Set up and launch

First of All -

  • First day with the boat in the water to start our Loop cruise

Namely Speaking-

  • Grand Haven Municipal Marina

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 1 mile; Sail: 0 miles
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 1 mile
  • Hours Underway: 1/2 hour
  • Fuel: 37 gallons
  • Morning House Battery Reading: NA
  • Wind Speed: 30 knots; Wind Direction: SW
  • Daily High Temperature: 72
  • Water Temperature: 55

The wind is gusting when we get up this morning. The forecast calls for 30 knot winds and 9 foot waves on the shore of Lake Michigan. This is definitely not typical August weather for around here. Our friends fix us a hearty breakfast, and then we drive down to the boat launch ramp on Harbor Island. Along the way we stop for a final fueling of the truck, and I fill the boat’s gas tanks, including the 5 jerry cans I’m carrying to provide us with additional cruising range (three 2.5 gallon cans stow under the steering seat, and another 2.5 gallon can and a 5 gallon can ride on the port side stern platform). We drive DSCF7528DSCF7539 to the launch ramp and begin the task of rigging the boat. It has always been my goal to do the perfect set up, with no mistakes or wasted effort. Once again, this highly desirable goal eludes me. After raising the mast part way up, I realize that I’ve forgotten to pin the top of the forestay (I undue it for road travel, since this allows me to strap the furled jib to the mast without having it lay in a curve on deck). This results in me having to lower the mast back down, unpin it from the step and roll it back to the bow pulpit so I can reach the fitting where the forestay needs to attach. The setup process is further complicated by the fact that we’re doing this in nearly gale force winds. The wind is simply howling as we labor to rig the boat. I subconsiously find myself working a little slower, hoping that the wind will ease off when the time actually comes to launch the boat, however, we have no such luck. Around 2:30pm I back the truck down the ramp, and Chinook gets her first taste of Lake Michigan water. It’s all my dock line handlers can do to hold the floating boat close to the dock while I pull the truck back up the ramp and park. I lower the engine and rudders, but don’t have enough depth for the centerboard to go down. I turn the Garmin on and start the engine. Our friends work the boat out to the end of the dock with the docklines, which is a real struggle since the 30 knot wind is pressing broadside on the boat. Finally, it’s time to release lines and leave the dock, for the first time on our Loop cruise. I go in strong reverse to keep us from swinging around, against the next dock. I continue backing into the wind until I have enough space to shift into forward and swing around, into open water. About this time I realize that I really don’t have a clue which way to go in getting to the municipal marina. Sandy goes below and pulls out the Great Lakes Waterway Guide and looks up Grand Haven. I conclude that I have to take the channel to port. We’re headed straight into the wind, which is howling off the lake, and I’m dreading the prospects of trying to pull into a slip in these conditions. I radio the marina and get directions to our slip. Our friends are waiting there with our camera to document our docking. I’m hoping I don’t provide them with a full blown disaster. A marina employee is at the end of our slip, ready to help with our line, if we can simply get close enought to pass it to him. I make a wide circle so I’m heading bow into the wind, and try getting into the slip. At the last moment we get slammed by a tremendous gust of wind which threatens to slam the side of our hull into the end of the dock. I jam the throttle into reverse, thankful for the power in my 60 hp engine. I pull away and circle for another attempt. This time I ferry over in the wind in good position to enter the slip, then give a shot of power to counteract the force of the wind, get turned into the slip, and then reverse to avoid ramming the bow into the walkway. It all works out perfectly and with great relief I hand the stern dock line to the marina attendant. We’ve successfully completed the first mile of our Great Loop Cruise.

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