The defining characteristic of the Lakes is their unpredictability. And today, as we finally left port, we saw a most perfect display of this temperament.
Here’s the story.
First, take a moment to review the photos from our first day out last summer. Now, mind you, it was later in the season. But, notice the sunshine, the calm water, and the crowded marina in Tawas.
Today was a different sort of adventure.
We looked, looked, and looked again at the weather forecast. If NOAA were correct, we would be on a beam reach until Gravely Shoals, then we would be on a close reach, or motoring. Sounded good. Once again, we put Bay City to our stern.
As we continued down the channel, we were overtaken. But it was a worthy adversary.
It was so unbelievably clear. Almost from the beginning, we could see all of the markers, leading to the first “spark plug,” in the center of the Bay.
Things changed as we approached the first spark plug. It seemed we were having problems with our own spark plugs. The engine did its usual randomly shut down routine. We thought we had fixed this by installing a water separator, but apparently not. Luckily, the boat continued, under genoa, at a slightly slower speed, as Rob went to work.
We didn’t have much luck with the engine. It kept quitting after 15-20 minutes. However, the wind was increasing, and soon the genoa was simply too much, We spent the next leg of the journey sailing under main only (a rare occurrence). While we were sailing, we passed another interesting boat, in the opposite direction.
I had the helm all this time. At one point, I suddenly was unable to control the direction of the boat. I turned us into the wind, to stabilize us, and Rob reset the sails. The wind was not being consistent.
I kept following the compass, holding the course. Rob took over, being tall enough to see over the cabin trunk, and said, “You’re heading right for Gravely Shoals!”
Meanwhile, we made our annual sacrifice to the Lake gods (remember that solar light…A wave crashed over the back and claimed it).
After rounding Gravely Shoals, the wind inexplicably stopped. We ran the motor for a bit, knowing it would not last long. Then the wind picked up, cold, and from the opposite direction. The skies became dark, but now we were going where we needed to be.
Then, as we entered Tawas Bay, past the freighter docks, the wind stopped again. We motored, but it soon restarted, warm, and completely different. We were able to sail, right up to the entrance to the marina. I called while we were under sail, and they said, “Are you that sailboat that is approaching?” We dropped the sails, unceremoniously, just as we rounded the wall. We entered too quickly but docked beautifully.
For Tawas, this place is desolate. We did not see any people on their boats, and there were few boats. However, at the park, we saw a family of 3 playing there. Their daughter wore mismatched lightly-colored clothing, and they were both barefoot, with a wagon. Obviously boaters, it turns out they are from the same marina as us. We enjoyed talking to them, as our kids played.
Dinner, of course, was Pronto Pups (as the owner of the Pronto Pups stand is a huge Moonraker fan). We talked to another couple, who was fascinated by our boat, and knew it from previous visits.
We have our work cut out for us, with the engine. But we are lucky that, as Rob pointed out, Moonraker was not designed to be a motor boat. It’s made for sailing, but they reluctantly included an engine. Today, it (and Rob, the more experienced sailor) proved itself beyond all measure.