First of All -
- First time our boat is clean in months
- First time going out sailing in another MacGregor
- First time swimming in fresh water
- Miles Cruised today: NA – Layover Day
- Total Miles Cruised to date: 5,455
- Hours Underway: NA
- Fuel: NA
- Morning House Battery Reading: 14.3 (plugged in)
- Wind Speed: 10 ; Wind Direction: W
- Daily High Temperature: 76
- Water Temperature: 71
This is boat cleaning day. Both inside and out, the many miles of travel have taken their toll on poor old Chinook. She has a dirty brown “moustache” stain on her bow and running down her water line, black streaks on the side of the hull bear testamony to less than perfect landings at cushioned docks, dead mayflies litter the deck, seagull droppings are all over, and that’s just outside. Inside the cabin dirt, dust, grit, black streaks, and mildew spots disfigure the fiberglass surfaces, the carpets are stained and loaded up with sand and dirt, the sinks are dirty, it goes on and on. I tackle the exterior while Sandy attacks the cabin. While we’re busy with these chores, we take occasional breaks to watch the little kids preparing to go out, on another perfect light air day, for their sailing lessons. With a minimum of coaching they set their boats up and head out onto the lake. We also watch as wheelchairs are rolled down to the dock. The yacht club here has a great sailing program for paraplegics. A pair of davits with winches are installed on the dock, and people in wheelchairs can be hoisted into the small sailboats and back out again. It’s a great thing for this club to share the sailing experience with people of all abilities.
In the afternoon Ilya, wife and family, which includes a grown daughter and 3 energetic young boys, arrive at the yacht club. It’s a perfect afternoon for going out in the boat, and one of their favorite things to do is run out into the lake a couple of miles to a shallow area, anchor out, and go for a swim. Sandy stays behind to put the finishing touches on our boat, while I join Ilya and family on their outing. Once clear of the breakwater Ilya shoves the throttle forward and his 90 hp Etec quickly has is boat up on plane and running at 19 mph. The kids gleefully shout “Punch it, Chewie!”, in reference to Han Solo jumping into hyperspace in the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars. In no time we’re out to the shallows, where Ilya drops anchor. Time for a swim. Water temperature is 71, which makes me just a little reluctant to jump in, but comfortable enough once I make the plunge, along with Ilya and the 3 boys. I swim around a little and then head back toward the boat. I’m swimming but not getting anywhere, because a 1 knot current is trying to sweep me away. After cooling off in the water we climb back on board and snack on fresh strawberries, ripe watermelon slices, and homemade guacamole with chips. For our return trip, Ilya hoists the main and we sail off the anchor. Out comes the jib, and we clip along on a reach, trying our best to “break the record”. We come close, getting her up to almost 6 knots, and afterward discover that we’ve forgotten to raise the swim ladder up. The extra drag certainly prevented the setting of a new record. This little outing, running quickly on plane to a great swim and snack spot and then sailing back really highlights what a great boat the MacGregor is. We all thank Roger MacGregor for designing and building this boat, which has enabled its many owners to enjoy so many times just like this.
Back at the dock it’s time for Ilya and family to come on board Chinook, to see how we have our boat set up. Ilya tells his boys that we’ve been living on our boat for almost a year. “How can they do that?” is the question they ask. Once they climb in they get a better idea. One boy takes a quick look around and says “Don’t let mom see this”. I mention that we’ve been modifying the boat for 14 years, getting her to this state. I tell them how lucky they are to have their boat and to be able to do the things they do together on it, and the gleams in their eyes confirm that they totally get it. We finish off the day with dinner at a local favorite Greek restaurant, which is filled with animated conversation and authentic, tasty food.
I’ve read many comments by people, upon completion of their Great Loop cruises, and they all tend to list people met along the way as among the greatest highlights of their experience. They are generally referring to fellow cruisers that they’ve encountered and, in many cases, cruised with in the course of their loops. We’ve certainly enjoyed this aspect of cruising the Great Loop, and have had some great times in the company of other cruisers. However, I think that, after we complete our trip, we’ll look back on the non cruisers, the local people we’ve met and befriended along the way and who have gone out of their way in extending hospitality, as among our fondest memories. Certainly, Ilya and his beautiful family have contributed strongly to this sentiment.