Big Anchor….Small Dinghy

Sunday July 3, 2011

Waking up in an area that wasn’t Muskegon was a nice change for once and the sun was nice enough to come back out after getting it’s rest too.  Spending some time lounging around and having a delicious breakfast of apple fritter and coke I was able to experience my first ‘getting ready to go to town’ without any help from land based facilities.  I had made sure to bath myself the night before in the lake using a new eco friendly shampoo I had found, but my now clean and naturally curly hair had turned into some kind of rats nest while I slept.  It was a perfect chance to pull out my wet to dry flatiron and see how it worked on the boat.  I was given a strict timeline from Matt as to not use up too much power, and while I rushed with combs, clips, and a spray bottle in the tiny space of the head he took watch at the nav station staring at the power use and making sure I didn’t bleed us dry.  Everything was successful on both sides and now I’m happy to know I won’t have to wear my hair up everyday for three years straight and will be able to keep a little bit of normalcy about my life.

Preparing ourselves to jet into town we decided we’d walk around for a bit, maybe have lunch, and come back to the boat for an afternoon nap.  Getting the dinghy down and ready for travel we pushed off and started our search for the area where we heard the public dinghy dock was.  Luckily after scouring the shore for what could be a public launch area we saw an spot with about five other dinghies hauled out on land and assumed we had the right place.  Pulling ours up alongside we figured the worst that could happen if we were wrong is we’d get a warning note that we were beaching in a private area.  Although not getting off from parking scot free the dinghy did leave traces of it’s blue rub rail all over my leg while I was dragging it to shore.  Slipping into the nearby public restroom I spent 10 minutes using a basically empty soap dispenser and recycled paper towel while hoisting my thigh up to the sink and trying to scrub it off.  For as easily as it came off the dink it did not want to make it’s way off my leg.  When I got out Matt stepped in to use it for it’s intended purpose and walked out rubbing his wet hands on his jeans since I had just used all the paper towel.

Trying to make our way into where we thought town was it only took one wrong turn before we were headed in the right direction.  We happened upon the main road which was lined with charming and well presented shops.  One of the first places we noticed after rounding the corner was a little marine store called Brass Anchor.  Not only was it filled with essential everyday items such as cleaning supplies and PDFs, but it was also filled with nautical themed trinkets and antiques.   You couldn’t move two feet without coming across antique lanterns, portholes, or even brass lamps.  It was interesting to see how the same brass we had on our boat would look if we left it alone for 20 years.  Now I have an excuse not to want to do any polishing.  As tempting as some of the purchases were we walked out empty handed and continued our way up the sidewalk.  While passing a few restaurants with outdoor seating my mouth began to water but seeing as it wasn’t even noon yet we kept walking but were sure to keep these places in mind.  Not knowing much  about the town at all we were happy to stumble upon an information center with a pamphlet on the events going on through the summer.  Opening the pamphlet we were delighted to see there was a pie eating contest happening that day in the nearby picnic grounds.  While looking over the other events including fireworks that night at the state park there was a gentleman sitting outside on the bench that must have worked at the information center.  I think he could tell we were from out of town and gave us extra inside happenings of the best times to do and see certain things.  He was also a sailor and we got into a lengthy  discussion with him on how we had got up there in our boat and he told us stories of his racing days.  This discussion was leading us closer and closer to lunchtime and before letting us go gave us suggestions on two great restaurants just a block up the road, Antler Bar and The Brown Bear.  Getting increasingly hungrier I told Matt that I was going to need food soon so we walked up to check both the restaurants out.  Both looked great from the outside, but we weren’t able to take a peak in since neither opened until noon and it was only 11:30 at this point.

We did find out that both restaurants were located next to the picnic grounds where the pie eating contest was and wandered down there to pass the time.  It was a perfect slice of Americana (no pun intended) where rows and rows of tables with white linens were lined with homemade pies ready for tasting and judging.  There were refreshment stands serving fresh squeezed lemonade and hot dogs.  A bouncy castle and inflatable slide had been set up for the kids and there was even a dunk tank sponsored by Farmers Insurance raising money for what I’m sure was a good cause although I didn’t know what it was.  All these sights and sounds were not helping my food craving, but the restaurants did have one thing going that the fair did not and that was ice cold beer.  So we took our spot on a bench in front of The Antler realizing they had a back patio overlooking the fair.  Joining us in waiting was a man and his son that were also in town just for the weekend.  Once the doors opened all four of us headed straight upstairs to the patio and ordered the cold beers that I apparently was not the only one craving.  I mean, having a Lieinenkugel Summer Shandy with a lemon wedge while sitting outside in beautiful weather on a holiday weekend.  Does life really get much better than that?  Talking to the two guys they mentioned their wives were busy shopping at the ‘Bitchin Kitchen’ and doing other girly things so they were doing guy things like drinking beer  (which I would much prefer to shopping for kitchen items).  After finding out the patio didn’t serve food the two of us made our way back inside after finishing our beers to check out a menu.  I had taken information guy’s advise and ordered a cup of soup which that day was a creamy chicken and asparagus combination that was absolutely delicious.  They also had a Sunday special of $0.50 wings that we were more than happy to take advantage of.


Heading back to the grassy knoll on full stomachs we watched as tables were set up for the pie eating contest.  There were going to be 3 different rounds, one for kids under 10, another for kids 10-17, and lastly one for the adults.  For the under 18 crowd each kid was given a Little Debbie pie, hands were placed behind the back and the whistle was blown.  The first round was very cute to watch as little kids as small as 3 or 4 would take little nibbles off the end while the larger kids were in it to win it.  The second round was also very competitive and was over in less than 90 seconds.  By the time the adults took over the table the crowds to watch were multiplying and we lost any good view of what was going on.  Since we didn’t know anyone in the contest we didn’t want to be pushy to try and make our way toward the front so we went back to roaming the streets and the little shops.       We even found ourselves in the Bitchin Kitchen which I have to say I was extremely  impressed by.  A very upscale place with anything you could imagine and could easily make you go broke by the time you left from the amount of tempting things to buy.  While walking around we found they were selling a certain brand of knives which looked very familiar because we had the same ones on the boat.  Another gift left to us by Serendipity’s previous owner.  Thanks again Dean, we really do appreciate all of the goodies you’ve left behind!


Making our way back towards the water and the dinghy to spend a few hours relaxing and planning out the rest of our evening.  We enjoyed a nice Sunday afternoon nap that was only shortly interrupted by a poorly steered sailing dinghy that kept bumping into our bow.  There was also lying in the sun, reading and just enjoying the face we didn’t have to pack up and be home that night.  While heating up leftovers for dinner we talked about going to view the fireworks that night being held just outside the channel on the Lake Michigan shore.  The initial thought was to take the boat out and drop anchor while we watched from the comfort of our cockpit but that led to thoughts of having to re-anchor in our cove in the dark and neither of us wanted that.  We then thought of taking the dinghy out and beaching it on the shore while we sat on a blanket in the sand.  Well that would have been fine except for the no alcohol allowed and I wouldn’t have been able to sip on a fruity cocktailish drink while enjoying the sunset.  I threw out the idea of anchoring the dinghy out just in front of the beach and that way we’d have the best of both worlds.  Matt laughed for a minute but was quickly on board.

Once the sun was starting to make it’s descent in the sky we threw on jeans and jackets and filled our backpack with towels (for blankets) and Dailys pre-made margaritas and strawberry daiquiris.  There wasn’t much other boat traffic on the smaller inland lake or the big lake once we got out there, although there were large crowds starting to form on the beach.  Motoring to about 10 feet of water and just a few hundred feet from where the buoys to mark off the swim area were located Matt cut the engine and grabbed our  anchor meant to hold a 36 ft boat in place and dropped in into the shallow water below us.  We had to laugh a little at the fact that we’d be using a larger anchor than most of the other powerboats and sailboats that would be joining us that night, and all for a 9 ft 100 lb dinghy.  Once we ‘made sure the anchor was set’ and that we wouldn’t drag into nearby boats and cause catastrophic damage we made ourselves comfortable by putting the required life vests under us for cushions and kicked our feet up.  Taking full advantage of the situation we took out our Daily’s cocktails and tried to figure out the best way to drink them directly from the pouch since normally they get poured directly into a glass.  Tying out different combinations of pinching one end to create a spout out of the other and take sips without it pouring into our laps.  I’m sure we were quite a site to see and in no way resembled the people who sit on couches in their front yard drinking 40 oz bottles of malt liquor.



From the water we could still do a decent amount of people watching as more people kept coming to the beach and out in boats.  There was the group of young sport fishers right next to us who were blasting country music out of their speakers while their girlfriends drank and complained, the group of parents whose teenage daughters were going for a late evening swim among the now crowding anchorage, and best of all a two story party pontoon boat who came out of the channel blasting a John Philip Sousa march followed by advertisements for some store or another.  After the county sheriff looked like he was about to chase them down they thankfully turned it to the Black Eyed Peas and began a dance party on their roof top deck.  As the sun sank lower and lower into the sky you could see people on the pier getting all the fireworks ready to launch and we kept repositioning ourselved in the dinghy because it would do 180 degree rotations and keep changing our view.






Once the last bit of light was leaving the sky the first firework was shot off and we snuggled against eachother to enjoy the show.  It was quite an impressive display and we watched the colors explode in the air with no other objects around to block out or distract from the view.  At that moment I was happy we weren’t out in the large boat as the smaller space forced you to get closer and it felt like there was nothing else in the world but us, the water, and a shower of colors raining down from the sky.  The array lasted for about 10-15 minutes and finished with the kind of big finale that leaves you almost deaf and blind but just as excited to see the popping and explosions as when you were a kid.

Thinking we could outrun most of the boat traffic by getting out of there as soon as possible we upped the anchor and started the motor as soon as the last firework fizzled from the sky.  We were a little worried since we didn’t have running lights and were afraid others wouldn’t see us in the dark.  Matt handed me a LED flashlight and told me to hold it above my head with my other hand covering it about a foot above to give us a little reflection and make ourselves seen.  Normally I don’t care about making a fool of myself but on this night I felt like such a dope posing like the Statue of Liberty and was sure all eyes were on me.  We were able to cut through to the channel pretty quickly, but once there everyone besides us felt the need to disregard the no wake rule and started zipping by at much quicker speeds.  And when they thought that maybe they saw something in the water ahead of them they took out thier giant spotlights to glare down on us. Every. 60. Seconds.  This dinghy ride could not end quick enough.  Once everyone funnled out of the channel and spread out the spotlight on us became much less frequent although the sheriff that had been making it’s way toward the party boat early now looked like they had their sights set on us.  Matt kept telling me to hold the light higher or aim it in the direction of the sheriff so they could tell that we were trying to be seen.  And legally we did have everything we needed, it’s just that neither of us felt like dealing with the hassle that night.  Matt thought he remembered our spotlight flashlight being in the backpack so I quick pulled that out and lit up the night sky.  That was enough to make them change direction to a drunken boat of people that could have used the attention of law enforcement.

We were happy to find that Serendipity was exactly where we had left her, and even though it wasn’t even 11:00 yet I was ready to crash in bed.  I have no idea how one can be so tired after not doing much all day and still getting a nap in the afternoon.  I’m slightly worried for my future.

The next morning we awoke to another beautiful sunny day.  After spending a little time getting ourselves and the boat clean we raised the dinghy and anchor and set out for home.  The water on Lake Michigan started out a turquoise green that graduated to a royal blue as we gained distance and depth.  The wind was still in hiding ever since the fog rolled off Saturday and we were forced to use the motor.  It was a relaxing journey home of just reading, sunbathing and listening to music.  I read a few chapters of boat book to appease Matt and even learned a few things along the way.  By the time we pulled up to our mooring early that evening I was a bit bronzer, slightly smarter, and not at all looking forward to going back to work the next day.  I was however going to be heading home alone since Matt had still decided to keep one of the two weeks off work to get all the boat projects done that he hadn’t finished over the spring.  As I was getting ready for bed that night I had a message from him on my phone telling me Muskegon was having an even better fireworks display that night and he had just seen one of a heart with an arrow going through it so he needed to call me and tell me about it.  Awwww.  I should have stayed out there with him.  Who needs work anyway?