Maiden Voyage

Saturday May 29, 2010

With the sun rising and slightly warming up the cabin we were able to get a couple hours of sleep where we weren’t shaking and shivering.  Temperatures quickly warmed up and we realized as nice as it would be, we couldn’t stay in bed forever.  Our friends Becky and Tyler were supposed to arrive around noon and we wanted to be underway by 1:00.  After unmaking the bed (a much easier process), running to the bathrooms to wash my face and brush my teeth again, and then taking the dog the bathroom where she actually went right away this time after holding it in all night, I was ready for, yes, more chores.  We busted out our spiffy new hoses and filled all 3 of our water tanks.  With fresh water now available I went to work washing the new dishes and silverware I just purchased along with any other dishes and silverware that came with the boat.  Mazzii just sat on the settee watching me wash everything piece by piece trying to conserve as much water as possible.  We wouldn’t have access to fresh water for awhile since we’d be at a mooring from that night on and wanted it to last as long as possible.




About 30 minutes before noon I got a call from Becky letting me know they were running late and would be to the boat by 12:30 or 1:00.  Matt and I were behind on a few things anyway and didn’t mind the delay.  Although once 1:00 came and they were nowhere to be seen we started to get a little antsy.  Matt is a stickler for time, one of those “If you’re on time you’re late” kind of people.  A quick call to Becky confirmed she just dropped her kids off at her mom’s, left a vehicle at Torresen’s so we’d all have something to ride in when we arrived, and were only 20 miles from Eldean’s.  We decided to stop at the BBQ being thrown by the marina on this picturesque Michigan day.  We also figured the entrance to the marina would be the perfect spot to spot our friends when the arrived, before they could get lost amongst the mass of boats.  After our meals had been finished and we were still waiting I made another call to see if maybe they had gotten lost along the way.  Nope, turns out they were catching every single red light between Muskegon and Holland.  They had only made it about half way so far.  With another 20-30 minutes to waste we decided to walk the docks and check out the other boats.  Matt heard a rumor there was a 38ft Sabre in one of these slips and he was determined to find it.  We walked up and down docks A-D without luck, skirted around a wedding that was being set up at the restaurant next door, and checked out the Z dock Serendipity used to call home.  It was a quiet dock all the way at the end facing the beautiful houses set on the hillside of the lake.  This is where we would be if we decided to stay at Eldean’s.

When Becky and Tyler finally pulled in the parking lot we were a mix of excited to show them the boat and excited to get on our way.  We brought them to the end of E dock and helped a nervous Becky make the 2ft jump from the dock to the boat.  I didn’t know if she got seasick on the water so I offered her one of my patches to use on the ride.  All she heard me say was the word ‘patch’ and goes, “Oh my god, the boat needs a patch?! Are you sure it’s safe to sail?  We’re not going to sink, are we?”.  I laughed and assured her that, no, the patch would be for her to keep her from getting seasick over the side of the boat, or even worse in the cockpit.  We gave our friends the same grand tour of the boat and they were as equally impressed as Chris and Jack.  Then while giving a run through of what we were doing that afternoon Tyler asked if the marina had beer for sale. He mentioned they were going to stop along the way but since they were running late they skipped it hoping the marina had a general store.  The marina unfortunately did not sell beer, the closest place I knew of was Meijer and that was at least a 10-15 minute drive each way.  Since it would be impossible to make the 26 mile trip to Muskegon without alcohol (we only had about 8 Bud Lights left), Becky and I decided to make the run to the store while the boys got everything ready to go.  We picked up a 24 pk of Bud Light for the guys which she guaranteed me would be gone by the end of the night.  For ourselves we settled on two 6 packs of flavored Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  I know, how girly of us.  On the ride back I asked her if she’d seen Dick DeVos’ (of Amway) new summer cottage on her way in the first time.  She looked at me a little strangely and I told her it was the new 30,000 sq ft house on the lake with a 10,000 sq ft guest house.  Her eyes bulged and she replied, “That was a house?!  I thought it was a hotel!!”.  Ahhh, you gotta love how much money is in this area.

When we arrived back at the marina we bundled all of our goods in our arms and got some strange looks from passer-bys who probably thought we were stocking up for a weekend rager instead of an eight hour sail.  By the time we got to the boat the guys were more than ready to leave.  We handed the drinks and snacks over and practically had to jump aboard before they left us behind.  Within five minutes all the dock lines had been pulled off and we threw the boat in reverse to get on our way.  With never having been in a slip before I’m sure we looked like student drivers with multiple times of backing up and pulling forward until we were sure we wouldn’t come in contact with any solid objects.  There were a few “Oh my god, look out, look out!!” moments, but soon we were clear off the docks and on the way to the channel.  I laughed a little at Matt who was used to steering with a tiller, and now that the directions were backwards (or correct I should say) he kept turning left when he meant to turn right or right when he meant to turn left.  That was until I took a hold of the wheel and did exactly the same thing.  Once out in Lake Michigan we raised the mainsail and set the autopilot.  Which by the way, is one of the best inventions ever for a boat.  I had spent two summers being the helmsman at the tiller because Matt can’t hold a course to save his life.  Five minutes of him at the helm and the sails start luffing because he had fallen so far off the wind.  I soon discovered it was easier for me to stay at the helm than to constantly adjust the sails.  Plus that was something I had never been too great at, so we both just stayed where our strengths were.  Not that this is a good idea, everyone should be competent on working everything on a boat.  But still, the first time I clicked on the autopilot and stepped back to let the boat steer itself was utterly amazing.  I was free to move around the boat.  I could turn my gaze from straight ahead (I always stared straight at my course, one of the reasons I was so good at keeping it) and enjoy the scenery of the shore and the dunes.  I seized my new independence and ran below to get everyone drinks.




We sat around the cockpit and enjoyed the silence that wind-powered movement brings.  That movement however, was little on the slow side.  I warned Matt that if we kept this pace we would arrive in Muskegon well after the sun went down.  It wasn’t an issue of sailing in the dark, we had radar, it was the fact that none of our ropes had been attached to our mooring ball and trying to slide our boathook into the lone ring on the ball was not going to be an easy task, light or dark.  He assured me that our pace was fine and we carried on drinking and talking.  We also spent multiple times bringing Mazzii above and below deck since she couldn’t decide where she wanted to be.  Three hours into the trip we should have been about halfway, just passing Grand Haven.  I stared into the distance and did not see Grand Haven although I could still see a speck the Holland lighthouse be.  I pointed this fact and we grudgingly turned on the engine.  Soon enough Grand Haven came and passed as the sun started to slip below the horizon.  Even though I was a little disappointed we wouldn’t make it to the mooring in the light, I sat back and enjoyed the sunset.  Becky was also disappointed we wouldn’t make it back in the light, but mostly because she was afraid of sailing in the dark.  She kept having visions of us hitting a log sticking out of the water and throwing us out of the boat.  I don’t know where the vision of logs came from, and  it might have just been the Mike’s Hard Lemonade in her talking, but we made sure to give her a good mocking for it anyway (sorry Becky, I love you).

As we got closer to our destination the wind we had been missing all day decided to pick up.  Matt was sitting comfortably in his Columbia jacket with jeans and boat shoes, the rest of us were sitting in the cockpit with jeans, light jackets and no socks or shoes.  We were all freezing and I was trying to pull out anything I had from the cabin to keep us warm.  Lesson learned.  Even though the day highs might be in the 80’s, prepare for it to drop into the 50’s at night.  We even had to put a towel on the dog because her life jacket wasn’t enough to keep her warm.




Finally around 10:30 we came up on the Muskegon lighthouse and started our way through the channel.  Vision wasn’t great through the panels of the dodger since it was original to the boat and a little ‘aged’ we’ll call it, so I stood on the side deck shouting directions to Matt.  We made it safely through and then came the task of catching the 3″ ring on the mooring ball.  Luckily there were two boat hooks on board so Tyler and I each took spots at the front the deck with hooks and flashlights in hand.  The plan was to have me go for it first and if I missed he was right behind me to make an attempt.  I was not very confident in myself, I lack a bit (a lot) of hand-eye coordination.  I was poised and ready as we made our slow pass up to the ball.  I placed my hook down and angled my flashlight.  I expected us to have to make 3-4 passes before one of us finally hooked on and was caught by surprise when I got it on the first attempt.  I probably would have done a happy dance if I didn’t have to keep a firm grip on the hook.  Matt took over and I went on flashlight duty as he dangled over the side attaching the pendant.  Becky who stayed in the cockpit, thankful we didn’t hit any random floating logs began to clean up our mess from the day.  After putting the boat back in some kind of order we all piled in the dinghy to begin our trip home.  Another hour long trip down 31 to retrieve our cars at Eldean’s (what is with all those red lights?!) and another 45 minute drive home we collapsed into bed shortly after midnight.  It had been a long day, but after spending some real time on Serendipity on the water I could not wait to get out and spend the rest of my summer enjoying what I had been waiting all winter and spring for.

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