First of All -
- First piece of damaged gear
- First time cruising in the dark
- First use of the full cockpit surround
- First thunderstorm experienced on the cruise
- Miles Cruised today: Power: 12.5; Sail: 0
- Total Miles Cruised to date: 41.5
- Hours Underway: 3
- Fuel: NA
- Morning House Battery Reading: NA
- Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: S
- Daily High Temperature: 77
- Water Temperature: 72
I rise at 4am as planned, unsure about whether I’ll attempt a move south. It’s been breezy and bouncy in the marina all night. I’m not sure how successfully I can back out of our slip in the dark, with this cross wind, and without assistance. I’m also uneasy about conditions out on the big lake. But then I look around at our surroundings and decide to go for it. I start undoing our nice black braid sheathed dock lines and immediately discover that the line securing the starbard stern of the boat to a rough steel piling (no cleat available at the end of the dock) has badly chaffed, and the white core of the line is exposed and badly chewed up. It will clearly need to be retired and replaced with a backup line. I turn on my running lights, pleased that they all light up with the turn of a breaker switch, start the engine, and prepare to back out. I untie all but 2 docklines, and walk the boat to the back of the slip, give her a final shove, hop aboard, and quickly take the wheel and shift into reverse. The wind catches the boat’s bow, which brushes the piling on the port side of the slip, but it’s a light touch and no harm, no foul. I turn out into the main arm of the lake, set the autopilot, and go forward to secure docklines. I don’t bother bringing fenders in. Hey, its dark out there and no one will ever notice. I carefully follow the navigation lights and the channel on my Garmin to the harbor entrance, pass by the tall red light near the end of the jetty, and cruise out into the blackness of Lake Michigan. It’s again very bouncy, and I hold my speed down to about 5.5mph, which enables me to avoid bouncing the hull on waves more than just once or twice. I’m hoping Sandy will be able to sleep through all this. I’m wearing a pair of walking shorts and a wind breaker, and soon find I should have dressed warmer. The wind chill becomes quite uncomfortable. I set a waypoint for the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, some 7 miles distant, and once I get on course, I can just make out the red and green lights which mark the end of the jetty. It’s a convenient target to steer toward, and I hold very close to the course line on the GPS. It takes about an hour and a half to reach my waypoint. On the way I briefly consider contuing onward to South Haven, but end up deciding to head for Saugatuk on the Kalamazoo. It looks like a nice place, with some interesting things to see and do if we get pinned down there by winds on the Lake. As I near the entrance I spot several boats heading out, presumably to do some salmon fishing. Predawn light welcomes me into the channel, and I take my time following the twisting course of the Kalamazoo River upstream toward Saugatuk. The shore is heavily forested, and near town I begin passing some impressive homes. Sandy wakes up as I enter Lake Kalamazoo, and she gets dressed so she can help me to dock. It’s too early for any of the marinas to be open, so I simply tie up at the fuel dock at Seargant’s Marina. After breakfast I seek out the dockmaster. He’s a nice guy, but I’m not enthused at the $72/night rate he quotes. He says Tower Marina cross the lake is a bit lower, and we decide to head there. This proves to be an excellent choice. It’s a beautiful facility, very well maintained, with beds of bright begonias, and an inviting pool. The docks are well designed and easy to tie up to. The $52/night rate is higher than I’m used to, but easier than across the lake. They have a nice, almost free on demand bus service which will take us anywhere we might like to go. This looks like a good place to hang out until we’re able to move again.
My cough isn’t improving, and putting the cockpit surround up really saps my energy. Shortly after lunch we get slammed with the predicted thunderstorm. Several lightning strikes are close to right overhead. The rain comes down in sheets. Our new bimini has a few leaks, since we haven’t sealed the seams, but it keeps most of the rain off. I take a long nap and is refreshing. I’m able to buy a new dockline at the marina office, which matches the others perfectly. I’ll cut the damaged end off the old one and sew a new loop onto the end. It should prove useful when I need a line to tie with from a center cleat. I’m sure we’ll be here tomorrow, and likely Tuesday as well, since fairly strong winds and periods of rain are predicted. I’m hoping we don’t have to wait too long before continuing our southward journey.