45 days ago, we thought that Moonraker was totalled, after we ran aground in Thunder Bay. Yesterday morning, we drove up to Alpena to climb back on board. Moonraker was in the water, in the same place she was that day in July when we sadly removed all of our belongings. The first order of business was unloading everything back onto the boat.
Unfortunately, my camera battery died right after I took that picture, so it was charging while we watched Alpena fade into the distance.
Thunder Bay was not going to let us out easily. We motored directly into the wind, in very choppy water. First, we encountered 4-foot waves, which we uncomfortable but not a problem. Then the 10-foot swells started. Occasionally, at the bottom of a swell, we would feel an uncomfortably familiar vibration in the floor and hear a low thudding sound. It was just the boat vibrating against the water, but it still gave us chills.
As we left Thunder Bay, we had to turn sideways to the swells, which were increasing in frequency. We have never seen anything like this in the Lakes; we wonder if Hurricane Irene was affecting the wave patterns. Rob sat at the dinette plotting our course, and he was thrown to the floor, along with his charts and navigational equipment! Beanie, of course, was unphased. The waves always criss-cross at the edge of Thunder Bay, so we were being rocked from all directions.
Once the swells calmed down, Rob’s charting revealed that we had been mistaken about the time it would take us to sail from Alpena to Tawas. Instead of making Tawas by dinner time, we would be there around 11:00 p.m! We considered stopping in Harrisville, but decided that we would rather be on our boat. This would mean navigating at night, but that couldn’t be anymore difficult than navigating in the fog.
Here are some pictures we took after the swells calmed down:
As the sun was going down, our engine began stalling. It would run for about 5 minutes, then begin sputtering and stalling again. Finally, it would not start up again. Rob got out his tool box and did a repair as we drifted past Oscoda.
When we removed the float bowl on the carburettor, it was filled with milky gasoline. We think that there was water in the gas tank, and the swells mixed it in the the gas. We will put a water separator into the fuel system when we get back to Bay City.
With that mishap behind us, we motored our little Moonraker into the night. Above us were more stars than I have ever seen. It was breathtakingly beautiful and eerily silent. We gave ourselves lots of room to get around Tawas point, going even beyond the markers. We are not taking anymore chances with shallow water.
At 11:30, we arrived at Tawas Harbor once again. My parents, who are cruising on their boat for the first time, met us at our slip on the floating dock. It is wonderful, and very unreal, to be back here, living this lifestyle again. It took me over an hour to walk down the dock, because everyone is friendly and wants to chat and to hear our story. It’s great to be back.