Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Catching UP

Hi all. Scott and Sue had some problems posting at their last internet stop and so asked me to post their latest word of sailing wisdom and stories. Also they sent me some picture to show all of you. So enjoy and stay tuned for more.

The Sailors Say...
Catching up

Charlevoix to Mackinac Island

We left Charlevoix late Saturday morning July 2 heading for Gray’s Reef light which provides the passage through, oddly enough, Grays Reef. We found this just fine. Looking at the charts there are 2 green markers that will be on your right and there is Gray’ reef light and a red marker on your left. This is the main channel through Gray’s Reef. Two more green markers lead you another 1-2 miles north where you can turn and head East to the Mackinaw Bridge. Clearly this is only for very large boats. A glance at the charts will tell you that you can easily head just north of the old abandon light house and always be in water that is no shallower than about 15 feet.


Why does Sue still listen to my ideas? We rounded the second marker and headed 78 degrees which would take us safely north of the old light house. Boy, you know this northern water is sure clear. Near the light house I could see the bottom. Wow that physics thing where water looks shallower than it REALLY is is really coming into play. Man those are some really big rocks! How deep is it here?

HOLLY CRAP THE DEPTH SOUNDER JUST WENT TO 10 FEET! All stop. Turn north! Go Slow!.....

We never touched bottom and made it out just fine. I cooked AND did dishes that night.

The Mackinac Bridge is a beautiful sight and you get to sight it for a long time. Sue made the first sighting when we were 21 miles from the bridge! Because of it’s size you always think you are about there…but you are way off! As we approached the bridge from probably 3 miles off we noted a freighter coming from behind way back on the horizon. Surely we are going to beat him to the bridge. Wrong again! We nearly went through together which was really fun.

As we passed under the bridge I popped that big old 24 oz Old Style that Maria Hall gave me at the going away party. This is probably the last Old Style for quite a while. Passing the bridge marks truly entering new territory and gives as more of a feeling of adventure. I’ve spent my whole life within 50 miles of Lake Michigan. Time to move on!

We found our way into the harbor area on Mackinac Island easily enough. To the east side there is room to anchor although it’s also strewn with empty mooring balls. There was little wind so Enee just sort of danced around her anchor that night. When night fell we had a perfect view of the bridge which is lit up with red white and blue lights. At the distance of 5 miles the bridge looks like a construction by a crazed spider. It looks very delicate.

Mackinac Island to Rogers City

Up at 5 or so, coffee and a roll. Rig the boat and off we go! A pretty blue hulled ketch weighed anchor and left just before us. The wind had come up a bit and it looked like we could sail. We motored for a bit to throw a charge in to the batteries and headed south-west toward the shore of Lake Huron. The wind was south or south east and we hoped to use it to follow the coast through the south channel. This was a day of very interesting and fun sailing. As we hoped we sailed on a starboard tack taking advantage of a very nice off shore wind. Winds here are funny. Sometimes it would just stop. Then we’d motor for maybe 5 minutes and it would be back up to 10-15 knots. We raised and lowered sails and on and offed the motor many times but mostly we sailed at around 5 knots in the direction we wanted to go!

We were thinking about making Presque Isle which had nice anchoring we hear but knew Rogers City was another choice although no anchoring there. As the day wore on we decided to make for Rogers City as that would make for a 12 hour day and if we are not going through the night, a 12 hour day is plenty.

As we passed Hammond Bay we found our selves in strange waters. The wind was still off shore but large rollers were heading inshore indicating bigger wind coming from the south-south east. We tacked out to get an angle toward Rogers City which was now about 11 miles away and, yes, there was plenty of wind out here. The wind climbed to around 20 knots and the waves climbed to 4-5 feet with the occasional 6 footer. Ouch. We went out to where we thought we could make a run to Rogers City and tacked. We found we did best with full jib, reefed main and the engine on to help us power through the waves. With this set up we could maintain 5 knots even in these rough seas. Of course we came up short and had to tack out again…and again. This little 11 mile shot was becoming a real adventure. I stayed at the helm while Sue jumped around the boat trimming sails. On one tack the leech line from the jib tangled with the sheet making trimming the sail impossible! Sue went out there to reach out and grab the clew. She couldn’t reach it unless I went into the wind and luffed the sail but not too far as to get back winded. Easy enough in calm water but a little tricky in these waves with your wife leaning over the rail. Sue finally got a hold of the clew but couldn’t untangle it. I passed her my knife to cut the leech line which she did successfully.

We were adjusting to this mode of sailing and although uncomfortable we felt we could do it for another hour to make Rogers City. On the final tack we noted that the jib had frayed (again!) where it touches the spreaders. The seam had come out and the leech line was blowing way out away from the sail. We needed to get this sail in to prevent further damage. I was afraid that as we tried to roll it up the leech line would tangle on the spreader and then we’d never get it in and then really bad stuff would have to happen to make harbor. As Sue rolled up the sail I tried to make sure that we let plenty of sail out so the leech line would blow away from the boat and stay off the spreader. This worked and we rolled up the sail. We motored with some pressure on the main the rest of the way and made Rogers City around 7 pm.

Rogers City is a very nice and friendly little harbor. The kids at the gas dock are very polite and then they come over to the slip they’ve given you and help you dock. Not that I need help docking the boat but still… We met two cruisers while still at the gas dock making arrangements and another couple of cruisers are right next to us. Their information about Lake Huron will be very useful. Tomorrow we plan to stay the day and make repairs to our sail. Rough conditions make you re-think many of your procedures and how things are rigged so we will use a day to make some adjustments, maybe do some laundry and prepare for the next leg.

The next day we took the sail down and, wow, yes it was ripped up pretty badly along the leech for about 4 feet in the neighbor hood of where it flogs against the spreader. No major rips into the sail itself though so that’s a good thing. We had brought along plenty of extra sail material from old sails as well as new material from a sailmaking project a few years ago. We cut a sheet of new material 12” x 24”. This was folded down the middle to make two 12” x 12” halves. This fold went along the leech of the sail providing a 12 x12 patch on each side as well as reinforcement along the leech in this critical area. Over the course of the next two hours this patch was sewn on by hand. Fun. Not pretty but certainly better than it was. As a final step we stuck a 4 foot long piece of sail repair tape, folded over and along the leech of the sail. There was no good way to keep the leech line as part of the sail with this make shift repair so we cut it at the highest point of the tear.

Now for repairing the cause of the tear itself. The spreaders have metal bands around the ends to enclose the upper shrouds. While we had taped over the bolts that hold this on with rigging tape the metal bands were left exposed. What we really need of course are those nice spreader boots. Unfortunately we are in Rogers City with not car on the 4th of July. So we need something that will act like a spreader boot. Sue ventured into town and found the Family Dollar store and came back with a collection of rubber balls AND a pack of those small roller covers. We opted for the roller covers.

The roller cover was cut along its length to be able to open it up and stretch it over the spreader tip and around the shroud. Sue climbed into her bosun’s chair and was hoisted to the spreaders. Some minutes messing with rigging tape and we had ourselves two new spreader boots! Sure they’re not marine grade but then they came from the Dollar Store!

Next… Scott and Sue see how their repairs hold up under sail. Stay Tuned!

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Can't beat the dollar store for stuff that can be used for other stuff. Your improvisation reminded me of Apollo 13!