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.