Sailing Stories, Part 3

I have already shared Sailing Stories from our first summer living aboard, and from the first leg of last summer’s journey.  Today, I’m sharing the posts from our under-the-bridge cruise.  This part of the summer involved a lot of learning, and quite a few adventures.  Enjoy!

Tentative Plan
You know how plans go. But we were still making them!

The Dinghy Project
She was rough, but I huge improvement over the inflatable that we used the previous summer.

Leaving Thunder Bay, A Beautiful Anchorage, a Small Craft Advisory, and PISH
The first change to our plans, and it ended up being lovely.

Sight Seeing!
Since we were stuck, we decided to see what we could see.

Quiet Journey to Rogers City
Finally, a quiet run, with no engine failure!

Rogers City
Exploring the favorite port town of Rob’s childhood.

Long Run to Bois Blanc
This is where we were, a year ago today. Beautiful pictures.

Under the Bridge
It’s a right of passage, for sailors on the Lakes.

Arrival at Beaver Island
In another change of plans, we visit our friends on the island.

A Great Off-the-Grid House
Our friends’ very fun tiny house. This family (plus a new addition!) are now living on Beaver Island full time.

Back to the Mainland
Our journey to Lake Charlevoix.

Taking Advantage of a Good Wind
Another change of plans, leads us to Grand Traverse Bay.

On the Hook in Cherryland
The Cherry Festival was going on, and the harbor master laughed at me, when I asked if they had any slips available.

A Bit of Luxury
An extremely posh marina in Elk Rapids.

Decisions, Decisions
We chose a destination (although it ended up not being our destination, in the end). And, what to do next summer? North Channel or Loop? It’s laughable to read, because it goes to show exactly how futile making plans can be.

Cathead Bay
The most beautiful anchorage ever.

Lessons Learned
What we learned, so far, in our cruising.

Fun in Fishtown
An unusual stop.

Lessons en Route to Manitou
Time to remember to take nature seriously. Spoiler: we made it back…

Beating the Heat
How we deal with summer’s heat, with no air conditioning. (P.S. We’re going to have a/c when we move to Houston!)

Enjoy reading!  There will be a part 4, eventually.  Part 5 will be written after we move to Houston.

Sailboat -

Also, don’t forget that there is still time to help Abby, for my $1 a month challenge!

Sailing Stories, Part 2

All right, I gave you the first installment of sailing stories two days ago, when I told you about our first summer on Moonraker.  Today I will share with you posts from our second summer living aboard and cruising.  There are so many posts from that summer, that I will just share the first leg of our journey, today.  This will take you up to and through our stay in Thunder Bay, during the end of May, and through most of June.  In my next installment, I will begin with our decision to leave Thunder Bay a week early.

Off the Grid Tuesday: Solar Panel
A short post about the best upgrade we could have, for anchoring out.

Like a Dream
It was a rough year at work–moreso than I let on, in my blog. But, still, I adapted, and the previous summer’s adventures didn’t quite seem real.

Trust Me, It’s Real
Pictures from our trip back to Moonraker.

I Shall Not Pass This Way Again
Little did I know, how true that would be.

Crazy Work Weekend
Pictures from a very hardcore weekend, pre-launch.

End of the Pre-Season
Ready for launch!

Safety First!
How we keep from residing in Davy Jone’s locker…

Birthday Party, First Adventure, and a Victory
A very fun day with our friends! And another run aground…

Bethany and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Technicalities, and car troubles.

The Day We Almost Went to Tawas
The first equipment failure, of many.

Some Pictures from Yesterday
It WAS a great sailing day!

Repair Day!
I wasn’t going up in the Bosun’s chair again. So we hired that out.

Why We Aren’t in Tawas Yet
This time, it was the weather.

The Tale of the Possessed Stove
The first crazy fire in the boat.

Our Ascent into Complete Randomness (We’re Out of Bay City)
Thank goodness for the crazy wind, that happened to be on our side, during the engine failures…

Rob vs. the Atomic 4
His first attempt to conquer it.

Harrisville Engine Test
Did it make it?

Return to the Dragon’s Fangs
The sky turned dark as we entered the Bay, and I began to shake, ever so slightly…

Cottage Sweet Cottage
We’ve arrived at our summer getaway!

Control, Worries, and Quieting the Disquiet
This was really the beginning of the journey I’m currently on.

Rethinking the Plans
Plans are silly, on sailboats. I just didn’t realize that, at this time.

I hope you enjoy reading these! I’ll give you a few days, before I share more from that summer!

Kids Sailing Clip Art

Don’t forget, there is still time to join me in my $1 a month challenge.  A bunch of $1’s is all it takes to make a difference!

Sailing Stories, Part 1

Many of you have not read about our adventures on Moonraker, over the past two summers, so I thought I would take a break and share those stories with you.  Today I’ll share all the posts from our first summer of cruising, the ill-fated trip (and triumphant return) of 2011.  I’ll wait a few days, before sharing the posts from last summer’s trip from Bay City, under the Mackinaw Bridge, and down to Grand Haven.

Especially if you’ve never seen the Great Lakes, do take a look at these.  It was this kind of beauty and freedom that inspired us to move toward living this way year-round.

Launch Day!
Just a short post, but if you’ve never seen a larger boat launched, this is how it’s done. It’s surprisingly not a very big production.

Home Sweet Home
The marina in Bay City, where we spent all of June, during that summer.

Nothing’s Easy!
Some days, even doing the laundry is a challenge.

An Important Upgrade
If you flush a ham, the boat will sink.

Happy 4th
Celebrating at the marina.

And We’re Off!
The journey begins!

Fun in East Tawas
One of our favorite ports. EVERYBODY there knows Moonraker now, due to the circumstances surrounding our second trip there.

Harrisville Harbor
Our first time running aground…

So That’s Why They Call in Thunder Bay
“Release the jib!” My first storm, and we only lost a winch handle, when all was said and done.

A Detour to Alpena
An out-of-stock gas dock leaves us stranded, but we make the best of it.

Moonraker: The Grand Tour
Come on in, and have a look around!

In Praise of Adventure
Words that we live by.

And Now to Get Out of Here
I wanted out of Alpena, no matter what. And God has a sense of humor…

And So it Goes…
Misery Bay, and the day I got to pilot a sinking ship for 6 hours.

Thank You and an Update
I thought Moonraker was my soul. How young and silly I was…

Some Pictures from Thunder Bay
Pictures from before the incident.

Project: Bring a Bit of Moonraker Home
Great Purge #1. (We are currently in the middle of Great Purge #2!)

Back to Alpena
Impressive baseball-sized holes…

A Successful Failure
My thoughts on the summer.

A Good Job of Not Dying
Kind of a tongue-in-cheek commentary.

Aboard Once Again!
Back to Alpena, for Labor Day weekend.

Stuck in a Nice Port (for once!)
Hurricane Irene kept us in Tawas for a few days.

A Wonderful Sail!
The day my profile picture was taken.

Fall Sunshine!
Some fun, back in Bay City.

When the Gales of November Come Early
A rather impressive disaster, that we avoided through procrastination.

End of the Season
Until next summer!

One Last Trip to Bay City
The end of the season is always bittersweet.

Enjoy reading these, while we’re busy preparing for our next adventure!

A Bittersweet Symphony

Happily, I found that my storage space upgrade went through (darned e-checks!). So I have a lot to share with you today.

Muskegon
Upon waking up at the Muskegon Municipal Marina, I realized that there was both a Save A Lot and an Aldi easily within biking distance. Yay! We stocked up on whole wheat bread, meat, artisan lettuce, grapes for Beanie, and, of course, a few bottles of Winking Owl!

We found that Muskegon was a very bike-able town, even if it wasn’t your typical, downtown-cute port town. They have a nice bike trail, good sidewalks, and everything is within two miles.

Here are some pictures from Muskegon.

One of the many boats you can tour in Muskegon.

A nice woody, at a mooring.

Yet another old Islander!

The "Milwaukee Clipper," open for tours.

The yacht club was ALWAYS having a race!

A very cool Coast Guard boat, open for tours.

Yes, you can even tour a submarine!

Muskegon light

Sailboat Mecca
The municipal dock was decent, but we’ve been curious about Torresen Marine. Probably the best sailboat repair shop and dealer in Michigan, Torresen is where our boat-hunting adventures began. Right after our summer on the Sonnet, before I was expecting Beanie, we fell in love with a Grampion from their derilict lot. We didn’t buy it, because it needed too much work. (Ironically, the biggest thing it needed was repair to the bulkheads…and we’ve already repaired Moonraker’s bulkhead once. We’ll need to do more repairs to it before next summer).

Anyway, we wanted to see their shop, because they were very likely to have used parts for our boat. Usually slips at private marinas are too expensive, but I took a look. 50 cents a foot! We headed right over.

We were on a tall metal dock that wobbled when we walked on it. There were four private bathrooms, and two had showers. But everyone there was so friendly. Any trip off of the boat resulted in a long conversation. It was really a fun place, and there were always races on the water to watch. That’s the only place we will stay, when we go to Muskegon.

My friend Karen, from Michigan Natural Parenting, came to visit with her two kids. Beanie enjoyed sharing her v-berth with them!

Its always great to have company!

Thank you, Karen, for taking a nice picture of the three of us!

Neighbors...

Last Run of the Season
Here’s where it becomes bittersweet.

We had thought that we would definitely make it to Saugatuck and probably to Holland as well. But, for the first time all summer, we have had bad weather this month. The one night we had planned to spend in Pentwater turned into a week. While we were at Torrensen, there was nearly a week of thunderstorms that were so bad the ferries didn’t go out.

Grand Haven was the next port. We would have time to spend a couple days downtown, get the car from Torresen, get a better moped from home, send Rob to the moped rally over the weekend (yes, there are moped rallies all over the country–more about that in a future post!), get Rob’s wisdom tooth pulled, travel up the river, and pull out at River Haven.

So, our run to Grand Haven would be the last of the season.

It was very foggy on Muskegon Lake, so we waited until 11:00 to leave. We made our way up the river and watched the lighthouse disappear in the fog. We turned around and anchored off of the state park (next to all the other boats who had headed out, then turned around).

At 1:00, we tried again. We followed all the other boats, then followed them back up e river after they turned around. Back to the state park.

Well, third time is the charm! We were about to row ashore and pick up food, expecting to spend the night at the anchorage, when we decided to try it one more time, at 4:00. It was still foggy, but not dangerously so. There was no wind, so our last run was a two hour motor. Happily, we knew where we were going, because Torresen sold charts. We stayed close to shore, and the scenery was beautiful.

We arrived in Grand Haven in time for dinner and tied up (for free) on their seawall. It’s a fun town, and they had a light-and-fountain show after dark. We love downtown wall slips, so I think we will have a good time while we’re here.

And to Lake Michigan, Moonraker’s new lake–Farewell, it’s been a pleasure.

Where Are We?

Our chart book ended in Manistee. We didn’t worry about this, because, on the back of the chart book was a map, with every West Marine store in the state marked. There would be one in Ludington. So all we had to do was figure out how to get to one port. And, remember, we followed the other I29 that day.

Our last day in Ludington, Rob took off to find the West Marine, 30 minutes after check-out time. Guess what. It closed a year ago. So, using his instruments on the chart on the wall of the lounge, Rob plotted courses to Pentwater and White Lake. We would then have to figure out how to get to Muskegon, where there would be a West Marine.

So, after being stuck in Pentwater for some time, we were finally blessed with a north wind. Sailing wing-and-wing, we were bouncing off of 8 knots (3 knots above hull speed). As we approached White Lake, we had to decide whether to stop there or continue two more hours to Muskegon (using a poorly copied PDF of NOAA’s chart). The sky was starting to look overcast, so I checked the forecast. We were supposed to get to Muskegon before 6:30, and there was a 40% chance of isolated thunderstorms at 7:00. Normally, we wouldn’t play those odds, but there was more than a 50% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow, so we would be stuck wherever we ended up. We were running low on provisions, and Muskegon has many real grocery stores (including an Aldi, with their wonderful Winking Owl wine!). And, with Rob making his trip to get our car on Friday, we needed to be somewhere with a car rental place by then. So we decided to go for it!

The wind didn’t change much at all, but we heard a disturbing number of distress calls on the radio. A boat sank at anchor, a sailboat capsized, and the Coast Guard answered two “mayday” calls from Grand Haven and Saugatuck (south of us). But, for us, it was calm surfing until we had to lower the sails. Then it was the usual choppy craziness as we beat into the wind for a bit.

We considered anchoring out, but we could not find a good, sheltered place that was shallow enough. We decided to stay at a dock. The municipal docks are usually the cheapest and in the best locations, so we called Hartshorn Marina. We got an answering machine, saying that they closed at 4:30! This is unusual, since most marinas are open until 9:00. We decided to go there and find a slip, and pay in the morning. We saw a well-marked channel leading up to a very cute marina, so we figured that must be the place.

Our depth sounder freaked out as we made our way to the gas dock. The marina was packed, so we planned to tie up there until morning. Two men from a power boat caught our lines and laughed at us. “You’re lost,” he said. “This isn’t Hartshorn!”

It turns out that he gives directions to lots of boaters looking for the municipal dock, which was around the next bend, He was amazed that we made it in without running aground like most of the other boaters do.

So, we managed to turn around and round the next bend. The man had told us that the floating docks were the transient slips, so we tied up to one. The marina was almost empty, with three other families staying there. It surprised me that the bathrooms and showers didn’t have codes, until I saw that we were fenced in by barbed wire. There was a gate that opens for vehicles, and requires a card to get back in. We appear to be surrounded by abandoned factories. Not a typical location for a municipal dock.

We wondered if we were in e right place. Rob talked to the other boaters, who said that we were, and hooked us up with some much-needed kitty litter and beer.

A friend of mine, who is familiar with the area, has assured us that this isn’t actually sketchy, and that we’re downtown! We’ll have to check it out in the daylight.

Here are some pictures from our adventures today.

This barge is called the "Pere Marquette." It used to be a car ferry called the "City of Midland."

Beanie was busy with an activity book from Storybook Village.

Little Sable Point

Stay tuned! I have more pictures to share with you, but they will have to wait until my storage upgrade purchase goes through…

Weathered In

Two nights ago, we arrived in Pentwater. We rented a slip, so that Rob could do his camera repairs and possibly work on the 12 volt system. We’re staying at the municipal dock, which is a small operation–staffed by a very fun, delightful harbor master and one dock hand. There were few pleasure boaters here when we arrived, but the marina was packed with fishers.

Yesterday, we saw that the weather was not favorable for us–there was a strong (10-20 kt) southerly wind. We learned in Presque Isle that we can’t make good headway against such a wind. So we decided to anchor out. There were a lot of boats moored in the lake, and a few on the hook. First, we headed to a private marina to get a pump-out, nearly running over their low-lying floating dock in the process! Then, we proceeded to the anchorage. The lake here is rather deep close to shore. We came in as much as we comfortably could, and barely got below 30 feet. We won’t anchor in more than 20, since we have to raise our anchor by hand. The wind was picking up, as well, so we headed back to the marina, where the harbor master was happy to see us. As the day went on, the marina filled up with more cruising boats–mainly power boats, but a few sailors as well–seeking refuge. Today, the wind will be from the north, but it is supposed to get up to 30 knots, with 5-8 foot waves. Like our power boater neighbors, we’re planning on spending another day in Pentwater! After this blows through, we will have a good day to sail to White Lake (or even Muskegon, if the wind is really good!).

In the meantime, here we are! Pentwater is definitely a tourist town, so I’m glad we stocked up on provisions in Ludington. But we’ve had some fun, and we’ll do more exploring today.

Some of our favorites:

–The multitude of ice cream shops! Beanie and I went to the Pentwater Popcorn Company and split a double-scoop Peanut Butter Cookie dough. You can imagine her surprise when they handed her that large cone. All she could say was, “Wow!”

–Right across from the boat, is a store called, “Storybook Village.” How could Beanie not love that? It’s owned by two boaters (and Great-Loopers, none the less!), and they encouraged her to look around and play with the books and corresponding puppets. Beanie found a princess doll to ride the dragon puppet, and she loved the tiger puppet. We bought a pirate book, and she tried on a mermaid costume that she loved (hint: Grandma!). They have story times throughout the day, and Jelly Bean loved coming back to hear three stories. I’m sure I’ll be spending more money there before we’re done.

–The west side of Michigan has some wonderful toy stores, with lots of kid-powered, educational (in the exploratory fashion, rather than direct teaching) toys. Beanie fell in love with the Pentwater Toybox. You can see them on You Tube here. She played with the wooden train set, while Rob and I looked around. I found her a sticker book, which she loved, and some glow-in-the-dark fairy tattoos. She loves girly things, so I thought these would be a hit. Turns out she hates fairies, and favors pirate tattoos. Go figure.

–Pentwater also has a great Boat Store. Forget West Marine! This store is set up in an antique store-style shop, complete with boating antiques. But don’t worry, they have all the necessities. We bought some marine toilet paper and looked at carburettor supplies.

We will do more exploring today, then we will head south, as the weather allows!

Ludington

We have just finished a fun week in Ludington. We didn’t have as many adventures as we did in Manistee, but I do have some stories to tell…

Three Nights at the Mooring
We were invited to use a mooring by the yacht club, next to the other I29 that we cruised with (and rescued!) on the run from Manistee. After our first night there, we decided to row ashore and take a trip into town. We loaded our foldable bikes onto the dinghy and tied up next to a cute little clearing on a point. It was quite the ride into town, but we went to the beach and climbed the lighthouse.

When we returned, we saw a bag in our cockpit. In it was a note, thanking us for the tow, and a gift certificate for the Jamesport Brewing Company.. Seeing that we had arrived, then men from the other Islander rowed over, and we visited for awhile. They promised to e-mail us some pictures, and they weren’t surprised to learn that I had already posted pictures of their boat!

After a calm night, we decided it was time to spend a day doing nothing. So we all played, read, and relaxed on board. It was a very welcome, quiet day. At least until the 12 volt system overloaded, and we couldn’t run any electronics (including the fridge).

Then, that night, the storm hit. We were moored, so we weren’t worried about dragging anchor. However, the lightening was very close this time, and that kept us awake. Also, the hail was a bit noisy.

We had been planning on renting a slip for four hours the next day, so we could shower and enjoy some dinner, With the 12-volt failure, then the storm, we were ready to spend the entire day–and night–enjoying a bit of civilization. So we headed to the municipal dock.

Statues in the Park
There was a huge playground next to the marina, but Beanie’s favorite part were the “follow the leader” statues. Here, she joins the sculpture!

Municipal Dock
We definitely enjoyed our stay in Ludington. The people there were extremely friendly, and you couldn’t do anything (walk to the shower, do the laundry, etc.) without meeting someone new! Here are is a picture of Moonraker at the dock.

Therapy and a Toothache
On Wednesday, my parents picked us up for our last stopover into Midland. I took Beanie to PT while Rob went to work, to pick up more cameras to repair. When I picked him up, he was holding his face and in horrible pain.

The next morning, my parents watched Beanie while I dropped him off at the dentist and headed in to work, to meet with my new principal and get moved into my new classroom in the high school. When I picked Rob up, he had a prescription for pain meds, an antibiotic, and orders to get his wisdom tooth pulled.

We called the very oral surgeon in the area, but couldn’t get in until September 10. Then, we noticed that one dentist had an office in St. Johns as well. We got an appointment there for the 16 of August. We’ll most likely be in Grand Haven at that time, so we’ll rent a car for a day to make the trip there and back (it isn’t all that far).

A New Destination
Since the summer is winding down, we decided to look up storage rates in Muskegon. They were a bit more than we wanted to pay, so I researched Grand Haven. Rates were much more reasonable there, so that will probably be our final destination. We’re still waiting to hear back from the marina, to work out the specifics.

We have also changed our plans for next year. It turns out that there is at least one fixed bridge of the Mississippi, so Great Looping is not really an option. We still want to go to the end of the Michigan side, and then we’ll decide what to do next! We won’t finish the Michigan side this summer, because we’ve been choosing to spend longer in port than we had been. And we have no regrets about that–better for the journey to take years….

Motoring to Pentwater
Lake Michigan has a rhythm. Every week or so, there is a windy day, then possibly a storm, then a good North wind. The storm hit Thursday night, but there was still supposed to be a North wind today.

We left at 11:00 and the wind was from the South. When we made it to the big Lake, there was no wind at all. Good thing we only had two hours until we would stop in Pentwater!

As we were sweating and listening to the rumble of the atomic four, I pointed out that this would have been a good day on Lake Huron. All of this calm wind has spoiled us!