August 10 - August 20, 2004

August 10, 2004

We left Waukegan at 8 p.m. to begin the first leg of our trip. The sky was overcast and a bit threatening, but we had a very fast run up to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, arriving off Manitowoc about 9:30 a.m. For most of the trip we were close reaching at 9-10 knots in 12-18 knots of true wind with the jib and two reefs in the main. We had been worried about our performance with all the cruising gear on board (the waterline is now sunk two inches compared to last year) but the boat seemed to handle it fine.

We were also happy that we both got decent sleep on our off watches -- not always easy the first night out.

The trip was uneventful except that we blew out the spectron line on our boom vang as soon as we raised the main. The vang really can't take the loads generated by the main at close wind angles. We knew that, but hey -- we're rusty. Been sitting in port too long. Also, the autopilot compass needs to be swung, and kept sounding the "off course" alarm, even though we were right on course. The alarm probably went off about every two minutes all night long. We ended up with our pile jackets wrapped around the autopilot head to shut the thing up. Despite all that, the autopilot steered perfectly.

We tied up at our first stop: Manitowoc, WI in the morning of August 11.

August 12, 2004

Beth in Green Bay Packers bike helmut with Parents in August 2004   We visited Beth's parents and other family members during our stay in Manitowoc. By far the most difficult part of this trip has been leaving family and friends behind. In particular, it was VERY difficult to leave Beth's parents (who live in Wisconsin). Beth's Mom is 88 and her father is 91. But they are doing amazingly well. Beth's Dad still golfs and shot several mid-40 scores this summer.

August 14 - 17, 2004

We took advantage of a few days in Manitowoc to get various boat projects finished and to make use of the workmanship available at the Manitowoc Marina. Rich Larsen and his crew of professionals have done some great work for us over the four years we've owned Eagle's Wings.

August 17, 2004

We left Manitowoc late this afternoon. As we were getting ready to leave, Rich (service manager at Manitowoc Marina) decided our transom needed a little tidying up. The transom was covered with an ugly layer of black soot from the diesel engine (Beth had wanted to clean it, but Ken didn't want to take the time). Rich jumped on the boat with brush and hose in hand and scrubbed it clean. He didn't think we should start the trip looking so disreputable.

Rich cleaning transom   Another view of Rich cleaning transom

Rich says that a lot of people at the marina would say this is the first honest day's work he's done on the Eagle's Wings project!

When we left Manitowoc, the skies were overcast and the wind was from the south-southwest, blowing 10-15 knots. With the wind so far aft of the beam, we would have liked to put up the spinnaker, but given that it was going to get dark soon, we elected to put up the main and motorsail towards the Manitou Islands. We haven't gotten to the point where we can fly the spinnaker at night with one person asleep.

We needed to keep our speed up because we wanted to make Mackinac Island daylight on Wednesday, August 18. If we got there after dark we would have kept going on to Port Huron, which meant missing out on a nice stop on the Island. More importantly, it would have meant missing out on a chance to stock up on a critical passage-making supply -- fudge. The fudge issue never actually came up during route planning, but Ken knew that it was never far from Beth's mind. So anyway, we cranked up the engine to make sure we could stop at Mackinac.

Square rigger "Bounty" near Gray's Reef on Lake Michigan   After skirting the western edge of the Manitous we sailed up towards Gray's Reef. Fortunately we were able to do that passage during daylight. We passed the three masted square rigger "Bounty" as we exited Gray's Reef.

Once we made the turn to the east toward Mackinac, we were able to turn off the engine and broad reach toward Mackinac Island. We hit winds of 34 knots and were screaming along at 10-12 knots with double reefed main. We were very intently looking ahead toward the Mackinac Bridge when a "stealth" freighter snuck up behind us. It was quite shocking to see him a few hundred feet away. We'll be more vigilant about looking behind as well in front of us.

Landfall was uneventful except that both our laptops froze up simulaneously as we entered the strait. This is why they say to always have paper charts on hand. (Fortunately we did.)

August 18 - 19, 2004

We finally took some time off -- we toured Fort Mackinac and stocked up on the fudge. The Fort was very interesting and we learned a lot about its history. We also learned that beaver pelts, which were the basis for the northern economy in the 1600s and 1700s, were actually used to make a kind of felt, which was then used to make hats. We had always pictured beaver hats as fur. In fact the long fur all got thrown away!

Eagle's Wings docked at Mackinac Island   Ken with Straights of Mackinac and Round Island lighthouse in background

We thought it might be fun to try to have dinner at the famous Grand Hotel. There is a strict dress code (men in suit and tie, women in a dress) even on the street in front of the hotel! We got all dressed up and walked over. We understood we could get in until about 8:45 p.m. We got there at about 8:15 p.m. (or so we thought) and announced we wanted to have dinner. The doorman said "You're too late!" Turns out we forgot that the Island (which is in Michigan) is on Eastern time. So, we were all dressed up with no place to go. Given the lateness of the hour, we were worried we wouldn't find any place to eat at all. We managed to find a local bar to have dinner (we were WAY overdressed).

We also ate another evening at a newer restaurant called "Mary's Place". It was excellent and we took a large quantity of leftovers home to the boat.

August 20, 2004

We decided to stay an extra day on the Island. We'll leave for Port Huron tomorrow. The extra day gave Beth an opportunity to whip up a pot of lentil soup and for Ken to do some more detailed route planning.

Last night we heard some very loud meowing around midnight. We rolled out of bed and went on deck to check it out. A cat we had befriended earlier in the evening decided to adopt us and had jumped aboard. He looked very well cared for and was extremely friendly. We played with him for a while. A little later his owners came by and he scurried off the boat.

In honor of the Olympics, Beth managed to get the jar of mayonnaise to perform a rare pole vault maneuver, doing a complete revolution in the air and landing in the chicken salad. Not a bad landing (nothing broke).

We decided to try once more to have dinner the Grand Hotel. Getting off the boat in finery can be quite a challenge, as demonstrated by Beth attempting to negotiate the life lines and dock in a dress:

Beth straddling life line   Getting in position to go ashore   Making the final leap to the dock

We were successful in having dinner at the Grand Hotel! It was a magical evening (and we justified it by declaring it was in celebration of our 23rd wedding anniversary). We felt like we had stepped onto the movie of the Titanic. The dining room seats 1500 people and it was about 2/3 full when we got there. The food was excellent and we had a nice view of the lake and sunset. The Island allows no motorized vehicles. Transportation is by foot, bicycle, horse, or horse-drawn buggy and we took a "horse buggy" taxi back to the marina.