Friday, September 30, 2011

Who knew relaxing would be so much work?

We're dead dog tired! We pushed for 2 weeks to get around Michigan and down to Chicago. We made Crowley's Yacht Yard on Wednesday where the mast will get removed. That last afternoon on the lake was taxing. It started out very nice but the seas built up to about 4 feet broadside to us causing quite a roll. The sails helped calm that motion down. But I quickly took them down when I saw a line of water spouts headed right for us. In Red October fashion, I turned toward the most threatening one and it dissipated before causing trouble. That was quite unsettling and I kept the sails down for fear of another one developing. So we rolled and rolled and rolled. We finally made port around 4pm, totally exhausted from trying to remain upright in a washing machine.

No rest for the weary, Crowleys expects us to get our work done and move on. They are not charging by the day but will start, if we dawdle. So we got busy first thing Thursday by removing the sails & the sail control lines. By then it started to rain so we thought we were done. I stopped by the office and the manager said Friday was going to be gale force winds and he wanted to get the mast down NOW. I hustled back to the boat to disconnect all the wires that run into the mast and other last minute stuff. Very quickly there were 6 guys on deck disconnecting all the wire stays and hooking up the crane. In no time flat, we had no mast. That was quite the frenzy. Unfortunately, between the frenzy and the rain I couldn't shoot any video. Bummer.
The mast was moved to a storage building where we can prep it for truck shipment. There are fixed bridges of 19' height on the route to Mobile, Alabama so the mast had to come down. Some sailors build a cradle and carry the stick on the boat. But our mast is too long, it would stick out the back by 15'. Way too easy to crunch it into a lock wall. I was getting quotes of $3000 to truck to Mobile. But at the last minute, late Thursday, I got hooked up with a group of sailors who were going down together. That reduced my cost well below $1000!!
As soon as the frenzy of pulling the mast was over, we had to jump in the shower, get cleaned up to go to dinner. We've made some very good friends in Chicago through sailing, and a dinner gathering was planned. We had a great evening meeting old friends and making some new ones. HUGE thanks to Tim for putting it together.

Meanwhile, back at Crowleys; it's Friday morning & time to get crackin. We spent all day removing all the wire stays from the mast, the radar & mount, spreaders and other items to make for better shipping. That was a LOT of work. At lunch we had a visit from Gary & his daughter Malia as well as Bob & Alice of Lucky Bird and their friends Mary & Tom. We feel like celebrities!
We finished the day by going shopping for supplies at Ace, Radio Shack & Jewel grocery store. How did we get to all those places in East Chicago? Hitch-hike? No. Cab? No. Walk? No. The aforementioned Tim dropped off his spare Ford truck for us to use!!! Tim, that was very generous of you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

So we're ready to zonk out at 9pm on Friday night! Paarty animals!

We still have some work to do prepping the mast plus some items that were on the mast will need to get relocated elsewhere on the boat before we cast off. Might get that done Saturday, might finish Sunday. We found the location here at Crowleys very interesting. We're practically under the skyway as well as a RR lift bridge. The Cal-Sag canal is heavily traversed by commercial traffic, mostly tugs with barges. Very cool industrial action all day long. And train whistles & clickety clacking of steel wheels most of the night. But it's windy and getting colder and we want to get going. We hope to start relaxing sometime soon!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thoughts on our overnight sail, from Chris

We have been weighing our need to get south, to warmer areas with our desire to enjoy the sights of beautiful northern Michigan. Warmth won out! Marinas, gas docks have been closed and water shut off. This was our sure sign that we needed to get moving. 24 hour sailing can be taxing but I tend to be a night owl so I took the 2:00 to 6:00 am shift. Yes, I missed the sunset and the sunrise, but oh those night skies are mesmerizing! This overnight trip was not sailing, the wind was on the nose so we had to motor. There was a thunder storm off to the southwest. I could see it in the distance but it was not going to effect us. Looking straight up, it was clear, there was a small crescent moon and stars galore. Living near a city makes you wonder how constellations get their names, out on the lake it is clear why the were named; Big Dipper, Orions Belt, etc. This is only the third overnight we have done, but I really enjoy it. I am looking forward to overnight sailing when I don't have to bundle up in layers!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Heading South

We departed Mackinaw City at 7:30AM for Lake Michigan & south. Got to cruise under the "Mighty Mac" Mackinac bridge heading west, quite a sight from the water. Cut through Gray's Reef Passage and made the turn south. There are plenty of reefs scattered all over this part of the lake. The Garmin chartplotter with GPS makes picking your way through very easy. Wind & waves were non existent. That is fine for a while but we never got any favorable winds the entire trip.
We reached the Manitou Passage at sunset & were able to see Sleeping Bear sand dunes in the fading light after sunset. Red Sky At Night, Sailors Delight, and we had a very clear, red sky. The saying held true for us all night. But it is still a bit disconcerting to be out on the open water all night long.
We've not run the engine for 36 straight hours before. There is a bit of roughness on the alternator crankshaft pulley and after 18 hours, it was really wearing down. I decided I should change it before it broke so we put up sails and altered course about 30 degrees to be able to sail while the engine was off. Sailing keeps the boat much steadier in the 2' waves we were in. It didn't take long to swap out with a spare belt & we were on our way again. Now I need to take some time to sand the pulley smooth. If you're keeping score, that's 3 repairs. The anti-siphon loop, the battery combiner and the alternator far!!! That's the nature of long range cruising.
And that provided the only pure sailing we could do the entire trip. I was expecting to sail at least part of the way. So our fuel burn was much greater than expected. That meant a quick fuel stop before we could continue on to Holland. I think we could have done much better in the fuel consumption department. I'm still looking for the optimum speed to motor for best efficiency.
We made Holland just before sunset and Tim, a sailing friend, met us in his dingy out in the channel. We had a great visit, good to see him again.
So here we sit at anchor in Lake Macatawa relaxing and waiting for a storm front to move through. Then it's up anchor and on the move again.
I've edited a new video, but I'll need a strong wifi connection to upload it. Should be able to do that in St. Joe's Monday or Tuesday night. Stay tuned!!