Sunday July 30, 2011
Late July in West Michigan and one event starts sending people from all over the state flocking to the coast. This is the beginning of the Coast Guard Festival held in Grand Haven, MI. If you happened upon last years post of our trip down the coast to this event you’ll remember that it did not go so well. Either we’re gluttons for punishment or conditions were just much better this year because we decided to try again. I have to say that this summer is turning out so much better than last year and we were blessed with yet another beautiful weekend with clear skies and 10 knots coming out of the northwest. There was no need for layers of unnecessary clothing and I was able to enjoy the beginning of my the trip sprawled out in a bikini on the deck while reading from my Nook. Maybe the universe was just tryingto make up for the fact that we were supposed to be leaving for our big journey the next day but instead are stuck in Michigan for another year. I guess it figured it could help make that time easier for us by giving us gorgeous weekends, reminding us that Michigan isn’t that bad of a place to be stuck. And it’s working …….. for now.
After not even 20 minutes of sitting around, Matt being the ever productive person he is, suggested this would be a perfect opportunity to wash down the deck and get it all clean since it’s had almost two months of neglect now. Normally I’d hate being pulled away from a perfectly relaxing day of doing nothing for manual labor, but I figured that 1. I did nothing to get the boat ready this year while we were on the hard (& in the water) and I really owe Matt and 2. I was already warming up to the point where some cool lake water splashing on my feet was sounding really refreshing. Since there was none of that green seagull poo on deck that doesn’t want to come off no matter how many different cleaners you try this was a really easy task today. Spray, lightly scrub, rinse, done. Mental note: washing the boat can be kind of fun while you’re moving along with the sun on your back and a fresh breeze on your face. (Second note: Let Matt handle pulling buckets of water aboard while you’re moving because the drag is more than your little arms can handle)
Pretty soon we were back to lounging on deck. I still had some of my boxed wine left from a few weeks ago to keep me refreshed and Harry Potter was yet again calling my name. We were also now far enough away from Muskegon and not close enough to Grand Haven where there was no boat traffic around us which meant I was free to adjust my attire so I wouldn’t get any tan lines on my back or neck or chest. While reapplying sunscreen to cover some new exposed skin Matt was below deck making us a gourmet lunch of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Simple and classic. Enjoying this lunch on deck I’d have a few close calls where a power boat would sneak up behind us and I’d have to drop my bowl and grab my towel to keep from flashing these people, but otherwise it was a mostly uneventful sail.
Eventually we became close enough to Grand Haven where it was safer just to put my top back on and assume I had gotten enough sun to blend in those pesky white lines on my shoulder that I received over 4th of July weekend. This opening weekend of the festival looked to be even busier than last year as we could see boats anchored along the coast for about a mile before we even reached the pier. Deciding that if it were this busy out here we weren’t even going to try entering the channel. We were hoping that with the tack we were currently on that we could glide by the channel by a few hundred meters to get a glimpse of what was going on in there and then turn around 180 degrees to start our jaunt home. Good old Auto though, kept pointing our bow anywhere from directly at the breakers of the channel to open water and we had no idea if we’d actually clear or not. Once the water depth starting dropping below 30 feet we choose just to do the extra work of tacking out further into open water to prevent a collision with the channel or other boats.
Even with our change in course we crossed in front of the opening with just enough clearance to keep from being in the way of other boats entering and exiting. Something you want to take much care to do in this area because I think a lot of the power boaters are unaware of the rule where a boat under sail has right of way over a boat under power, no matter which direction it it heading. Making sure to give ourselves lots of extra space while making our turn to head back I accidentally pointed us too close into the wind and we came to a standstill. Well that wasn’t going to work. Turning the wheel full to starboard I had to wait for the wind to fill our sails enough so we’d start spinning back around again and I could put us on a better course still out of irons the next time around. Round 2, same results. Spinning in circles again we must have looked like the young couple who chartered a boat for the weekend but had never taken sailing lessons before. And directly in front of one of the most crowded beaches you had ever seen. Judging the wind direction again it looked like we were going to have to point directly West for awhile to get enough distance from shore before heading in a more Northerly direction. Finally making way again instead of just going in circles we went back to enjoying what Michigan had to offer and thinking that another year might not be so bad. Ask us again while we’re sitting at our desks tomorrow though.