Monday, August 16, 2010

Hold on, we've got big seas ahead!

If there are two things that Anna and I will take from Lake Michigan they are that Michigan has the best municipal marinas we have seen and that Lake Michigan can produce some of the heaviest seas we have ever boated in. Since leaving Mackinac Island, Anna and I have made our way down the east cost of the Lake. The stops we have made have all been wonderful. Our favorite was without question Traverse City. I have come to learn that Traverse City is a destination most often skipped by Loopers. It is a good day’s travel from the tip of Traverse Bay Peninsula to Traverse City but as far as we were concerned it was well worth the detour. Pulling into town Anna and I quickly fell in love with the waterfront which hosts numerous concerts, farmers markets, wine festivals, and even a beer fest. I was particularly upset to learn that we will miss the beer fest. I have no doubt that it would be a great time. To our surprise we were delighted to find that Blues Traveler, a band that Anna and I have loved for sometime, were going to be playing in town while we were there. We tried to get tickets by calling the local merchants but we found that the event had been sold out for some time. Soon after making peace with the fact that we were out of luck, Anna and I noticed a large truck pulling into a park right next to our dock. It became apparent that a stage was being constructed. Would you believe our luck, not only was Blues Traveler going to perform on that stage, we were going to have front row seats from the top deck of Blue. It was totally awesome, Anna and I invited some friends we knew from the city to join us on the top deck and a good time was had by all. That evening as Anna and I retired to bed, we discussed how lucky we have been so far on the trip. The weather has been unbelievable and our luck seemed to be never ending. Well with our departure from Traverse City, our luck seemed to have run out. For some time prior to our arriving in Michigan, Anna and I had discussed which side of the lake we would travel on our way to Chicago. The west side offered wonderful cruising in Wisconsin, but little options for marinas as you made your way to Chicago. The East side offers wonderful Marinas but is much more susceptible to the westerly winds on the lake. Our decision was to stick to the Michigan side and enjoy the sandy beaches on our way south. Well as luck would have it we seemed to find ourselves caught in the open in heavy seas with every jump we made south. After getting beat up one too many times, Anna and I decided that the best way to go was to pick our good weather days and put as many miles under the hull as we could. This resulted in a number of long days on the water and has put us a good week and a half ahead of where we thought we would be at this time. There were two distinct occasions coming down the lake when Anna and I truly got to see how lucky we were to have bought such a wonderful boat, Blue was built to take far more than her crew that is now as fact. Although the seas were not more than five to six feet, the frequency and steepness of the waves was far greater than Anna and I had ever witnessed. With each wave it became necessary to grab hold as the boats bow buried itself into the next oncoming wave. On quite a few occasions everything we owned flew in all direction on the boat. Many a night was spent cleaning up the boat. When the boat roles and cabinets open, well what you get is one hell of a mess. I would have to say the only one whom didn’t seem to mind was Mobey. He would tend to sit spread eagle on the back stairs to the salon, I think once or twice I caught him yawning as Anna and I held on as the boat made way through the seas. Now as we sit some forty miles from Chicago I feel sad that we pushed as hard as we did. When the weather was good Anna and I would travel 60 to 90 miles a day. Our jump from Frankfort to Muskegon was even over hundred. At 7.5 knots, that is a long day at the wheel. Michigan offered some wonderful towns and I am sure we could have spent a week in each one of them without ever feeling board, but the thought of spending a day battling the wind and seas was just too much. If we were to do it again, I don’t think we would have pushed so hard, rather we would have spent more time enjoying the towns. Because we can’t turn back the clock Anna and I have decided to take the time we should have spent in Michigan enjoying one of America’s most famous cities, Chicago. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform over the city and Anna and I plan to have front row seats once again on the top deck of or beloved tug . I hope that with the name Blue Yonder the boys in blue will give is a good flyby as they scream overhead into the wide blue yonder.
We were amazed to see these swans all swimming together in the lake.  What a sight.

Anna loved looking at the famous Mushroom houses in Charlevois.  We had a great night walking through the town enjoyed watching The Wizard of Oz on the city's big screen in the park.
The lighthouses that mark the entrances to Michigan's Harbors of Refuge are always a welcome sight.

We got a kick out of watching this guy burn more gas than we have on our whole trip towing his kids behind his Yacht.

We had a great time walking down Traverse City's Main Street.  The Coffee Shops Restaurants and street performers were all great.  I had lots of fun watching a group of kids Break Dance on a street corner it is good to see the art of spinning on ones head is still alive and well.

We had a great dinner at this restaurant, if you go to Traverse City you have got to check it out, it was Fantastic!

After dinner Anna and I enjoyed looking out on Traverse Bay and watching all the activity.  It was a great night.

The next morning it was time to do some major surgery on Blues Bow Thruster.  We had noticed that there was a lack of power when activating the unit and with further inspection we saw huge sparks coming from the motor housing when it was activated.  I feared we would have to replace it.  When I took it apart I was relieved to see that the motor was just in need of a major cleaning.  Anna and I cleaned it and put her back in.  I have got to say it was some relief, a new motor would have put a real dent in the budget.

Anna and I had a went over to see Jay and John Kraft at Bay Breeze Yacht sales and looked at this absolutely awesome 42ft Nordic tug.  The boat was in unbelievable condition.  Anna and I had to wipe the drool from our chins as we walked through the boat, it had everything.  Anna and I have always enjoyed the company of John and Jay, they are two great guys and always go out of there way to make Nordic owners feel at home.  If you are looking for a boat to do the loop, you should give these guys a call.
Later that night we enjoyed watching Blues Traveler. This shot was taken form our top deck on Blue. 
Anna and I thought this Balloon was pretty cool.  It was inflated right behind the stage were Blues Traveler was playing.
On our way south from Traverse City Anna and I got a chance to tour this WWII sub the USS Silversides.  It is the most highly decorated US WWII sub in existence.  Getting a chance to go on board was something we didn't want to miss. 
This was the Head on the sub.  Now you might wonder why I took a picture of this.  Since Anna and I have lived on board Blue, we have had a ongoing battle with our sanitation system.  I am happy to report that we have finally gotten everything fixed.  The Museums description of the subs Head cracked us up, you have got to read the last lines on the pic below.
Thus the term "Code Brown" was born.
Having taken a beating on the lake, Anna and I have learned that when the weather is good you get an early start and run as far as the weather allows.  Getting underway early in the morning we saw some wonderful sunrises.
Every morning as we motored out of Michigan's Harbors we would wonder what the lake would offer us today.  I have a new respect for the lakes and there waters.  Mother Nature can be as cruel as she is beautiful, this has never been more clear to us than on these waters.