Captain's log

1 August 2007, Sunset cruise

WINDS: 0-5 kts (observed), E clocking to S
WAVES: 0-2 feet (observed)
AIR TEMP: 78-80 degrees F

Harbor call: 1830
Cast off: 1920

Crew: Thomas, Marie, Chas

We brought the boat to the wall to load up cushions and carpets and our neglected shiny still-almost-new #1 (genoa). We took the time to unfurl and drop the jib and rerig the furler to take the larger sail. Then we headed out to the lake, raised the main, and started setting up to raise the other genoa. After a couple of tacks the sail was raised smoothly, but, because of our late start, too late to frame the sunset for us. Old Sol had already dropped below the buildings. The light through it was still spectacular, though, as it was later when it was just the city lights.

The winds were very light and a had slight swells from the east. Chas and Marie were complaining about going less than a knot-not knowing of those occasions where you'd kill to be going 0.7 knots. Although we only saw 0-5 knots true wind, we did reach about 4.5 knots on a couple of occasions, so the Sloop and the happy-tp-be-free sail did the best with what they had to work with. We tacked back and forth, took turns playing with Jenny Rotten's cool new bubble sword, and listened to Angelique Kidjo on Chas' IPAC (but I forgot the cable to hook it up to the stereo, alas). It wouldn't have lasted long anyway since the battery ran down (needs replacing soon) and we had to run the engine to try to recharge it.

We stayed out until about 2130, getting a bit of a fireworks show indicating a Sox win at the park-formerly-known-as-Comisky. We were again lucky to be able to sail all the way back back to harbor again b/c of wind shift to the south from the East through the evening.

In the harbor we flaked sails, re-raised the roller furling, and the Sloop's ready to go again!

Boat notes:

  • Battery two was low and appears not to hold a charge. Need to replace it.
  • Gotta remember to take Zadie out of standby.
  • Need to remember that Zadie stops steering when we lose power.
  • Another bungee fell off-need to reepoxy those.
  • I hooked up the boat stereo which has a radio, CD player hookups for aux (1/8 inch jacks), IPODS, and a SIRIUS tuner (maybe next year for satellite--my budget is long since blown!)
  • I love watching the sunset and city lights through our shiny semi-transparent sail!

Crew notes:

  • Chas and Jenny Rotten got practice raising and lowering sails
  • Chas and Jenny Rotten learned how to flake a sail.
  • It does not take an hour to raise another sail, Thomas! Don't scare my crew!
  • Thomas remembered the ladder.
  • Chas always remembers the navigation lights.


29 July 2007, Sunday afternoon cruise

WINDS 7-10 kts (observed), N
WAVES 1-3 feet (observed & NOAA)
AIR TEMP: 71 - 73 degrees F

Harbor call:
1330 hours
Cast off:
1400 hours
Deb, Chas
Jessie, Lexi, Tracey, Caroline, Elizabeth.

One of the most perfect north wind days you could ask for. Started off east on port tack past the north end of the crib then tacked back W E W E innumerable times. Deb said the waves were even nice because “then it feels like you’re sailing.”

People took turns visiting the bow--facing out and leaning back to look at the world upside down--or at the rail, splashing their feet in the water. Good cruise, good food, good chance for people to enjoy each other and the city from the lake. Caroline said it made her sad to be leaving Chicago, Lexi got to see the best view of the city on her post year-in-France visit to Chicago, and Jessie and Tracey hope to make it back out some day. Jessie had some good pictures. I'll have to get them posted here.

We were out a good three hours, getting back to the wall around 1700 hours. The Sloop, Skipper and crew safely home once again.

Boat notes:

  • One of Shaharazad’s bungees came undone
Crew notes:
  • Chas had helm practice, first sailing to wind (confusing), then sailing to course (better)
  • Reef knots are like horse knots, according to Jessie
  • Deb gets the sails in on tacks quickly.
  • Chas remembered the batten both at raising and lowering
  • Deb agreed the autopilot was worth the money
  • Chas as usual was a great provisioner.

25 July 2007, Evening cruise

WINDS 5 - 13 kts (observed), SW
WAVES 0 - 1 feet (observed)
AIR TEMP: 78 - 81 degrees F

Harbor call: 1830
Cast off: 1900 hours
Paul, Chas, Leo
Cheryl, Sarah

Beautiful sail: flat seas, perfect temperature, cloudy but clearing skies, nice Comfort Inn sunset. We raised full sail with winds 5 – 7 knots as we left the harbor. Sailed north on port tack, broad to running reach, to about 35th street; Leo and Sarah took turns being the King and Queen of the world at the bow pulpit. Zadie was steering well but winds were building--gusts up to 13 knots and pretty steady 9 – 11 knots in general--so I stayed on the helm. Tacked to starboard on a beat, falling off to a close reach when winds were gusty. Chas had his first turn at handling the main sheet. Sailed out around the crib and Chas took a bunch of pictures. Tacked back to port and sailed to Casino Pier. Nice little triangle course.

Boat notes:

  • A boat angel (probably Gordon) taped up the prefeeder.
  • Shaharazad can’t make big changes—I needed to take over a couple of times. She held the running reach wind angle well, and she’s priceless for sail droppings. I could even go below and get my own water!
  • Backed off set screw—prop wobble had abated
Crew notes:
  • Chas is learning how to ride the main sheet for gusts, and learned where the handles and blocks are kept.
  • Chas made the call to turn on both the running lights and the steaming light.
  • Paul and Chas both know about the top batten.
  • Sarah’s a sweet girl, delightful aboard and thanked me for the bestest boat ride ever and gave me a big hug.
  • Cheryl has a good logical-spatial mind. She works at Palos hospital and teaches at Moraine Valley.
  • Leo, Paul and Chas did a great flaking job.
  • Leo remembers a lot. I could count on him as a sole crew person, too.

24 July 2007, Morning cruise on Isle Marie, work day for Sloop

When I couldn't get the engine tuned in time, Gordon invited us to join him on his boat, Isle Marie, and so Mary, Labeeba and I temporarily jumped ship. Light air, perfect temperatures and clear skies gave us an opportunity to fly the chute (spinnaker) and be the most colorful boat on the lake.

Boat notes

  • I always tear my hand up getting the spark plugs out. I need to remember to use my left hand—better angle.
  • Couldn’t figure out how to hand crank the engine so I could set the plug gap. Attempting to start it moved it into a position. G said we could bump it with the starter too.
  • Set screw for the prop had fallen off. Screwed it back (you can hand turn the prop shaft if the boats in neutral) but too tight: we had a huge prop wobble when we took a test drive. G suggested the screw was pushing the shaft out of alignment so I need to back it off.
  • After the tune up we could motor about 4.7 knots—still slow but definitely better.
  • Mounted a stowaway area for Zadie under the cockpit hatch cover w/bungee and blocks.
  • Need to clean the bottom. Get glass carrying handle from Harbor Freight.
  • Chutes are doable even for cruising.
Crew notes
  • G said Labeeba and Mary were good crew, and he enjoyed the company.
  • If you don’t want to come in when the street lights come on, shoot out the street lights.

22 July 2007, Late afternoon cruise

WINDS 5-10 kts (observed), E
WAVES 2-4 feet (observed)
AIR TEMP: 71 degrees F

Harbor call: 1600 hours
Cast off:
1700 hours
Marie, Andrea Swells and waves came in from the east. It was blowing about 12-15 knots while we in the harbor but the instruments never saw over 11 while we were out. It was really a perfect afternoon/evening—light, temperature, winds, everything.

We practiced raising and lowering the sail on the can and put in a reef since the flags were showing a breeze and it was just the three of us and Shaharazad (Zadie). We raised sail as we were leaving the harbor and started sailing north on starboard tack. The line was jammed when unfurling and so I put Zadie on the helm to fix it, but she popped off when the helm went hard to starboard, and we accidentally tacked by the time I realized the problem. We finished pulling the sail out on port tack and sailed south towards Hammond with Zadie on the helm steering to wind angle.

Tacked back to starboard tack on purpose, after much messing with autopilot buttons, and headed north towards downtown. Marie took the helm for the rest of the trip. We tacked back around 35th street and headed south and looked back to see a barge headed our way. It changed course (just for us of course) so we didn’t have to alter course. We sailed back on port tack almost to Rainbow beach and I shook out the reef (but couldn’t put the sail all the way up because the batten wasn’t in tightly so I used the cunningham) then tacked back onto starboard.

I took over the helm so Marie could get in the water and it was a running reach back to just north of Casino peer as the winds died down to about 4 knots. We furled the jib motorsailed to the harbor entrance and then I put Zadie on the helm to steer into the wind and helped with the dropping the main, and motored in slowly as the sun was about to set. The light in the harbor was gorgeous as we put the boat away.

Boat notes:

  • Need to do something about the prefeeder. It jammed the lines when we were unfurling.
  • Shaharazad popped off because the tiller was hard over to starboard during the sail raising.
  • REMEMBER TO LOOK OUT FOR TRAFFIC during raising and lowering. Don’t forget that the autopilot can’t see!
  • Zadie did great for wind angles, tacking and the sail lowering.
  • To tack you need to press TACK and the starboard (or port) button TOGETHER.
  • Dinghy still leaking a little on starboard aft corner, and possible aft middle.
Crew notes:
  • Marie was great on the helm
  • Marie knows about the top batten.
  • Andrea’s parents met while working a crab boat so she’s a natural for the sea. She rowed crew in high school.
  • Andrea had practice releasing the sheet on tacks. Next time she gets to pull in the active sheet. She also worked the furling line for both unfurling and furling.
  • We all spent time with our feet in the water (on purpose, not because of the dinghy!)

15 July 2007, Morning cruise

WIND: 2-7 knots (observed), NE backing to NW
WAVES 0-2 feet (observed),
AIR TEMP: 66 degrees F

Harbor call: 0900 hours
Cast off:
0930 hours

A touch of swells from the north, winds light but sailable. Perfect temperature on board with the heat of the sun mixing with the cool air. Put Shaharazad on duty at the sail raising and she kept the boat into the wind well. With full sail for the first time this year we sailed first on starboard tack, testing the self-steering to course heading. Auto tacked over to port and had to fall off about 15 degrees. Changed the self-steering to wind angle which it also held well, especially if we trimmed the sails right. Auto tacked back to starboard and the angle was okay but we needed to fall off to get back to shore.

We sailed a reach for a while but we needed to be on a run to sail back to the harbor and the winds were too light to keep sails full and boat speed up well enough to steer on a run. We dropped sail, still with Shaharazad steering, and motored in, still s l o w l y. Skipper Schuy took over the helm about a half mile off the harbor entrance.

Boat notes:

  • The foot was way too loose; the outhaul couldn’t pull it out without help. The luff of the jib was soft so we tuned up the halyard. The luff of the main was also soft—that main needs to go up further when not reefed.
  • We marked where to install a new eye for the first reef for a better angle to pull the foot flat when reefed.
  • Shaharazad likes the default gain of 5, at 3 she couldn’t keep course. We’ll try 4 again, and in rougher conditions we may need to raise it, but the lower the better not to wear out the unit or the battery.
  • The patches on the dinghy helped. We’re taking on some water, but much less.
Crew notes:
  • Schuy is enjoying the break from the helm and the ability to look at other things while the boat is under sail. Gordon knows how the autohelm works which is making this self-steering transition pretty quick.
  • It is also been great to have Gordon also looking at the boat and thinking about how to make her sail as well as possible.

11 July 2007, Evening cruise

WINDS: 11-17 knots (observed), SW
WAVES 1-3 feet (NOAA radio, observed)
AIR TEMP: 73 degrees F

Harbor call: 1830 hours
Cast off:
1930 hours Crew: Marie, Chas
Andy, Frank

The boat was at the dock by 1830, but the price for my efficiency was leaving my cellphone on the picnic table at the club and having it stolen. So I ended up wasting an hour trying to track that down and was very disheartened, but the yacht club folks were very helpful. One guy, Reggie, told me I should go sailing anyway, and I’m glad I did.

The winds were fluky and shifty and ranged from 8 to 16 knots at least where we were, even though the crib measurements were higher. Main raised with #1 (yellow) reef; jib unfurled completely for the first time this year. The wind started out northwest and backed to the west over the evening after some flukiness. Set sail N towards downtown, on port tack and saw a beautiful sunset complete with red-washed clouds and Jesus rays.

We tacked back SE towards South Shore, since we wanted to stay relatively close to the harbor entrance, and ate Chas’ fruit and guacamole. We tacked back near Chas’ house in South Shore (albeit a couple of miles into the lake) and headed back N on port tack until we were even with the harbor entrance.

Since the wind was on the nose when we needed to get back to the harbor, we had to drop sail about two miles out and motor in. Good timing, the winds had picked up to a steady 14-16 knots, which would have meant 18-22 knots of apparent wind if we had to beat into it, and I was still a bit drained for that.

Boat notes:

  • The boat was well balanced even when the winds were gusty.
  • Furling worked well even under a good load.
Crew notes:
  • Jenny Rotten did a good job riding the main sheet to spill air when necessary.
  • Chas brought enough ice for a week.
  • Schuy was eventually glad she came out sailing on a great night, even if she wouldn’t stop moping about her phone.

3 July 2007: FIREWORKS cruise

WINDS: 10-20 knots, WSW
WAVES: 2-4 ft and lots of powerboat wakes

Harbor call: 1830 hours
Cast off: 1930 hours
Crew: Mary, Chas, Marie
Cruisers: Arleigh, Eleni, Dana

The 3rd of July was characteristically eventful, somewhere in the midrange of usual Independence Day adventures. We did manage to do some sailing, out of necessity since we were low on gas and the gas dock closed on us. There were 10-20 knots of wind out of the WSW for us, good for sailing all the way downtown, but other people saw a lot more wind than we did.

On a running reach it was a nice ride to McCormick Place where we stopped short to avoid the crowds. Dana and Chas set the anchor and Dana informed a mischievous crew member that wrapping the line around her waist really was not a good idea and she would ignore that suggestion.

Although we were glad Mary finally got the grill lit, we all realized that lighter-fluid is not the best marinade for vegetable skewers. The rest if the food (lamb, brats and veggie burgers) survived. We listened to my ancient Sony Walkman plugged connected to the speakers with no amplifier, but somehow that was enough to hear the concert. Unfortunately I forgot the copy of the Declaration of Independence, so we couldn't take the next step towards making the dramatic reading a Sloop fireworks tradition. Next year Paul better not be in Ethiopia if he wants to keep us on task. The fireworks were nice, Chas got some good shots, which is a challenge on a moving boat. I was glad we were anchored because I could actually watch the fireworks rather than motor the boat around.

We motorsailed back with just the jib for a while since the engine wouldn't top 3.5 knots on it's own, and it had started drizzlint, but the winds were picking up and we could see a storm coming in so I didn't want to leave the sail up. Alas, the fates decided we were their next victim and cruelly killed our engine right at the breakwater in front of the marina. Why do sailboats need gas anyway?

We raised the main and tried sailing in, but the wind was from the wrong direction. A little sailboat with a two-cycle outboard engine offered us a tow, but in the bedlam of hooking up our first tow line came undone, and then we managed to get ourselves out of the channel and stuck in the second mudbar of the evening. Our timing was also lousy, as in order to get unstuck we had to sail directly across the channel, but there was a parade of boats heading back from the fireworks. Did I mention there was a thunderstorm coming in? And while we were waiting for our window to head across, the little sailboat that could ran out of fuel too, but they had some fuel on board! The window arrived, the little sailboat that could chugged and chugged and got us free and towed is to our mooring where Mary and Chas scrambled to make sure their one chance to catch the buoy wasn't in vain. . . and it wasn't!

Did I mention a thunderstorm? Well the second fireworks show of the night was fast approaching, but no one seemed to be in a hurry to get off the boat because the proactive bunch was busily straightening up and packing things away. I finally got everybody of the boat and into the dinghy (one at a time, of course) and the storm hit as soon as we got in my truck. We took Dana downtown (near the film BUILDING not the film DISTRICT, Will) and Mary and I headed back and joined Chas at Jimmy's, the local bar, which had just lost and regained power, and tried to wait out the storm. The storm wasn't ending so Mary and I got a good soaking on the way to my house.

But all was well on a night that it could have been very unwell, with angels dueling with the fates on our behalf yet again. The Sloop is lucky to be so blessed.

Boat notes:

  • Sailboats do need gas
  • Weight on the bow as well as one side helped free us from the first mudbar.
  • I love having a working wind instrument again!
  • We need to find some better lighting charcoal.

Crew notes:

  • Dana and Chas now know how to set an anchor (perfect job on their first try!)
  • It's good to bring a sweatshirt for an evening sail, and even better when a crew person brings enough sweatshirts for those who don't have one (thanks Chas)!
  • No one seems to mind wind, or waves, or the approach of severe thunderstorms.
  • The next day the boat was the cleanest it had ever been post-3rd of July fireworks.

1 July 2007: Shakedown cruise

WIND: 10-15 (observed), N
WAVES: 2-4 feet (NOAA radio)
AIR TEMP: 64 degrees F
The small craft advisory (scheduled to start at noon) was cancelled. The waves, however, were not. GWR

Harbor call: 1100 hours
Cast off: 1130 hours
Crew: Gordon, Thomas, Marie
Cruisers: Labeeba, Vishal, Derrick

Pretty choppy for a shakedown, but the winds were in the perfect range. Main raised with #1 (yellow) reef; jib unfurled to #3 size (approximately midship) to keep the ride reasonable for the season's maiden voyage under sail. Set sail E towards the crib, on port tack. A roll-y ride on a reach, a 15 degree heel on a beat even with several specimens of rail meat.

Tacked to starboard and headed west back to the harbor entrance on a reach. Nice ride back as waves calmed down. Tacked back to port to head out again and we lost the starboard jib sheet. Tacked back to starboard, furled jib, dropped and folded main, and headed back to the dock. Back in around 1330 hours. Took care of what the shakedown shookdown, and took boat back to the can around 1430 hours.

Shakedown notes:

  • Upper shrouds too slack (tightened at dock);
  • Bowline tail too short (retied at dock)
  • Furler is working well!
  • Sloop was happy to get out!

Crew notes:

  • Labeeba can go below.
  • Vishal can't.
  • Derrick is untested.
  • Nobody minded the heel or the waves.
  • Marie (Jenny) is easy-going for a pre-named pirate.
  • All practiced their pirate talk.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sloop Spring

We think we need to grind out 1000 blisters.
We start sanding.
Halfway through we realize we don't have blisters.
We might as well finish sanding and do the barrier coat anyway.
It's hot. This is nasty work. We don't have time, help or desire.
We pay the yard to do the work.
I've never outsourced a Sloop job.
I've never still been in the yard in June.
Gary has to work on the hottest days of the year.
He wants the bottom to be perfect.
More perfect than me.
Sometimes outsourcing works.

We need to replace the cutlass bearing
since there is too much vibration.
We decided to remove the prop at the end
instead of the shaft at the engine end.
The prop doesn't want to come off.
We try a gear puller. Too small.
We rig another gear puller.
It appears to work.
It appears we've destroyed the end of the shaft.
We'll get a new shaft.
We can't get the old one out. The yard has to take it out.
I call the prop people and say my shaft is ten feet.
She says "Are you sure."
I pick up the shaft from Rob at the yard.
It's less than three feet.
I thought I knew math.
The shaft goes to the prop people.
We need a new coupler. Custom part.
The company is casting them now. That's a week--and $80.
I can't get the cutlass bearing out.
Rob in the yard brings all of his fancy tools.
It even takes him a half-hour to get it out.
West Marine only has one cutlass bearing my size in it's entire system.
They ship it from Racine. That's three days.
It's the wrong size (the catalog was misprinted).
I order one from Utah. That's three days--and cheaper than West Marine.
We put the new bearing in.
It was easier than taking it out.
The prop people can't get the prop off.
We need a new prop. That's $600--and a week.
They send our prop to Canada.
They rush one to us. That's two days.
We have a shiny new prop shaft, prop, and coupler.
The old one was in scary shape.
They said it was good we accidentally trashed it.
We never would have known it was that bad.
That's a relief.
We try to put the new shaft in.
Not much room to work.
Pull out push in, try to line up the key.
It wants lubrication.
We take it out and lubricate it.
It goes in perfectly.
It lines up perfectly.
The feeler gauge verifies it's tighter than 1/3000ths of an inch.
The wobble in the prop is gone!
The boat feels all shiny and new.

We want to put a plate below the mast step so it doesn't sink.
I find out I do have a wood core in my deck.
We drill out the plate, but the drill won't go down.
We pull out the column below the mast step.
There's a lag bolt broken off in the column.
How long has that been that way?
Was it the cause of effect of our rigging woes?
We try to drill it out to use and easy out.
We can't.
We buy a better drill bit.
We still can't drill it.
We ask Rob in the yard to do it.
He can't drill it either.
He backs it out with dental tools.
It takes almost half-an-hour.

The engine won't turn over.
It never starts right up in the spring.
It will start in the water.
It always starts in the water when I haven't knocked loose an ignition wire.
Or cross wired the sparks to the distributor cap.
We finally put the boat in the water.
The engine starts and runs as long as we're spraying it with ether.
You can't run an engine perpetually on ether.
Something's wrong with the fuel systerm.
The fuel's getting to the carburetor.
The fuel's not getting through the carburetor.
We need a new carburetor. That's $216--but only a day!
I take out a carburetor.
I put in a carburetor.
The engine starts!

The oil pressure is reading high--80--it's supposed to be 45-50.
I read Atomic 4 engine sites.
Nothing says anything about high oil pressure--only low.
I learn I can rebuild my engine--or start with a new engine block.
I learn there is an Atomic 4 pinup every month.
I want my engine to be a pinup.
I read regular gas engine sites.
Nothing says anything about high oil pressure.
Gordon comes on the boat.
He notices the pressure gauge reads 60, not 80
He notices the pressure gauge reads 15 when the engine is shut off.
I don't have high oil pressure.

I clean my engine.
I think about rebuilding the starter and the distributor.
I think I should touch up the paint on the engine block.
I want my engine to be a pinup, too.

Can I go up the river now!!??

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Tri-State Race
Pre-race: My backyard was turned into a temporary sail loft so I could repair our ailing light-air genoa with yards of sail tape. Then I headed to the harbor and switched hats to diver and braved the seaweed and geese and duck dropping infested harbor to clean a season of slime from the bottom of the boat. It was a yucky job and I don't want to think about what my skin and occasionaly my eyes and mouth ingested. I finished a little more than half of the job. It looks better, and it made some difference, but I'll have to get an earlier start (and help!) for that job next year!

The crew was all on time (bravo, crew), but the skipper had misjudged the start time so we motor-sailed as fast as possible to the start line about two miles east of Buckingham Fountain.

Chicago to St. Joe (St. Joseph, Michigan): We were well late for the start, but raised sails, contacted the committee boat and got ready to race. Not so fast: As we're heading for the line, the head of the jib started falling down. Arghh--we had broken the shackle at the head and lost the halyard up the mast (looks like someone will be headed up the mast when we get to the other side). We had to haul the sail down, and we tried using the spinnaker halyard to no avail, and finally were successful raising the sail with the other jib halyard. Then we headed for the starting line again, avoiding all of the other boats that had amassed by that point.

The race started with steady winds from the east, two foot swells and a beautiful boat-studded sunset. The wind was even kind enough to let us steer the rhumb line (a direct path from Chicago to St. Joe). But from the beginning, it was evident that the Sloop wasn't happy. Even with 15-20 knots of apparent wind and no weather helm, she was really sluggish, and boats passed us starboard and port. We tried adjusting everything, putting crew weight on the high side, reefing the main so we weren't heeled over so much, but we still couldn't get the boat speed up to what it should have been. We eventually raised the number 2, a smaller, flatter, heavier sail instead. We lost a little time in the sail change since we only had one halyard, but we also gained about a half a knot in boat speed, so we settled in with that.

The night was clear and full of stars. The temperature was perfect, it got slightly chilly but never uncomfortably cold--for those of us who stayed dry. Unfortunately the people on the rail got wet (adding layers of foul weather gear a little too late) with all of the waves crashing over the bow, so they were a bit chillier. We ticked off the miles slowly towards St. Joe with Al, Michael and I taking our shifts at the helm.

The winds were shifty, and we soon were unable to steer the rhumb line, and had to settle for sailing as close to the wind as close to course as possible. We switched the instruments over to show us VMG (velocity made good) and the bearing and distance to St. Joe. We knew we'd have to do some tacking over the course of the night. The first bit of adventure was an oar boat closing in on us on Al's watch. We were headed northeast with it at first, but finally had to tack southeast behind it. We stayed on that tack most of the night, since the wind had shifted such that the other tack was slower.

I had the helm between 30 and 20 miles out from St. Joe, basically the half-way shift. The wind was steady from the northeast and the star Capella was nice enough to position itself at the exact course I needed to steer. We clicked off those ten miles pretty steadily, and when I turned the helm over to Michael, I told him I was steering by the star. "First star on the right and straight on until morning?" he asked. "That's the way, Peter Pan."

Michael chipped off the miles steadily until dawn and about ten miles from shore. We were treated to a stunning sunrise. I had hoped NOT to see the sunrise, because I had wanted to be done by then, but it was a nice consolation prize.

Al took over the helm after Michael. We could see the shore by then, and soon after could find St. Joe's. Our enthusiasm for shore was tempered by a message from the committee boat saying they were picking up anchor and going in, leaving us to take our own time. That meant, "almost everyone else is in, folks." It was about 6:30 am. How frustrating, but we were only about two miles out so we should be done soon, right? Wrong. The winds on cue did their early morning die-off, leaving us in a huge hole of little to no wind which shifted at will. We sailed slowly through a maze of fisherman who didn't seem to mind the flat waters and absent winds. The minutes ticked off, not the miles, and all I though was--and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.

In two hours we had gone one mile. In three hours we had gone one and a half miles. There were two boats behind us. They caught up with us and then hit the same hole we were sitting in. We'd be pointed in one direction and them in another even though we were only a few hundred yards apart. Thomas made an offering of 20 cents to the wind gods, an overly-generous offer which, I warned him, we'd come to regret in time. We dodged fishing boats and crossed each other as we fought the light shifting winds to close in on an invisible line in the water--longitude W 86:30.17 between latitudes N 42:06.83 and N 42:06.93. I kept my eyes on the GPS reading as we tacked back and forth over the longitude line until we could hit it at the right latitude. We thought we'd have to tack once more when the gods granted us mercy and let us cross the longitude line at N 42:06.90 at about 1024 hours. It had taken four hours to sail the last two miles.

We dropped sail, turned on the motor and headed up the river, and were invited to raft off of a boat a few rafts in from the bridge. We were the tenth boat on the raft, and had to set an anchor to keep the raft from drifting. A nice couple in a cute pontoon allowed Michael to board them and set the anchor.

Harry and Al headed off to the yacht club for Bloody Marys. Michael, Thomas and I hauled the sails to shore to be flaked. Michael and Thomas took a nap in the shade of the shore, I crashed on the boat. Christianne and Gloria arrived around noon--clean and awake--an amazing concept at the time. We crashed the Clarion Hotel pool for a shower (which I had been craving since I had cleaned the boat in the harbor). Harry and Al took the car back to Illinois and Gloria and Christianne settled in on board.

We relaxed on the boat for the afternoon, and Christianne and Thomas had the energy to go running while Michael and I tried to take a nap. We headed over to the yacht club for dinner, (no need to check the results) and chatted with Jackson Park people. I was frustrated, and they were encouraging--"just crank it tomorrow," Dennis told me. I met another Irwin sailboat owner who told me our boats aren't happy until there is at least 15 knots of wind. I realized I had been a little soft on the Sloop for the past couple of seasons--she had had had no problem with the 20 knots of apparent wind and waves the night before.

We headed back to the boat and made an early night of it. Of course an early night is difficult on a raft, and we did have to ask the party boat next to us to keep the noise down.

St. Joe to Michigan City, Indiana . . . more to come.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

August 29, 2002: The Sloop was treated to a well-deserved work day. We tuned up and added hardware, electrical connections, reled lines, and put everything in order for her big Tri-State weekend. Thanks to Gordon, Mike and Steve for their brains and brawn.

After a day of work, Sailor Mike, Steve and I kidnapped Steve's Art Director Mike, collected it's-the-end-of-her-vacation Nana, and headed out for a few sunset laps around the water intake crib. The winds were steady and a bit brisk out of the east, and we had enough swells for some roller coastering east and surfing west.

It was great to have Nana finally on board this season. She's one of very few people who have sailed with me every season I've had the Sloop, and the Sloop didn't want her to miss a season. And laser Mike eventually succumbed to the serenity of the Sloop and realized he would rather be sailing than working after all. He even helped my put the Sloop back on the can, and did a great job. You're on my recruitment list, Mike, so watch out!

As always, you can check out the pictures.

Monday, August 26, 2002

We tried our hands at another buoy race yesterday. The winds were light and out of the northeast, which meant swells and very little wind to push us through them. We hit a hole on the second leg (no wind) and it felt like the brakes were on. The wind did build gradually through the day, though, so the last legs weren't bad at all. We didn't place well, but it was good practice for the crew.

In general, the Sloop prefers nice long port-to-port races, so we're looking forward to the Tri-State this weekend.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

On Tuesday August 20th, the Sloop and her crew headed out for a rare destination sale. We needed to buy gas to be prepared for the off chance that we'd end up motoring for three legs of the Tri-State, and, since gas *is* cheaper in Indiana, we decided to defy the warnings of the Roche sisters that we'd "never come back," and head south to the scenic northeastern Indiana city of Hammond. We rarely sail south, we get to Hammond maybe once a year, but people always enjoy the glorified trip to the gas station and the chance to see the *huge* Casino "boat." The nice thing about being a sailboat is that our gas bill wasn't $150, like that of the boat that had visited the pump before us.

It was a nice day, cool winds out of the east, gentle enough to be under full sails (finally!), yet strong enough to keep us slicing through one to three foot waves. The clouds and haze kept us from roasting too much, but there was enough sun for Steve's weekly sun flare shot (see the pictures).

We were unusually well-provisioned--and even as adults we were kept quite happy with a king-sized pack of Twizzlers and an ample supply of Pringles to supplement our sandwiches (my sandwich courtesy of Michael--thanks!). There's a lot more sustainance from the basic four food groups (sugar, salt, fat and caffeine) to last us a couple more sailings (we're out of Twizzlers, though), so let's hope the weather cooperates!

Friday, August 16, 2002

We had a wild ride yesterday in what the Beaufort scale euphamistically labels a "fresh breeze." Even though the wind was from the southwest, which in Chicago usually means flat water, we went from no waves to whitecaps in about 30 minutes! We also had some dramatic skies, starting with almost complete cloud cover in the morning (making downtown seem like a mirage) and finishing with a few puffy clouds on the horizon when we returned to the harbor in the afternoon.

Mike, Steve and I left the harbor and took care of some maintenance and enhancements (get the broken key out of the ignition, put in a new accessory outlet so I can charge my phone, and hooked up a CD player into the stereo. It's great having mechanical and electrical engineer types on the boat! We then cruised north with the wind behind us and had a exciting but manageable ride up to North Avenue, where we were greeted with Air Show practice by the Blue Angels. It was a better show with more and different formations than I usually see in the Air Show itself--and a couple of times they flew right over the boat! (Steve conveniently ran out of disk space right then).

After we turned around to head south (read *into the wind*) the winds had picked up to over 20 steady knots--with occasional gusts to 30 knots. I realized that with only one reef possible (we discovered the cleat for the second reef was missing a screw) and only three people (i.e. very little rail meat) we were going to be a *trifle* overpowered. So even though Mike and Steve were having a great time with the rail in the water, we dropped sail and enjoyed a choppy and wet ride back home under motor.

Be sure to check out the pictures!

Thursday, August 15, 2002

It works! Now I've got to get ready for sailing this morning. I'll make a (hopefully) less vapid posting later.

Always looking for new ways to communicate, this is my first foray into blogging (web logging). Let's see how it works.


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