Previously I have written about “The Great Loop” and how Dearest and I have wanted to take our boat on the great rivers and the Eastern Intracoastal Waterway. Well, it is now more than a dream. We liquidated most of what we called home and furnishings. Anything left is either for sale or has too much sentimental value to let go.
Monday 18, 2014 we began our journey.
Friends gave us a send off that included salutations, wishes of good luck and safe travels. Special cake and music accompanied all the well wishes from our friends and acquaintances. All put together by our friends Terry and Marilyn Benkert and music and arrangements by Joe and Sindee Maxwell. There were many hugs and some tears from friends that we have known for many years.
On Sunday, we started to make the change from land time to boat time. Still we had friends stop by to give final wishes of safe travels and good luck. Even both of our sons stopped by to give Mama another hug before we left. Jacob our oldest even offered to drive us to diner and let our dog, Toots, ride along. As soon as Mama was in her seat Jacob turned on his radio and had cued up “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. Not only is it a pretty song but it is the first song my wife and I danced to at our wedding almost 33 years ago. (Yes he is that nice of a guy Bridget at French Academy. I would pay for the blind date.)
Now the switch to Boat time
Both Cynthia (Dearest) and I were awake in the middle of the night, early Monday morning. Like little kids about to start a trip to Disney World, we couldn’t sleep. Cynthia is one that will stay in bed and try to rest and get comfortable. Me, I usually will flop around for a bit then get up and read or do a draft for a post. (just like now)
No wind and a flat lake made for a real temptation to leave right then. But we remained, still on land time, schedules and obligations rule the day. Our son Jacob and one of Cynthia’s friends were going to take pictures of us leaving our home port channel. We couldn’t leave until then. That left us both awake and waiting.
The sunrise had both of us awake, though somewhat bleary eyed, and ready to get going. I busied myself with the regular routine, hot water for tea, feed and walk the dog, and I added a short trip to the shoreline for a final check on the water conditions (looked almost flat with just small waves lapping up on the beach). Last minute phone calls from friends wondering why I’m with the dog driving around while I’m supposed to be getting ready to go.
At 08:55 we backed away from our slip and headed for the gas dock. With fuel tanks full and holding tank empty we left again at 09:25 and called sons and friends to let them know we were on the way out. Soon a call from our son Jacob, “I see you! Slow down! I couldn’t get a good parking spot and am walking out on the pier now.” Jacob on the South Pier and Linda, Dearest’s friend, on the North Pier. We moved closer to the South side because Jacob uses the camera on his phone. Once close we waved and shouted “Love yous” across the water. Then back to the other side for more pictures, with more waves and acknowledgments of “safe voyage”. Finally we are on the way and the switch to Boat time has started.
“What do you mean we are not supposed to go North, we can go any way we want.“
Actually South would be the most obvious way to go. Heading from home port of Grand Haven, Michigan toward Chicago. But, we have never been ones to do things the easy or correct way. We headed North. Our plan, to head toward Frankfort Michigan and cross Lake Michigan from there heading to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. From Frankfort to Sturgeon Bay is 55 miles and the narrowest point in Lake Michigan. Dearest has never crossed the lake and this will make for an easy days travel, with good weather. Also we have never cruised the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, and what better time.
Our first day has us traveling for 8 hours and 87.5 miles to Manistee Michigan. We arrived and were tied up at the Municipal Marina by 6:00PM. First priority is get the dog off the boat for a walk. Dearest took Toots for a needed walk while I did the final securing and power and water hookups. (Relaxing on the boat that evening we had unexpected guests, old friends on their way home taking a break from their own travels walked by and saw the boat. A great final send off from my childhood friends.) Now prepare for the next leg of the trip, check charts and weather. Uh oh, looks like thunder storms and high winds for the next day. Boat Time begins, we are not going to push into unsafe conditions. It’s better to wait for better conditions than risk an unsafe or dangerous leg of the trip, and it’s only the second day.
This is what Boat Time is, we do have a time schedule, however, we cannot be commanded by time and schedules. The weather and water conditions dictate when we travel and when we stay in safe harbors.
Early Tuesday morning I found myself awake and now with charts spread out on the galley table. Do we head on to Frankfort, only 30 miles farther, or do we leave to cross Lake Michigan from here in Manistee. Storms have come ashore this evening, with sport fishing boats making the dash just before the lightning. Tuesday’s forecast is for more Thunderstorms in the morning and higher winds throughout the day. Wave forecast says if we stay close to shore the waves wont be to big and a southwest wind would be on our back side into Frankfort. Do we push on or stay put? Here’s another thought. From Manistee, Michigan it is 68 miles to the Sturgeon Bay channel. From a point just north of Frankfort the crossing is 55 miles, one of the narrowest distances to cross. Do we travel the extra miles for the shorter crossing or just leave and point toward the Wisconsin side. I know what I think makes sense but this is not a decision that I can make on my own. Come the morning and after time to wake up I show my findings and let Dearest decide how she would feel the most comfortable.
We stay another day in Manistee, do some laundry, walk the dog, and meet some other travelers. One in the process of Looping from Virginia and a Michigan sailor with experience with Door County, Wisconsin. We talked back and forth and offered suggestions and I think all parties came out with some great information. I feel we benefited a lot. The sailor suggested great anchorages in Wisconsin and the fellow Looper gave great information on Chesapeake Bay, plus and offer to tie up at his home on the James River.
That’s Boat Time. We will give an idea of when we will be in an area, but weather and water conditions rule. We have also been known to remain in an area for longer than expected if we like it. (One time we went to Charleston for the day and ended staying a week.)
It’s now early Wednesday morning around 4:00AM. I think I have a pretty good draft for a blog post, weather looks like a window of travel today, and I’m getting tired. I will try to post this ASAP. That means if I get to it before we leave the dock or maybe it will be from Wisconsin, not sure, but I will send something to update our travels one of these days.
Until next time; Thanks for all the well wishes, with special thanks to both our sons, Jacob and Ben. Friends, Terry and Marilyn and Joe and Sindee for the special Bon Voyage, Linda for pictures, Hillary for books and, dinners, and the Parmelee’s for the unexpected visit. And, thanks to everyone that wished us safe travels and fair winds.
We will do our best to keep you informed of happenings. It just might be a day or two behind what is expected in your fast paced society.
We are on Boat Time.