Just Over This Hill

Sunday September 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Keep Swimming….Just Keep Swimming

Sunday September 11, 2011

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

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

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

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

So serene

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

Into the fog

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

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

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

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

Some of the Same

Saturday August 27, 2012

Today was a bit of a hectic departure for us getting out to Muskegon.  As usual Matt was working until 4:00, and I was at home with Chris and Jack working on a garage sale trying to get a little cash for our crap as well as our nicer things that we didn’t have room to store and would never need on our trip.  When Matt got home I didn’t have our bag packed, nor did I have the weekend groceries.  Stopping at Meijer (best place ever) on the way out we needed to pick up dinner for that night as well as lunch for our friends we were having out the next day.  Normally it wouldn’t be hard to run into a store, grab a few items and be out…but our minds were completely empty this day.  We also didn’t want to stock up on things that we had at home and would have to bring back from the boat with us.  Hamburgers….too many condiments.  Sandwiches…too many condiments.  Pasta…probably not what our friends would want for lunch.  I think we wandered around for over 30 minutes before concluding that a bunch of brats, buns, and a container of mustard would get us through the weekend.  Pulling back out on the main steet we were treated with the odd sight of a car at a restaurant across the street that had done a parking job worthy of youtube.  There was a 2-3 ft stone wall built up from the sidewalk to the parking lot of this restaurant, and a poor older gentleman did not stop when he was supposed to and took a little dip down towards the sidewalk where his vehicle was now at a 45 degree angle.

When we reached the boat neither of us felt like doing anything productive since we were both exhaused from the morning.  Enjoying the warm weather we sat in the cockpit for awhile and listened to the radio.  When it got to the point of the same songs playing over and over again  (surprisingly not as long as you would think) we turned our attention to cooking a few of the brats for dinner.  We’re still figuring out the grill a little because we can’t seem to get a constant temperature of under 500 degrees even when we use the lowest heat setting.  This usually results in meat that’s charred on the outside and not fully cooked on the inside.  Something I love when eating steaks because I’ll taking mine just above moo’ing, but Matt will freak out if there’s any bit of pink.  Leaving the brats on a little longer than we should have to ensure a ‘well done’ temperature, they came off completely black.  Biting into one there were showers of charred goodness falling onto my plate.  I think I’d rather have it pink next time.

The rest of the night passed pretty slowly.  I hadn’t brought my e-reader so Harry Potter was out.  Chapman’s didn’t seem like much of an entertaining read at the moment and I had a feeling it would put me to sleep at 9:00.  Matt was content with his laptop and wifi so I didn’t want to drag him away from that to watch a movie.  With not many options I settled on pulling out my blog notebook and a glass of wine.  From anyone who’s tried following post around this time (very few people I’m sure) you’ll have noticed that I’m very far behind.  Like over a year behind.  I’ve gotten a lot of my posts jotted down in my notebook but they haven’t gotten up on the website because I was missing a few dates from before the ones I had written down and my little bit of OCD would not let me put them up if they were not in chronological order.  Matt is trying to make me see that I should put up the post I do have now and go back to fill in the gaps later but I know that will still irk me.  Maybe we can find a compromise somewhere.  While working on my writing I had either had too much sun that day, too much wine, or my writing is just more boring than i thought because I was still ready for bed just after 9:30.  I really need to start finding something to keep me awake out here.

The Day the Spiders Have Their Parade

Saturday August 13, 2011

I wasn’t sure if tonight was a night we would be heading to the boat.  Morning thunderstorms gave their way to a few hours of sunshine and then back to dark-as-night skies at 3:00 with more thunderstorms and sheets of rain.  I was surprised when Matt got home from work and gave me the option of staying or going.  It was tempting to have the thought of a Saturday night at home for once with a few Redbox movies and maybe a Jet’s pizza.  But I did miss the boat since we hadn’t seen her for two weeks and we could also do those things on the water since we had movies and frozen pizza.  Since the rain was starting to die out and the chances of me enduring a wet dinghy ride were getting slimmer we packed up and left.

On the car ride over Matt mentioned he had spent the previous day washing the entire boat along with the waterline and sprayed the whole thing down with an Ortho spider spray so we wouldn’t have another episode like we did a few weeks ago.  Once at the marina we quickly loaded the dinghy and unloaded again at the boat.  I was placing the last piece on deck when Matt, still standing n the dinghy, pointed near the toerail and stated, ‘Ugh, there’s a spider sitting right there, get rid it!’.  I squatted down and saw said spider trying to blend in unnoticed.  Without a few beers in me first this time I was a little more hesitant about just picking it up and dropping it over the side.  It was a pretty good size, not as big as the self circumnavigating spider from before, but pretty close.  I inched my fingers toward it and backed them away a few times trying to find the best angle to make this work.  Finally I just took a deep breath, grabbed a leg and tossed.  Unfortunately it only a flew a few inches in the direction of Matt and he let out a little shriek while I laughed.  Filled with a little more confidence I took a solid grab and made sure it went in the water this time.  We watched it sit in the unnaturally calm water for a moment until Matt noted, ‘Oh what the hell?, There’s another one’.  I looked at the lifeline and sure enough there was another much smaller spider perched atop of it.  This one I didn’t even give a second thought to and pitched it overboard.  However as soon as this one hit the water it started paddling its ass back to the boat at motor-speed.  My thoughts immediately turned to it’s larger brother and where it may be.  Sure enough it was traveling at more of a doggy-paddle pace back to the boat.  I watched it disappear under the waterline as Matt worked at disposing of the smaller one with our dinghy paddle.  When it had been successfully flung a far enough distance we started a search party for the escapee that was now at large.  We spotted it near the transom taking breaks between swimming and resting.  Matt swung the dingy around back and while preparing his paddle again spotted two more spiders on the davit lines.

This was an all out war now.  We worked together as I dropped them in the water and Matt made sure they would not make their way back.  After disposing of a few more I saw the King of spiders, sandwiched under the Lifesling and the hawse pipe.  This one was not going to make it easy for me as the Lifesling was blocking the area I’d normally toss it over.  This one was going to have to be moved first.  I poked its leg and it was like watching the wings span on a bird.  Suddenly it became about 3 times larger than it had originally appeared.  Before I could even let myself think about it I slid the spider toward the stern with my finger and then pinched a leg and threw it over.  This one may have actually been affected by the poison because it did not put up any kind of fight and started to sink immediately.  The next 15-20 minutes was spent scouring the cockpit and stern area.  They seemed to be coming out in droves tonight and we was not going to be able to relax if we knew they were creeping around.  Once we were satisfied any ones that could be found have been found we began to ease up a little.  There was only one more time after that I had to get up for spider disposal, and Matt promised he would spray again the next day.

Wanting to get a swim in before dinner I suited up and jumped in the water.  As soon as I submerged I regretted my decision.  Even though I knew the wind had pushed the spider carcasses far away I could just imagine them floating right next to me ready to exact their revenge.  I swam far past the bow trying to distance myself as much as possible.  Every piece of floating debris gave my heart a jump.  After a few minutes I realized I was being a baby and I’d have to swim back to the boat eventually anyway.  It was then I could let myself enjoy the rest of my swim, staying out until the pizza was almost ready to eat.  The rest of the night went exactly as planned, pigging out on pizza and watching movies.  It turned out to be a much better evening than I would have spent at home with one very large exception.  Frozen pizza will never compare to Jets.

Cheers to the Freakin Weekend (I Drink to That)

Saturday July 9, 2011

I arrived at the boat around 5:00, exhausted from a hard day of being at a lavish bridal shower for my oldest friend where I was forced to drink mimosas and take a leisurely pontoon ride on a neighborhood lake during a perfect and sunny afternoon.  I could hardly take pity on Matt after he spent the whole day cleaning the boat top to bottom and having been on it all week replacing hoses, painting the engine, and getting the windlass working.  What a cushy life he has.

Shortly after he got me on the boat with all of our clothes, food, and beer, we received a text from our friend Mindy that her and Ken pulled in and were ready to be picked up in the dinghy.  We hopped back in and shot over to get our friends.  Just like last year we tried to squeeze about four bags, a case of beer, and four people into the dink.  This time was much better however because joining us were two boxes of pizza and some breadsticks.  It was the only item anyone was worried about accidentally going overboard.  We managed to get everything to the boat safe and dry and it barely took two minutes for us to crack open a beer and throw the pizza boxes open.

West Michigan had been having an extremely warm week of weather and we were all sitting on the boat now with the sun beating down on us at nearly 90 degrees and not a breath of wind.  We didn’t know what the temperature of Lake Michigan was, but we decided we needed to find out.  On the way down the channel Mindy and I forced Ken to test out the new camera they had just purchased.  There was a mini photo shoot going on in the cockpit and the deck where us girls would keep moving around saying “Take our picture here……now take our picture over here”.  I’m sure he was very sick of us after a few minutes and quite relieved when we had cruised far enough into the lake to go swimming.  That was of course until Mindy changed into her brand new swimsuit and more photos had to be taken.  And just when he thought he had gotten rid of us after we jumped in the water, we forced him to take the camera out one more time to get action photos of us jumping off the side of the boat.  Fortunately for him we were bored after two jumps and he was able to enjoy his beer in the shade of the cockpit while we hung out in the water, slowly drifting away and scrambling back.  Girls, I tell you.  They’re insufferable.

 

 

 

We could totally make the cover of Vogue

 

 

Once we had exhausted ourselves we collapsed on deck with frufru drinks in hand.  The sun was still a long way from setting and since I rarely get to enjoy watching them on the big lake with a completely unobscured view of the water I wanted to make sure we stayed out for it.  I suggested we hang out in the cockpit with a deck of cards until the sun slipped below the horizon.  Mindy was eyeing the dunes on shore and thinking a climb sounded like a good idea.  She asked if we could get the boat to shore and make it a possibility.  Matt and I laughed a little and let her know this wasn’t the kind of boat you ‘beach’, and that we could take it into a depth of about 10 feet but the rest would have to be swam.  The discussion went back and forth a few times with her saying she wanted to wait until the boat was anchored and then decide if she wanted to make the swim, and us telling her that if we went through the trouble of anchoring where she wanted that she would be making the swim whether it was her decision to go overboard or not.

Trying to persuade her I recalled the times Matt and I used to anchor inside the breakers near the pier and make the swim to shore, and though it took a few minutes it was never very hard.  Once we made the decision for her and the anchor was down (with much ease due to the newly working windlass I might add) we had a dry bag packed with my far less expensive camera, t-shirts, a towel, and of course a few drinks.  After strapping on our life vests and tying the dry bag on a long rope attached to my vest we leapt off the side and began the swim in.  I’d like to think it was the life vest and the drag of the dry bag I was toting slowing me down because my pace was terrible.  After close to 10 minutes of swimming Mindy hit shallow enough water to stand in and I was still paddling quite far behind her.  By the time I dragged my butt on shore I was panting and quite thankful for the life vest that I had originally planned on not using.

Opening the dry bag we toweled ourselves off and cracked open our beers.  Both of us were too tired to do any climbing so we just passed out on the beach.  When our cans only had a few drops left and we realized the sky was starting to cloud over and there would not be the spectacular sunset we’d hoped for we decided we may as well head back.  Only problem was the swim had been much longer than either of us anticipated and neither of us were in a rush to complete it again.  There were a few small powerboats and jet skis up the shore and Mindy was just sure they would love to give us a ride.  I was not up for asking, begging, or batting my eyes.  I made it clear that she was welcome to ask while I stood 100 feet back.  She then asked, begged, and batted her eyes at me that I at least stand next to her while she called on these so called taxi drivers.  We gathered all our things and started walking up the beach going back and forth if we should bother anyone.  In the end we manned-up and made the swim back ourselves.  This time I made her strap on the vest with the dry bag dragging behind her, and she still kicked my ass on the swim.  Guess I need to take swim lessons or start running 3 miles a day like Mindy just so I can keep up with her.

 

 

 

Just a little bit further from shore than I originally thought

 

After drying off, Mindy and I dove into a bag of Doritos like there was no tomorrow, adding back any calories we may have lost during our swim.   It was still a beautiful night out with the sun going down and barely a hint of wind.  Instead of pulling up anchor and going back to the mooring we decided to stay put.  Plus without the wind whipping around it was a perfect environment for playing cards out in the fresh air.  Switching up the couples I was paired with Ken and Matt and Mindy were together for a game of Euchre.  Not my favorite game, and I was sure I would disappoint Ken with my continued lack of knowledge on it, but I was pretty good at getting Jacks that night and we destroyed Matt and Mindy.  The next game we played required much less skill, the good old classic UNO.  To be honest though none of us had played in over 15 years and we did have to go back and read the instructions.  The sun had basically gone down by this point making things nearly impossible to see so we strung up our Davis Instruments Mega Light from the boom to shine a little light on our game.  A very helpful accessory, but since we had in the dim bulb it made it very difficult to make out the green cards from the blue ones.  We should have been playing Bullshit since a lot of the game was calling each other out on knowingly placing down the wrong color card and trying to get away with it.

 

 

 

In the middle of our reversing, skipping, and drawing 4, we seemed to get an invasion of creepy crawlers on the boat.  The first one was spotted by Mindy with a bit of a shriek and crawling over Ken to get further out of the way.  There was a nice sized spider dangling from the wheel inches from where her leg had just been.  Being the only real man on the boat I grabbed a paper towel, scooped him up and threw him overboard.  Our game resumed until Ken was taking a potty break by the stern and discovered another one under our solar panel.  Apparently he was just as scared as everyone else and it was me to the rescue again.  Pretty soon I was getting a reputation as a bad ass spider killer.  And there did not seem to be a shortage of them that night.  After the fourth random find we decided to go on a hunt instead of having them drop in on us unexpectedly.  Pulling out a flashlight we started searching the cockpit.  The few more we did find were centered near the stern and the solar panel.  All the ones we had seen up until this point were a pretty decent size that would send most people running the opposite direction, and then we came upon the mac daddy of big spiders.  This one was so big it could have it’s own zip code.  It was big enough that I’m sure insurance companies would consider it our third crew member while sailing across oceans.  I was contemplating keeping it so it could take one of the watches on night sails, but the consensus on board was to throw it over.

Mindy was getting very freaked out at the amount of spiders by this time and we figured it was getting late enough where we should pull up the anchor and make it back to the mooring.  Moving the games below deck we spent the next hour with full glasses of wine and beer, playing dominoes until one by one we started to drop from exhaustion.  No one had even realized the clock was creeping after two.  My head hit the pillow and I was out.  It didn’t happen to be the right one, and the next thing I heard was Mindy’s voice in a kidding and whining tone saying “Jessica’s on my pill-ow!!”.  I was quickly ushered to my own and comfortably passed out for the night.

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

A Midnight Swim Under the Stars

Saturday June 19, 2010

Another weekend, another group of friends.  I think we’re starting to get pretty popular.  The friends we had out this time were Ken and Mindy, one of Matt’s co-workers and his wife.  These friends are going to be joining us on a trip across Lake Michigan next month to Milwaukee, and even though we love just hanging out with them in general we thought it would be a good idea to have them on the boat for the night so they could get a sense of the space we have on board and if they’d be able to stay cooped up on it for 12 hours straight.  Plus I’ve seen how Mindy packs for weekend trips and I wanted her to see how little storage there is on the boat, especially with 4 people on it.  Not that I would have known any better myself before owning a boat though.  We’ll still have to see if any editing needs to be done once they arrive for the trip.  There might be cocktail dresses and heels going overboard.

 

 

 

After a nice dinner in Muskegon sitting on a patio and listening to live music we made our way back to the boat for some after dinner drinks and a sunset cruise.  I was quite excited about this, because as weird as it sounds being on the lakeshore, we rarely ever see sunsets except from our mooring.  But an unobstructed view of the horizon is a beautiful sight that I will never get sick of.  There wasn’t much wind, but for some reason there were rolling waves on the water.  This is absolutely my least favorite combination.  I can get seasick pretty easily sometimes but can usually get over it if I have a nice breeze on my face.  However, if there’s no breeze there’s no feeling better.  I usually only start to get sick if I’m trying to do something in the cabin, so after trying to be a good hostess and mix a rum and diet for Mindy my stomach started to get queasy and I was off drink duty.  It was time to put Matt to work anyway.

We had a good time puttering around at a slow pace and dangling our feet off the back ladder into the water.  The water felt surprisingly warm for June, and when we checked our gages it showed 75.  I would have guessed that for Muskegon Lake, but both Matt and I have taken May swims in Lake Michigan with under 60 degree water temperatures so I did not think the big lake would heat up this quickly.  Although we had all brought our suits none of us quite felt like jumping in just yet.  So we hung around the cockpit laughing and having a good time.  There was a little bit of a seating issue since Mazzii had the whole starboard side to herself leaving the four of us to take any open space we could find.  Since we were only a few days from the longest day of the year, the sun didn’t start to dip below the horizon until 9:30.  Even after it was down the sky stayed a blazing orange and red until well after 10:00.  Yep, I could never get sick of this.

 

Keeping an eye on Ken so he won’t push her in

Me?  Space hog?

Bringing the boat back to the mooring there was not a breath of wind in the air.  We took advantage of this by bringing out a deck of cards to play a few games.  I’ma lover of gin rummy and poker (five card draw, NOT Texas hold ’em), but it seems like every other person in the world loves Euchre.  I was quickly out-voted when Matt decided he wouldn’t vote, and I was forced to brush up on my Euchre skills that I haven’t used in forever.  To even things out I was paired with Ken while Matt paired with Mindy so each team had at least one person who knew what they were doing.  Ever fearful I had no idea what card to throw down when, Ken and I easily pulled in a victory since each round I usually had a Jack in my hand.

I was not too keen on playing another round, so when Matt suggested going for a midnight swim I actually took a moment to ponder the idea.  I’m not much of a night swimmer and I’m not much of a swimmer in Muskegon Lake but at the time it sounded like the best idea ever.  After a little prodding Mindy was on board too.  I won’t lie, we did have to take a shot of Mailbu to give ourselves a little extra courage before we put our suits on.  It was still sounding like a good idea until we were standing at the edge of the deck looking down at the black water.  Every girly we were holding onto each other’s hands so one wouldn’t jump into the water without the other.  Taking a deep breath we made the plunge.  The water was very warm and we were splashing around having a good time, climbing back on and jumping off again and again.  Soon Matt was also in on the action and I was pretty sure this was going to have to become a ritual.

On the count of three, jump!!

After fully tiring ourselves out we dried off in the cockpit with one last drink for the night.  Matt shuttled Ken and Mindy off to the parking lot and sent them on their way.  Sloppily making the bed in the v-berth I waited for him to come back and we both crawled in to go to bed.  Yes, I am definitely loving weekends on the boat now.

360 Degrees of Serendipity

Monday May 30, 2010

Yesterday returned to the cold, overcast and slightly deary kind of May day I’ve grown accustomed to in Michigan.  We stayed home and watched The History Channel from morning until night.  It was our typical winter weather Sunday and I was happy when the sunshine came out again and all things boating were a go.  Last year I ruined a perfectly beautiful Memorial Day after drinking too many Sambuca shots at a friend’s birthday the night before and there was no moving my ass from the living room floor.  Once we got out this year I assumed Matt would want to get the sails up as soon as possible.  I was all set to start pulling and winching lines when he suggested we just rest for awhile and get the sails up later.  Although I had gotten myself geared up for a sail I had no problem switching to lounge mode, pulling out a sport-a-seat and a magazine.  The dodger and bimini provided a perfect amount of shade, and all I was missing was a tall handsome servant named Geoffrey serving me chilled wine while I relaxed.

As the day wore on Matt was no closer to getting the sails up and I had relaxed in the cockpit, the cabin, and had even taken a nice nap in the v-berth.  I had gotten to the point where I had been doing nothing for too long and now I didn’t want to do anything productive.  Matt must have been on the same page as me when I asked if he wanted to go out (just cause I’m a good wife) and he asked if I wouldn’t mind sitting at the mooring for the rest of the day.  No problem here.  For a few more hours we lounged around snacking, relaxing, and enjoying our home away from home.  The only productive thing we did do is when leaving Matt had me pull out the camera while we circled the boat for a 360 degree view.  Enjoy!!