Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Sailing" the Apostle Islands - Day 2

So we all awoke about 6:30am or so and headed up to the marina clubhouse to shower and what not. Our instructor Vicki suggested we go to Egg Toss for breakfast in Bayfield. It was a nice small town restaurant with good food and decent prices. We went around the table and discussed why were there and what our sailing experience was. The Egg Toss is owned by the same gal that owns Maggies and Wild Rice restaurants in Bayfield. We also decided on what we wanted to get at the grocery store as we needed to provision the boat.

After breakfast we headed to I think the only grocery store in Bayfield A small little place but they semed to have everything we needed. Remembering we were in Wisconsin, we were able to get a 6 pack of Summit lager and two bottles of wine. At 9:30am.... why do I think that is such a good thing? Anyway, so we headed over to this little bakery, actually not everything is "little" in Bayfield... I can't remember the name but it was close to the grocery store. We ordered a blue berry pie. They will make it fresh and we are going to pick it up that evening.

So now that we have our provisions, and food, we head back to the marina and on to the boat. Its about 11:00am or so, wind is not so bad and the sun is out but it is still a bit cool out. Vicky let's us all know that seeing as it is pretty much mid-day, we are going to do docking practice. Did we ever do docking practice. Over and over and over... Each person piloted the boat at least 3 or 4 times and we switched on the dock lines each time.

We all did relatively well with the docking. I think we only had one time that I thought the boat was going to hit the dock, hard. But after a little panic, I was on the spring line and it slows the boat after it is in the slip, I had it around the cleat and no damage. There is a saying in boating, only come in to the slip as fast as you want to hit the dock. We practiced docking with a slip on the port (left) side of the boat, we practiced with the slip on the starboard (right) side of the boat. Until about I think about 6 or later as it took each person about 10 minutes each time. we would leave the slip, go out to the harbor entrance, turn around and come back in. Reverse with this boat was a bit interesting as it has pretty bad prop-walk to port so you had to compensate for that. So this day, we didn't actually sail at all.... but we needed to practice docking.

After we finally finished with the docking practice, we headed in to town for dinner. We went to Maggies, lots of flamingo sculptures but decent enough food and atmosphere. Prices aren't awful either. We decided that evening that we wanted to spend two nights on the hook. Out in the islands at anchor. We were all looking forward to that. After dinner we headed back to our boat. Vicki went back to the other boat across the way and left us to get aquainted. Perry and I each had a beer in the cockpit and Rob had some of his rum. After that we were all pretty tired so we called it a night. I was really looking forward to sailing the next day and spending a couple nights out on the water. Weather permitting of course....

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sailing the Apostles - Day 1

I know that I said that the next post was going to be from the dock but, that just did not work out. There just was not enough time to think about writing a blog entry. So I will start from the begining and go through the whole trip. As you can probably imagine, this could be a bit long......

I left about 11:30am or so and headed up north 35 to Duluth. It was a cool day which I didn't mind as then I could have the windows cracked on my vehicle on the way up. The drive up to Duluth was very uneventful. Light traffic as most people were at work and the weather was great.

It has been probably 30+ years sice I had last seen Lake Superior and seeing her as I came over a hill to head in to Duluth was awe inspiring. Just the shear size of the body of water makes you feel insignificant. Seeing the lake did get me back in to the "mood" for the weekend, it had dulled a bit with the drive up the interstate.

Crossing the bridge over to Superior, WI was incredible and I wish I wasn't driving as I would have been snapping a few pics. I have never been to Superior, WI, quaint little town as far as I could tell. Only issue there was the train that held up traffic for about 10 minutes. Not really a big deal.

So after the train I head through town and on to WI Hwy13, the scenic route that kind of follows the edge of the lake. I didn't see the lake for a while as the trees were all in the way and I suppose the road really wasn't that close.

About an hour or maybe more from Bayfield I started to see the lake again through the trees. I was getting a bit more excited now and I finally found a wayside rest to pull in to. Basically a parking lot, some yard, a little permanent grill, and a glorified out house. The view was great. Seeing the lake and not seeing land on the other side.

I stayed for a few minutes to take some pictures, even contemplated climbing down the "hill", kinda steep, to get to the water's edge but thought the better of it. All I needed to do was slip and ruin the weekend with an injury.

So off I continued towords Bayfield. I took County Road - C as there was construction and the road was closed a few miles from the wayside rest. A bit of a detour but it actually brought me in through Washburn and then up a little north to Pike's Bay Marina where the boat was.

Getting to the marina was a relief. Finally here!!! I found the boat, not bad for 30 years old or so. Thom Burns, the owner of the school I go through, was on the boat as the binacle compass had broken. Glass top was off and some oil on the deck. I helped him get that off the boat and we chatted for a while. Was glad he was there as I got to the boat about 4:50pm and my instructor didn't get back in with a Family & Friends class until about 7pm. That boat was in a slip behind my new home for 4 nights.

Our boat's name is Aerie, a 70's vintage Islander, 36' LOA.

As I was talking to Thom he showed me around and I picked a place to sleep, I guess you could call it a berth. More like a thinly padded couch. But, it is a boat after all, not the Ritz.

Around 7:30pm I had had enough of sitting around waiting for the rest of the people to show up so I head over to the marina next door as they had a Bar/Restaraunt, and I needed food and yes, a beer or a couple.... Was kinda spendy but OK... After dinner I met up with one of my other class mates. Perry, a mainframe programmer from Plymouth. He convinced me to go back to the bar for a couple more..... yeah that was difficult. So we headed up for a couple more as our instructor, Vicki, went over to the boat she was just on to spend the night. When Perry and I got back, we noticed our other classmates, Rob & Shayla, Rob is an electrical engineer and his wife Shayla is a physical therapist for Fairview, were already in the v-berth sleeping so we decided to call it a night.

So now that I have been typing and organizing pictures, I think I will post only a day or two at a time. So this is the conclusion of day one of my trip. As the first volleyball game is tomorrow night and then football and volleyball two days later, I am thinking posting this all will take longer than the actual trip. Until the next post.......

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Off to the Apostle Islands

Well I am packed and pretty much ready to go. Just have a small bit of laundry to do and then get through the next 4 hours of work and I get head out. The weather looks like it is going to be perfect. high 70's to low 80's all through the weekend and the winds will be up around 10-15 for the most part. I will be with another couple and the instructor, so 4 of us. Hoping that the weekend goes well and that the weather does hold. Have my foulies packed just in case. Along with some other important items like my PFD, navigation tools, some books to study for the courses I am taking, a bottle of Jameson, and 4 cigars. 2 Romeo #1's and 2 Macanudo's. You know, the imprtant stuff. Anyway, I am going to try to get some work done. Next post will be from the dock......

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weekend sail...

Went to the marina on Saturday with the kids for a lil afternoon sail. Had the boat reserved from noon til 4pm. Sat and waited for the folks who had it that morning as they were about 15 minutes late. Another checkbox in the Get My Own Boat column... Anyway, we headed out and sat in the middle of the bay trying to find some wind, weather guys said it was a steady 7mph. My, they were very optimistic. So after an hour we decided to head in, maybe Sunday would be better.

Sunday morning my friend Bob called and confirmed that he and his two kids would be joining the 3 of us for sailing that day. Headed out to the marina, the forecast was for about 8-12 that day. No worries on anyone having the boat that morning so we were able to get right to loading up and heading out. Wind was OK, about 6-7 as we headed out in to Gideon Bay.

Raised the main sail, rolled out the jib and we were off! Holding steady but not setting any records. Which isn't a bad way to start the day. Crossed the point on the east side of the bay and finally picked up some good wind. We had been doing a few tacks to work our way out of the bay and head northeast up the length of the lake.

Then the wind picked up nicely to about 10. Sails were trimmed in a bit so we had them powered up good and we were making great headway. It took us about 15 minutes to go as far as we went in an hour the day before. My daughter Sam and Bob's daughter Mia planted themselves up on the bow. I dunno, must be a girl thing... and us guys, myself, Bob, my son Stu and Bob's son Trent were back in the cockpit running the show.
We spent the day tacking back and forth, east and west across the main part of the lake. The J-boat fleet from I think Wayzata Yacht Club came out for racing. That was a sight to see, 30 or so sailboats so close together, maybe more. We were going along quite nicely, avoding power boats. We did catch a few wakes and one time almost buried the bow in a wave. Which was actually quite fun. We averaged about 5-8 degrees of heel though, some times we were at 15 and once for a bit we caught a nice gust and we put over to about 22. That got everyone's attention. Stu and Trent were helping crew the boat as I skippered and Bob was somehow in charge of refreshments. Not sure how that happened but it worked well, though he could've brought a couple more Spaten's.

So after about 3 hours we headed back in, the wind stayed good and we were able to head back on a nice close reach that became a beam reach as we headed back in to the bay to drop the sails and motor in to the slip. All in all it was a great day of sailing and I am looking forward to many more to come.

Just need to find "the boat" and we can sail all we want, whenever we want.....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Well here I am...

So I decided to make a blog, heck everyone is doing it right? I figured I would do a sailing blog as it is something that I have l grown to enjoy quite a lot. I figured I could relay my adventures on the great expanse of Lake Minnetonka, dodging power boats and other "stuff". Sure that will be exciting!! And also any additional adventures to larger bodies of water. Such as my upcoming trip to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.

My experience level is that I started sailing in September of 2009. Sailing had always been one of those things I had wanted to do every since I saw sailboats up close at the "Great Midwest Sports Show" way back when I was about 13 or 14. Long time ago, that's all ya need know.... Anyway, I had no idea how to get started back then and seeing as my family were not "boat people" there was no real oportunity there.

Fast forward about 30 or so years and after marriage, kids, divorce..... you know, the usual life stuff. It hit me one day to just go do it. So I hopped on the Interwebs and with that trusty Google thingy I found me a sailing school on Lake Minnetonka and took my ASA 101, Basic Keelboat class. I was hooked from the start, loved every minute of it. So after getting that certification I moved on to ASA 105, Coastal Navigation. I figured I might as well know where I am going so I don't run in to anything or end up where I don't want to be. Though, depending on where you end up, that could be OK.....

So now this season as a member of the boat club, I get to sail their boats! No insurance or slip fees or other ownership worries. I sail primarily a 26' Pearson sloop on Lake Minnetonka. My kids even seem to enjoy it.... So we sailed almost weekly this season. The season is winding down and with school and HS sports starting up, sailing in the evenings is pretty much out but, we still have the weekends.

This has been an amazing experience for me to do. Nothing quite like turning the motor off, with the sails up, and gliding through the water. A nice 8-10kt breeze moving you along. Its hard to describe what sailing does for me but, I am so relaxed on the water. Even when we have to come in and drive home, I feel so much better. I refer to it as Pacis Mens, latin for Peace of Mind... And I guess that is what sailing does for me, gives me peace of mind...