Monthly Archives: July 2012

Plans change with the weather around here

We’d planned to make another trip back to White Lake (or at least some distance north) Wednesday of last week, sailing through the night to arrive in the morning.  The weather, however, had other plans.  A healthy northwest wind greeted us as we exited the channel at 1800 under double-reefed main and staysail and began pounding our way …north… west.  It was going to be a long night.

By 2100 we were only 5nm north of St. Joseph, and the weather was deteriorating.  Sailing is supposed to be fun, and the prospect of pounding into wind and waves all night only to make Holland 40nm away by morning, combined with a storm system that was moving through the area, convinced us to turn back for home.  The lightning display off our starboard beam assured us that we’d made the right decision.

Storms and foul winds kept us “in harbor” for a couple of days, but we planned to head out again on Friday, this time for New Buffalo, with a following wind.  Too bad we didn’t think to call ahead to make a reservation.  New Buffalo, it turns out, was booked.  After daysailing off St. Joseph, we spent the night aboard, determined to go somewhere soon.

We set off for South Haven late Saturday morning, with a light following wind (8-10kts) and plenty of sunshine.  The trip north was uneventful, and the boys took turns at the helm as Ariel coasted along under drifter.

Sailing toward South Haven under drifter.

Jake at the helm.

Dad at the wheel.

Josh wanted to swim, so we rigged up a swing and dragged him through the water. He loved it.

My mom drove up and met us in South Haven for dinner and ice cream.  We had a lovely walk through town, then mom and dad drove back to St. Joseph, leaving Carrie, the boys, and me on the boat.

Ariel tied up at South Haven Municipal Marina. (She’s to the left of the power cruiser to the right of center in the image).

Originally we’d planned to spend the night in South Haven and then head home the next day, but the weather was too nice to stop so we caught a gentle southwest wind and rode it to Saugatuck for our first ever visit by water.  We tied up at Coral Gables ($2.50/ft = $90!) on the east side of the river and right in the middle of the action.

Lazy sailing north with a following wind.

Tied up at Coral Gables. Didn’t think to get a pic of the docks.

Saugatuck is an eclectic blend of artsty small-town and hipster coffee-shop types with an annoying party element on the waterfront.  The town itself is very cute and quaint, with a chain ferry and paddlewheel riverboat, a number of old buildings, and a riverfront park and bandstand.  The docks around Coral Gables and the Singapore Yacht Club to the south tend to be busy and noisy.  We fell asleep around 2300 to the sounds of Michael Jackson and Sonny and Cher karaoke coming from a nearby bar called The Annex.

For $90 a night, I think we’ll opt to anchor on the lake during our next visit.

Winds for our return to St. Joseph were forecast to be (big surprise) SW’erly – right on the nose – until later in the day when they were expected to veer west, which they never did.  We departed around 1100 and beat our way south under main, staysail, and jib in a 10-12 knot breeze.  Although the wind could have been from a better direction, the day was perfect – clear skies, moderate seas, and a steady wind.

Carrie and the boys singing silly songs.

Four long tacks about 8nm offshore carried us past South Haven by around dusk.  Several shorter tacks in a decreasing wind carried us about 7nm north of St. Joseph before the wind went flukey.  Once again, lightning off to the west prompted us to call it quits, drop sail, and steam for home.  We arrived in the slip just before 0400 and decided to spend what was left of the night aboard.  We awoke a couple hours later to lightning and the sound of thunder and heavy raindrops.  It was nice to be in our slip rather than on the water.

Nearly there.

Boys at the helm

My two boys take turns at the wheel during a recent trip.


Ariel gets a new jib

Well, the original thirty-three-year-old jib finally packed it in the other day (July 8) in a moderate 15 knot wind.  Age and UV exposure resulted in a horizontal rip from the clew toward the luff.  We were chugging along when the jib suddenly split with a POP.  We furled it and headed for home under staysail and main.  Once back in harbor, we had a heck of a time removing the jib because it had folded on itself before furling, making it impossible to unfurl the sail to lower it.  To say it came down in shreds is no exaggeration.

Cutting the old jib away.

I got to work on a new jib I had designed over the winter and finished it up on Monday, July 16.  It fits perfectly and performs well.  We got out the other day in about 12 knots.  The jib looked great and allowed us to point higher.  There’s nothing like a nice, crispy new sail.

The new jib pulling nicely.

An Ariel Canvas & Sails original!

Dad models the new jib (with lowered clew).

Quick trip to White Lake

My brother and his family were here from California for a bit, so we squeezed in a quick trip to White Lake just before the Fourth.  We loaded up the boat with five adults, two kids, and a 5 week-old Pomeranian puppy.

We hit Holland and Grand Haven on the way north, then spent a couple days tied up at the Whitehall Municipal Marina. The water was even thinner this season than last, and Ariel nosed into a slip until she was sitting on the bottom. We passed our time in Whitehall fishing, shopping in the small downtown areas, replacing a split hose in the freshwater system, and enjoying hanging out together.  The weather was generally nice, although the wind rarely cooperated.

Mom and Dad relaxing.

Josh hanging out on the bow, heading north.

Tied up in Grand Haven. Spent the night on the wall.

Josh and Christian playing in the v-berth.

Impressive clouds

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