Great Loop Day 001 Aug 29, 2016, Leaving Cedar Point Marina, Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point Marina to Put in Bay, Ohio. The Journey Begins on the Great Lakes
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Great Loop Day 1 Monday, Aug 29, 2016, Cedar Point Marina to Put in Bay, Ohio.
Sitting in my sailboat cabin I turn on the FM radio and my head turns to hear…
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I'm easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to
Me, to me
Queen, Bohemian Rapsody.
“Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to
Me, to me!”
I know it would be an unlucky omen to leave without a family farewell.
Now, on the phone with my daughter, Jennifer, she said she is on her way to the marina with the grandkids.
I close my eyes and take in a deep breath. Hold it and slowly release the air from deep down inside my lungs purging away all the anxiety and tension that built up over the year.
My thoughts drift off to yesterday when my daughter and I went out to lunch and I picked up a few items I thought would be helpful now that I have a feline as crew and passenger.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have had her help me this past summer.
We both had a difficult time adjusting to the sudden loss of her mother the year before and the thought of seeing her father leaving weight deeply on her mind.
“Dad, couldn’t you wait till next year to leave?” she pleaded.
It would have been so easy to say to her, yes, maybe you are right, maybe I’ll go next year. But I knew deep inside if I found one more excuse not to leave I would never leave the dock.
“You know I would love to stay another year but my gut instinct says I have to go now.” groping for the words to make her understand, “And I promise, you will be hearing from me every day.”
My daughter and the grandkids, Finley, and Luke, (Mason was at school) made their way down to the dock with their homemade 'Bon Voyage' signs wishing me a safe journey. Hugs and kisses all around! What a wonderful sendoff. Love you guys, and as mom would have said, “Love you from here to the moon, and back!”
Earlier in the morning, the weather report sounded grim. I waited to hear if it would improve later in the day. The winds were coming out of the northeast and that would have us going in a choppy sea to Put in Bay. Even though it would be a short sail of fewer than 20 miles from here and only take 3 to 4 hours. Experience with the Sea Marie has taught me the choppier the water the longer the trip.
I was getting anxious to get underway. I held off leaving most of August due to the excessive heat we were having. There is no air conditioner on board just some fans and that was barely enough to provide any comfort.
Time was of the essence as the summer was winding down and there were so many miles to cover. From what I read the optimal time to arrive in Chicago is around Labor Day. The weather and the water on Lake Michigan start to get really ugly after that. There are confirmed tales of travelers being stranded in ports for weeks waiting for good breaks in the weather patterns. That thought, as bleak as it sounds, remained in the back of my mind. If it happens, it happens. I feel I am prepared.
The weather report announced a reduction in the wind velocity later in the day and there was hope for departure. With that spark of optimistic cautiousness, I made my decision to disembark and cast my fate to the wind.
With the help of my daughter, Luke, and Findley, the Sea Marie and her crew of one kitten cast off the dock lines at 3:30 pm from Dock 437 in our home port of Cedar Point Marina, Sandusky, Ohio.
One final glance back at my daughter and her concerned smile and enthusiastic waves from the grandkids will be cherished and long remembered.
The Sea Marie will not see the coasters rolling down the steep hills or hear the mournful sound of the Cedar Point Railroad steam engine again till next year if all goes as planned. My thoughts to the ancient gods of the sea and sky, may they look favorably on this lone mariner and allow us safe passage.
My mission to circumnavigate the east coast of the US and cross my wake is officially underway.
But first, a quick stop to fill a couple of my 5-gallon gas cans at the fuel dock here at Cedar Point Marina. Those cans will be vital to my success. Mission completed and gas can secured on deck. Now to untie my dock lines from the fuel dock and leave the safety of this harbor as Mickey and I head out to the open waters of Lake Erie.
Mickey the Sea Cat.
Mickey, my 1-year-old Domestic Shorthair cat was my unplanned passenger and was making himself comfortable down in the cabin trying out various places to lay down, Earlier this month I had made arrangements for a fellow dock mate to watch him for the time I would be away but circumstances changed and they were unable to care for him. So, here he is with me.
He was a young stray kitten when I found him. On a warm day in June after a heavy thunderstorm out in our front yard, behind the tree. Scared, wet, and meowing for the comfort of his mother. His whole furry body shivered at the sound of distant thunder, he was so terrified when I picked him up. None of my neighbors laid claim to him so he became ours. We had recently lost our older cat, Nicky. She was in our family for 26 years and that is a long time for any cat to survive but Nicky found a way.
Mickey, about a year old now, was named for the faint markings of the Mcdonald's arches on his flank fur and was making the best of it. He would explore all the nooks and crannies below in the cabin and find his way around the mess I made for myself. He had gotten his shots and had him neutered earlier in the year and I, for one, am so glad I did. Sorry old boy, a line had to be drawn if you want to live with me. He did settle down quite a bit after that and seemed to be at his best to tolerate me at my worst. Mickey is going to be a sea cat whether he liked it or not.
I did have luck on my side for I did get Mickey accustomed to wearing a harness. Most cats hate that but Mickey was young and quickly got used to it. Your wild ways are going to get tempered from now on. Oh, yes it is!
Sure would like him to earn his keep aboard my sailing vessel. Either as a deckhand or on deck watch. Well, Mister Mickey, prepare yourself for your seamanship lessons. That, my furry friend, will start today.
Time to get my sea legs on. The ride over was bumpy at the start. Plowing along at 5 mph, playing with the waves coming at me on my starboard bow. I better get used to it. Heaven knows it could get worse, much worse. I better know how the Sea Marie handles with this extra weight on board and when to plow ahead and when to surrender and back off.
The new outboard motor.
The new 4-stroke Tohatsu 9.8 hp outboard motor with the larger 4-blade prop was gracefully humming along. Made me feel glad I purchased the longer 25-inch shaft. The older 8 hp with the standard 21-inch shaft would on more occasions than not, pop her prop out of the water and whine with disapproval when the front bow slid down the back of a sharp wave raising her transom in the air. Not only was this an electric start but has an alternator and will provide some power back to the battery bank.
I knew I had to go to the leeward of Kelleys Island to traverse and that would provide some protection if only for a few miles. Then as I approached Ballast Island I would turn westerly and have a following sea behind me.
The weather people were right. The winds did subside later in the day and I motored my way to the Municipal B Dock at Put in Bay without a struggle. However, the dockmaster had left for the day and I will have to make restitution in the morning.
This time of the year and especially on a Monday there are very few boaters docked here at the municipal dock in Put in Bay. I took a short walk around the town's main street and DeRivera Park. Many of the sights were familiar from my past outing as a BSA Advisor with the Boy Scout Explorer Post 101, a First Aid and Communication post made up of high school coeds participating in the annual BSA Sea Scouts Rendezvous. Over on the west end of the island is a State Park Campground where Sea Scouts competed in nautical activities. It was off that beach I had my first sailing adventure manning a Mirror Dinghy. It had a jib and a mainsail but no motor as I have on this girl.
First Time Sailing.
We all remember our ‘first time’ don’t we? Well, most of us do. First time going to school or first time behind the wheel of a car or taking that special girl on a first-time date. Unknowingly, it was going to be all of that in a matter of an hour or so.
Back in the mid-1970s, Our Post president, David Rolandelli needed someone to go with on one of the Mirror Dinghies that were brought on the island for a Sea Scout Regatta and I was available. He showed me the main sheet and the jib sheets and what they do. Throw in the rudder and you are sailing. If you know where the wind is and how to position the sails to make the most of it. We had a brisk breeze and the lake was relatively calm. Well, Dave had an ulterior motive for going out. He was starting to date this girl, Cathy who was out on a dinghy on the lake with another friend. With Dave’s skill at sailing, it didn’t take us long to catch up with the girls, and here is where Dave’s plan got tricky. We had to do a person-to-person transfer from one dinghy to the other. Now, these little dinghies are not large boats. Flipping them over doesn’t take a lot of effort. Cathy held our stern and I was holding the boat near the bow when Dave jumped over and the other girl jumped over to my boat. We were all wearing life jackets, not those nice ones but the bulky old-fashioned red/orange ones. They do tend to get in the way. As the other girl was making her way over to my boat her strap got caught in her boat and knocked her off balance. In a split second, we were all going to be groping for air bobbing in the water. On pure instinct, I grabbed the belt loop on her pants and pulled her over just in time to prevent a serious dunking.
As we sailors often say, “All’s well that ends well”, Dave and Cathy were in their boat, and this girl, whose name I can’t remember, and I were out sailing around Green Island and going back to the beach. By the way, Dave and Cathy did get married and start a family of their own. Still married going on close to 50 years.
It was getting late and I had dinner to fix and Mickey to feed aboard the Sea Marie. Also had to find and call a marina for tomorrow night. Looking for something over in Michigan before going up the Detroit River. So until tomorrow, Fair winds and gentle seas.
Comments from 2016:
Heidi Laakso, Did you have a rough sail with all the waves yesterday?
Henry Krzemien RN It was reported rough in the morning but by the time I left at 4 pm, it settled down a bit but rolling around in some 2-3 footers. Kelly's island helped as I went west of her with northeast winds. By the time I got to Ballast Island, it calmed down a good bit.
Susan Christine Wow that's a beautiful sunrise.
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Looking forward to follow along on your journey, Best wishes for a safe and extraordinary experience of a lifetime.!!! Jeff