August 21- August 25, 2004

August 21, 2004

While doing preventive maintenance just before we left Mackinac, Ken noticed the bracket which secures the alternator to our generator was cracked. The bracket is a $5 part, but the generator is inoperable without it. We consume a lot of battery juice -- running instruments, radar, computer, autopilot, electric winches, refrigeration/freezer -- so we knew we would have to run the engine underway, since the engine is our fallback charging system. Shows the benefit of preventive maintenance, since the generator could have gotten pretty messed up if the bracket had broken in operation.

Skies were sunny when we left Mackinac Island at about 1 p.m., heading down Lake Huron toward Port Huron, MI. We had NW winds blowing 13-19 knots and flew the spinnaker until winds started to gust above 20 knots. We had some excitement getting the chute down in 20 knots of very shifty wind.

Sailing down Lake Huron Although we started out the trip in easy seas, they slowly built over the night and next day. We both got a bit queasy on the run down Lake Huron.

The boat took alot of water over the bow during the night. When Beth was below on her off watch, she heard what sounded like water pouring in the front of the boat. Closer inspection revealed water coming in the small hatch in the forward head. There were at least two gallons of water sloshing around on the floor in the head. It turns out that the hatch was not secured properly -- the sunbrella cover on the hatch was caught between the hatch and the frame, allowing water to come in. We quickly sealed off the hatch. Only immediate damage was one trashed roll of toilet paper.

August 22, 2004

The run from Mackinac Island to Port Huron is about 240 nm. We knew we couldn't make this in one day and had planned to "heave to" once we got nearer to Port Huron. As the trip progressed, we realized heaving to at the bottom of Lake Huron was not a good idea. The shipping traffic was very intense and Lake Huron really narrows down at the south end of the lake. So we decided to stop at Harbor Beach (reputed to have one of the largest man-made harbors in the world) and anchor for the night.

We got into Harbor Beach, MI (about 177 nm from Mackinac Island) in the early evening and decided to anchor across from the main anchorage area, to reduce the fetch across the large open anchorage (we had 10-20 knots from the NW).

Anchoring is always a tricky task. Ken works the anchor windlass forward while Beth steers the boat at the helm in the back of the boat. We use hand signals exclusively to communicate -- since we can't hear the other person even if they are shouting. The depth in the anchorage was supposed to be about 15 feet, but the depth meter read < 6 feet at times! Nerve racking, since we draw about 6.5 feet. A closer look at the water revealed a huge forest of weeds, which was confusing the depth finder. We decided to go ahead and anchor in the weeds (big mistake).

Ken quickly discovered that the electric windlass wasn't working right, and would only operate to raise the anchor, but not to lower it. He dropped the anchor by manually releasing the windlass clutch. The big 110 lb bruce anchor dug in despite the weeds.

After we were anchored securely, Ken investigated the windlass problem and discovered he had wired two of the windlass leads backwards when he reinstalled it earlier this spring. We had taken the windlass off to clean and service it. So there's some support for the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" school of maintenance. The windlass worked perfectly after the wiring was corrected.

August 23, 2004

We got a late start this morning (guess we were more tired than we thought), so we were in a hurry to reach Port Huron in daylight. Wind was blowing 15-20 out of the north, which made raising anchor challenging.

It took us 1 1/2 hours to raise the anchor! Those weeds we mentioned earlier thoroughly entangled themselves in our chain and anchor. The weeds piled up on the bowsprit as the chain came in and repeatedly got packed so thick that they stopped the windlass. Ken had to cut the weeds off with a knife. Since we had about 150 feet of chain out, this was a very laborious process.

Ken with mass of weeds on anchor chain Cutting weeds from anchor chain Cutting more weeds from anchor chain

After cutting seaweed with his leatherman tool for a while, Ken decided to get serious and construct a tool that would allow him to reach further down the chain.

Ken with seaweed cutting spear Ken created a seaweed cutting tool by taping a dive knive to the end of our boat hook. Very effective!

The windlass and engine worked very hard during the anchor raising process. We had lots of black smoke coming out of the back of the transom -- motoring around in the weeds and raising the anchor, chain, and many hundreds of pounds of weeds placed a tremendous load on the engine. When the anchor finally emerged from the water, it was hardly recognizable. It had about six bushel baskets of densely packed weeds on it, and probably weighed more than 300 lbs. The windlass could not raise it above the waterline, and Ken had to cut weeds away using his sawing spear. Ken doesn't care if he never sees another salad.

We finally got the anchor aboard and the engine smoke cleared up. But the transom was dirty again from the smoke (Ken kindly promised to let Beth clean it when we got to Port Huron).

The trip from Harbor Beach to Port Huron was uneventful. We had following seas and the motion of the boat was much better. This gave us an opportunity to relax a bit.

  Beth steering on Lake Huron Ken keeping journal on Lake Huron

We pulled into River Street Marina in Port Huron in the early evening.

August 24-25, 2004

We're taking advantage of a few days layover at Port Huron to work on boat projects. The bracket for the genset is due on Thursday, so we should be ready to push on down the St. Claire River to Lake Erie early on Friday.

As usual, projects take much longer than expected. Beth decided to work on a sewing project and it ended up taking 7 hours to complete, rather than the estimated 2 hours! But it was worth it. Ken had been bugging Beth about the enormous size and weight of the sewing machine, so she needed to demonstrate its usefulness.

Here's Ken extracting the sewing machine from its stoage location (under the bunk in the forward stateroom):

Ken lifting sewing machine from stoage compartment Ken demonstrating fine form lifting sewing machine Resting after extracting sewing machine

 

The sewing machine is a heavy duty sailmaking machine and will be great for making sail repairs. Here Beth is widening the trysail bag (it was very hard to get the sail in the bag and Ken would have many choice, unrepeatable comments every time we tried to pack it).   Beth modifying trysail bag

We've been enjoying ourselves, working on projects and listening to music stored on our iPod (which is hooked into the stereo system). We discovered the "shuffle" feature where songs on the iPod are played at random. We really like the variety of music and the surprise factor that comes with each new song.

Ken was also able to work out again on his mini-staircase machine. He usually watches a DVD on the computer while working out. He's watching "We Were Soldiers". Unfortunately, the theme song to the movie has become imprinted in Ken's brain and he is singing it constantly. Kind of sounds like a Tibetian monk chanting -- while drowning. Beth has decided that Ken needs a "shuffle" feature. She also hopes he will play the harmonica rather than sing. All of this togetherness is normally very fun, but it does have its limits!

We found a great restaurant (Fogcutter) in Port Huron and we've eaten there twice. Beth particularly likes the desserts. The first night she got the "Mudpie" which was as big as her head and was created from oreo cookies, ice cream, fudge, whipped cream, and candied nuts. The second night she got the "Mackinac Island Mud Puppy" which was also as big as her head and was created from three layers of chocolate brownies, ice cream, fudge, carmel, whipped cream, and candied nuts. (She did bring leftovers home to the boat.) We also located a handmade chocolate shop, which will further help with the chocolate inventory situation.

This morning Ken announced that he thought we should keep the boat more picked up. We had pulled out a bunch of stuff to take out the sewing machine so things were a bit topsy-turvey. Beth went off to do the laundry and came back to find the boat in a state of utter chaos (Ken was going through the gear we hadn't stowed properly and which was piled up in the forward shower). Beth wondered if this was his idea of "picked up"?

  Messed up forward stateroom Boat mess

 

Laundry drying in cockpit We did laundry at a marina down the road and brought back the clothes for drying on the boat. The white laundry basket was given to us by Beth's cousins and has been invaluable for transporting laundry.