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!

Happy (belated) Fat Tuesday!

In the middle of a rather stressful week (OK, just the second day of it…), I noticed that the shelves at the grocery store were lined with paczkis. I guess you can’t get them everywhere, but paczkis are extra sugary, extra fatty jelly doughnuts. And it is everyone’s religious duty to eat them on fat Tuesday.

Well, I’m a sinner this year. I’m doing much better at not failing at this diet (I’m eating well, although I haven’t lost a single pound!). I thought that indulging in this doughnutty-goodness would be the start of a slippery slope. So I abstained.

However, the fact that Lent has already begun makes me happy. Not because I’m giving anything up (heck, I’m already on a diet!). But because it means the countdown to Easter has begun. And Easter means spring break. Which is when we plan to do the work on Moonraker. Which will launch less than 2 months after that.

So, paczkis are a divine sign, that the time of Moonraker is near. A little ray of hope, during the February dreariness.

A Visit Back Home

Last Sunday, we decided to make a trip to Moonraker.

We had already winterized the boat, but the mast had not been unstepped at that time (we’re going to do bulkhead and mast repairs next spring), so we could not cover it. We got notification that the mast had been unstepped, shortly before the weather from hurricane Sandy came through (hurricanes are not even tropical storms by the time they reach us, but they can still wreak havoc on the Lakes).

Well, just as we’d feared, a lot of water came in through the hole where the mast had been. This didn’t seem to cause any further rot on the bulkheads, though, so we should be able to patch them without fully replacing them next spring. The carpet was moldy, but we’re planning on replacing the carpet with fake-wood flooring. The worst part–the bilge was full of water and mold. We had no battery in the boat, so we had to jury rig the wiring to get power from the car to the bilge pump (our manual pump broke during the storm in Thunder Bay, two summers ago).

We no longer own a cradle (our old one was falling apart, and we decided we would rather not deal with storing and transporting it), so we rent stands. This marina put the boat on a cradle that they owned, instead, which probably kept it safer in the high winds.

When we were done, we took a much-needed walk down the seawall, where we lived for two weeks last summer. Beanie knew immediately where she was and excitedly led the way. It was every bit as pleasant as we remembered it, and, on the way back, we saw some kids playing on the sailboat sculpture. Beanie happily joined them, and she cried when it was time to leave.

It was great to visit our home.

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.

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!


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.

100 Square Feet

While we’re in the business of reflecting (and while we’re still waiting for the storage space upgrade to take effect), let’s talk about our living space. Moonraker is 29 feet long and 9 feet wide. However, about one half to one third of the living space is cockpit, and it’s much narrower in the bow. We estimate that we have about 100 square feet of usable living space.

The surprising thing is that it has worked. The boat is actually a bit less cluttered than it was when we started out. How did we do it?
— We only brought 5 summer outfits each. We also had one cld weather outfit and our bathing suits. Most of the clothes fit comfortably in the aft hanging locker. Most marinas have cheap laundromats, so washing the clothes was not a problem.

— Beanie only had a few toys out in the v-berth. The rest–the toys for guided play–were in the other hanging locker. We’ll probably revise this method (bring fewer toys and keep them somewhere else), but not having a lot of toys out did help.

— Once we got our new stove to work, it stayed out on the counter. We brought one pan and the tea kettle, which stayed on the stove. We only brought enough dishes for us.

— Every morning and evening, I do a quick little “clean up.”. This only takes 5-10 minutes.

It’s been nice to be able to focus on other things than constant housework, and it’s been nice to be closer together during the day. Still, it will also be nice not to have to convert our bed into the table every morning, and to have our own bedroom. Our dream is to eventually get a center-cockpit boat, where we would have our own little stateroom. It would still be a small space, but a little larger.

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…