First Sailing trip
  Welcome | First Sailing trip | Hughes gulf crossing & cal25 salvage | Alaska trip letters | West coast trip | Misc letters | My brothers new house | Brother's house Pg2 | My Test Grading System | Brother's house pg3 | my dinghy & folding bike wheel | More good stuff  

These are the letters I sent about my trip from Lorain, Ohio to Labelle, Fl in my 30 foot Islander sailboat.

If you want to go to my other site click here.


Lorian, Ohio to Chicago, June-sept 2004 (maybe not in order and gaps, I'm working on it)  -  

I'm in Wyandot Michigan, south of Detroit, supposed to be a really big fireworks display on the river tomorrow evening, so I'll be there.  First day, Saturday, had good winds, left Loraine, under the the Chuck Berry Bascule bridge at 3 pm, they only open on the hour and half hour.  Off toward Put in Bay Ohio, an Island in west central lake Erie. Took a while to get the fore sail up, had a few snags in the rigging. There was enough wind that leaving the helm was difficult.  Once up, I was really moving, close to 7 knots (that's about 7 mph), it's much more exciting then you would think by the speed.  5 foot waves and 20 knot wind make it so.  Made it to Put in Bay, came in just north of Kelly Island, really nice house for sale on the point there, around the little Island to the NW of South Bass Island just at sunset. Sailed in to the anchorage north of the Perry Monument, still just a enough light to see, pop the halyards to the sails, rush to the front deck to secure the fore sail and promptly kick my shoe off into the water ( it floats, sort off as I see it disappear toward the back of the boat along the starboard deck at about 2 knots.  I drop anchor, and go about releasing  and throwing the dingy into the water to retrieve the shoe, I got below to dig out a paddle or an oar, anything to propel a dingy toward the shoe.  I'm not sure if the sailboat anchored next to me had seen all the commotion but I'm sure it was hilarious.  I'm just trying to save buying another pair of deck shoes at $60 or more, it would hurt even more, since I've got two extra pairs at home.  I got the shoe, it wasn't quite floating as well but still slightly above water.  Back to the boat to put it in shape, secure the sails, etc. and put all the stuff away that found it's way to the floor after the hard sail and frantic paddle search. Also need to worry about the anchorage, this is a poor spot to anchor but somewhat well protected, they've got mooring balls but get $35 dollars a night for them.  I put out a 16 pound Danforth and 10 foot of chain, and about 100 foot of rode in about 15 foot of water.  Should be OK the wind has died down.  I dig out the oars for the dingy and row into the dock in the dark, The town, a resort town on Saturday night is really hopping, the only thing more active is the mayflies, millions of them everywhere.  Houses coated with them spaced every 2 inches.  After a walk around town, lots of bars and shops  I look out toward the bay and see only one anchor light, where there had been two, remember the other boat that may have witnessed my shoe commotion.  I try to search for a boat floating free, but can't find any, remember the poor anchorage.  I eventually row back out and find my boat still there, the other had left.  Rowing back in I buy a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen and sit back and spectate. Next morning no wind, so I put the fold up, really home made two piece bike in the dingy and head to shore for a ride around town.  No wind all day so I just hang around for an extra day.  I buy a Ben and Jerrys pint at the local market, a spoon and that all it takes to make lunch, are you getting the idea I like ice cream, no refrigeration on the boat, breakfast is powdered milk and cereal.  That's normal even at home, so no problems there.  Dinner was three ears of corn on the grill and three eggs over easy also on the grill.  Eggs will keep a couple weeks without refrigeration.  Other meals are made up of lots of fresh fruit and veggies, dried and canned stuff.  I got a couple dozen bottles of wine.  Lots of storage on the boat, actually over 27 spaces, I labeled them with letters and had to use AA.  I did this when I started to list everything stored so I can find it when I need it.  Notice I said started and not finished.   Later, day 3 will follow.

3rd try, I've typed in a long letter and lost it, typed in a short letter and lost it, Juno web mail is not nice for long letters, I normally use a word processor or notepad, but this library computer doesn't have any.
I'm in St. Claire shores, The fireworks were great, I'm not in the mood to type something and loose it again, I'll do it later on the laptop.

I'm online on the boat, very slow, but easier then finding a library, and I can pre type the letters.  still have trouble with the button mouse and the boat rocking with the waves.  I'm in Au Sable, Michigan, lots of days typing needed to get caught up. 


When I got back to the boat the first evening at Put in Bay, I put out a second anchor, that was the last thing I bought before I left Lorain.  It was a great deal at a boat salvage place.  $25 for a 16 pound Danforth, with 10 foot of vinyl coated chain and 150 foot of rode, and another 80 foot of rope too.  That should have been closer to $50 or more.The boat came with one 16 pounder and one thirteen pounder, it also has a rode and chain in the bow anchor rode storage that I've never even messed with.  In my opinion you can't really have too much ground tackle.  I was not comfortable with what the boat had.  Now I feel I could probably hold the boat in anything short of a hurricane. The fireworks were great, They were right in the river, so you had to anchor in the current, probably 3 knots or so and 30 foot deep or more, so you should have out about 150 foot of rode.  There also was a 15 knot wind from the south, the river current flowed south west. The big problem was that a sailboat would set to the wind and the power boats all set to the current. so when the wind would shift, I would shift more then the other boats.  There was probably 1000 boats, and since I was moving around more then the others, there was always a large open space around me and that invited boats to try to anchor too close, I'd have to explain the situation and they would get mad and leave after I started to move around with the wind.  One power boat came up to anchor too close and they threw in the anchor and back off to let it set and nothing, they pulled up the rope and nothing was on it, the rope broke. One anchor donated to Davy Jones.  I waved them up to tie off to me, the were very happy about that because they felt the fireworks were over for them.  I was a 16 power boat with two brothers a wife and son.  After I put out about 5 bumpers and and three rope to tie them off well, I had to switch one of my anchors from the back to the fount, we were dragging my one anchor that was before mostly doing nothing, I had a second anchor off the stern to counter the wind with there higher drag boat we set to the current, one of the reasons I flagged them over.  I figured it would also give me somebody to talk too.  I ended up getting a meal out of the deal, soon after they got tied up they set up a grill and started making pork chops, Shish Kabobs, crackers with home make spinach dip, crispy treats, and Opie beer, my favorite I told them opie was my favorite.  I had to explain, O P, other peoples beer.

After the Fireworks with lasted for almost an hour with out a break, at least three in the air continuously, I waited for an hour for the river to clear of boats and to move the barges off to the side so I could move on north up the river to find a place to call home for the night.  That place was about a half mile upstream, on the west side of Belle Island.  There were two other boats anchored there, I moved in to 12 feet of water still with the 3 knot current and the wind blowing off the aft quarter, still 15 knots or more.  I tried the fore and aft anchor once more, every time I tried it I can't say I've had any success, this time would be no different.  What resulted was a long night of almost no sleep, the boat swung back and forth about 150 degrees, and rocked badly enough that sleep was near impossible, every hour or so I would get up and check the position to make sure the anchors weren't dragging, I think the wind at times probably hit 35 knots or so.  My anchors were holding good.  An hour later I found my self setting tight to both anchors broadside to the wind,  and my aft anchor rode was fouled on my prop shaft, about 15 minutes of fighting it with an extra length of line (I probably have well over 1000 feet of good sized extra line on board) and the boat hook, I managed to get both anchor lines off the bow.  The real problem was the line had a lot of strain on it and was tied off at the bitter end to give as much scope as possible.  An hour later I checked and I was still at the same location but one of the other boats has slipped about 100 yards or more.  I tried to wake them with a spot light, but no luck, so I called the Detroit Coast Guard on the marine radio to tell them about the problem, turns out they are located at the other end of Belle Isle, so after they asked If I could get closer to them, and I informed them I didn't want to break anchor in this wind and I thought it was too shallow where this boat was for my draft, they came over in a pickup and shone the lights on the boat, between my spot light, the car lights and shouting we get them up and informed, they left, It was now  about 4:30 and still not much sleep.            


Thunder bay 1

I'm typing this is Mackinac Island harbor, anchored out, it's midnight, It rained most of the day, spent a lot of it in the Grand Hotel, reading a New York times newspaper, first news I've had for a couple of weeks, I haven't bothered to install my AM/Fm/cd stereo yet.  I napped after dinner, now wide awake, the wood stove is burning, it's chilly here, been chilly all summer so far. I wrote this a couple days ago, just now typing it.
Sitting in Thunder Bay 2 miles south of Thunder Island, winds are calm, maybe 3 knots, I'm moving but not much, 327 degrees at 1.6 knots on the GPS.  My waves off the bow are the biggest waves around and they aren't very big, maybe 2 inches at most.  Last night the wind died about 10:30, I motored in the last 4 miles to the south side of North Point in Thunder Bay.  The wind and waves have been form the NNE all day, that location should shelter me from the waves for the night and make for a good nights sleep.  It did.  I anchored a little after midnight, awoke at first light, turned off the power to the mast top anchor light and went back to sleep for another couple hours.  The water is crystal clear, can't see bottom, but that's only because it's probably black and 80 feet down.
The flies are bad every once in a while, it surprises me that there are so many so far from shore.  2 days ago I was 6 miles out and they were the worst yet.  These flies were the biting flies so they are more than just a nuisance.  4 times in the last 10 days it has been a full time job swatting and killing them.  normally it's also when it's a full time job steering the boat too, not much wind, just enough to be moving` maybe 3 knots. This time I gave up, I could kill 6 at a time with a standard fly swatter and still not make a dent in the population.  It was about noon, I dropped the sails, wasn't any steady wind and went below to try and catch a nap.  That wasn't successful due to the random nature of the 3 foot waves tossing the boat about, but at least I wasn't being eaten by the flies while trying to keep a course around the south side of a storm.  I figured I'd just ride it out.  I let the anchor out off the bow and 80 feet of line in 130 foot of water thinking that might steady the boat by keeping it in a certain direction to the waves, but I can't say it helped any, I tried.


Thunder bay 2

My stops so far have been Put in Bay, Ohio for 2 nights, no wind and an interesting place, Wyandot, Michigan for 2 nights, waiting for the Detroit fireworks, Belle Isle, after the fire works, St Clair Shores for 2 nights, checking out the weekend nightlife, not very  successful, it's hard to find a country and western bar in this neck o' the woods, and the people are mostly big city type.  The little towns I stop in the people are great.  When is town I normally look for an Ice cream, normally successful, two or three scoops in a waffle cone. Yesterday was the first time I ate on land, I was in Au Sable, I stopped there to hide form the waves, just north of the sea wall makes one side of the entrance to their harbor of refuge.  The harbor being only 4.5 feet deep wouldn't help me much if I needed refuge since I draw 5 feet.  Anyway the sea wall did get me out of the waves and made for a good nights sleep.  In the morning I kayaked in and found a restaurant, I wasn't looking for one, but at $3.95 all you can eat breakfast buffet, juice included, It was time for a pig out, hadn't done that for a while, and the fit of my pants were starting to show the effects.  They even had fried chicken on the buffet, I asked and they said that's normal up here.  I haven't been cooking much, mostly sandwiches, or cold stuff, chips and my corn, salsa and bean dip, etc.  For those that haven't tried that, drain cans of whole kernel corn and beans, any type, or maybe a couple types, and add a cans worth of salsa and you get a good fat free hardy dip for corn chips.  I drank the corn water, I carry all my water but up here I wouldn't be too afraid of drinking the lake water, it tasted like corn, imagine that, pretty good, I skipped the bean juice, maybe try that next time, maybe not.  I've had tuna sandwiches a couple times, packed in water, drank it too, taste like tuna.  I've got enough food for a couple months on board, I've been able to find stores when I need them for bread, fresh fruit, lettuce, and corn chips.  I take a multiple mineral vitamin every day just like at home.
Still drifting, perfectly calm, not a breath of wind, ( I went 22 hours without wind this time) I hear a loon calling from over near South point about 10 miles away.  Yesterday I saw a mink running along the sea wall before I went in and had breakfast.  Back to the list of places I've been, after St Clair shores, I had a long day across Lake St Clair and up the St Clair river.  There was question if my boat would have the power to fight the current under the Blue Water bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia.  I was able to sail up the first 1/3 of the river, about 10 miles, I took the main South channel.  When sailing across lake St Clair I headed toward some channel markers, when I got close enough to read the number, it wasn't right, I consulted the chart and found out I was at the mouth of the old channel, there is 4 different channels here, sort of like the Mississippi delta, a big fan of silt with channels in it.  The wind was coming from a direction that just allowed me to skirt around the shallows to get to the other channel three miles east, luckily I didn't find the 3 foot submerged island marked on the chart.  The first 10 miles the wind was variable with the trees and all but still constant enough to fight the 2-3 knot current and provide a 2-3 knot head way.  When the wind died for a short while I started the engine and let the sails flutter.  At Idle the engine drives the boat about 3 knots, that gave me about a knot or so of headway and provides constant steering ability, necessary when your in a channel 300 feet wide with big (huge, up to 1000 foot long) freighters.  Actually I did some calculus while motoring up the Detroit river, made some assumptions, about boat drag, engine fuel usage and such to figure that the best fuel consumption when fighting a current would be when my boat speed over the ground is about equal to the current I'm fighting, only problem is, I don't know what the current is, my knot meter on the boat isn't working, don't have paperwork on it, so haven't dug into it to deep to find out why.  The GPS gives me speed over the ground, I guess if I really wanted to know I could just float in the current and get it.  Anyway I motored up the next 20 miles with the sails catching wind when they could, which was probably about 80 percent of the time, and never were they fighting me, but I often did have to adjust them frequently, sometimes the sails would give me 2 or 3 knots of boost in speed up the river.  I managed to come up the river on about 4 gals of gas, not bad since at full speed with no current 30 miles should take about 5 hours and and burn a gal an hour.  I often changed side in the river trying to find the places with the least current, most of the time I think it made no difference.  One place where it did is just before the bridge, I crossed from the US side to the Canadian side, I crossed right behind a handy barge tow being pushed by a tug boat.  That gave me a little tow to, since it broke the current for me.  Why they are called tows I don't know since they are always pushed, maybe it's from the days when the mules used to pull barges along the canals like the Erie canal on the tow path.  Back to the bridge I was now on the Canadian side, in the slack water eddy just before the bridge motoring at full speed, no wind to help with the sails, I bust out into the full current and it's like I dropped and anchor, but I'm still moving forward, at 3 knots, no problem, it's a long slog to get out to the lake but always forward at three knots.  They say the current can be up to 6 knots but I'd guess closer to 4.  I stopped for the night about 4 miles north of the bridge, just anchored near shore in the lake near a public beach, that's the end of a road that leads into the water.  It's the width of the road but it's the only public access to the water and the only legal place where I can get on shore without crossing private property.  There was a bonfire burning right next to the public beach. (more on that later, I wrote about 8 pages when there was no wind, I've typed 4 of them). 



I'm in the library at St. James, Beaver Island, Michigan, 25 miles west of the Mackinaw bridge.

I'm in Northport, Mi.  I spent about a week in St. James on Beaver Island.  I was waiting for wind, but it was a good place to be stuck.  It's as close to being an Alaskan fishing village as I've found in the lower 48.  I spent a couple days ago riding 20 miles around the island on my bike, then went to an evening concert on the porch of the local museum, sort of the local yearly concert when all the local musicians can take the stage.  There I was introduced to a local gal that I was told would be interested in my theory on aging, infinite universe, and the speed of light.  After explaining my theories we compared life stories and then agreed to go dancing.  The beachcomber was closed on Monday evening, so we went to the Irish pub and had a beer.  She wondered if I was interested in a car tour of the Island the next afternoon, so I agreed to hang around another day, even if the wind picked up.  The tour took 5 hours and the island is only about 14 by 4 miles.  Her family was having the yearly family reunion that week, I got to help peel potatoes, for 56 people, later it was 57, yum. The father flies up to Alaska to catch the fish for the meal, 60 pounds.  I met the relatives, from all over the country and Alaska.

I'm in Northport because I met a consulting engineer and sailor on beaver Island that brought part of the Northport band up to Beaver Island for a concert last Friday, he invited me to Northrport and said I'd like it.  They have an Ice cream social tonight, music in the park tomorrow, an open house at the lighthouse and concert Saturday, I'll stay for the ice cream, we'll see about the rest.  I just got back from an apple and cherry farm just couple miles north of town.  I met him at the local "Barb's Bakery", the morning hangout.  He has the largest pop bottle collection in the world here, thousands and thousands of bottles.

I've got about 10 pages about my trip written up, but haven't typed it in yet, no time for that.  Talk to you all later


I'm still in Northport, basically I've decided to stay up north for about a month till it cools off a little to the south.  The weather up here is great, the water is still a little cool for swimming but it's getting there.  There was supposed to be northern lights last night but I couldn't find them.  They certainly weren't as bright as they were when I came home from Alaska through Canada.  There they went from horizon to horizon and were bright enough that I could turn off the headlights and drive without them.  I did that for a while just to make sure it was so, but turned them on anytime another car was coming. 

Up on the Alaska hi way you could mostly see a car coming for many miles before they got to you.  Anyway back to Michigan, two days ago I spent the morning on a Cherry farm and watched the machinery shake the cherries off the trees.  About a week before they spray the trees, I think with ethylene, that make the cherries ripen and loosen from the stem, so they all are ready to fall off.  The en come in with two machines, one that grabs the base of the tree and shakes it, (probably at about 3 or 4 cps, for the technical ones out there in email land) and they fall onto tarps attached to the machines and roll done to a conveyor, then they are conveyed off the back of the machine into a cubical open top container half filled with cool water.  The leaves and twigs float to the top and are scooped of by hand every once in a while.  The tanks about 4 feet on a side fill with cherries about every fourth tree and are take back to the farm by a fork lift type of tractor.  There they run cool water for about 4 hours from the bottom up through the tanks, cleaning, cooling and "hardening" the cherries.  The tanks are then loaded on to a truck and taken to the plant about 25 miles away.  They dropped off at the plant still in the tanks and later get graded, (checked for twigs, stems, etc) and the last batch of empty tanks come back to get filled again.  This year some farms are harvesting sours before the sweets or at the same time, normally sweets are done before sours are started.  They say they've never harvested them before, it has to do with the cold rainy weather that they've had up here, summer just started last week.  It was cool again yesterday, that's great for harvest, the cherries bruise less when cool, that's why they cool them in the water.  I learned that maraschino (sp?) cherries are yellow and then colored red.  Probably with the red dye number 44 or something, can't remember where I learned that they use red kool-aid as a standard test stain for some cleaning product.  Got that little gem of info on one of these trips I took someplace.  It is supposed to be the hardest stain to remove from cloth.
I came "home", back to the marina, from the cherry farm with a box full of sweet cherries, about 20 pounds or so and spread them around to all the new found boater friends, amazing how many friends you have when you have cherries to give away and the word gets out.  For the last couple days, I've had a bowl of cherries for breakfast, thinking maybe life is a bowl full of cherries.  I kept all I thought I could eat in a week.  I saw the farmer again in the local watering hole (bar) last night and he said he would bring me another box this evening at the music in the park.  Supposed to be country music tonight, maybe I'll run into somebody that wants to take me down to the local country bar, about 25 miles south of here and go dancing Saturday night. 
I'm about ready to move on now, I've been told of some other towns that the locals think I might enjoy.  I rode the $1 bus to the other towns here on the point.  They are a little more touristy then this place since they are closer in to the real world, Northport is basically at the end of the road, as far as you can get from "Town", Traverse City.  That's close to where the cherries go and where the country bar is.
I've met a lot of people here, and lots of boaters, a couple that have spent a few years in the Bahama's and Florida, got lots of "local knowledge" and few other very important things to know.  Things like, If I work to help somebody in the Bahama's and they want to pay me, don't tell anybody, it's against the law without a work permit, taking work from the natives kind of thing.  Everybody has cards for their boat, basically a business card, names, emails, cell phone, boat picture, etc.  I need to add a picture and description of my boat on the back of my card.  I still have all those back stories I need to type in, I'll get to them sometime,  my next stop might be South Manitou or maybe somewhere on the east side of grand traverse bay, I'm on the west side right now.

Talk to you all later.

Port Huron

I sat out in the middle of lake Huron for 22 hours.  At first just south of Thunder Bay Island then moved a couple mile and ended up just 5 miles north and east of the Island when I wrote this.  The water was like a sheet of glass for most of this time.

Next stop Port Hope, very shallow harbor, I had to anchor off a long way.  After a couple hours of sorting through some stuff on the boat looking for the place I hid my stash of money I found it where I first thought it should be.  It was hidden well enough that even I didn't find it and I knew it was supposed to be there, at least I first thought it was.
It's just an envelope with a bunch of hundred dollar bills in it so it can hide in a pretty thin place.  I kept racking my brain trying to figure out what safe place I might have hidden it in.  It had been over a week since I last had it and a lot has happened since then.  I know when I was putting it away I had a few good hiding places that I had thought of and I checked all of those I could remember, but in the end I figured where I had it hidden all along was probably best since that's where I would look first, and it was but it hid good enough that I didn't see it there.  They say the mind is the 2nd thing to go, I can't remember what the heck the first is :-).
Anyway I found the money, added a $100 to my wallet since I was down to just a five and headed in to shore to find an ice cream.  When I made it to shore, I was met by a group of about 10 people, they thought I was in trouble, stopping and anchoring out so far, knowing how shallow and rocky it was there.  They even tried to reach me by radio, but like normal I have mine off unless I need it to conserve power.  I have to run the engine to charge the batteries and that's not the idea of sail boat.  I tried a first attempt at making a reverse trolling motor type generator at home before I left for Ohio, but it wouldn't turn fast enough to generate 12 volts, it was good for 6 volt's though.  I'll have wait till I get to version 2 or 3 on that project, then I'll be able to charge the batteries with sail power, and operate more electrical stuff without running the engine. 
Back to the Ice cream quest, I got instructions from the welcoming group on the direction to the nearest ice cream store withing walking distance and headed off that way.  This was the best deal yet 3 scoops in a waffle cone, $2.50, sat down on the bench and spent the next hour answering the typical questions you get when a stranger comes to town.  What, where, how, why, when, etc.  Word that a strangers down at the ice cream stand seems to spread as fast as the flies gather when you run out of wind on the boat in the middle of that lake.

A 900 foot long freighter is cruising by about a 1/4 mile to the east. Normally the waves from a freighter aren't very large.  They have spent a lot of research to eliminate them, mostly with a bulb shaped bow under water that makes a wave that exactly cancels the normal wave.  Making waves takes energy and that costs money, so they eliminate them if they can.  Barge tows and large private fishing, cruising and pleasure boats make very large waves, often up to 4 feet high.  A slight wind is picking up about 3 knots from the east, just enough to let me be moving north. I'll make it around thunder Island without changing sail settings.  There was absolutely no perceptible wave from the freighter, light winds require constant attention to the wheel so the salsa, chips and writing will have to wait till later.  The salsa is left over from the other days bean dip, basically when I open something, I use it up in a couple days.
The wind was short lived, at least now I'm east of Thunder Bay Island, and in a relatively shallow area 30 feet and out an real of possibility of getting run down by a freighter.  The chart shows wrecks in this area, one is about 3 miles away, what's left of the bridge deck of a freighter is sitting about 20 feet above the waterline.  I get out the Wall Mart Animal cookies, another staple food much like peanut butter.   At least I'm in water that will allow me to anchor for the night and not worry about freighters.

A 40 foot sailboat just motored by heading south probably going to be in the Port Huron to Mackinac race next week.  I'll be in Lake Michigan headed south by then. In a day or two I'll be in Cheboygan, if I ever get any wind, I'll check to see if they have any fireworks around the Machinac bridge when I'm there.  The next night north I spent in Port Sanilac, "anchored out" in the harbor, it normally costs about $35 or so to dock, so I don't even ask.  In town there was a nice little restaurant that listed Ice cream in the window, it was near 10pm but they stayed open till 11. It was quite crowded, only entertainment in town, everybody sitting around a central table, some eating, but most just talking.  I ordered the usual, 2 scoops in a waffle cone and sat down in the only empty chair at the table and answered the usual questions again and got the usual helpful suggestions about avoiding the boulders on the west shore of lake Huron.  "Stay 5 miles off shore and you'll be fine."   I also got some info on good places to stop for the night and some places to avoid.  They say the boulders make houses look small but I haven't seen any of them yet. I measured one on the depth sounder, it was marked on the chart, 20 feet tall, the bottom went form 50 feet to 30 feet instantly.

I'm in Lake Michigan, just came under the Mackinac Bride, pronounced mackinaw, now matter how it's spelled, I think I've seen it 3 or 4 different ways on different towns, islands, bridge, stores, etc.  The boat is beating to wind at 4 knots, 274 degrees magnetic, there is about 4 foot waves with the occasional 6 footer.  To the non sailor, that means I'm heading west, going into the wind as much as possible, the wind is coming at me from the South west about 45 degrees off the bow and the waves are too.  The boat is sailing itself so I'm sitting in the cockpit catching up on writing this letter.  I went below to get this paper, clipboard and pen.  I've been using the backs of my charts for the paper, these are just photocopies of charts made at the Lorain library before I started sailing.  Anyway as I was going down the companionway, (steps down into the cabin) a 6 footer tossed me across the cabin like a rag doll into a hinged cabinet on the rear bulkhead of the boat.  This cabinet made of pine and stained to look like teak was never a favorite of mine, It covers an access hole to let you get to the back of some of the instruments and wiring but the hinges are on top and it can't swing open enough to let you do anything, so you have to remove it anyway.  I've also hit my head on it a number of times when I come out of the quarter berth storage area.  Anyway the wood holding one of the hinges broke, so now I'll remove it and and replace it with a hinged panel, with hinges on the side, that has an extra electric set of switches so that most of the electrical stuff on board has it's own power switch making it easy to isolate problems, and still have power on to important stuff.  I'll need to find a new place for this cabinet, it might end up in the scrap pile at home.
I just had to drop everything, I noticed the anchor rode (rope for the non sailor) that normally sits on the front deck streaming past me in the water on the starboard (right, looking forward) lee side (downwind, low side).  I put the boat in hove-to, a stable almost non moving position, by backing the jib or genoa sail hard in, the main hard to the other side and locking the rudder same direction as the jib.  To get there from beating to the wind all you have to do is tack without releasing the jib sheet (rope) and locking the wheel to hold the rudder in position.  The boat basically just slides slowly back, healed over quite a bit but not bouncing around very much.  This allows a more stable platform on which to work on the front deck.  If I had gone to the front deck while beating into the wind the deck would be see-sawing up and down about 6 feet every 10 seconds or so. 
I got the rode back on deck and secured it, normally it just sits there without any problem, under the 16 pound danforth anchor that is secured to the rear stanchion of the bow pulpit.  Even with the deck pitching up and down 6 feet everything just sits there since the motion is rather smoothly changing and the acceleration is less then one g.  I think what happened is a wave probably caught it and washed it over.  The bow normally stays pretty dry but 6 feet back and a couple feet above deck level where I would be working if I was trying to do something up there while beating to wind in these conditions it's like getting hit with a fire house every 20 seconds or so. 
Back to writing again, and I just got drenched with a wall of water coming over the cabin top into the cockpit where I was sitting against the bulkhead to get some protection from the constant spray.  This was a little more then just spray.  No more writing today.

The wind and waves picked up and I changed tacks to head straight south, that would give me some protection form the waves when I get down near the coast of Michigan, I need to reduce sail but it's not critical, The coast is about 6 miles away, and I'm traveling at close to 7 knots, so I'll be there in just under an hour.  I went below, trying not to do the rag doll thing again, and made dinner, a salad, 1/3 head of lettuce, ripped up by hand in a deep bowl, 4 hard boiled eggs, cooked on the wood stove the night before and bread and butter pickle juice Italian dressing. (Pickle juice, add oil and It alien spices and shake)  Very good, I ended up wearing some of it on my shoe, I set it down on the lower cockpit bench, got busy doing something, an accidental tack made it the high bench, things don't sit well on the high bench when healed over at 40 degrees, luckily I had almost finished before I set it down.  I picked up the big pieces and ate them, the cockpit floor is continually being cleaned, either by waves, or me scrubbing it after and during doing laundry on it, etc so it's often almost as clean as a plate.

Same salad today for lunch, I didn't wear any of it this time. I makes a difference when your sitting in St James harbor on Beaver Island or charging across 5 foot seas in a 25 knot wind close hauled at 6 knots.  Off to town in the kayak, actually lunch was a late breakfast, I got into harbor last night about 12:30, the winds held steady, only thing I don't understand is that in the harbor the GPS is off by about 500 feet but it thinks it's accurate to 10 feet.  This is third time I've noticed it have that kind of error, it could be all the time, it just takes a harbor for it to show up.  The digital charts could be off but I wouldn't expect that.  It makes navigation in a strange dark harbor at night more of a challenge, sort like before we had GPS.
A city harbor is normally well lit, this one was really dark, some lights from town but all the nav aids in the harbor are dark, the harbor lighthouse get you into the mouth ok, but after that your searching for cans and nuns and the numbers on them with the handheld search light.  This is a great natural harbor, well protected by a c shaped spit of land from the north east but it has a large shallow spot in the center with a very narrow channel way in the back leading to the safe anchorage area.  I found an open spot among the other sailboats anchored out, dropped my two anchors and called it a night.     


Still In Northport

Last Wednesday I read a fiction book from cover to cover, I haven't done that for a long time, I normally read non fiction. It was a Hemingway novel, "The old man and the sea", a Pulitzer prize winning novel. I got it at the library book sale 25 cents, Thursday I read National Geographic, old magazines are free at the library.  Later Friday night Ken, Harv and me went out to Peterson park to watch the sundown.
I met a guy named Marvin at the bar, he came down to the marina to pick me up next mooring and we went out and picked a big box of sweet cherries and took me around to some of the local farms that were harvesting cherries.  Friday night they had country music in the park, I actual got to dance to a couple of them, I had to convince them that I did know how to dance and could teach some of them, so that they wouldn't look like a fool, after the first dance it wasn't as hard to convince the next one, the last one would I danced with would help to prod them out.  I still didn't find anyone that wanted to take me down to the Hayloft, the local county and western dance bar, 25 miles south.    
Saturday morning I spent straightening thing up on the boat putting my tools together to take into the marina and work on a gals boat.  Friday afternoon her jet boat had swallowed a ski line, she was cute and I offered to help, turns out she was married, darn, but she offered to pay me $40 to fix it, so I agreed to meet her at 8 next morning. It took about an hour and a half to get the intake to the jet pump opened up and retrieved most of the line intact.  I spliced the line back together and she was soon off towing the kids in the tube.  I was in one of the bars later that night and a gal two stools down overheard me say something about Kansas and a sailboat.  A friend of hers was at the beach where I was talking to some friends and it turns out she is a daughter of some other people I met last weekend had told here she met her brother at the beach, brother Bob (that's supposed to be me).  This gal the one on the bar stool told me that this gal from the beach said she met her brother and he was from Kansas and sailing a sailboat and lots of other stuff she had overheard. She thought I was her brother because I had taken Marv, the cherry guy, one of her other brothers to lunch at the eat spot, where she worked.  Anyway I was not Bob, but Posie the gal on the stool said she could take me to place, Christmas cove where I could find Petosky stones if Ken show up and take me. Ken was another guy I met in the bar distantly related to Harv Thomas.  Ken didn't show up, so I went to the Eat spot when Posie was supposed to get off, but she got off early and already left, this I was told by Tish, the beach gal, that started all this rumor that I was Bob.  I said "Hi, I'm Bob."  Tish is the daughter of Keith and Bonnie, Harv introduced me to them last week and I keep trying to get Bonnie to run off and come to the Bahamas with me.  In addition I've met Harv's brothers, Will and Phil and nephew, Dave, and lots of other people that are probably just as related to everybody else I've met.  Did you follow any of that, This is a small place and everybody is related, even long lost brother Bob that nobody has seen for ages and ages, somewhere last heard from in New Mexico or someplace like that.

I rode the bike to Christmas cove, I found a couple dozen Petosky stones, the state rock of Michigan.  Soon after I arrived, A kid was swimming in the cove picking up rocks and saying "hey, Petosky stones" just kidding around.  I told him and his parents that this actually was supposed to be the best place to find them around here. Even though I had never found them and had been looking for them for about 15 minutes In about 2 minutes I found one real close to his feet and picked it up and showed him.  It is sort of like hunting for mushrooms, you can't find any till you find the first one, then you can retrace your steps and find them all over the place right near where you first walked, I think you have to get your eyes tuned into seeing them. On the way back from Christmas cove I stopped in at John and Phylis Kilcherman's farm, on Kilcherman road, just down from Christmas cove road to get a dab of grease for my bicycle. It's needed grease for a couple weeks now, basically every bearing on it.  Any way John is the bottle collector and has an apple orchard filled with over 200 varieties of old style apples.  He ships them everywhere around Xmas time, I thinks he's on the net at "Christmas cove apple farm".  I had a nice visit with John and Phylis, had some great cookies and got the dab of grease I needed. Thanks John.
The next morning I completely dismantled the bike, greased everything and headed off to Cathead bay up near the lighthouse, there and back would be about a 20 mile ride.  I looked at the map and decided to cut across the state park about a 1/4 mile, bikes not allowed so I carried it and walked it through the woods.  The woods need a good controlled burn forest fire to clean up some of the downed dead wood.  If it ever does catch fire it's going to be a real roarer.  After carrying the bike up some pretty steep forested dunes in pretty thick underbrush, I came out at the end of the cathead bay road just as planned.  I parked the bike and walked a couple miles down the beach and back to the bike.   I then rode out the road and down to the lighthouse, the one I had visited last week.  On the way back to town, I caught up to a gal riding a bike toward town, it was Barb of Barb's bakery, the local morning meeting place where I met John and Phylis and lots of other people in town.  I could have left yesterday, I got the boat ready to leave, couldn't decide, there was good wind but the night before I net a gal her boy friend and brothers all from the St. Louis area.  I'll have to go through there on the way back and I'll probably want to leave the boat there for a week and go home to check on the house.   The last thing she said was that they would be out again last night, they weren't.  Today no wind, a little rain, I cleaned the boat, swabbed the decks, and then brought the laptop into the library to type all these back files in and then transfer them over to the library computer and send them your way. 


I'm at Frankfort Michigan, I've spent the last week mostly hiking on the different islands up here.  Actually I started still on the mainland at Northport last Saturday, I picked up a local paper late Friday night and the Sierra club was having a potluck lunch, hiking and kayaking at Lelanau State park, that's up where the light house is.  I tried to call them but it was Saturday morning at 7:30 and the event started at 12 noon, no luck.  So I got on my bike and rode the 6 miles up to the park where the hiking and kayaking would be, but I didn't find anybody.  It was sort of a threatening rain day, so maybe I thought this was going to be a fair weather group.  I looked at the trail map and decided to hike the long loop, actually I made the long loop (about 7 miles) a couple miles longer by connecting a couple side trails by walking along the beach and climbing up a tall dune back to another side trail.  The walk was great, it never rained but it looked like the sky could open up at any time.  When I finished, a couple hours later, the Sierra club showed up, they had the pot luck out at a campsite a couple miles away, instead of at the trail head pavilion like I had assumed.  It turned out only a few people showed up for the potluck anyway, so the group did have mostly fair weather people.  Very similar to many other outdoor groups I've been associated with, often I'm the only one to show up to go hiking or canoeing on cold rainy/snowy days.  I've taken many a winter moon light hike on the Konza prairie by myself because there where a few snowflakes in the air.

Also going on that evening was a full moon kayak on the cedar river about 20 miles south of town, but I couldn't find anybody to take me down there.  I was stopping and asking everybody with kayaks I saw, and asking if they knew anybody that might be interested, I called about half a dozen people that they told me might be interested, but no luck.  So it was another Saturday night in the local watering hole.  Sunday morning we had lots of wind, enough that I was thinking of not sailing because it was too strong, finally at noon I pushed off heading to South Manitou Island.  A few calculations out on the water after rounding the light house point, Cathead point and Christmas cove and I would arrive at South Manitou just about dusk or slightly after.  Passing the southeast point of North Manitou Island with sundown quickly approaching and the wind straight out of the south and South Manitou two tacks away with each tack about an hour long, I decided that the point would be a better place to get sheltered from the wind and waves for the night and I would get anchored in the light not in the dark.  So I stopped at North Manitou.  The next morning since I was there I thought I would cruise north up the east side and around North Manitou then head down the other side to South Manitou.  While passing the dock and small town on the northeast corner of the island, I decided to stop and find out what was there.  Everybody has told me to go to South Manitou, nobody even mentioned the north island, It turns out it is backpackers dream island, all wilderness, only trails, no wheels of any kind allowed.  They also have some rules that you can't camp withing 300 feet of any water and no camp fires, except in three fire rings around the island at organized camp sites.  It was one of the prettiest wilderness Islands that I've ever walked around.  Beautiful inland lakes, devoid of the usual over use at the prettiest spots by being over camped and tall sand dunes about 300 feet tall on the west shore, old abandoned farms, orchards, and lots of raspberries and blackberries.  The raspberries were ripe the blackberries have another month to go.  The mosquitoes were bad at times and then the black flies attacked when you were near the lake shore but still beautiful.  Very glad I stopped just to see what was there.

I then went down to the South Island the next day and spent a couple days there, basically the same kind of place, a little smaller, but slightly different rules, they have bike trail on some of the old roads, and camping is only allowed at three campgrounds, all hike in, two about a mile in, the other about 4 miles, no bike access to any of the camp grounds.  Also no bike access to the boat anchorage area.  I made a suggestion to the park superintendent, Dusty, about bike access to the boat area.  She just happened to be on the island that day.  I told her how most of the bikes that come to the Island probably come by private boat since I think the ferry has something like a $25 surcharge for a bike, basically it doubles the fare a person pays to get there and the bike loop isn't worth that much.  The concession group that runs the ferry wants to sell tickets to their bus tour around the bike loop instead of hauling bikes cheaply.   She said she would look into it, that it never crossed her mind.  I also told her about the movie named Dusty, it's about a kelpie, livestock herding dog form Australia, the kind I used to rain when I had sheep.  Our best dog that I worked at a sheep dog trail in Springfield, Mo did so well that somebody offered $2500 for him, I didn't sell, probably should have, he died a few years later with cancer. 

Back to South Manitou, I also made a suggestion a couple days later about a board that was in an old fallen down shack near the old dock.  The board was 26 inches wide, about 1x26x100 inches, with knots in the middle and end grain that made it look like it was cut close to the surface of the tree, imagine a tree that has a 26 wide board near the surface, probably about a 10 foot diameter tree or larger.  I suggested a display in the museum with this board and a diagram of the cross section of a tree where it could have come from to show how big the native trees would have been before the island was clear cut in the mid 1800's.  I also discussed this with one of the local rangers, Betsy, who just happened to be the older sister of Barb from Barb's bakery in Northport, (remember the place where I met everybody including John Kilcherman the bottle collector) she said she would make sure the the board finds a safe home even it's is just in a shed to protect it from the weather.  I told her about meeting her sister during my ride back from the lighthouse one day, And discussed all the other connections from Northport, she decided that I must have met almost everybody in town.   

Since I had pretty much explored south manitou completely, a couple days of long hikes, out to the perched dunes 300 feet tall, down the dune to the shore and around the shore to hike back up the steep slope to the native growths of white cedars, that were too small and too sandy to be worth logging.  At one point the slope was so steep that I climbed a tree, and then got off at an upper limb instead to trying to go up the bank. I hiked past the inland lake and rode the bike loop past the old farms.  One of the old farms way owned by a farmer named Beck, I'll have to check with Joe Beck from school to see I it's a relative of his.  The next day I sailed to Frankfort, another day of downwind sailing with lots of wind, with following seas, I only used the main sail, I could have gone another knot or 1/2 knot faster but then would probably have had too much sail at times and lots more headaches if the wind picked up even more.  This was the first time that I could sit in the cockpit and my eyes would be below the wave tops when the boat was between the waves.  I would estimate 7 foot waves or so.
Last night in Frankfort and for the next two nights, there is Shakespeare in the park at Elberta, just across the bay, a short row. 
I'm typing this on my laptop in the Frankfort park  at a picnic table and the music is just starting here, Arts in the park thing, jazz tonight, it's easier to use the laptop on land, the mouse button in the center of the keyboard is far to sensitive for a moving platform like a boat.  I went to the Shakespeare last night, it was great, very funny, sort of a new interpretation of old stuff, with enough old type language and modern costumes and attitudes mixed in together. 
They have performances tonight and Saturday too.  I also noticed that the fair is over at Traverse next week, I could hang around for that too. 
Friday nights performance was even better. Tuesday was "Two men from Verona," Friday, "Romeo and Juliet."


I’m in Muskegon, I’ve been here for 4 days, there are quite a few things to do around here, but no country western dance bar.  I’m back into civilization and can’t say I like it.  The second day here somebody stole my kayak.  I locked it up and hid it as best as I could but it real hard to lock something that’s made of cloth and PVC plastic.  I’ll put up some reward posters for $100 for information.  It would have been taken by one of the local inner city fishermen that fish off the dock, probably about 20 or 30 regulars that frequent this place and one of them probably took it.  $100 might be enough to get one of his friends to rat him out.

I’ve visited the local museums and today I visited a LST WWII ship.  LST stands for Landing Ship Tank, a large carrier with a flat bottom that can beach itself with a ramp up front to offload tanks right on the beach.  I visited a firefighting museum the other day, and learned why a fire hydrant is called a fireplug.  In the old days the water mains were wooden pipes, when a firefighter needed water he drilled a hole in the pipe, when he was done he put in a wooden plug that could be used at a later date, so when fighting a fire they would first look for a fire plug.

A couple local people that I was supposed to check in on when I got down this way, have been no shows, I’ve left messages and have heard nothing, so I’ve been spending the evenings at a local bar called the “Blue Note” hoping it might be blues, but the last three nights it’s been closer to hard rock, even with ear plugs I still was working on a getting a headache.  The beer has been cheap though, $1 for drafts the first 3 nights in two different bars and then $1 domestic bottles the next night.  Last night the loudness ran me out early, so I didn’t spend much then either.  I was supposed to meet up with a gal to go to yard sales both Friday and Saturday but left messages and never get a return call, it seems that returning calls is not a thing people worry much about in this neck of the woods.  They talk up a nice story, like asking if I want to go to yard sales, and tell me to call then at a certain time, but all it get is the machine, and it seems I might as well be talking to the wall.

I’m told by quite a few people that I will like Saugatuck, when I get a little further south.
I put my six rolls of film in for developing so I’ve got pictures now.  Some are pretty good. Out of six rolls, probably 30 or so will see an album, that’s actually a pretty good average, 30/140, normally about one in 6 is worth showing somebody else.

I’m in Onekama, on Portage lake Mich.  I stopped in Arcadia for a couple days, and then sailed down here today. It’s starting to look more like civilization and I’ll probably start moving a little faster toward the south. I went swimming the other day a couple times, once by accident while getting out of the 6 foot dinghy.  The other time was with the wetsuit on to remove a rope from the propeller shaft of a new friend’s sailboat.  We later went to the Fusion cafe for dinner in payment for my help.  They have a mix of eastern foods there and I got to use chopsticks, I haven’t done that for a while.  I had the sampler plate, food from many different countries.  I also had Saki, can’t say I was impressed, basically it tastes very similar to the alcohol that I have at home, the stuff I use for medicinal purposes only,  all the old wine that I’ve made that didn’t turn out and then went into the still.  The Saki wasn’t as strong, at 30 proof, but had the same flavor, the stuff at home is around 180 proof.  So I guess I have a very strong Saki every time I get a sore throat or feel a cold coming on.

I’ve met some real good friends the last couple days, a number of sailors that I’ll probably keep in contact with for along time.  Many I’ve seen in a few different ports and shared dinner or drinks with a couple times.    Most of the ports I’ve been staying in used to be lakes right near the shore of lake Michigan.  In the 1800’s these little lakes that often had a level about 10 feet higher than the big lake were made into ports by digging a channel a couple of feet wide and then letting the outflow of water due the rest of the work, widening and deepening the man made channel to a hundred feet wide and 20 feet deep.  Portage lake where I’m at now, is in places 200 feet deep, I thought my depth finder was broken when it went from 30 feet to not being able to find the bottom for a while. 

I went bike riding around Arcadia last Sunday morning, took off to the east about 4 miles, then went south to the hills, back west and north to town.  Arriving back in town in time for brunch buffet at the local cafe, then exploring every nook and cranny in town on the bike.  Last night I went to shore and helped a guy load a sailboat on a trailer, I had noticed that my anchors may have dragged, since it was pretty windy that afternoon but seemed to be holding OK.  At 9pm all was OK, I walked around town checked out the bar and ice cream store, they were both dead, then to the beach and back to the boat, it was now 10 pm, dark and paddling back to the boat, it wasn’t there, it had slipped about 100 feet and hidden behind another boat.  Arcadia is a poor anchorage back near the marina and harbor since lots and lots of scrap wood was dumped in the harbor a hundred years ago and still litters the bottom so an anchor often never gets dug in to the mud below.  It took me three tries to get the anchor to grab again.

I’ve been told that there is something going on in Pentwater this weekend so I’ll head down that way in the next couple of days.  One of the new sailing friends, a school teacher down there, is already home and will give me the nickel tour when I get there.  I’ve been in that area before with SIA so I already know some of the sites and plan to revisit a little fish shop just south of town. 
I’m in Pentwater, been here for about a week, I’ve been on land with a new friend, Kris.  I met him up in Frankfort harbor, he is also a solo sailor, but he is starting back to work today, a high school English teacher.  We’ve been cutting firewood and visiting his friends.  He spent the summer on his sailboat in the northern great lakes and Canada.  For three nights in a row, we’ve had a campfire in his backyard fire pit out in the country and fried fresh fish over the coals.  We’ve also consumed a fair amount of beer and wine with his friends.

Last night I went to comedy night at the local pub. The two comedians from Chicago were really good, everybody had laughed so much that their jaws ached.  I met a group that spends a week up here every year at a local cottage.  They should be back out again at the watering hole tonight.  There is a person in the group that knows as many jokes as me and we go back and forth, one reminding the other about the next joke that hasn’t been thought about for years.
Out on the boat, I noticed that my bailing sponge, a 4x4x6 inch sponge is missing from the cockpit, that’s the 2nd one this season. I think the birds must be stealing them for their nest.  I also bought a solar rechargeable yard light when I was up at Manistee, I rode the bike into the super K-mart to get one, and some other supplies.  I had a flat tire while I was there, so fixed I that and continued down the road.  The yard light makes a good anchor light, much easier then the oil lamp I had been using.  The boat is equipped with an electric mast top anchor light, but using it would mean running the engine and it doesn’t have a sensor to turn it on and off as it gets dark and light, I’ll have to add that.
 I also had an interesting night anchored out in Manistee, it started with two anchors set in outer harbor just behind the south break wall. There really isn’t a good anchorage at Manistee, unless you go into the lake by getting the two Bascule bridges to open and let you pass.  The wind was coming from the south, so the break wall was doing a good job of eliminating the waves from the 25 knot wind but the wind was really howling past the spreaders and mast.  I set a little jury rigged anchor sail on the back of the boat to help hold it steady, a sailboat often wants to swing back and forth almost 90 degrees to each side when anchored in the wind, and this sail helps eliminate that.  The boat was sitting real well and sleep was pretty easy, helped by the long bike ride I took in the afternoon.  At 2 in the morning I awoke to waves, the wind had shifted to the Northwest and was now coming right into the harbor and I was sitting in a 5 foot surf with the waves breaking right at my boat and about 30 knot winds.  I couldn’t have had much more than a couple inches of water under the keel when I was in the troughs of the waves since I was as I always try for, anchored in about 8 feet of water and I have 5 foot of draft.  I sat there for a moment trying to figure my options on getting out of this mess.  Only one anchor of the two was tight, (real tight), I was OK for the moment but didn’t have much reserve if things would get worse so I decided to get out of there, the question was how?  I ended up pulling the one anchor that was slack but I couldn’t pull the other and hope to get back to the controls to drive out of there before I was on the beach.  Anytime I motored up to the anchor it was a back and forth struggle at the wheel fighting the waves and wind with not much reserve power, it takes everything the boat has to fight a 5 foot surf and 30 knot winds.  I decided to try to motor the anchor out to deeper water, thus buying some time to get it pulled up on deck and get back to the controls, surprising myself when I was able to pull the anchor and fight the wind and waves with power.  The kicker was that I was out of the surf when I hit the end of the anchor line and had some momentum.  With that done I headed up river to the docks and found an empty slip and tied up for the night figuring that anybody that was out at 2 AM in this mess was not coming in to their slip tonight, they were holed up someplace in another harbor.  That made for a good night sleep after I calmed down about an hour later.  The anchor shank was bent severely and this was my strongest high strength Danforth anchor. The wind had bent it not the motoring out since it was bent toward shore.  The good thing is that it did its job and saved the boat.

Down here in Pentwater, Kris and I have been doing the thrift store, yard sale, and dumpster diving searches, coming up with lots of great stuff.  Kris met a wonderful gal from New York, an outdoor sports loving artist type wanting kids, the night before I got here, he is looking for much the same person that I am looking for.  Hope it works out for him.  She was out at the campfires a couple nights but had to head back home, she was here for the summer.  So there is hope.

I’ll be moving down the coast to the next port in a couple days.  Hope all is great at your home. Later

There was a celebration here in Muskegon on the beach for labor day weekend, I spent a lot of time there. I lost my cell phone, but got it back. I discovered it was missing when I came out of the bar, so I retraced my bike ride, of the day, 12 more miles of riding after coming out of the bar at 1 AM.  The main reason I re rode was the last recollection of seeing the phone was on a bench where I was changing form swim suit to shorts, thinking to myself, that wasn't a good place for it because I might forget it there.  I wanted to make sure it wasn't still there, since I lost it after 6PM, almost at dark, it might still be there.  I probably didn't leave it there, it probably vibrated out of my bike pack somewhere else.  Anyway I got it back, I called Altel, and found out that since I had nationwide long distance and you have to get special permission to make overseas calls, that they couldn't run my charges up till Monday when they would start on my minutes, so we left it on.  They also said that they could turn ff the long distance but leave local on.  That was the plan for Monday morning.  I then went down to the local Altel store and after discussing the problem they gave me a loaner phone, it was either that or I would sign up for a second line and get a phone that I would turn in and get a complete refund when I found mine or a replacement for mine.  They then decided that the loaner phone was OK at first they didn't want to give me one since my phone wasn't broken.  I tried calling my number every little while and eventually a guy answered it, and I was able to get it back.  It was quite a chore to get hooked up with this guy, he was a Mexican with very little English and lots of wrong English, for example in his dictionary every gas station is a Wesco, no matter what the sign says that he can't read.  He wanted me to meet him at a Citgo and the Wesco was a mile away.  I rode my bike 5 miles in 12 minutes to meet him and then called him when I got there and he wasn't and found out he wanted to meet me in 45 minutes there (but not really there), after a few more calls in 45 minutes, I was standing outside the station and he was pumping gas.  He was in a silver mustang. (actually a blue ranger truck??? at the  Citgo.) I asked him what stores he could see, "Target" so I said I would meet him at the Target store front door in 5 minutes, a mile away.  I got there and he said he was at the light, I looked under the parking lot lights and could see no silver mustang. I called again, it was the traffic light on the highway waiting to cross in the Target parking lot, he finally pulled up in the ranger truck, it did have  some silver letters on it, but I think every car is a Mustang to him.  I didn't bother asking where he found it. I gave him $20, he didn't want it but I forced it on him, and thanked him very much.   

I've been riding the bike a lot, probably over a hundred miles in the last few days, 35 miles in one day alone. I basically made a loop around Muskegon in the suburbs on next closest towns and the beach.  It's about a 5 mile ride to the Target/Walmart mall, K-mart is a little closer but a different direction.
I've been stopping in at one of the other Marinas west of town closer to the beach, the people there are much friendlier. I've been to couple BBQs there and met some new friends.  At the beach celebration, I ran into the neighbors of Kris, the solo sailing guy I ran round with in Pentwater.  It turns out the grew up here in the Muskegon area and have relatives down here.  I've also been working on getting to know a female bartender here, but not having much success. 
She is very very hard to get to know, but I think worthy of some extra time.  I also think it's good to stick around and see if my $100 kayak reward works. 
Actually I think the best chance is seeing the boat in a backyard on one of my many trips around town.  I've been biking the ghettos when I do a cross town bike trip, trying to take a different route each time. Have a good day.  


I moved the boat up to the North West corner of Muskegon lake Wednesday afternoon and just about dark took off North on the bike for a bar called the Red Rooster.  Last Saturday there was a Bluegrass band that was playing at the festival on the shore and they said they always play at the Red Rooster on Wednesday nights.  So off I was, I had directions but not distances, but was told it was a pretty good ways for a bike.  Thinking that most people would consider a mile or two a long distance on a bike, I figured it was not too bad. 
Four miles or so is what I figured, I stopped and got directions along the way, Yes she was cute, but some men do stop and ask directions.  I finally got there just as it was getting to dark to see, about 9PM, the band was just starting, but I had to spend 10 minutes outside cooling down and drying off from the ride.  There really weren't many there a table full of men with paperwork and a computer.  Two older couples at the bar and a couple tables of older couples, the bartender and a waitress.  I ended up sitting at the bar swapping stories with the couples there, and helping the bartender with his Biology homework.  I talked to the waitress, found out she wasn't originally from here, she followed her husband  :-( up here.   I had three beers, that's how much money I had and then left about 11:30 after the music had stopped and we talked about fiberglass bridges for about a half an hour.

When I got back to the boat I checked the map and found out it was about 7.5 miles each way.  The ride home was pretty dark, the moon light was shaded by overhanging trees, I have a LED headlamp  that mostly just lets other people know where I'm at and a LED flashing red light on my butt.  The headlamp will illuminate the white line for about 10 feet ahead but not much else.  Still the road was good enough that I could ride full speed, only saw three cars the entire trip home.

Thursday I sailed south down to Grand Haven, it was beautiful sail, wind out of the east at about 20 knots, good speed and only 6 inch waves, since I was right on the coast.  Grand Haven is a great town, boater are very welcome here, there is free dock space to tie up overnight with restrooms and the state park has showers not far away. Tonight they will have a concert, A musical lighted fountain, when built in 64 it was the largest.  There is supposed to be Kite surfers at the beach this afternoon and evening. I want to learn about that for two reasons, it's the next progression beyond windsurfing, and I love to windsurf, but I also think it would have potential to be a very practical emergency sail for a sailboat, if you lost your mast at sea.  Maybe you could even have a sailboat without a mast.

I spent the morning cleaning up the boat and doing some maintenance, and modifications.  Yesterday afternoon, I met a sailing friend that lives in Grand Rapids, he brought over his chart books for the Bahamas, and I bought those from him. Last night I went to the "Tip a Few" bar, met some very nice local people, There is a newly married gal, that just had a daughter, she is the daughter of a marina owner here, loves to travel and has traveled extensively, backpacking, canoeing, etc.  The wedding was shotgun thing, pregnant at the time, it's not going good in her opinion.  A bit young, but married an older guy, and she wants to know me, so we'll see, if nothing else it's a good contact and friend for the future.

After the "Tip a Few" we went to the "Theater" bar, it had a musician for entertainment, it was the same guy that was at the "Blue Note" in Muskegon, he played good blues, and I had talked to him up there about how he was the first good music I had heard in that Muskegon bar, mostly it was Hard rock.  He recognized me and said I'm everywhere, and was surprised since I was in a sailboat and on a bicycle.
Off to the beach to check out the kite sails. 



I went to Historical museum after I left the library last time, just to ask how much it was since there was a couple people standing outside getting ready to lock the door, one thought they knew me and introduced me to the other, it seems every town I go to somebody thinks they know me, we had a good laugh about that and then made proper introductions.  The older man after learning I was a single sailor and here alone, asked if I eat, fully well knowing that answer would be yes, he invited me to a block party that was going on in his neighborhood that evening.  I had a wonderful time and certainly did eat well, fantastic pot luck dinner.  After that I went down to waterfront to watch the musical fountain and got there just as the performance was finishing up, so I'll have to catch it tonight.  The kite surfing is supposed to go on all weekend, nothing was happening last evening before the block party when I rode out to the beach.
This morning I stopped at the farmers market and bought some corn and green peppers, everything else was pretty pricey.  I'm going to ride the bike out to the hardware and thrift store, probably find a grocery on the way, then head to the beach.  I've asked a few sort of country looking gals at the farmers market about country western dance places but basically got blank stares in return.  No luck.  The most country looking here was a jean jacket, shorts and sandals, at least they had a jean jacket :-).  Last night I strolled through a couple bars but they were 98% men, there is a sailboat race out of here today, with 70 boats in the race.  I decided to call it an early evening, and went back to the boat, got invited to the next boat for a beer, they are an older couple that is on a large powerboat from RI also going down the Mississippi to Florida.  I met them earlier in the day when I and another friend and sailor I just met, Phil from Grand Rapids out of Muskegon helped them dock.


I'm heading south today, It's pretty windy from the SW, 30 knots tops, 4 to 6 foot waves and I should be in Saugatuck or Holland by the time it gets stormy, I'll sail with just the main. On Monday I went out to the highway and watched the President go zooming by in his motor coach. He was traveling from Muskegon to Holland.  I was riding the bike to the grocery and noticed all the police near the highway ready to block traffic.  I asked what was going on and they told me the President was driving by.  I stay pretty news ignorant on the boat.
I've been grilling dinner for the last couple days, corn on the cob has been cheap, and I've been making a sort of stuffed pepper with Velveeta cheese, Tabasco and crunched up corn chips to thicken it, grilled tomato, potato and onions.  The first night I had a 2 pound chuck steak, last couple nights turkey dogs.  All the cheese, veggies and potato get chopped up after grilling and go in the same bowl.  Very tasty.  I got a bunch of tomatoes from a friend at the block party and have been making tomato and mayo sandwiches on a great bread the store has on sale right now, English muffin bread, makes a yummy lunch.  The other veggies came from the local farmers markets.
I've been swimming a lot, they even had kids surfing yesterday, That's the only sport I have the equipment for that I haven't mastered. Too much time spent waiting for a wave, and I have the wrong board to start out with, I need a longer board, I've thought one of my windsurfer boards might work good.  Summer has finally got here, the weather is warm and the lake water is good.  The harbor is pretty dirty, lots of boat traffic from the fishermen trolling for Salmon, I'll have to scrub the water line on the boat, it's getting real grimey.

Yesterday I rowed across the harbor to the fountain area and climbed the hill behind it to the flag pole, probably about 300 feet high, A great view of the town.  The fountain is just a bunch of exposed pipes and lights on a dished parking lot.  I then hiked in the pine woods and sand dunes for a couple hours and came out at the north shore marina.  I relaxed by the pool there for about an hour, they have some great hanging chairs, the ones that have a single cross bar above you, a sort of cloth cradle thing and hang from a single chain.  These didn't have the foot rest though.

I revisited the depot museum, this time I had enough time to really read everything, last time was a quick run through, since it was closing in 15 minutes.


 ============ ============= =============

Somewhere on Lake Michigan

River trip from Chicago to Mobile 

After the Library in Chester we rode toward the center of town to go to the Popeye museum. Chester is the town where the creator of Popeye lived and there is a statue of Popeye at the east end of the river bridge that I have seen a couple years ago.  The museum was basically a store selling all kinds of Popeye collectibles.  We visited a thrift store in town before the library, and again bought a couple things we didn’t know we needed.  There were three other thrift stores in town that we passed, but only was open, so we visited it.  It was getting to be late afternoon, since we got a late start today, we had to move the boat down the river a mile or so, that involved pulling anchors and then resetting them. Also a flat tire on my bike needed fixing, I did that while Susan did all the ferrying of the rest of the bikes and stuff.  The last load was just the two of us and the bike wheel I just fixed. Then we assembled the gas trailer for it’s first check ride and started climbing the hill, after a few stops to make adjustments on the trailer hitch we were at top and started exploring town for a gas station.  All these little things take time, we ended up spending the whole day around Chester.  After the last thrift store it was 5 pm and we biked passed a Subway in town.  Decided to have a sandwich, basically a foot long salad on a bun with cold cuts and cheese, and in my case lots of hot peppers too, we have to get our greens wherever we can find them.  Then a trip to the grocery store, it really started raining now, I was making good use of the new mackintosh type raincoat I found at the first thrift store for a dollar, almost new condition. Basically a fire fighting or fishing boat type of coat, very good for a sailboat in the rain if you don’t have much work to do (I discovered this while rowing out to the boat and putting the boat to bed last night, it’s just a little too stiff).  The ride down from the grocery to the boat was done in darkness without lights in the pouring rain.  We paused at the Popeye statue but quickly continued on, we were two drowned river rats.

This morning we are heading down the river,  I got up early and took the dinghy to shore to retrieve the bikes left there last night (Since it was raining real hard and we were soaked and had groceries and three 5 gal cans of gas). They were three feet above the water line but now half submerged. It was misting hard and chilly this morning, so I decided river running was better today than more Chester bike exploring.  I then pulled anchor, we had drug about 50 feet with the rising water and the bent shank on the main anchor causing it to not grab well, (the shank bent when leaving the spot below the bridge on the morning after the birthday anchoring fiasco).  I just finished untangling the anchor mess from this morning, we had anchored in an eddy and circled more than a couple times, also contributing to the dragging problem this morning. I pulled both anchors up as one unit and deposited it all on the front deck for latter sorting out when Susan took over the wheel.  I also straightened out the bent shank, so we’re back to normal in that area.  While in Florida I expect to buy a large plow type anchor on eBay.  They sell fairly cheaply, shipping is high, so if you can pick them up you can really get a deal.  Susan just said she saw snowflakes, I looked out and I can’t say I saw them, the temp is 54 degrees. Yes, there were little tiny flakes floating, twirling, and dancing on the icy cold wind mixed in with the rain. One could see them against the solid blue of the sail cover.

The river has a good current and there is not much barge traffic, we are idling the engine and at time moving along at over 9 knots.  We been taking turns at the helm, about an hour or so each, then into the cabin where the wood stove keeps it nice an cozy.  When we collected wood a week ago, I thought we would never use that much, but we will need to collect some more soon.  Putting the wood stove in the boat was the smartest thing I’ve done on the entire trip.  I’m my opinion this has been the coldest day yet, but I think it’s mainly just the dampness and I didn’t dress as warmly as I had on the cold days.

We stopped in Cape Giradeau and explored the old downtown, you can’t see it from the river but the old downtown is quite nice.  There was a wall that just had deep enough water for us to tie up at but the closest thing to tie to was about 150 feet away.  I opened up the rope locker and got out a couple 200 foot ropes and the boat was secure. The area is set up sort of like a grandstand as if they bring in a portable floating stage where we tied up and have concerts in the summer.  There are two large flood gates that are open when the river is not at flood stage so you can walk right into the downtown, it’s quite a shock to walk through the gates and see such a nice downtown on the other side.  Lots of antique shops and restaurants have taken over the area.  The chamber of commerce and info booth let me check email, while they gave Susan a ride uptown to get her nails done.  We checked out a couple consignment shops that Susan saw on the way back from her nail job and then filled a couple 2 gal water bags and back to the boat.  We met a local sailor on the street who recognized us as the boat people from the boat tied up at the wall and he gave s some pointers on where to anchor for the night and also in Kentucky lake.   I’m typing while Susan is driving, she has seen two bald eagles and just saw a coyote.  We are getting ready to turn up the Ohio river and I just found out I don’t have charts for that on my CD roms, I have the upper Ohio near West Virginia but not the lower.  No problem we’ll just follow the channel markers for 47 miles and then be in the Tennessee river heading south, I have charts for that.  It’s been another chilly and drizzly day, the wood stove has made it quite bearable.  We each did some laundry and took sponge baths today and had a very hearty breakfast of cheeseburgers and salad.  Decided to eat dinner for breakfast since it was chilly. Tonight we’ll finish the hamburger already cooked and have tacos on four tortillas.  One of these days I’ve got to try out the tortilla make I brought, I make them at home all the time.  It works off the battery with the 120 volt inverter.  Today is again very cold, rainy, whitecaps on very turbulent water, and very windy.

We spent the night on the Ohio river north of Cairo, it was very wide and we anchored on the shallow inside of a gentle bend in the river.  It’s started out nice and calm but the wind picked up and with it the waves, much of the beginning of the night was spent up and lashing things down and rearranging things to keep them from making noise or being tossed about. . The boat heaved all night in the waves and incredible howling wind and the boat creaked and rattled.  In and out, back and forth so many times due to so many different noises that we lost count and then it became so comical that we couldn’t stop laughing. Just as we thought everything was secure something else would start banging or one of us would just start laughing.  Susan started choking from all the laughing but couldn’t stop .It was a very eerie outside with an ominous sky. I thought we would never get to sleep. The morning came to quickly, I started motoring up river about 8 AM, keeping out of the channel in the shallow area, no sandbars for the first 15 miles, now Susan is following the channel, she went from 15 feet of water to 5 in no time at all. The current is about 1.2 knots in 10 feet of water at the inside of the bends and about 2.4 in the channel where there is 30 feet of water.  Our speed in the water is about 5.4, so we make good 3-4.2 knots over the ground.  We’ve got about 47 miles to go up river on the Ohio and have done about 18 so far, it’s noon on Thursday now, we hit the Ohio at 3:40 PM yesterday afternoon.   Last nights taco dinner was fantastic, going up river, I stopped when the light failed, since I was running in the shallows, so we had plenty of time to make dinner and  pick up email with the computer hooked up to the cell phone. Some nonsense but it worked. Have not had enough “bars” in order to use cellphone for a few days.  We realized that we didn’t even know who the President of the US was as we do not watch much TV nor do we have radio.  Finally our curiosity got the better of us and we turned on the TV later that night ( not that it really makes much difference.).
Hello again. Yes, it has been awhile.  Time flies when you’re having fun!

Floating down the river in Tennessee just south of Clifton, Stopped there yesterday found a thrift shop, gas and grocery, should be motoring up but found cell phone coverage, so trying to send this out. The current is 1.3 knots.


The second night in the Paducah area we anchored behind an island off the Ohio River, right before the Tennessee started.  It was a quiet place even though it was an industrial part of town.  We were well sheltered from the wind and just 20 miles down river from the start of Kentucky Lake so I decided it was a good time to put the mast up. It was a sunny day with clear blue skies and Susan planned to row into town and investigate all the quaint little streets, shops, and antique stores after our work.  I scanned the charts and didn’t find any marinas with a free hoist so I decided to use the same method I used when I took it down.  I first spent a couple hours debugging and fixing the problems with the steaming light and spreader light and then inched my way out and hung myself out over the end of the top of the mast in a climbing sling to remove the electronic wind speed and direction sensors.  About an hour later I had them apart, cleaned, oiled and back together and even working.  The direction indicator has never worked and I was able to verify that the sensor and indicator were fine. I couldn’t check the cables since they weren’t in a convenient place and the ends from the factory on the mast and boat extension cables were not installed to allow individual cable checking (two male ends on one, two females on the other, an engineer should be shot).  Someday that problem will be rectified but not today.  I then cleared the deck of all unnecessary stuff like bicycles, anchors and folding gas carts by loading the dinghy with that stuff and made an A frame out of the boom and a whisker pole.  It was secured in place with three ropes and a couple 2x4 feet to spread the load on the deck.  The mast raising was now ready to start, it was first moved back into position so when it was raised up the base would be in the right place.  A rope block (pulley for the landlubbers) had been placed at the apex of the A frame with a rope leading to a Genoa sheet block and then to a main deck winch.  This is where I had problem when lowering the mast, I was using one of the mast halyard winches to lift the mast and since it was moving I ended up with an over turn wrap on the winch locking it up.  Back to today’s job, I then started lifting the mast and attached a 25 gal drum to the base of the mast and filled it with water.  This counterbalanced the mast since I was lifting at a point 9 feet from the base and had more then 30 feet on the top end.  It worked very well, we took it very slow checking and tying and tightening safety lines anywhere we could.  A couple lines to the base of the mast set up as crude tackles slowly pulled the base into position as the mast was raised. The only problem was when we found it wasn’t lifting anymore and things were getting really tight, the rear stay, which had never needed to be removed, had wrapped itself around the steering wheel.  After clearing that mess it went right up, I did use the mast winches to help with the last lift straight up to clear the base and be able to connect the wires inside the mast base.  Next time I’ll double the lifting rope to the main winch with a block and tackle.  I connected all the wires and checked the lights and wind instruments; everything seemed to be working. Later when we had some wind it was discovered that the direction indicator still didn’t work.   It must be one of the cables or connectors, the ones I couldn’t check.  I’ll have to drill an inch and a half diameter hole in the side of the bottom of the mast as an inspection port to get at the connectors inside and probably climb the mast to get at the top one. That can wait for another day since it was now just after dark and the mast is secure with all the stays attached. The stays still need some tightening and tuning but that also can wait for morning. No shopping in Paducah as it took 10 hours of continuous labor.  Did not realize it at the time but that would be our last big town for over a week.

 Up the Tennessee to the Kentucky Lake dam and the tallest lock yet, 57 feet of lift.  Once in the lake we went over to the state park and snooped around, took a hot shower and found out the hotel had an all you can eat special chicken dinner that night. We filled up the boats water tank and moved the boat around to the hotel dock about 5 miles by river channel but only ½ mile by bicycle. That way when we left the hotel that evening after dinner we were that much further up the river.  The meal and surroundings and view were fantastic and only $5.95. After dinner we sat in the lobby and watched TV on order to catch up on world affairs. While beach combing I found the thickest mussel shell I have ever seen, more on that later.  Also there were lots of one inch long spiral shells, I didn’t know any of those lived in fresh water.  This was Kentucky’s largest and fanciest state park, sort of like the Pere Marquette Park in Illinois.

The next couple days were spent heading up the lake, the first was very nice and sunny with good winds for sailing in the morning.  Ever since it has been back to cold and dreary with the wind right in our face, can’t do anything with that when your confined to a river channel.  The lake is large but mostly too shallow for a sailboat to roam at will. The water level is down about 6 feet below normal. Tennessee River water is much cleaner than the other rivers. We can wash dishes and clothes with it.  No silt or flotsam and the color of dark jade (reminds Susan of the water in the canals of Venice).  We stopped at what we thought was a town but found only a little tiny store with the cheapest gas yet, $1.84, unfortunately we didn’t bring the gas cans along and it was too far to be worth going back.  The owners where very nice & gave us a ride back to the boat, I think he wanted something to do.  He took a picture of the two of us and the boat with our camera and then even came back with his own camera and took a picture of us sailing off waving goodbye. They were both from the north, planning to sell the store, and then start a new career in Texas. We met a lot of transplants with very interesting stories of their own.

Susan has been driving and sailing for two nice days in a row on Kentucky Lake while I work on projects. The third day I had my turn to drive - back into winter gear and it was pouring and miserable out. How did I get the short straw?

The next evening was quite an adventure - we followed a very serpentine channel back to Birdsong Marina in the dark.  At times it appeared to be running us right into the bank, but sure enough the depth stayed deep. It was like playing a giant game of connect the dots in the dark. We anchored out in a nice protected bay and awaited the morning to see where we were.  The Marina has the only fresh water pearl farm in the US and a museum with a video presentation.  It was well worth the stop.  We learned a lot about pearls and found out that the Tennessee Mussel (the thick shell I had found the other day) is now used throughout the world in Pearl farms since it has the greatest and fastest production of shell and thus pearls. They grow pearls of all shapes here, squares, rectangles, triangles, hearts, you name it, and they come in all different colors.  No free samples.  Susan says she’s going to try it when she gets home as she goes pearling on the Fox River in Wisconsin and I might try it at my brother’s place in Arkansas.

The next evening we stayed in a little marina just north of the I-40 interstate bridge.  When at first we tried to enter we went from 20 feet to 3 immediately, needless to say we also went from 2 knots to zero in that same time.  It was mud so not a big problem, we gave up on getting to that marina but a ¼ mile down the river we found another channel with markers, so we tried again. No problem this time, we toured the area looking for a suitable anchoring spot, very slowly since we only had about a foot of clearance at times, and found a couple spots that would do.  We then went back to the Marina dock to check out the store and again found very nice owners and managers.  They allowed us to dock for the night and even use showers, later on he said we could use electric if we

(continued next column)


  River trip (continued)

wanted and he wouldn’t charge us.  We did use the showers and stayed at the dock, but really didn’t need the electric. It would have been quieter if we had anchored out since the waves would hit the bow instead of the side or the stern, the boat would have oriented itself with the wind, but this way I didn’t have to mess with anchors.  Everything is a trade off.

Another day motoring up river, cold and damp, heading for Perryville. Back in a narrower river setting.  Beautiful cliffs with expensive houses perched on top.  On one point is a home built to look like a lighthouse.  It is wonderful sitting high on top of the cliff like a sentinel. What views. On the lower ground houses are built on top of tall stilts (for floods) and today we saw houses built on rafts.  Susan just called me to the deck, a bridge and what appears to be a park is ahead.  Hopefully here we find gas.

We haven’t been in a town for over a week now.  In need of green groceries, meat and maybe bread and Susan would appreciate a little civilization. She actually pulled out high heels and wore them just to feel feminine. Neither one of us has cabin fever per se but would like a museum, library, or change of scenery for a bit.  Don’t get us wrong, the scenery along the lake and river has been nice and peaceful this entire week without many barges and industry, towns, people, or interference of any kind.  But one can not go too long without a thrift store fix!

Talk to you all later.
The Skipper and Gilligan


No, we didn’t fall off the ends of the earth……

This installment of the trip has been written over many days, so there will probably be lots of yesterdays, etc. that don’t make sense.

We stopped at Clifton, there used to be a ferry here, but a new bridge put an end to that, so I checked out the ferry landing as a place to stop. I didn’t like the area, an eddy current, wind and a rock shore so I went back up stream to the swimming beach area, no rocks, and anchored there. It was close to a gas station and we had to use the dinghy so I carried two empty cans with a rope over the shoulder and went to town.  We found an all you can eat breakfast buffet, they said they would keep it open for another hour so we decided to walk around town and have that for an early lunch since we had breakfast on the boat just a while ago.  There was a thrift store open and Susan found some Xmas gifts at a stained glass shop.  A neat old house that is the town Library wasn’t open that day.  The Library was the home of a famous author, T. S. Stribling.  After brunch we walked to the dollar and grocery stores, that’s where we found the Popeye spinach, more on that later.  Back to the boat and on our way up the river.

Next stop Savannah, it was late afternoon, we off loaded the bikes with the dinghy as a rope ferry, we could have anchored closer to a rocky bank but I didn’t want to find bottom. We had to carry everything up a 30 foot 45 degree rocky incline.  It entertained some locals. We found a great museum, the Tennessee River Museum, we spent an hour in it and needed more time so we decided to come back first thing in the morning.  Lots of natural history, civil war stuff, and riverboat history.  The second day a nice man came buy as I was ferrying the gas cans to shore, getting ready to bring the bike trailer also and he offered to give me a ride to the cheap gas station on the other side of town.  I accepted.  It turns out he was overseeing a group of convicts that were cleaning up the park, and looking for something else to make the time go faster.  The thrift stores in town were not open, there was a Wal- Mart but it was the other way from the library and we were told about a store called Fred’s so we decided to visit it instead. Really didn’t need anything, just a break, and maybe find a bargain.  We found apple juice in square bottles, the price was right and we needed more square bottles, we use them for drinking water, and they store so much better then the round ones, so we bought four.  The round ones are now finding use storing rainwater collected from the canopy, water used for lots of cleaning chores.  Savannah also had a Pizza hut buffet, so it was Pizza time again.  We waddled back to the boat on the bicycles and headed further up river.  Shiloh battlefield was about 15 miles away and riding the bikes around the park was the next days plan with a stop a Pickwick landing state park another 10 miles and a lock and dam up the river the day after.  The park has their crazy chicken buffet on Thursday nights so we could catch that is we don’t move too fast.

We had soup for a couple days, mostly chicken and spinach, with other veggies mixed in. We found big cans of Popeye brand spinach at the dollar store and couldn’t pass them up.  Very tasty, even had it for breakfast a couple chilly mornings.  A welcome break from the soup was had when we found the Pizza Hut Buffet in Savannah.  I’ve been thinking of calling this trip The Chicago to Florida All You Can Eat Buffet Trip or something.
Shiloh was a great stop, we landed at Pittsburg landing, the historic landing in the park, the bank was rip-rapped with rocks, but we could pull right up next to shore and sit on a sand bottom. I put out the gangplank and hurried down with a rope to tie off to a small tree on shore. I also put out an anchor just in case.  I sort of expected to be told that we could not leave the boat there, but after talking to the first park employee and he said it shouldn’t be a problem felt better about it. He wanted to know when we were leaving so he could be ready to go along and asked if we had room.  We visited the cemetery, the museum, watched the movie and then rode around the park, that took most of the day. The last stop was the Mississippi Indian mounds on the river bluff just south of the boat.  We had asked at the museum if we could walk our bikes on the no bike allowed trails and they said it would be OK, that saved a lot of backtracking and allowed us to see much more.  The river museum, the day before, had lots of info and artifacts from the battlefield and mounds.  Back to the boat and up river to just below the dam, I found a great little creek to stop in, pulled right up the bank and went exploring, it turns out we were on a back road that leads to a very large corrugated container factory.  They turn trees into sawdust and then boxes.  Quite noisy.  I would have called it a cardboard factory, but got corrected, its’ not cardboard it’s corrugated.

The next day we stopped at the courtesy dock, biked around the state park, went for a long ride to town, made extra long by an initial wrong turn, found a scratch and dent grocery, the second one of those we found, and then went to the Crazy Chicken dinner. After dinner we met a couple guys, Doc and Dan that are doing the “loop”, we talked to them for a while and then suggested they try the dinner at the hotel.  We moved out into the cove to anchor out and spend the night. Did I tell you we stopped at another Crazy chicken Buffet in the first state park in Tennessee also?  They have them at all the state parks with restaurants.  This one was even better then the last one, and superb plum cobbler dessert, only problem, they just didn’t have any soft serve ice cream to top it.   After we had then first one and found out about this one we planned our last couple days stops to be there on the night they were having it.  We missed a state park in the middle, I wonder if they had a restaurant? The settings are like a four star restaurant: sitting up high in a wide expanse of windows overlooking a park, then lakes or river with lights twinkling from the far bank and other boats and a large stone fireplace. We should have been in a tux and gown instead of hiking boots and jeans.

The next day we start the canal, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.  This was written a few days latter at mile number 340, that means there is another 340 miles to Mobile and the Gulf of Mexico.  When we left the Tennessee River soon after the last chicken meal at Pickwick landing the miles started at 450, so we’ve come a good distance along this part of the trip.  This has been mostly canals, The first part is called the divide section, that’s where they dug through the high ground, at one point we where 125 feet down from the surrounding terrain.  That was a fairly boring part of the trip, mostly straight, rip rap shore and tall grassy banks with a bridge every once and a while.  It was a  long days travel before we found the first lake, a place to get out of the channel and anchor for the night and then the next morning quickly found the first lock.  Trying to find a place to anchor is always a challenge when you don’t have charts so I did find the bottom a couple times before I found home for the night.  For this section of the trip all I had was the names of the locks, the river mile locations and the channels they use.  I went through that lock myself since it was down lock and they are much easier and Susan was still asleep.  It was an 80 foot drop, but the water is very calm when going down, sort of like the difference between filling a bathtub and draining it.
A week of low clouds, rain, cold wind, pea soup fog, and hour shifts makes for very challenging travel.

We visited Burnsville, cheap gas $1.71, but I left the cans on the boat, mailed some letters and the libraries internet was down.  We shopped at a couple stores and then headed down the canal again all in the pouring rain.

We stopped at Fulton to fill up the gas cans and fresh water bags.  The town was about a mile away and pretty hilly terrain.  I put together the gas cart, really the first real test as a bike trailer since the last time I got a ride back to the boat with the filled cans.  The trailer worked great, even up the hills.  We were stopped at the Whitten State Park and tied up to the side of boat ramp dock, it was chilly and threatening rain so we didn’t think too many fishermen would be using the ramp that afternoon.  The park had a historical center museum, it turned out to be a Tenn-Tom Historical Center, it had all the charts of the waterway in their free information rack along with lots of other good pamphlets.  So now I have a little bit better knowledge of where we are going, not much depth info but lots lots of good stuff.
While in town with the gas trailer, we checked internet at the library, mailed some letters and got 15 gals of gas.  We then filled the water bags back at the state park, that water then gets transferred to the square bottles.  The state park was very nice, paved and lighted walking trails, really roughing it there!

We stopped at Amory and rode the bikes around town, and found an old hamburger joint, est 1929, Bill’s, on main street, AKA Vinegar Row, given that name from the old taverns that used to be there.  The burgers and french fries were great and after hearing our story and how we will tell everybody about the place they gave us some souvenirs from the place.  The town is an old railroad town on the Frisco Line.  It has a great historical museum in an old hospital, an older resident of town gave us a tour, and pointed out all of her extended family in all the pictures.  We did find a thrift shop open so we had to stop there.  I keep forgetting to ask the thrift shops for a a couple old T shirts to recover
the golf cart tire bumpers I use for the locks.

We just went through the Stennis lock.  Susan did most of it by herself, she still doesn’t want to drive the boat up to the wall to attach the rope and that’s OK with me.  If she wanted too I would let her as long as it’s pretty slow, trouble is real slow and you have no control because the rudder doesn’t do anything, so it’s a catch 22 thing.  We are getting ready to check out Columbus.  We can take a side channel (the old river before the COE straightened it) right up to the down town area. There is a dock in a park there, and the water was just deep enough for us to get within a foot of it so we tied up and took the bikes around town.  We found the city info booth in the old home of Tennessee Williams and then rode around town looking at the old antebellum and Greek revival homes.  One was for sale, 1.5 million, maybe next time.  We found a Fred’s sort of a Wal- Mart competitor, supposed to be 500 stores here in the southeast.  We bought some apple juice and a couple Klondike bars, ate them outside sitting on a park bench and then headed back to the boat and down the river.

We are still in Demopolis, mile 216, right now, It’s raining again. The first day I stopped north of town at a boat ramp, we pulled right up to shore and took the bikes and gas trailer into town.  Now we are sitting in a bay south of town just upstream from the next lock and dam. The boat is pulled right up to the bank with the plank off the bow as a gangplank. We’ll have to watch the depth as the water goes down, we’ve got 4 feet under the keel right now.  The rain has caused the river to be 10 feet above normal so we can’t fit under the bridges downstream with the mast up.  I might have to decide to take it back down.  We’ve explored Demopolis pretty well in the last three days, it’s got a Pizza Hut, Wal- Mart and a Chinese Buffet.  Not much else to see, a few nice houses and a very tiny historical society museum with painting and sculpture from the woman that used to live in the house, Geneva Mercer.  Her painting is very similar to my mom’s and her sculpture is supposed to be pretty widespread around the country.

The day before yesterday was Thanksgiving, we bought some turkey wings, canned asparagus, and cranberry sauce at the grocery store earlier so we had the fixing for a feast.  The turkey was browned (slightly) in the skillet and then parboiled till tender (not quite, but that was the idea).  I didn’t want to burn the alcohol oven for a couple wings, so all the cooking has been done on my gasoline backpacking camp stove. We also had potatoes and sweet potatoes, cooked in the same water then sorted out later, and the asparagus was heated in the can on the wood stove.  The woodstove has been burning quite a lot lately with temperatures sometimes in the 30’s. I also made gravy from the pan drippings and the parboiling water. Even had stuffing.  It all tasted like Thanksgiving was supposed to taste.  Today we have turkey, vegetables and canned Popeye spinach soup.  It rained again today (what else is new?), we have been here already for 5 days, we found out the next lock down is closed, thirty feet of water above normal and it’s running over the lock.  I might lower the mast again to get under the bridges when the river is still up, but we can’t do much till the lock opens. Met a number or other boaters at the marina that are trapped by the weather conditions also.  The water is churning and there is tons of dangerous flotsam making it very unsafe to venture out. Some have been here two weeks. Doc and Dan escaped before the lock was closed.


Talk to you later.
Milo and Otis  (since it’s been raining cats and dogs)



========= ======== ==========

    Gulf crossing Mobile to south Florida 

I’m still alive.  Sitting on the boat making so many typing mistakes due to the rocking.  I’m listening to water gurgling under a false cabin floor I’ve jury rigged to keep my feet dry.  I’m also listening to the putting of a rented gas dewatering pump up on the dock.  This is the first day in a long time, I’ve felt like I could take the time to write.  I should get a full nights sleep, I’ve been working on about a total of maybe 8 hours of very broken sleep in the last 6 days or so.  I’m sitting here tied up to dock in St Petersburg Florida, Tierra Verde Marina. Actually the boat is tied up not me.  I’ve got lots of things to ponder.  What will my next boat be like?  I know for sure it will have some sort of pilot house feature,  forward looking windows, steering and controls inside protected from the weather.  One thing I’m not pondering is how much water a 50 year old sailor in fair shape can bail in a 30 hour period to keep his boat from sinking.  I was never worried about my life, most of the time just in 4 feet of water and not too far from shore.  I was stuck on a shoal, strange thing I’d been there the day before when Susan found it coming in from the gulf without a depth sounder or charts for this area, we expected to bypass this and head for Ft Meyers, I had the charts for there.  We spent most of the day working to get off the shoal the first time,  the boat already had some damage from an earlier grounding, I was to blame for that too fast in shallow water working to wind to get out of a safe harbor the first night on the gulf and start on the “Three Hour Trip”, actually should have been 2 days but ended up 4.  We had a depth gage then.  The crossing of the Gulf was very rough, they missed the weather predictions by about 15 mph. 30’s gusting to 40 is very different then teens to 25.  Waves 12 feet at times.  Susan was really seasick most of the time, she helped out when really needed and found being on deck was sometimes better.  The first two days were downwind with quartering waves, a constant steering job. It was a really wet long trip, made longer by not having the proper sails for those conditions. I needed a storm main and jib sail.  Most of the time we were sailing with just the main.  Tried reefing it once but an uncontrolled jibe took care of that, there were only three reef grommets, should be about 5 or 7.  Back to full main and sailing down wind with the the sail pulled in to spill most of it, kept us moving and controlled, sort of.  The second two days were into the wind, the very strong wind, again using just the main, I needed a standard jib then.  I did learn that the boat would sail it self with just a main farther of the wind then close hauled, so most of the those days was inside the cabin away from the constant spray and waves over the cabin top.  I also got seasick then, but never debilitating, just a complete emptying of the gut, even when you thought it was as empty as can be, there`s more.  That was a first for me, helped by the smell in the cabin.

Anyway crossing to Ft Meyers from the St Joseph bay was a trip to be remembered. I learned a lot, mostly features of my next boat.  We were taking on water about a gallon a minute from cracks in the back of the keel from my grounding but the bilge pump was keeping up.  The manual pump worked when I primed it by filling the tube with the electric pump, I think it has a hole in the diaphragm and looses it’s prime, making it useless.  I’ve got an additional manual pump on board but haven’t mounted it yet.  After Susan’s shoal finding, Things got worse, I was down below, trying to find something in the form of map, chart, etc. to find a good place to call home for the night.  It took us 5 hours or more to get off the shoal, I left an anchor out there to retrieve later, using it to try to kedge off, but the tide current was two swift.  We did more damage and the pump was working overtime and then quit.  It was bailing time maybe 8 gals a minute,  Susan was having trouble keeping up and didn’t fell like she could steer and navigate us to a save stopping point, what’s safe when your sinking???  Her four days of no food had drained her.  So we called the Coast Guard to find a marina with a Mobile lift.  They came, they helped bail, I was instructed to follow them.  They took us to a marina that was too shallow, I dragged bottom going in and it was now high tide and no mobile lift to fix the damage.  They take you to the closest safe harbor no matter what you need or want.  The coast guard just left us at the dock tied up, it was 11pm we were leaking 8 gals a minute and with instructions not to move until we had a working bilge pump. Susan was sent by cab to a 24 hour WalMart to get a new bilge pump and I stayed behind and bailed continuously, only for a couple hours then.  Susan came back with the pump, I installed it and at 2AM headed out of the “safe harbor” to one with a Mobile three hours of shallow narrow dark channel to follow but only a couple miles away, could walk it in less time. The long trip was due to a non opening bridge.  Susan had decided to call it quits, I told her the trip was essentially over, I had to spend a day repairing the damage.  She had the cab wait, delivered the pump, got her stuff and went to a motel.  The pump was a tiny one, working at 80% of the time, I got to the other marina a couple hours before dawn, and nervously slept for a couple hours.  I asked about the lift, they didn’t have any place to put the boat, if I wanted to do the work myself but told me where I could do it.  About 20 miles away, I called, they couldn’t lift me till Tuesday, it was now Friday morning. I found a West Marine Store bought the fiberglassing stuff and the largest bilge pump they had and     
Headed out to retrieve my anchor on that shoal.  A couple engine noises had changed and one new one was enough to make me have to stop and diagnose.  The starter was engaging while running, a remote start switch I installed had corroded with the salt water and was coming on intermittently.  The terminals all wrapped in electrical tape had turned into a conductive putty in about two days.  I fixed that, tightened up the alternator belt, one of the other noises that had stopped, it become too loose to squeal I guess.  It was Friday, I had to kill time till Tuesday.  Anchored safely off the shoal with the back up fish finder depth gage, I dinghied over and got the anchor, back on boat I pulled anchor and went to start the engine, nothing dead batteries.  I quickly set the anchor and by the time it’s line paid out I was aground again.  The tide current like the day before was pretty strong there.  No batteries and the bilge pump quits,  The Coast Guard can’t tow me because I’m aground, against regulations, tow companies wanted $800 to tow me and $200 to jump start me, I decide to bail and wait for a tide change or a good samaritan to let me use a battery to get my engine started, we did have a wind change and wave change. And John, a good samaritan, heard the Coast Guard radio announcement the next morning and tried to help, even with his good battery my engine wouldn’t start, don’t know why, it’s always been real good until it’s really, really needed.  I didn’t want to kill his battery so I really didn’t try too much stuff.  He towed me off the high and dry moving with every wave top and left me setting to two anchors in 6 feet of water to go get a battery.  When he got to West Marine to pick up the battery, they wouldn’t take credit cards over the phone.  Even though I had bought stuff there just the morning before with a credit card and had been talking to the manager by cell phone for most of the evening before and again that morning.  I was seeing if they possibly knew anybody that could deliver a battery to me, telling how I was bailing constantly to stay afloat, and the boat was taking a beating.  No luck, company policy, I wanted to know why they hadn’t informed me of that before he got there.  It was getting late and too much sea for the good samaritan so reluctantly he had to throw in the towel, Thanks John. The wind was picking up, my bottom damage was taking quite a beating, I decided to drop anchor and take my chances beating on the shoal but maybe moving across it and eventually out of it.  Then I’d be drifting, continuously bailing, no lights, in the channel and the Coast Guard would have to come get me. I attached floats to the anchor lines and had to cut the line on one.  By the time I made it off the shoal I was pretty beat up, bailing with a 5 gal bucket, rocking round pretty violently and at times a foot of water on the cabin floor.  I told the Coast Guard about my talks with the Marina to get pulled out, they called around to get an emergency pull out and were taking me to the Marina I had talked too, but when they couldn’t get them on the phone they had to turn around and take me back to the closest safe haven from where they found me, at least it wasn’t the shallow one again, I managed to convince them it wasn’t safe to drag the keel..  So here I sit, bouncing around, the sound of water leaking, being sucked out with a pump and probably not going to sleep because of the motion.  I’ve typed quite a lot more then I expected.  The boat probably has three or more areas of cracks and also a bent rudder shaft.

My next boat will have inside cockpit controls, some forward looking windows, better engine access and fewer sharp edges.  More handholds, The radio has some fibers embedded in the front plastic from my stocking cap, probably just as many in my forehead.  There are too many hooks and sharp latches and all kinds of places to get hurt while hurtling across a cabin.  Cabins should be smaller so you can’t get going to fast before stopping.  Proper engine access is not on your back feet above your head, back into a metal bracket so you can just about see the distributor, and having to remove it completely just to set the points.  Just about everything I’ve attempted to do on this engine has been almost as difficult.

Any way back to the bailing question, my research shows that a health 50 year old can bail about 200,000 pounds of water in a 29 hour period.  I did it, I also just purchased West Marine Advantage, Towboat US coverage for $105, that will save me about $300 tomorrow.   I’m also discovering why most people have just about no use for the Coast Guard.  At first all I wanted was some info, where is a marina with a mobile lift. They took over the situation, paid no attention to what I asked for or wanted.  I was happy to receive the help bailing but latter when we spent hours and they took me where I didn’t need to go, wouldn’t be able to leave, never informed me of what they where doing, then left me to sink at the dock, I was not very happy.  Both times they could have taken me to a place that would have been able to better help my situation, it would have been less total miles for them, but to go by the book, they went out of the way to leave me in a rather terrible situation.  Right now if my boat goes down, it’ll be in 30 feet of water.  Could they have taken me to a part of the dock that was shallower? No that’s not their concern, or ground me on the shallows next to the marina, nope, got to be tied to the dock.

It’s hard to imagine the scene, 12 inches of water sloshing in a violently rocking boat, a 5 gal pail was easy to fill but it seemed like only 30% of the time some of it would end up out of the boat, often it would just end up being sloshed against the side of the companionway and pour right back in.  I’m sliding around with the water, tilting, sliding, etc, climbing out to dump it was out of the question, had to be done faster than that.  A rhythm was impossible to find.  A 6 inch drain in the cockpit will be very necessary in a future boat.

I’m still sitting at the dock trying to figure a reasonable way to get a tow, there is a college program that does it for free, just haven’t been able to get anybody since it is X-mas break.

I went diving today to try and straighten the rudder shaft, an A frame to the side at the top with a block and tackle out to the side and ropes to the bottom, no luck.  I also tried towing the boat with a borrowed 14 foot skiff and 20 hp mercury, I can move it but not steer it.  Hence the rudder work.  I called back to one of the cheapest quotes on towing this evening, and said lets get it done soon as possible, haven’t heard back yet.  I’ll try harder to locate somebody at the college tomorrow morning.

I’m sitting in the boat, finally high and dry, they got me pulled out of the water yesterday afternoon, I’m at Salt Creek boat works, just south of downtown St Petersburg Florida.  I spent the Xmas holiday with my friend Norm and his family.  The damage to the boat is not near what I expected, a small area about a half a  foot square at the back of the keel.  It had been damaged there before and repaired, but the repair was not done very well.  Today I ground out the old fiberglass, I’ll let it dry real well for the next couple days and then patch it back together.  I’ll make it a “hard spot”, so hopefully it will not fail there again, it will have to break the surrounding original glass structure.  While letting it dry I will work on straightening the rudder and some other things that need attention.  I found out that I’m not teaching this spring so the rush to get back to school is not anything to worry about, but finances will get critical soon.

I got good news today that my new friend John, that helped me on the shoal, has retrieved my anchors.  I was wondering about them and really wouldn’t have felt comfortable venturing out of here without good and sufficient ground tackle.  I owe him a lot and hope I can somehow return the favors he has done for me.

I spent Tuesday this week repairing the mainsail by sewing a few patches where the reef points ripped out.  The sail only has five reef points, it needs more.   I might add another four someday, I’ll have to look into what the other mainsail has, it’s like new, this one is kind of tired anyway.  When you need to reef it’s because the wind is severe, and that should not be an area to scrimp on sail construction.


1/1/05  I straightened the rudder shaft today, I jury rigged a 30 ton press using a truck frame, still attached to the truck, a 30 ton jack, some chain, and lots of wood blocks. The 2 inch diameter rudder shaft tube is now straight within a 1/16th of an inch in 24 inches.  Good enough for the crude bearings it rides in.  I also had dinner with a local couple that are working on their boat right next to mine,` they also have a hole in the bottom and are fiberglassing it up.  Dinner was great, salmon and lots of green veggies, dessert was a Klondike bar, love that ice cream as most of you already know.


(continued next column)

This boat is sold, click here to see more pictures.

Gas run on the flooded TomBigbee river north of Mobile. Folding (cut in half) bike and folding gas trailer.

========== ========= =========== 

Gulf crossing continued 

For my medical type friends out there, I would like to find out about salt water exposure, my feet spent a couple days, even could argue 5 days constantly wet with salt water and I'd like to know more about the healing process.  When done with the bailing toes and fingers were pretty much pure white and swollen, I'd say about 50% larger diameter with not much feeling in them.  My fingers have comeback a long way, almost normal but my toes still feel like they've had mild frostbite. I've lost a lot of circulation in the toes.  Yesterday was the first time I've put them into my hiking boots, and it surprised me that they fit and it wasn't as bad as I figured, so it's not really that bad.
I've searched the internet but only find forensic exposure to salt water discussions.  I'm not intersted in how long I've been dead and floating by the looks and feel of my skin.  Any info?  A navy doc should have info on this stuff I'd think.

I'm thinking I can fix the prop shaft with a thin wall stainless tube, 4 inches long, 3/4 ID and about .010 inch wall.  I'd slip this over the damaged part and fill the void with epoxy, the cutlass bearing could ealily handle the .020 inch increase in daimeter.

1/8/05  The rudder is installed, it's tight in the bearings but turns fine, it'll loosen up with use.  They lifted me up today, I needed that to install the rudder. I'll be in the water first thing monday.  I finished the boom repair and beef it up, I tore apart the manual bilge pump and found a little piece of fiberglass in the output check valve, that explains why it gave up when I needed it most.  I finished the jury rigging on the exhaust, that'll get me to where I'm going and then I can build a new system.  I'll probably go to a heat exchanger and sealed fresh water engine cooling.  I might go to ordinary radiator and fan.
The fibegrglass work was done  a couple days ago and I've touched up the bottom paint. You can't tell where the repair is except for the new paint.  It should be twice as strong as original. The bulkheads are much stronger and glass instead of wood with beter access to the rear bilge area.  Tomorrow I'll put the new alternator on and finish sorting through stuff.
Yesterday evening I compounded and waxed the sides of the boat, it looks real good now.  Finally got the Illinois river oily gunk and the Mississippi and Ohio river muck of the sides.

My feet are getting better, I guess I've had some nerve damage, They weren't as bad as some of you thought, I didn't want to go to a doctor for a number of reasons, but mostly couldn't get away from the boat for fear it would sink.

1/11/05   Still in St. Pete, heading for Labelle, I'm somewhat back to normal, anchored out last night, met some nice folks in other boats.  I had ice cream for the last 3 day straight, CVS has Edy's pints for $1.50, butter pecan and peanut butter cup.  They also have 90% off Xmas stuff, like Hersey's Kisses and hugs, 10oz bag for 29 cents and 10 oz cookies box for 9 cents.  I loaded up on those.  I rode the bike about 2 miles last night to get some gas, found out a single 5 gal can rides very well hanging on one side of the handlebars.  I rode over 100 city blocks this morning to find a 68 ohm 5 watt resistor for the replacement alternator sensing circuit. I ended up at a Radio Shack after 3 stops and got 2 50 ohm 10 watt and 2 10 ohm 10 watt.  One 50 and two 10's will get me 70 ohms, close enough.

I'll get back on the boat and start heading south, depending on the wind I'll take gulf or inland waterway.  No wind I might as well do the protected waterway with more to see and stop and explore. 

My Islander in Lorain Ohio before the trip.

1/16/05  I'm in Labelle, I'd say no problems, but can't, nothing that had to do with repairs thou, everything held up fine, I even really tested the repair, real hard grounding.  Long days of boring motoring in narrow channels.  The last half of the last day, up the Calosahacthee was good.
That's where I grounded hard, I was motoring with the main sail up, going good and steady, no steering needed for a mile or so, went below to look into why the radio quit, bad fuse, then bam, boat turned into shore.  I think it might have been due to my weight shift, shifting the steering?  Anyway, keel held together like it should, a boat should be able to survive a full speed grounding without damage.  Last time it didn't because of the bulkheads broken in the bilge and a poor patch job at the damage point. The old keel repair was an accident waiting to happen.  The propeller shaft has about 20 hours on it and is still going strong, 7 hours was full throttle into a 30 knot wind and 3 foot waves, making 2-3 knots headway.  No choice, I could have turned around and went back, couldn't get out of channel to anchor, no protection anyway, so just slogged it out.  I was expecting an inland sea and to be able to sail, even tacking into a head wind, but ended up in an inland mud flat, 5 foot deep with a 17 mile long boring channel unfortunately directly into the wind.  I finally got to the north coast of the south end of Sanibel Island and had some protection from the waves and wind to anchor and sleep for the night.  That was one of the worst days of the entire trip, steering into the wind with stiff steering, any error needed immediate correction or it got worse in a hurry.

Yesterday I went to a free concert, John Anderson and the Bellamy Brothers at the Seminole Indian reservation south east of here about 50 miles, it's where John Anderson filmed his Seminole Wind Video.  It was great, I even got to dance some.  Today I worked on cleaning up the boat a little, got a little sewing to do on the 120 genoa.

The next adventure will be to figure out how to get back to Kansas or Michigan. Probably head that way in the next couple days.

2/2/05   I'm leaving Labelle tomorrow, I've got a flight first thing in the morning to Chicago, $62 one way on United fl# 365, thanks to  I'll then take the train over to the Saugatuck area and pick up my car and head home, probably I-80 through Nebraska.  I've been visiting my friends, Norm and Phyllis from Kansas that moved down here on the Caloosahatcee river.  They've and their 2 sons and daughter that live close by, have been keeping me busy with things like lawn mowers that didn't run, hot tubs that have been messed up by previous owners so that nothing worked and climbing towers to fix lights that didn't light.
We re-anchored the boat a few minutes ago, two danforth anchors off the back toward the river and two lines off the bow, one to the corner of the dock and one to a tree.  Have to hide the tree rope, it's not legal.
I added a couple 10 pound weights to the anchor lines about 30 feet from the boat to hold the lines deep in the water near the boat.  That acts as a shock absorber.

  2/3/05  $62 from Florida to Chicago, now $28 to New Holland, Michigan by Amtrak train, don't leave till 5:20 this evening, arrive after 9 pm.  Then I need to get the 15 miles south to my car.  No idea how I'm doing that yet, that's normal. 

I'm sitting in the downtown Chicago library using wireless internet on my laptop.  Lunch was a handful of  little Debbie oatmeal and sweet stuff. Cheap but not to nutritious, at least the oatmeal is good stuff.  I guess I could open them and scrape off the sweet 100% energy stuff. Nah.

The flight was good, saw something I didn't understand about 100 miles south.  There was a dusting of snow on the ground, probably an inch or so, hard to tell from 20,000 feet.  One farm had every field or it's pastures cleared, not by cows trampling it, but it was done in rows and had little circles and the end of the rows, sort of a scalloped effect.
I expect maybe two things, they worked the ground after the snow and the scallops were from a tractor and disk turning around. or it was a dairy farm and have been spreading manure?  Maybe that's what I'm doing right now.  The weather in the city is pretty good about 40 degrees today, remember I haven't seen winter yet, I think I'll see it tonight, I've got a down sleeping bag and bivy sack along just in case.

2/7/05  I got home no problem, I started walking from the train, had 15 miles to the car, got mostly through town walking about 10pm with a huge travel bag as a backpack, about 50 pounds and two other bags. I got about a mile or more and somebody (a young couple) had seen me twice once coming into town from the NE and once heading out SW.  They stopped to see if I needed a lift, they took me the whole distance, out of there way, just to hear my story.  There was 6 inches of snow and temperature was about 20 degrees.  I figured I would just get out of town and find a place to camp under a tree or something hopefully out of the wind, for the night.
I had a down sleeping bag, a bivy sack and a tent/tarp with me.  Then I would hitch hike in the morning, figuring I would have better luck during the day.

I camped out in the car a Subaru wagon for the rest of the night, turns out I had a sleeping bag there too, I didn't have to carry one from Florida. I guess I would have been cold if I didn't get the ride. I dug the car out of the snow the next morning, the battery still had some juice, but not enough to get the carb filled with gas and get the engine started.  Maybe if I had poured some gas in the carburetor first it might have started.  Luckily Susan's car was there and I could jump it from her car.  Her daughter had been keeping it running every week.  The drive home was pretty uneventful.  I got home Saturday morning after stopping for the night at a friends house, an hour north of home, they had been picking up my mail.  I slept there since they offered, it was warm and my place would be cold, no heat, no electric, etc.

I went dancing Saturday night and a singles group Superbowl party/chili feed last night.  The game was pretty good for once, and some great commercials like always.  Everybody loved the pictures from the trip, I started putting them together in an album yesterday morning.  I still have 4 rolls to develop, and lots of fliers, maps and things to cut up and add to it so I don't have to explain where/when etc. when somebody looks through it.

Dancing on Tuesday night, meeting Wednesday, maybe dancing Thursday too.


This is a neat site for us nature lovers.  I'm still home, mostly just relaxing, doing some work on the apartments and visiting with friends, and of course some dancing every chance I get.  My feet are slowly getting better.  Very nice weather today. Sunny and pushing 60.
Norm reports the boat is doing fine, they added another anchor to hold it out a little further.

I found a little note in my wallet about things I was going to type about before the I started the gulf crossing, so I’ll add a few lines about those now.  This was when we were on the Florida panhandle coast and following the intercoastal waterway from Mobile eastward.  Typing about fixing the mainsail jogged my memory about this stuff.  One day Susan and I spent repairing the 120 genoa sail by adding a few patches and restitching some seams. We were having the batteries charged on land after having spent a long time getting the engine to run, that is when I was first discovering that the wet exhaust was leaking water back into the cylinders.  I was also discovering that working on this engine is near impossible. You can’t get to anything if I keep this boat I’ve got to move the engine forward about 18 inches so it can be worked on.  We had run aground rather softly in the inland waterway one morning after anchoring out.  We were out of the channel and I couldn’t get the boat to come about before running aground after pulling anchor. That was the first time I discovered the engine wouldn’t start.  A power boat came out to help and I suggested they could pull us off and lean us over if they would pull us by pulling on a rope I attached to the topping lift rope. The only problem, in the heat of the battle, I forgot to secure the bottom of the topping lift, so they pulled it right up and out from the mast.  I then let them pull on the main halyard and everything worked as planned.  The next evening after charging the batteries, sewing on the genoa, drying the engine cylinders, I also tried out the mast climbing ladder I bought in Connecticut at the marine consignment shop last winter.  It worked OK, there were a few things I would do different next time I use it but I got the topping lift rope back into place.  It’s a long way up there to the top of the mast, great view though.

We also found a great Chinese buffet just east of Fort Walton Beach, so good we went back and had a second meal there, sort of recharging the soul while the batteries recharged.  The CVS store was having a grand opening, great deals on lots of stuff, so we loaded up on vitamins, some other stuff and got a couple rolls of pictures printed all for half price or less. Some things were even free.

The day before all of this stuff I performed an electrical miracle, or so it would seem.  I was working on the log, a device like an odometer on a car.  It has never worked, Susan was steering so I was tinkering.  I found a problem, a transistor had two broken leads. I think a plastic To20 type, for my electrical and radio friends that will want to know.  I removed it by breaking the other lead, recorded any info on the case, it had color coded markings ??  Since I was in tinkering mode I then decided to try and rebuild the leads, I dug at them with a pocket knife and after a couple tries and an hour or so managed to solder a folded single strand of wire to each lead.  The strands came from a stranded wire I dissected.  I often use these single strands when I need a fuse and have none.  I soldered this back onto the circuit board and everything worked fine.  Problem solved.  I still have to someday figure out if the color code means anything to anybody but the manufacturer.