PS

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mapcom

So, I’ve been on the hard for about a month now, I’ve got my land legs back, and I’ve had a chance to reflect on our big Lake Huron sailing trip of 2014.

What have I gained from this experience?

Well, my sailing skills improved somewhat. During our trip I pushed myself to take more initiative with the responsibilities of sailing. It feels good to be more confident on the boat and the confidence helps me to dismiss some of the needless apprehensions and fears I used to attach to our adventures.

The trip allowed me to truly relax and enjoy the moments of each experience. At times we were very busy with the daily responsibilities aboard Guinevere, but mostly we were able to take in and savour each part of every day. I am trying to incorporate this ‘living in the moment’ attitude into my life in general.

I’ve learned to appreciate and be proud of this beautiful part of the world in which I am lucky enough to live. From the rustic nature at our remote anchorages, to the vast open water, to the charming little port towns, there is so much spectacular beauty to see and enjoy.

We met so many kind, friendly, helpful people, wherever we went. That was a big advantage to traveling about and interacting with others when I was not on my own familiar home turf.

I really enjoyed my time with Rick. Contrary to what many people expect when they ask me about our experiences, we really enjoy each others’ company in the cozy close quarters. We enjoyed each day and we appreciated making memories that we’ll be able to draw upon together when we aren’t able to take on such adventures.

I appreciate my summer sailing experience. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to more sailing adventures in the future.

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Lexington, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario

Monday, August 18, 2014

We were up and at ‘em and on the lake by 7:15 this morning. The weather was calm for a comfortable motoring trip all the way home to Windsor, Ontario today.

First, we travelled the rest of the way down the west coast of Lake Huron. At this point in our trip we basically completed the full circumnavigation of Lake Huron.

At the Sarnia, Ontario/Port Huron, Michigan Bluewater International Bridge we felt the tug of the current caused by Lake Huron flowing through the relatively small mouth of the St. Clair River. The current was strongest at the beginning of the river but we were helped by the current going in our direction for the rest of the day. Our speed over land was anywhere from 2 to 4 knots faster than our speed over water.

Port Huron Lighthouse

Port Huron Lighthouse

Port Huron Lighthouse Just North of the Blue Water Bridge

Port Huron Lighthouse Just North of the Blue Water Bridge

We are waiting our turn to go behind this freighter under the bridge.

We are waiting our turn to go behind this freighter under the bridge.

After you, Buddy!

After you, Buddy!

Blue Water Bridge

Blue Water Bridge

Crossing Under the Blue Water Bridge

Crossing Under the Blue Water Bridge

Sarnia to Port Huron Bridge

Sarnia to Port Huron Bridge

Blue Water International Bridge - Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan

Blue Water International Bridge – Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan

Up Close and Personal with a Freighter

Up Close and Personal with a Freighter

Without going into any details here, I’ll mention that we had one minor incident in the river that involved being on the wrong side of a red buoy. No problems…this just added a little zing to our adventures.

Interesting Sailboat on the St. Clair River

Interesting Sailboat on the St. Clair River

Sister Ship

Sister Ship

Anyway, by mid afternoon we entered Lake St. Clair. At about 4:00 p.m. we pulled in to Miller Marina in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. It is located in a neighbourhood known as The Nautical Mile on Jefferson Avenue.

We refueled and asked if we could leave Guinevere at the fuel dock while we ran to a West Marine store about a mile down the road. The attendants were very helpful in retying our boat at another spot along the dock while we took off.

We bought a new toilet for the boat and a VHF radio with DSC capabilities. We must have been quite a sight as we ran along Jefferson Avenue back to the boat pulling the toilet behind us on our market cart.

Walking down Jefferson Avenue with our toilet!

Walking down Jefferson Avenue with our toilet!

Miller's Marina

Miller’s Marina

Delivery of one toilet to Guinevere!

Delivery of one toilet to Guinevere!

One hour after we arrived at Miller Marina, we were back on the lake, headed for home.

Altogether, we travelled 71.2 nm today and we got in to our home port of Riverside Marina at 6:20 p.m.

We settled ourselves a bit, put our feet up in the cockpit, and cracked open a couple of Guinness beers to celebrate and recall some of the highlights of our 5 week adventure.

After he was done working, Jesse came to pick us up and drive us home.

This was the end of a great day and a great trip! Life is good!

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Lexington

Sunday, August 17, 2014

As planned, we woke up at 5:45 a.m. and checked the weather forecast. It sounded great for travel so we quickly showered and were off the dock by 6:35 a.m., heading the 63 nm to Lexington.

Port Austin Lighthouse

Port Austin Lighthouse

Sunrise at Port Austin

Sunrise at Port Austin

Heading around the Michigan "thumb" at Saginaw Bay.  A large lighthouse warns boaters to stay away from the rocky shores.

Heading around the Michigan “thumb” at Saginaw Bay. A large lighthouse warns boaters to stay away from the rocky shores.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise at Port Austin

Sunrise at Port Austin

Port Austin Lighthouse at Sun Up

Port Austin Lighthouse at Sun Up

The wind direction was perfect for sailing south but the wind speed wasn’t very strong. Since we had a long way to travel to get to Lexington, we had to supplement the sail power with engine power. We were motor-sailing again. An optimum speed for Guinevere is about 6 to 6.7 knots, so for going as far as 63 nm, it is expected to take almost 10 hours. If we can’t do 6 knots or more using sail power alone on these long treks, we usually get the extra oomph required from the motor.

With all that in mind, at about 11 nm from Lexington, we decided to cut the motor and strictly sail for a while. We could only go about 4 to 4.3 knots but we thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful ride. It was a beautiful sail. We reluctantly turned the motor back on about 4 nm away from our destination because we were getting tired and it was getting late.

We arrived at Lexington State Harbor Marina at 5:40 and had a great deal of difficulty docking the boat. The weeds were so bad in our assigned docking area that it looked like we could almost walk on top of the water. Rick had trouble controlling the boat because we were getting caught in the mess. The attendant on the dock was not helpful at all. Someone from another dock yelled over, “Good job!” to Rick once he finally got us in to the slip.

Lexington Marina

Lexington Marina

Lexington Marina

Lexington Marina

And You Thought I Was Exaggerating About the Weeds!!

And You Thought I Was Exaggerating About the Weeds!!

Anyway, we got tucked away, paid our fees, and then took a walk around town.

The town is made up of a lot of beautiful historic buildings. It offers the typical touristy fare with some upscale places to eat and shop. There is a nice municipal park next to the marina with another breakwall walkway. Overall, Lexington seems to be very nice.

Main Street of Lexington

Main Street of Lexington

Charming Architecture at Lexington

Charming Architecture at Lexington

We went for dinner at an Irish pub, walked around a bit, and then came back to Guinevere.

Dinner at a Lexington Pub

Dinner at a Lexington Pub

The weather looks good for sailing tomorrow then there is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms predicted for the next 4 days after that. We would have liked to explore Lexington tomorrow but we are instead going to take advantage of our window of good weather opportunity and try to make it home tomorrow night. That means another early start because we think it should take about 13 hours if we go all the way home.

Early to bed sounds good to me!

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Port Austin

Saturday, August 16, 2014

We woke to lots of rain and predictions of thunderstorms so the decision to stay in Port Austin was an easy choice.

Even though it was cold and very rainy, the weekly Farmer’s Market was still on. There were lots of customers with umbrellas and many vendors, with and without tent enclosures. We were impressed by the variety of food and craft choices at the market and even more pleasantly surprised by the festive atmosphere generated by everyone’s positive attitude. We got some good veggie purchases and I bought a couple small gifts.

Port Austin Market in the Rain

Port Austin Market in the Rain

Port Austin Eye Catcher

Port Austin Eye Catcher

Port Austin Market in the Rain

Port Austin Market in the Rain

Rick takes in the festive market in the rain.

Rick takes in the festive market in the rain.

When we got back from the market we had to hang a lot of clothes up to dry throughout the boat. We snuggled up and did some reading and napping. I made a couple of good meals for us.

It rained all day until the late afternoon. We ended up going for a couple of walks along the breakwall that surrounds the marina. As in so many other port towns we’ve been to, this serves as a town promenade and is a very popular spot for walkers.

Rick chatted with other boaters. I did, too, but not as much as him. He is really in his element at the anchorages and marinas and gets along with everybody.

Tonight, I prepared some food for meals tomorrow. We are getting up at 5:45 a.m., checking the weather, and then heading out to Lexington, Michigan, if we can. Early to bed tonight!

Port Austin Sunset

Port Austin Sunset

Port Austin Marina as Seen from the Breakwall

Port Austin Marina as Seen from the Breakwall

Promenade

Promenade

Port Austin Sunset

Port Austin Sunset

Promenade

Promenade

Port Austin Marina with Town in the Background

Port Austin Marina with Town in the Background

Sunset on the Water

Sunset on the Water

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Tawas and Port Austin

Friday, August 15, 2014

A record cold temperature of 42 degrees F was expected last night but we only reached a low of 48 degrees F. We slept comfortably on Guinevere but I was using gloves and lots of warm weather gear to stay warm when we headed out to do our showers in the morning.

We expected to be able to leave early for our next port, Port Austin, but the strong winds were not cooperating for a sail. Rick was feeling anxious to head out. We listened to the VHF weather forecast several times and the trend was for the winds to diminish so we anticipated an early afternoon leave.

We had breakfast and went to the library to use the wifi.

I tried to get a much needed haircut at one of the two salons in town but nobody could take me for an appointment right away. I took my bike about a mile out of town and found a Walmart. The Walmart hairdresser was available to give me a cut so I went for it. Not bad!

After lunch on the boat we went over to the marina’s fuel dock for a pump out, fuel, and to top up our water tank. We left to cross the unpredictable Saginaw Bay for the 27 nm trip to Port Austin at 1:05 p.m.

Guess what? We had waited a bit too long for the winds to subside and they really weren’t very strong for a good sail. We ended up motor-sailing after all that waiting. Rick and I are both learning and adjusting our sailing practices as we go along. There is a fine line between being a bit too aggressive and being too cautious. This time we were too cautious and I take the blame for that. As I get more experience, I think I’ll learn that I can handle a lot more than I expect to be able to comfortably handle on the boat. Live and learn!

I had a nap en route to Port Austin.  I'm wearing my life preserver.

I had a nap en route to Port Austin. I’m wearing my life preserver.

Anyway, we had a great trip over to Port Austin and we were tied up to one of their great new docks by 5:15 p.m.

Rick makes many boating friends wherever we go. In Tawas, he’d chummed it up with a group of power boaters who hail from Port Huron. When we got to Port Austin, they were waiting on the docks and served as our welcoming committee.

We did a quick walk through of this small, charming town, and then we went to a wonderful restaurant called The Bank for dinner. The Bank is actually in a restored historic bank. We had the chef’s choice vegetarian entree and called it our 38th anniversary dinner.

The Bank Restaurant where we had our anniversary dinner.

The Bank Restaurant where we had our anniversary dinner.

The Main Street of Port Austin

The Main Street of Port Austin

Port Austin Marina

Port Austin Marina

Promenade

Promenade

Port Austin Marina in the Evening

Port Austin Marina in the Evening

Guinevere is Tucked In at Port Austin

Guinevere is Tucked In at Port Austin

Another Busy, Beautiful Marina Break Wall Promenade

Another Busy, Beautiful Marina Break Wall Promenade

The Main Street Looking Toward the Harbour

The Main Street Looking Toward the Harbour

It is early to bed for us. The weather is iffy so we are setting the clock for 6:00 a.m. If the forecast is good, we are going to move on in the morning. If not, we will stay put tomorrow.

Guinevere

Guinevere

Pals Running Down the Dock

Pals Running Down the Dock

Sunset at Port Austin

Sunset at Port Austin

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Still in Tawas

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The winds were still blowing hard this morning and there was no change expected in the forecast.

We were happy to stay in Tawas today and absorb some of this small town culture.

The Beach

The Beach

The theatre was showing a Teenage Mutant Ninja movie and a sci-fi movie.

The theatre was showing a Teenage Mutant Ninja movie and a sci-fi movie.

The main street looking toward the harbour.

The main street looking toward the harbour.

North Channel Trip 2014 S90 239com

This picture was taken from Guinevere at the marina.  The showers were in the building in the background.  No. Not that building.  Keep looking way back there.  It was .42 miles away!

This picture was taken from Guinevere at the marina. The showers were in the building in the background. No. Not that building. Keep looking way back there. It was .42 miles away!

Guinevere at the Tawas marina.

Guinevere at the Tawas marina.

This is the view from our cockpit.

This is the view from our cockpit.

Tawas Eye Catcher

Tawas Eye Catcher

Tawas Eye Catcher

Tawas Eye Catcher

Rick and I started out by going to a little restaurant/sports bar for breakfast. This place served lots of locals and vacationers. It’s no wonder that they were busy because they served up a mean breakfast for a really reasonable price.

After breakfast we went to the library so we could pick up the internet to catch up on a bit of email and to post my blog. Lately, I’ve written my blog on my computer using Micrososft Word, and then I put it up on the internet whenever wifi is available to me. It means that I often get behind on sending out my posts, but no worries, I’ll eventually catch up.

We spent some of the day doing window shopping and treasure hunting at the shops.

There is a nice antique store where I got a wall sconce for an outdoor plant.

The local artists’ co-op was great. The gallery/store was busy with artists and customers. I met a woman who does beautiful acrylic painting on Yupo art paper and she gave me a few tips on how to use that substrate. I plan to try it as soon as I get settled at home. She also makes primitive pottery and I got myself a mug and a cup to use at the boat. I revisited the Book Nook and got a couple paperbacks for myself and a used nautical book for Rick.

In the afternoon we did some reading at the boat. Rick did more reading and less shopping than me.

We entertained a couple that we met in Harrisville. Their names are Bruce and Karen Bett and they are on a Cape Dory sailboat called Malinche. They came to Guinevere for a drink and we talked about boating and reminisced about life. They are about the same age as us and they lived in Detroit for a while. Now, they keep their boat at Port Sanilac and they live in Canton near Ann Arbor, Michigan.

All in all, we had a great day enjoying the little vacation town of Tawas.

Rick is riding his bike at the break wall that surrounds the Tawas marina.

Rick is riding his bike at the break wall that surrounds the Tawas marina.

Promenading

Promenading

The Break Wall/Promenade (Guinevere is on the left.)

The Break Wall/Promenade (Guinevere is on the left.)

The Break Wall/Promenade

The Break Wall/Promenade

The Break Wall/Promenade

The Break Wall/Promenade

The public beach is between the campground and the marina.

The public beach is between the campground and the marina.

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Tawas

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We woke this morning in Harrisville to more high winds but sunny skies were expected.

The talk of the sailors around the docks was of the weather and travel plans. Rick and I planned to travel the 37 nm to Port Austin. One of our dock mates who lives in this area advised us that Saginaw Bay, which we would have to cross to get to Port Austin, may get uncomfortable with the strength and direction of today’s winds. We decided to give it a try but we were open to changing our route on the fly if necessary.

We left Harrisville at 8:30 a.m. The NOAA weather forecast called for 10 to 15 mph winds with gusts to 25 mph. It was cool, in the low 50’s and we both wore our toques.

Right away, we were able to turn off the motor and travel really fast with only our jib up. The actual winds were more like 17 to 20 knots with gusts that sustained themselves for long periods of 24 to 25 knots and we even saw gusts up to 28 knots.

To get to Port Austin we had to travel quite a distance out from shore and we would also have to eventually cross the Saginaw Bay. With open water between us and the shore, the wind was able to pick up speed by fetching over the water. The wind was northwest, at our back quarter so it was very choppy but we could almost surf down the big waves. With the jib being our only sail, at one point we saw our speed reach 9 knots. Too fast and rocky!

We decided to change our course and head for Tawas State Harbor Marina which would allow us to move closer to shore and stay on the north side of Saginaw Bay for today. This took us way out of our way so that in the big picture of our travels south we didn’t make much headway today.

I have to admit that, although I was at my personal limit of sailing adventure, it was an exciting day of travel. Rick did an amazing job of sailing and navigating. He ended up bringing in the jib to halfway and we were still speeding along. For the first time I can see how sailing is not just a means of travel but a sport. The sailor is fully occupied in the task of sailing. It takes every bit of concentrated effort to do the job.

Rick patiently talked me through how to handle the boat in these conditions. I hesitantly agreed to try steering and I was at the helm for about 20 minutes. I saw the wind speed indicator reach 26.6 while I was maneuvering her. Keep in mind that Rick was never too far from my side.

We made great time and we were docked at East Tawas State Harbor Marina by 1:45 p.m. We had traveled 33.2 nautical miles.

We had time to check out the town on our bikes. It is a nice little harbour town that caters to the boaters and cottagers. There is also a campground at the beach.

We tried with no success to get internet at a tea shop. The library was closed so we are going back there in the morning. I’m having trouble staying connected with my family and posting my blogs. Rick’s phone is still not able to pick up T-Mobile service.

Tonight will be an early night for us. The weather forecast is basically the same for tomorrow as it was today so we will not be sailing. I’m ready for adventures of a different sort in town tomorrow.

Note: I have no photos of our travel adventures today. For once, picture taking was not on my mind. Sailing was.

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