Sunday, August 25, 2013

We made it!

Home that is. Eleven days after we took off we managed to make it safely back to our home port. And it's sweet to be home, somewhere familiar, with space to roam. Being able to tell people about where we've been isn't bad either, especially when it causes them to look at us like we just came back from a trip to the moon. We got a lot more experience under our belts too - navigating, anchoring, docking, doing all three in a nasty storm, sailing/motoring in big seas and wind, and seeing what it's really like to live on a sailboat (at least for 13 days). And I have to say: I LOVED IT! Sure there were times where I was on the verge of barfing or just sick and tired of rocking and rolling for extended periods of time, but it's funny how your mind is able to put those times in the far reaches of the back of your mind, leaving the great times crystal clear and the first to be remembered.

Not bad for a couple of rookies, eh?
We ended our trip in one of the best ways possible - with a long awaited reunion with friends we haven't seen in over a year. We wouldn't have had to wait quite so long if they hadn't stood us up in Staniel Cay but that's neither here nor there now. I'm totally kidding. Having the chance to spend an evening with these two made us more than ready to come home. We spent a fun evening eating, drinking, catching up and even snuck in a slow relaxing sail before having to part ways again. It's funny how with some people, even if you've only actually met them in person 4-5 times, you can immediately pick up like you haven't just spent the last year apart.

At least we know it won't be another year before we see them again - We have plans to meet up with them in January again, wherever that may be. Except this time we're going to wait until a couple weeks before we go to get our tickets...lesson learned last time. In the mean time, I'll sure miss these two!
Although the reunion was short, it was a BLAST!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crossing Back

St. Martin Island Lighthouse
 We left Fayette under motor power in nonexistent wind. Once we got past St. Martin Island and some nearby shoals and got further out in the lake the winds picked up enough to motor sail fast enough to get rid of the millions of little bugs that had covered the canvas. Before we knew it the wind was pushing us along at 6kts without the engine...yeehaw!
What a gorgeous day
Ron's helm hump: cushion, fender step, blue chair. Guess we don't need to blow big money on an actual helm hump!

A good way to pass the time...soaking up some sun
 As we got nearer to the Manitou Islands the winds continued picking up and the sailing got fun. We crossed between them doing 7kts at a 20 degree heel. What a great way to end our crossing! We anchored for the night at South Manitou then headed down to Frankfurt.
Frankfurt, we have arrived!
Although this day was nice, the next day was forecasted to have high winds and unfavorable seas. With this we planned to hunker down in Frankfurt for the next two days before heading home to meet up with some long lost friends.

We anchored just outside of a mooring field (consisting of 2 moorings) that was right in front of a public/dinghy dock. Perfect. We were right next to the shops and boutiques that make up the cute town of Frankfurt. Besides the cuteness of the town, Frankfurt has BEACHES! Something that I didn't realize I'd missed so much until I dug my toes into the sand. But best of all, Frankfurt is a very dog-friendly town. They had bag dispensers left and right to "pick up after" our pets, which we also used to restock our own dwindling supply. Frankfurt even has a special beach area for pets, a place where "you're responsible for your own pet" and they can run, swim and play all while off a leash (gasp!). After not being able to really stretch her legs for a couple days, Lexie Tore. It. Up.

Cuttin' loose
Frankfurt-one of my new favorite places.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fayette, MI

The dock at Fayette Historical State Park...after all the boats left
After leaving our friends in Sister Bay, we took off for Fayette, MI. We started the 45 mile trip with light winds and flying the spinnaker. With the weather forecasted to be light winds around 10kts and waves less than 2ft we were not prepared to get caught in fast-building winds and waves. Fortunately, we had taken down the spinnaker about 5 minutes before the winds shot up to 15kts- not the kind of wind to be flying a spinny. I got caught down in the cabin bouncing around trying to close hatches that had splashing water soaking the v-berth and head and was thisclose to getting seasick. The rest of the trip seemed to take forever with winds reaching 25kts and waves about 4 feet with the occasional 5-6 footer hitting us from the side. Blech!

Snail Shell Harbor in Fayette is supposed to be one of the best natural harbors on Lake Michigan but we began to get a little nervous when we got close and only saw big, open bays facing the weather. Then we saw the marker for the entrance into Snail Shell Harbor. We came into the harbor only to find that the dock was pretty much packed. A big yacht that came in before us had to turn around and leave because they wouldn't fit and if we had to do the same I may have cried. People at the dock saw us trying to decide what to do and asked how big our boat was. When I shouted back that we were 36 feet, one of them paced off the only open area and said we'd fit...phew!!! There were multiple people waiting to take our lines and help us squeeze into our spot. All the other boats were end to end and we barely managed to get into a 38 foot opening. We even had to take our anchor off the front of the boat so it wouldn't hit the front of another sail boat. Pretty close. And I was so relieved we didn't have to motor for another hour in the rough waters.
Snail Shell Harbor looking out at Big Bay de Noc. Hullabaloo is the 2nd boat down the dock.
Fayette is ghost town turned historical park that had a short-lived 24 year boom from mining iron. Once the mine shut down it didn't take long for the rest of the town to follow. There are many buildings still standing, although some are not open to the public. There are even more stone foundations marking the locations where buildings once stood. I loved going around reading all the plaques and exhibits talking about life when the town was booming. Ron on the other hand checked out a couple buildings and walked Lexie around. We also happened to be there during Heritage Days which included people in period clothing singing "Jimmy Crack Corn" and "Goober Peas". We actually heard "Goober Peas" a couple times...still weird after multiple rounds. There was a blacksmith putting on demonstrations of how metal was shaped and worked and crafts for kids at various locations. We also got caught up in a lengthy conversation with a couple from the Fayette Historical Society. Very interesting couple with a lot of knowledge about the town.
Building on the left: Where the iron was melted into bars. Building on the right: The General Store
The kiln
The Middle Class District

Superintendent's House

Typical home

Town Hotel-closed to the public due to a faulty roof. To be remodeled this fall.

What's left of the old docks
Slag Beach-where the impurities from the melted iron were dumped. It also served as the town dump, the remains of which can be seen in the water when snorkeling.
 The weather had also finally warmed up and we spent some time soaking up the sun on the deck and people watching.

We decided to catch our last sunset in Fayette from the trail up on the cliffs. We walked out to the point, stopping at various stop-offs to take in the views and were treated to great views of both the town and the sunset over the water.

Looking back at Snail Shell Harbor

Out on the edge of the cliff
Looking over the cliff



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sister Bay and a Grounding

Gorgeous shoreline, much different than the sandy beaches and dunes we're used to on our side of the lake
 We left Peninsula State Park with a quick stop in Sister Bay for a pump out, water and diesel then headed further up Door County with plans to go through "Death's Door" (the channel between the mainland and Washington Island-notorious for big wind), stop at Pilot Island to let the guys dive a wreck then make the short trip to Washington Island where we'd anchor for the night. Or so we thought.
Coming into Death's Door, the wind is about to seriously pick up

Sailing through Death's Door, very windy indeed
 Pilot Island is an abandoned island with a few remaining buildings that has been taken over by masses of birds. We'd heard that the island can be a bit rank, but it wasn't until we were completely downwind near the dive site that we began to gag. The island is covered with birds and even more covered with their...waste. Nasty. Thankfully, the guys decided that leaving us on the boat while they dove would be cruel and unusual punishment.
Pilot sure to stay UP wind
The grounding-So we pushed on to Washington Island where the channel got narrow, the waters got shallow and...we ran aground. To be fair, we tried to go around some guy dragging an anchor in the channel trying to snag something and our GPS said that we were still in the channel. This all happened to take place in front of the ferry docks as well. Great, an audience. The guy dragging the anchor just took off so we raised the mainsail in hopes of heeling us enough to take weight off the keel and be able to motor off the shoal. Just about that time a friendly fisherman came by and offered to help pull us back into deeper water. Ron thinks he wanted to fish where we grounded but whatever the reason, he helped and pulled us right out.

We continued on for about 30 yards before noticing that the entire channel and bay looked extremely shallow. The charts indicated the deepest part of the bay was 7-10 feet in the middle. We're not mathematicians, but knowing the lake is between 3-4 feet down and our draft is 5' 6" we decided not to push our luck any more and hauled anchor out of there. We didn't happen to notice until we were leaving that there wasn't another sailboat in the entire's your sign.

We were cranky by this point and just decided to head back to Sister Bay. We knew they had somewhere to stay and it was supposed to be a cute town that us girls wanted to check out, so back to Sister Bay we went. This worked out better for Jerm and Angela who were taking a taxi down to Green Bay the next day anyway.

Sister Bay-What a cute town! Just like Egg Harbor, there were a lot of stores and ice cream shops. We ate breakfast at Al Johnson's restaurant, famous for goats on the roof, and had some delicious Swedish pancakes. This place was great, it even had a cupcake store! I was in heaven...Cupcake Heaven. Except for the fact that we were there early in the morning and wouldn't be sticking around for them to open...very sad face. I even went into my very first Piggly Wiggly store in Sister Bay. For the longest time I thought it was a fake chain name used in the movies, I can now assure you it isn't.
If you want a place to be popular put goats on the roof

Walking back to town from the Piggly Wiggly, what a hike!

I have a serious problem...
Typical Sister Bay landscaping. Love it.

Even though Jerm and Angela had to jump ship in Sister Bay, it was a great week having them aboard and we're so glad they could be with us for our first crossing milestone. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Egg Harbor and Peninsula State Park

From Sturgeon Bay we had a nice (motor) sail up to Egg Harbor. We had talked to people at the marina in Sturgeon Bay that said we would most likely need to stay in a marina due to a lack of a good anchorage but when we arrived we found a large bay with great shelter from the southwest winds.

The tinkle string was deployed on the way

Once in Egg Harbor, some brave souls swam in the cold water:
Egg Harbor-We were pleasantly surprised by this little lakeside town, with its wide variety of stores selling anything from the usual trinkets to a store that made and sold every kind of hot sauce, olive oil and vinegar you can imagine. Egg Harbor is also home to the Shipwreck Brewing Company, who's beer Ron regularly drinks when working in Wisconsin. After shopping to our hearts content we stopped for lunch at the brewery and had some divine fish tacos. Also, thanks to Jeremie, Ron is now a member of the Shipwreck Brewery's Captain's Club. This exclusive club offers it's members discounts on apparel purchased from the brewery's store...and also expires at the end of the year. I doubt that we'll be back in time to take advantage of this club, but Ron did get a "Don't judge the captain by the size of his dinghy" t-shirt at the discounted price. Thanks Jerm!
The night in Egg Harbor didn't go exactly as planned. As in; we got HAMMERED by an unpredicted storm from an unpredicted direction. The forecast had been for 10-15kt winds from the southwest through the night with a slight chance of showers. We woke up at about 2am with howling winds that were soon accompanied by sheets of sideways rain. We turned on the VHF to hear that this particular storm was coming out of the north (the one direction this bay didn't provide protection from) with wind gusts expected to hit 70kts. Luckily, when we'd gone into town we used the dinghy dock at the municipal marina so we had an idea of the layout and possible places to tie up for a few hours to ride out the storm. Poor Angela was a bit freaked out by the winds and rain and the 2-3 foot waves we were bouncing on in the harbor. We were definitely glad to have extra hands aboard for this...event as Jerm helped pull up the anchor and get us into the dock while Angela and Lexie freaked out together. I'm not sure how we would have done it without them (no, really, Lexie would have been in our laps if it weren't for Angela). We had to dock with the wind on our beam pushing away from the end of the "T" dock. Fortunately, the owner of the sailboat we were coming in next to was up and also braved the driving rains to come out and offer some help getting tied up. He couldn't believe that we were anchored out in the storm and said that just sitting at the dock his boat was heeling over pretty hard. We slept a few hours and by morning all was fine so we moved back out to anchor.

Let's just chalk this all up as a little more experience under our belts. Thankfully, all on board and the boat itself made it through just fine. So much for light winds and a peaceful night at anchor. Thanks for nothing Mr. Weatherman, nothing but a near heart attack.

Peninsula State Park-After thanking our lucky stars to still be alive, we made a 15 mile trip to Peninsula State Park. We planned to anchor out at Horseshoe Island, which is a part of the park just off the mainland. With absolutely zero wind we had got it....motor there. At least it was a nice, sunny day.

 Horseshoe Island offers great protection from north winds, which were still hanging around. Because the anchorage is a little snug, most people either throw a stern anchor or tie their sterns to shore. That way boats swing less and more boats can fit into the harbor. We threw a stern anchor. Our neighbors however, did not. As they started swinging, we were given the evil eye. We weren't going to hit, but we were probably 30feet apart. Hey, not our problem they were being space hogs right? Well, they left soon after and we were left with about 5 other boats for the night. All of whom were stern-tied/anchored.

Cooking dinner in a nice, calm anchorage
Plenty of space after our neighbors left

View of the cliffs at sunset
After enjoying a full night of calm, quiet sleeping conditions, we motored the short distance to Nicolet Bay on the mainland part of the park. There are miles and miles of biking and hiking trails in the park and there was a lighthouse to hike to with my name on it.
Beautiful scenery...and lovebirds

The Eagle Bluff Lighthouse

I <3 lighthouses

View of Green Bay from the lighthouse

Walking Hiking trail

A happy boat dog=A tired boat dog
I could have easily stayed at the State Park for a couple days. We didn't have a chance to explore the caves and cliffs on the other side of the park or the many more hiking and biking trails that the park offers. If we get over here again, we'll be sure to leave at least a couple days to spend here.