Sunday August 12, 2012
You’d think that the night before departure my nerves would be running like crazy and I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep, but somehow I managed to sleep soundly through the night and was even disappointed when the alarm went off at 5:30 am. It may have been that we had friends on board past midnight, forcing them to drink all our beer to empty our fridge and lighten the boat. Surprisingly there wasn’t the mass excitement you normally get before a big trip, it just felt like we were getting ready for another day sail. Just while it was still dawn. Trying to clean up some of the last minute clutter we organized the cabin slightly and then went into the dinghy dock where Matt’s mom and step-dad were waiting to say goodbye to us and bring a few things we couldn’t fit in the car the day before. With hugs and photos we said goodbye and Matt’s mom joked through her tears that we better like our new lifestyle because our bedroom was going to become a scrapbooking room that day. Putting the rest of the belongings in the dinghy we loaded up and got ready to push off so Matt’s mom could take photos of us leaving the channel.
Looking around the marina for the last time I was sad to say goodbye to what had been our home for the past few years but also excited to finally get underway. While motoring out to the channel I went below and fixed us a mimosa with some sparkling wine a friend had got us so we could celebrate the occasion as we passed through the channel one last time. Navigating through the dozens of fishermen that thought it would be the perfect place to troll we made it near the mouth of Lake Michigan and waved to Chris and Jack at the lighthouse. And as soon as we were in the waters of Lake Michigan I may or may not have dropped my phone in the water, hurtling at full speed directly toward the lighthouse. No use for that thing now.
Getting into the lake the water was calm and glassy and there was no wind. Leaving the motor on we set the autopilot for north and Matt took a nap in the cockpit while I kept a lookout. After an hour we switched although I of course took my nap in the comfort of the v-berth below. The engine was kicking warm air through the heater and it was nice and toasty down there. When I woke up I found Matt busy working on reefing lines on deck, getting them ready so that we’d be able to run all three from the cockpit. I sat and looked on, handing tools here and there and trying to soak up the sun that was rising over us.
Finally turning off the engine around 2:00 we raised the spinnaker to do some actual sailing. There must have been some lines twisted in there somewhere and what ensued was a hectic 10 minutes of untying and retying lines, twisting sail cloth, and making my hands raw from pulling on lines (I have gloves but was not wearing them at the time). Once we finally had it properly set we were exhausted and retreated to the cockpit for a lunch of cold pizza. Soon after it became overcast and the temperature took a dramatic dip. I had already changed from a fleece to a heavier jacket but this was cold enough to make me take the blanket from our bed and wrap ourselves in it. At this point neither of us felt like being productive and spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit hiding from the wind. I did put my bibs on after just a little bit which helped dramatically with the cold but not with the laziness. When dinner time came near I thought a nice hearty oven cooked meal would make us feel better and started pulling out ingredients for what I have coined ‘The Jackie Meal’, something she had fed us on her boat a few weeks before. It’s basically a tin foil dinner with slices of cooked sausage, meatballs, zucchini, squash, potatoes (which we substituted for onions), sprinkled with seasoning salt and garlic powder, topped with a spoon of butter and wrapped in tin foil. So delicious. I could smell it cooking in the oven long before we pulled it out and it completely hit the spot.
Dousing the spinnaker as the sun was going down I prepared myself for bed since Matt had the first shift on watch. This was the first time I allowed myself to get a little scared about what we were doing and the vast waters we’d be traveling and I’d be alone on watch that night on a very big lake. Winds were picking up and I was worried something terrible might go wrong in the middle of the night. I just had to keep reminding myself that I knew what I was doing (for the most part) and I’d have Matt there to help me if I needed it. It still took me awhile to fall asleep but when I did get up for my shift the winds had calmed down to about 10 knots at our stern and we were following along calmly at a steady 3.5 knots. Oh, I could totally handle this! As we switched the harness over to me I sat in the cockpit, bundled up in the blanket that was still up there and kept a lookout for any lights on the water. Most of them were from shore but after an hour on watch I saw some directly in front of the bow and even after I’d do a good sweep out the side of the fabric of the bimini they did not look to be getting any closer. I warned Matt about them when he woke up for his next shift and I went back below to quickly fall asleep this time.
Waking up again at 7 am the sun should have been coming up but alas it was clouds a second day in a row. Being filled in on the mysterious lights I found out there were not actually boats but also shore. We had been headed at a point that jutted out in the lake, and although Matt had been aware of this the whole time and planning on changing course before then you just happened to be able to see the lights from miles and miles away. Taking my spot under the blanket a second time I watched the sky turn from dark to gray as we came upon one of my favorite places in the world, the Sleeping Bear Dunes. This day though they looked dark and dreary and not as dreamy as I remembered them and definitely not living up to the title of The Most Beautiful Place in America that they had been given the year before. I was a little disappointed but just had to tell myself that there are going to be so many beautiful things along the way that I can’t be put out by one cloudy day. And I did still have the climb to the top of the lighthouse at South Manitou Island to look forward to, clouds or not.
Leaving the dinghy docks.
Last day at the mooring.
Breakfast of champions!
‘The Jackie Meal’
Confined to the cockpit
Our first stop!