A Whitehall Shade of Pale

Sunday July 22, 2012

Having a hectic beginning to our morning we rushed out of the house making sure we had everything necessary to finshing up the project of re-drilling the holes for the wheels on the dinghy and also have it finished before Jackie and Ron met us at the marina at 10:00.  I really wanted to make a trip up to Whitehall that day which was only 10 miles up the coast because somehow in all our time at Muskegon we had never made it there before.  So hurrying up to beat our guests to the marina there were two stops at Home Depot and one stop for gas for the dinghy.  Pulling into the marina with less than 20 minutes to spare Matt was just putting on the last screw as they pulled in.  Us girls unloaded the two cars while the boys brought the dinghy to the water to be loaded.  As they were rolling it into the water of the of wheels popped off taking with it the epoxy filling and leaving a hole behind.  Although Jackie and I were a little worried about fitting four bodies and all our belongings into a dinghy with a hole we were assured that only minimal water would drip in and we’d stay afloat.  That was good enough for me so I threw the coolers and bags of food in and told our guests to get on.  Once on our way there was only minimal water coming through and everything made it to the boat safe and dry.

Unloading everything into the fridge Jackie couldn’t wait any longer and gave us our going away present and pulled out a little bottle of Kraken Rum.  It was such a sweet gift and came in such a nicely designed bottle that I put it right on the counter for display.  Making our way above deck again Matt already had the engine running and was bringing the dinghy around to the stern.  At first he was only planning on cleating it to the back and letting it trail behind but with a hole in the bottom I didn’t want it to somehow fill with water or flip on a big wave and go under.  While either of those probably weren’t likely I wanted to have it onthe davits instead because should something happen to it a replacement would not be cheap and I could just see Matt sticking me back at my cubicle for a few more weeks while the new one gets paid off.  I don’t think so.  While the guys busied themselves with getting the pulley lines attached to the dinghy the girls were scrambling to kill the spiders that kept falling from them (it was their first use of the year).  I asked Matt if he was planning on taking our 9.9 hp engine off the dinghy and attaching it to the motor stand we had on the stern.  His reply esd yhsy iy should be fine attached to the dinghy and that’s how most people travel.  Assuming he was right, like he usually is, I left it alone and finished getting ready for departure.

Before we could even get to the channel I pulled Ron away from his seat up on deck and brought him below to start a pot of coffee.  No one was ready for beer yet and after he kept selling his skills on his boat about how handy he was with a percolator I handed ours to him along with coffee grounds and told him to get to work.  While waiting for it to perk we went back on deck where it was time to uncover the main and raise it.  Matt also warned there may be spiders in that area so I wimped out and only unzipped the front while forcing the others to undo the grommits underneath.  Sure enough Jackie came across a monstorous spider that she bravely tried to pick up and fling off the boat, but this spider decided it liked it’s home and was going to try and stay on it by all means.  Letting a little bit of silk out it swung from her arm as she flailed around never quite seeing where it went but always feeling it brush against her leg.  I was reduced to a fit of laughter at the bow, watching the whole scene but doing nothing to help.  Finally it released itself although no one saw where the chunky guy disappeared to.  Not paying it much attention anymore I stood at the mast and raised the main while Ron sheeted from the cockpit.  The winds were gusting nicely just outside the channel and while everyone worked on getting the headsail ready I went below to transfer our now percolated coffee into mugs and tumblers for us to enjoy.  Jackie and I thought it was delicious but both guys agreed that even black it was a little too fru-fru for them.  So what if I had mixed my own grounds with flavors of hazlenut and cherry, I was still relatively new to drinking coffee.

(Above photos courtesy of Jackie)

The wind that had been sending light sprays of mist on our deck just moments before had all but died on us as soon as we were in open water and pointing in a northerly direction.  She was being a divious little mistress and as soon as we’d feel a little puff and try to get a point of sail she’d be gone again.  Wanting to make sure we made it to our destination I suggested we throw on the motor but all the real sailors on board (apparently everyone but me) were having none of that.  Round and round we went in circles trying to get any kind of shape in our sails yet they would only hang loose.  Spying another boat further from shore and moving at full speed we agreed to put the engine on to get away from shore and closer to a mirage of a wind line we could see in the distance with slight ripples on the water.  It could have been that it was a mirage or it could have been that the engine was shut off just as the bow crossed over the ripples but we were still not feeling any wind on our faces or backs.  Going for the big guns since extra hands were on board we decided to furl the headsail and raise the spinnaker.  Being thrown for a loop from what I was used to on Island Dream I forgot that ours was in a sock and was a little confused while it was being raised with the sock still on but the big reveal came when Matt pulled a halyard raising the sock to the top and exposing our kite.  Since Ron couldn’t seem to sit still he fiddled with lines to keep the kite filled and Matt and Jackie were just chilling on deck while I went below to change into my swimsuit since I was overheating with the blazing sun and lack of wind.  Having been on the water for over an hour now and only making it a mile from the lighthouse I thought it was high time to turn this into a booze cruise and made margaritas for Jackie and I while handing beers to Matt and Ron.  We also broke out snacks and this great veggie/bean salsa Jackie had made.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to need cooking lessons from these two before we go.  Enjoying ourselves in the cockpit we’d hollar and cheer when the speed hit 2 knots and then finally 3.  There was a chance we might make it to Whitehall before the sun set after all!

Sooooo many choices!

Making sure everything is just right.

Quick and easy learning on the go!

Sailing for another hour or two further into the lake we kept picking up more wind and speed.  After recording 6 knots of speed over ground we also realized the wind was hovering near 15 knots and we should switch back from the spinnaker to the headsail.  The sock was brought down back over the kite and it was stowed below while the sheets were changed from one sail to the other.  Although the speed had gone down for a few minutes while the sail change was being done it didn’t take us long before we were at 6 knots again.  Just as we were all thinking we were on easy street for the rest of the journey I heard an odd noise behind me and I looked to the stern and saw the dinghy hanging very low on the port side.  Before I even knew exactly what I was looking at I started calling “Matt!, Dinghy!, Davits!”, because I knew it wasn’t good.  As he rushed over I turned around to get a closer look and saw the 1″ metal tube had bent about 60 degrees.  By now Ron had come over as well and the two guys rapidly begand undoing the lines to the dinghy to release the weight before any more damage could be done.  It wasn’t quick enough though and the metal pole on the starboard side bent in half as well.  The dinghy was quickly released into the water and tied to the stern.  We thought everything was momentarily under control until the solar panal began to slip from it’s connectors.  While Matt and I held it and worked from the stern, Ron dove off the side of the boat to catch the dinghy behind us and climbed in, pulling himself closer to the boat to work from below.  All of this going on and we were still moving forward at four to five knots of speed.  Jackie was quickly on watch though, making sure we didn’t crash into anything on top of the davit crisis.  In under five minutes we were able to use ratchet straps to secure everything and besides now being out very important and useful davits which is certainly going to cause a delay in our departure and take some money out of our pockets, we were now ok.  We’re still not exactly sure what caused it since the load of both the solar panal and dighy together were under what it was rated for.  We have a feeling though that since the port side could not be raised flush with the bars, there would be slack and then tension on that side eact time we hit a wave and eventually it gave.  The good thing is we will be able to get it repaired now before we go, who knows where it would have happened down the road.

Although this was in no way Ron’s fault, we still like to blame him for breaking our boat.

Knowing my time travel skills are not quite up to par and I couldn’t go back to undo it and there was nothing more I could do at the moment I handed the wheel to Ron and went to grab a Leinenkugel because at least I could still enjoy a nice day with good friends.  By this time we could see while sails on our horizon, all coming in and out of the channel at Whitehall.  Taking almost an hour to reach that same point, Matt steered us in while we let Jackie and Ron be our tour guides since this was usually their lake of choice.  We passed by a historic lighthouse on our way in and spotted the yacht club (circa 1908) once in the lake.  The spot we were headed toward was the municipal marina and town which was four miles down the other end.  While the boys monkied around in the cockpit us girls sat up on the foredeck commenting on the beach front houses and cottages.  Some were gigantic mansions with floor to ceiling windows and others were little cabins probably built in the 1940’s when it was all vacant land.  It was a lake full of sailboats, quiet and peaceful without any motors to disrupt the mood.  Making the slow journey down the indland lake it was time to dock at the marina and Jackie and I got busy throwing the fenders over the side.  I hate to admit this and I know it will quickly improve, but my clove hitch skills have severely gone downhill since last year.  Having Jackie check my work she did a few adjustments and we were ready to jump off.

 Quckily checking out the facilities which were very nice for a small town we wandered up the street into town.  Deciding that food and drinks were definitely necessary to ease broken-davits blues we were led to a charming little restaurant and while in bathing suits and cover ups we wandered through the nicely dress patrons inside the restaurant to the much more relaxed atmosphere of the patio.  Remembering that Jackie and Ron had brought steaks to grill for dinner I didn’t want to fill up on restaurant food and we all opted for a shared plate of  cheesy fries.  Browsing through their beer menu they were true to their Michigan roots featuring a multiple microbrews including the ever popular Oberon and a few I’d never heard of before.  In the mood to try something different I picked one of them soley by name.  The drinks were out quickly and we sat in the ambiance of a quiet town on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.  Conversation was of course on davits and Ron was quick to ask questions on what we would do and how long it would keep us from leaving for our trip.  Don’t be confused, you might think this was out of a concerned nature for us and our grand plans but since we had agreed to sell them our mooring equiptment they couldn’t take it over until we were gone and he was just itching to keep his boat in one secured spot instead of being trailored every weekend.  Playing him for his ‘concern’ we hemmed and hawed and told him it might be six weeks before we could finally get going.  And honestly it could be, we really have no idea since this is a part that has to be specially made and shipped, we can’t just pick up a new set at West Marine.  He was all about getting us to go as soon as possible.  “You’ll  be in Buffalo in six weeks, right?  I’ll meet you there with your new davits”.  In addition to not actually wanting to keep the mooring fromthem any longer than necessary, I was eager to get going as well because I knew that staying to wait for parts would mean more of the daily grind for me at work.  I was so close to being gone, only one week left, and now I could still be there for over a month.  Countdowns are a bitch when they lead down to nothing.

Poor Serendipity

Finishing our cheesy fries almost as soon as they were put down we emptied our beer bottles and made our way back to the marina to shove off since it was already turning into evening.  Shoving off the dock the sun was getting lower in the sky and falling below a cloudy haze.  Instead of starting up the grill on the small lake and then having to worry about raising sails as soon as we were out of the channel we figured we’d wait until we were on the big lake and auto pilot was pointing us home before we did any cooking.  Even the thought of perfectly grilled steaks still couldn’t keep us away from food though and the bean salsa came right back out to relieve us of our hunger.  After navigating the shallow areas near the entrace to the harbor we were back out on Lake Michigan which brought us steady winds and choppy waves.  By this time we were all wiped out and in the mood to sit doing nothing so the motor ended up stayed on and sails stayed down.  This also meant that no one felt up to chopping up vegetables and messing with fire while the boat bobbed from side to side and we continued to eat the salsa for our dinner, even long after the chips had disappeared.  Tired from the day we sat in the cockpit under jackets and sweaters watching the scenery change on shore.  Although the sun was popping in and out of clouds we were still treated to a nice sunset on the water and cruised up to the Muskegon light house just as the sky was turning to dusk.  Trying to put everything back together the way we found it we got our guests all packed up but Jackie made sure to leave us with a few steaks and a roll of aluminum foil so we could make the tin foil meals they were trying to teach us even after they were gone.  Straightening up but still leaving a decent mess in the galley for Matt to clean the next day we all piled in the dinghy and headed for shore.

It’s strange how you can meet someone and become such good friends in such a short time, but saying goodbye to two people that we had only met three times felt like we were saying goodby to our oldest friends.  Maybe it’s because Jackie and I are twins and it’s like saying goodbye to myself or maybe most boat people are usually just this cool.  Either way it was hard, but at least we knew it wasn’t permanent.  They’re already planning on visiting us in the Bahamas where we’ll be drinking fruity rum drinks, swimming in crystal clear water, exploring the islands and just having a great time.  As long as Ron doesn’t break anything else on our boat that is.

No chips?  No problem.

(Above photos courtesy of Jackie)

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5 thoughts on “A Whitehall Shade of Pale

  1. You were a lot nicer to Ron than I was expecting…you know, since he broke your boat and delayed your trip by a week! Despite some ‘complications’ we had a GREAT time and are so glad to have met you two, even if we only really met a couple times 🙂 Can’t wait to meet up in the Bahamas…or wherever you may be!

  2. I had to butter you guys up to make sure that you come visit us in the Bahamas, I couldn’t have Ron pouting and want to stay home. After all, how else am I going to get my Tervis tumblers? 🙂 We’ve had such a great time getting to know you, it’s too bad that we didn’t find each other until just before we’re leaving. At least we were able to cement a strong friendship in that short time to make sure we’ll see a lot of each other in the future. Just imagine if you had never come racing one random Wednesday night…

  3. You can plan on me testing your boat in the Bahammas. Better make sure it’s in tip top shape. And by tiptop shape I mean fridge is full of beer. And we will bring snorkel gear to catch the lobster. Even though your boat was not Ron proof I had a blast trimming sails and tinkering. Truly glad to meet you two. Can’t wait for our next adventure.

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