $5, but after being submerged in the water I was realizing it was much better being under it than the cool breeze above.  The guys took turns diving and flipping of the side of the boat while I was treading water and trying to stay warm.  By the time my lips started turning blue it was time to head back and get my parents home.

As we cruised back in to call it a day I wondered why the beautiful Michigan summers I’d grown up with were eluding us this year.  I always had such great memories with my parents and my brother at the lakeshore in the summer of laying in the hot sand with the sun blazing and a fresh breeze coming off the water.  I wanted to be able to give them the same great time at the lake they had given me.  Either way though were were all just happy to spend time together and I was happy to share with them a little bit of the lifestyle Matt and I would be living in a year.  Maybe I can get them out to see us for some ocean cruising?  Hmmm…….we’ll see.

 

Think it’s big enough to spend 2 years on?

My wonderful parents