Candy Coated Raindrops

Friday June 22, 2012

When Matt and I woke up this morning on his 30th birthday we walked out of our bedroom and expected to see the whole living room and kitchen decorated with balloons, streamers and signs, just as his mom had done the previous year for his 29th birthday. She must have listened to pleads of ‘I don’t celebrate birthdays, please don’t do anything’ because the area was not adorned with a single balloon. We went through our morning routine getting ready to go to the boat so it was pretty quick with just pulling on a t-shirt and shorts over a swimsuit. Going into the bathroom to brush my teeth I saw there was a note on the counter wishing Matt a happy birthday and that his card was in the bathroom downstairs. I could already tell where this was going, but he was busy sitting on the floor of the living room making sure we had all the necessary componets to bring out the radar and get it installed over the weekend. I mentioned his birthday card was downstairs and he should go get it. Following him down the steps we walked into the basement bathroom to see that there were signs, streamers and about 30 balloons taped all over the small space as well as a card with gift enclosed. He had a good laugh and I personally think he would have been a little disappointed had he not gotten one streamer on his birthday. Walking back upstairs I had my birthday gift waiting for him on the counter and made him open it. Wrapped in Christmas paper (I wrapped it the night before and it was the first thing I came across) were a pair of Sperry Topsider loafers.  Something for him to wear on the trip besides sneakers and sandals since those aren’t his thing anyway.  There was a period of a few years where he wore a pair of Banana Republic loafers to do everything from hiking to mowing the lawn.  I think he was very appreciative of the gift since it’s nothing he would splurge on for himself.

 Packing up the car we headed out to the boat with a quick stop at West Marine to exchange for a smaller pair of shoes (apparently they run large) and food. Before going to the marina we pulled into the offices to see if they had the situation figured out yet of what mooring we would be at. The woman who had been working with Matt on the issue was not in the office at the moment but we were told she would call or email when she got in. When we pulled into the marina the sun was bright in the sky and winds were also gusting at a decent speed. Lugging the big box containing the radar we went over to the slip that had our boat and loaded everything below deck. Neither of us wanted to sit at the slip for very long as we always feel crowded and on display.  After the crew around the docks had gone to lunch and we were sure they wouldn’t see our attempt at a departure the engine was turned on and we began to undo the docklines.  Matt was behind the wheel backing us out and I was at the bow keeping one line around a cleat until we were clear of the docks.  Backing into the area that boats are normally launched into we cleared everything with no problem and were soon making our way into open water.  I did find out though that Matt had actually turned us in the opposite direction that he was originally trying for, it just happened that everything still worked out.  Good thing there will not be a lot of marina’s in our future or if there are hopefully we get a lot more practice moving around in small spaces first.  Once in the lake we didn’t even want to bother checking out the new mooring the marina was trying to put us at but headed straight towards the dunes instead.  Forecasts had been showing for some isolated storms to come through that day but the skies were looking clear.  When we did cross infront of the channel and were able to look out to the big lake there did appear to be some large puffy clouds covered in a pink haze far out on the horizon.  I’m guessing that was the storm that was coming our way but it still looked pretty far off.  Pulling into a spot between two powerboats enjoying the early afternoon we had our new anchor set up and ready to drop.  Matt stood up at the bow with the remote for the windlass  and I followed directions from behind the wheel of neutral and reverse.  The anchor dug into place very easily which was nice because for some reason in my head I remembered anchorings being a stressfull situation.  Maybe racing has just got me much more comfortable of what a boat can do before you’re in real danger.  Plus this time we were not surrounded by the jagged rocks of the breakers and that helps ease one’s mind.

Set in a stationary spot we didn’t feel like doing any real work and I wanted to get a better glace at what looked to be the storm clouds coming in.  Since we had the dinghy towing behind us we jumped in and motored to shore.  Trying to walk up the steep initial dune I didn’t plan on going very fast since lack of treadmill time this summer has left me a little out of shape but as soon as my bare feet hit the burning sand both of us were sprinting up to try and find a spot of shade at the top.  Peering over the dunes to Lake Michigan the clouds were not looming any closer than they had been almost an hour ago when viewing them from the channel.  Practicing my weather forecasting capabilities I predicted they would reach us in four to five hours.  Walking/sprinting up one more dune we found a nice spot in the shade and sat down to relax.  With no cooler and not much shade around us we only relaxed for a few minutes before getting restless and heading back to the dinghy on shore.  Dashing down the sand at top speed we both went right for the water to cool the burning soles of our feet where we spent a little time on a beached log before stepping back in the dinghy and reboarding Serendip.

With the storms still a few hours off and being protected from the wind we pulled the large bag containing the mail sail up on deck so we could attach it to the mast/boom and clear out a little space from the saloon.  Plus sails are good to have for, you know, sailing.  Having watched this multiple times now on Island Dream before every race I felt confident that I knew what I was doing.  Bringing the tack (forward part) of the sail up by the mast I put Matt on winching duties and asked if he was ready for me to start hanking the foot of the sail into the boom.  He replied that no, the head of the sail goes up first and then the foot is attached.  Confused as I was sure I had just watched this multiple times I explained my logic to him but was still denied.  Figuring that Mr. OCD was still more versed in everything sailing than I was I let it go and attach the halyard to the head of the sail and told him to start winching.  It hadn’t even gone ten feet up when he stopped and goes, ‘Wait…no, the foot of the sail does need to go on first’.  Mmmm hmmm.  So the toggles were slid through the boom and it was finally ready to go up the mast.  Other than a small issue of where I had inserted the toggles upsidedown where the battons were (sorry for all the nautical lingo for you non sailors) where the sail had to be lowered and then raised again the process was done pretty quickly and we were putting the sail cover on.  Yes.. one more lump of fabric out of the way.  Celebrating the small victory I sat with some crackers and a pop in the cockpit.  When Matt came back up after changing into his swimsuit I wanted to get my very rare ‘I told you so’ in so I looked at him and asked ‘So how’s that logic of yours working out?’.  Straight faced he looked right back at me and replied ‘How’s that piece of food in your teeth working out?’  Touche.

Because of all the labor that’s been poured into the boat for the past, oh 8 months?, neither of us were in a work oriented state that day and raising the main was enough to call it break time.  I had finally remembered to take the hammock we had purchased years ago for camping out of my car and bring it on the boat.  Wanting to see how it would work out Matt started pulling out yards of line to attach it to the mast and the forestay.  The first attempt left his butt repeatedly bumping into the hatch as he swung back and forth.  The second attempt gave about three inches of clearance but left a little squeak.. squeak.. squeak of the furling as he swayed in the breeze.  Knowing that adding a second person would take away any of the extra space between the hammock and the boat I decided to go for a swim instead.  Teetering over the side of the deck it took a lot of preparation to get ready for my first plunge of the year as it was not incessantly hot and I didn’t have Matt to push me in before I was ready.  After a few false starts I forced myself to take the leap before my mind caught up with my impulse.  The water was refreshingly cool and took a few moments to get use to.  Since we had rushed out of the house in the morning and I didn’t get a chance to clean up I used the opportunity to wash my hair (with eco friendly products), lathering up on deck and jumping back in to rinse.  When I was all clean I let my body just float around with the breezes for a few minutes before getting chilly and climbing back on board to nestle under my towel.  Trading places I took over the hammock while Matt sampled the water.  I don’t know if he was having the same issues I was in the hammock but the wind started forcefully swinging me back and forth at more than the rocking pace I was expecting and that coupled with the vertigo from floating in the water quickly sent me below deck to lie down before I could become even more sick than I was starting to feel.

The black sheep in the cloud family

Matt tackled a few more projects while I napped and only woke me for a few minutes to listen to a song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s playing on Pandora that I had been longing to hear.  Getting another hour of sleep in I woke up still a little groggy and went to the cockpit with a Pepsi to wake up a little more.  Just beginning to stretching out over the dunes were the clouds I had my eyes on earlier in the day.  At first they came over thin and wispy but soon became thicker and darker.  Right on time at just after four hours from I watched them from the top of the dunes.  Realizing we still needed to attach our equipment to whichever new mooring they assigned to us and it would not be fun to do with a storm rolling through we upped the anchor and crossed the lake to the mooring field in search of our new home, number 103.  Not ever paying attention to mooring numbers before except our old one of 35 we didn’t know what side to start on and ended up on the opposite end at 1A.  Strolling past the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s  we stopped even searching and just headed for the very end.  Swinging around from the outside and entering the field our eyes were peeled for numbers that might point out how close to 103 we were.  This area did not seem to follow any order as 99 and 108 were right next to each other.  Looking at all the vacant balls we could not find 103 anywhere.  Then we got smart and started searching ones with boats attached to them and sure enough 103 was already comfortably housing someone.  Knowing the offices were already closed for the night we left a quick voicemail for them to call us as soon as possible but knew we’d just have to pick a random spot for the night.  One of the issues with this is each  mooring ball is weighted down with different items and we needed to make sure we were on one strong enough to hold our 15,000 or so pounds.  Turning back to go to the area we had always been in the past we’d look at open areas and try to remember what size boats had been there or areas that would give us a lot of swing room in case we did end up at one too small for us.  Deliberating between two or three balls we finally landed on one that was closest to the open water of the lake and afforded the most swing room.  Matt boarded the dinghy will all the equipment and I circled around with Serendip until he finished and called me over.  I may have barreled into the spot a little too quickly but soon we were attached and safe enough for the night.

Checking the forecast though, that incoming storm was really closing in and we didn’t want to leave until we knew Serendipity would be safe for the night.  Since we were going to pick up fried chicken on the way home we opted instead to grab it before the storm came and bring it to the boat to eat.  Driving the 4-5 miles from the marina we pulled in to Lee’s Chicken which has amazing chicken and for so cheap.  I was really craving coleslaw and a biscuit so I ended up ordering a meal that came with three pieces of chicken and two sides plus a drink for under $6.  I don’t know why we don’t come here more often.  Getting our meals back to the boat we sat out and ate as a few boats from the yacht club started to pull out into the lake.  Most of them I recognized from Wednesday races and thought maybe there was a race being held that night.  Only around five in total were headed out so my guess was they were just getting practice in or Friday races were not popular at all.  Just after we finished eating I could see a haze on the other side of the lake near the dunes and it looked like the rain was finally coming.  Hanging out down below we let it pass over us.  The storm was quick and not very strong at all.  Once it was apparent the storm was gone I stuck my head out the companionway to see if the racers had come in but instead was treated to the sun poking out of the clouds and a brilliant full spectrum rainbow shining over the water.  I had never seen anything like it before, it was actually so bright that it made my eyes hurt.  Grabbing the camera and calling to Matt that he had to come see this we both stood in the cockpit taking it in.  We could make out the full rainbow from end to end in electric colors that also included blue, indigo and violet.  The lines between the colors were clear and concise and it looked like something that had painted onto the sky instead of nature made.  Neither of us could take our eyes away and continued to stare for ten more minutes until the colors slowly started to blend together.

Staying for just a little longer there was no dragging of the mooring and we felt confident that when we came back the next night our boat would still be there waiting for us.  Even though Matt does’t ‘celebrate’ birthdays I think he got a good one in.  Boats, fried chicken and rainbows sound like an ideal day to me.  Maybe I was trying to celebrate my birthday a few months early?  After all, mine will likely be spent in the Erie canal in a one stop light town.  Could be really fun or could be dismal.  We shall see. In any case I feel I have taken over enough of Matt’s to last until mine.  Did I mention we get to go home to pineapple upsidedown cake?

In at Last…Thank the Almighty, We Are In at Last!

Tuesday June 19, 2012


After it seemed like it would never happen but I knew it eventually would, we are finally in the water.  We are still not completely prepped and ready to leave but this is a start.  There’s a small feeling of completion accompanying at least getting ourselves far enough along to be in the water.  Any future projects just won’t seem as daunting as you’re bobbing along in peaceful serenity.  Plus we can get some enjoyment out of it now before my destructive thoughts take over.  There will be sailing and swimming and grilling to keep me sane.

Now comes the bad news of our splashing.  It appears there has been a mix up this year where everyone has been assigned with their moorings.  Our good friends Steve and Cathy on Buen Tiempo who had been our mooring neighbors for years have now been moved a few spots over.  Our faithful mooring ball, lucky number 35, has been given away to someone else and until they can find a new suitable spot for us we are at a slip.  I know a lot of people out there would be giddy with excitement at the thought of a free slip but we try to avoid them with a passion.  We love the seclusion and peacefulness of a mooring.  Being right on top of your neighbors just doesn’t do it for us.

We made a visit out to Muskegon just to make sure Serendipity made it in safe and to relish the sight of her no longer in a cradle.  Since there are still some projects going on with the dodger and bimini they weren’t up yet and Serendip looked so bare without them.  It’s strange how much difference a few yards of fabric can make.  We enjoyed a fast food dinner in the exposed cockpit and took stock of the immediate projects still to be done.  Our visit was short but I didn’t feel cheated on boat time because I’d be out racing the next night and we’d be out three days later to celebrate Matt’s big 3-0 where we might actually get in some (gasp) sailing!