First of All –
- First time turning around and returning to port due to wind and waves
- Miles Cruised today: Power: 8; Sail: 0
- Total Miles Cruised to date: 6,328
- Hours Underway: 1 1/2
- Fuel: 7.5 gallons
- Morning House Battery Reading: 13 (plugged in)
- Wind Speed: 15-20; Wind Direction: WNW
- Daily High Temperature: 78
- Water Temperature: 73
I’m up at 5am and the boat is prepped and ready to go by 5:30. Just starting to get color on the eastern horizon. A light breeze ruffles the water just outside the breakwater. It’s hard to tell what it will be like at the mouth of the bay. I walk over and confer with Larry and Elaine, confirming their intention to also head for Drummond this morning. I head out with Shamrock following close behind. I’m going slightly faster, and I begin to open up a little distance between our two boats. About halfway out of the bay we start picking up the swell, 1 to 2 feet at first, but quickly increasing to 3 feet. Further out I can see lots of whitecaps, and the wind speed strengthens as we near the first point which defines the bay. We’re rising and falling into the closely spaced troughs, and as the wave height steepens to 4 feet, occasionally higher, we start to pound. I call Larry on the VHF, who is trailing by 1/4 mile, telling him I’m thinking this isn’t a good idea. He wants to go just a bit further before deciding to turn back. I’m hoping when I clear the point that the wind, blowing right toward the island, may create a bit of a cushion effect, however it just seems to be getting stronger, the waves growing higher. There’s no way I want to do this for the next 6 hours. The forecast predicts a lessening of wind speed in the forenoon, however, even stronger winds by early afternoon. With these rough seas I can’t make the speed I will need to reach Drummond Island by noon. It’s just not going to happen today, so I pick my spot and hang a “U” turn. Running with these high seas is no picnic, with the boat constantly trying to slew around with the push of trailing seas. Larry heads out for a bit longer, but ends up drawing the same conclusion that I have, and he follows us back into Meldrum Bay. We tie up back at our slips, disappointed that we couldn’t make the trip to Drummond today, but comfortable with our decision to backtrack.
After the boat is tied up we have breakfast and then I take a nap. Sandy spends much of the day taking advantage of the good internet signal at the marina office, working on the computer. I go for an afternoon walk and, while strolling down the road, I check my phone for messages. I see a text from my sister, who is down with my folks in LA. She reports that dad is not doing well, and it sounds like I need to start rethinking our cruising plans. I need to figure out a way to get home in time to be with dad and give support to mom. It’s not clear just how quickly I’ll need to move, but it’s feeling more and more like I’m going to need to pull up short. On the walk back to the marina I consider options. I need two good weather cruising days, one to get to Drummond Island where we’ll clear US Customs, and another to get across the Straits of Mackinaw and back to Michigan’s Lower Penninsula. Once I get to Mackinac City I have options. If the news from home starts to improve, I can push on by water as fast as safety allows, perhaps covering the 238 water miles in 4 or 5 good weather cruising days. The risk there is that wind will most likely impose delays. Another option is to rent a car and drive down to Grand Haven, retrieve the truck and trailer, and start driving south. My new friend Larry has most generously offered to ride with me in the rental car, so it can be driven back to the rental agency. I can either leave the truck, boat and trailer in Grand Haven with my friend while I fly to LA or, if it looks like I can afford the extra time, spend 5 days on the road trailering the boat back to Washington. It’s tough to be in this situation when I’m needed at the folks’ home. Hopefully, things will sort out in the next few days, but right now, everything seems uncertain, including the weather. Tomorrow looks doable, but then so did today.
Sandy and I talk this all over while on an after dinner stroll. It’s a lovely evening, with low light causing the trees and fields to glow. We see a pair of deer feeding in a field and, while walking back, I look over my shoulder at the long country lane we’ve been walking along. It’s kind of like life, a long route and you just can’t quite see what’s around the far bend.