Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

Finally! We stopped doing yard work and unwrapped Wrinkles for a four day sail. We took a little extra time to rig this time as we found that the Bimini cover was put on the frame backwards after our repairs to the material. We also wanted to rig another topping lift on the boom to keep from damaging the Bimini again. Wrinkles launched nicely and the old Mariner 8 HP took right off.
We motored out just far enough to raise the sails and we were off. The winds were gentle, but enough to give us a steady 4 knots of hull speed to play around with. The forecast was for a beautiful afternoon with nothing but sunshine. We enjoyed it while it lasted, because that was the last steady sunshine we would see all weekend. We ate a simple supper as we sailed and just enjoyed the experience of wandering around Lake Mendota. We used up all the daylight we could as we dropped our anchor off Picnic Point while the sun was setting. There was one other sailboat anchored in the bay as well. We were later joined by a third sailboat just after dusk. We had our sundowners in the cockpit enjoying a gorgeous evening with the awesome smell of campfires floating in from the shore.

The cozy cabin was inviting as the Weems and Plath lantern was warming and drying everything out inside. LED lights are great, but you still need to have at least one good lantern. A couple of good books finished off a great start to the weekend.

We awoke to the sound of rain on the deck, so we slept in and later made oatmeal, coffee and tea on our little one burner butane stove. We sat in the cockpit for a while to enjoy the morning sights and sounds. The ducks always find the anchored boats and come begging for scraps. These two were really persistent, but they looked really pretty floating in the clear water.

We pulled the anchor and ventured out to get some sailing in. The winds were stronger and the longer we sailed the gustier they became. It was an active sail as we really had to watch the water for signs of each approaching gust We were planning on stopping for a late lunch break when our son, Matt, called to say that he and his girlfriend Kelly wanted to come join us. We sailed over to the Memorial Union and anchored just 75 yards from shore in 8 feet of water. We climbed into Squint The Famous Racing Dinghy and rowed to shore for lunch with the kids at State Street Brats.

After lunch Mike rowed Brenda, Kelly and then Matt out to Wrinkles to go sailing. Kelly grew up around sailboats and was excited to be aboard one again. As soon as we got Wrinkles away from the moored boats Mike walked away from the tiller and told Kelly, "She's all yours." Kelly was grinning non-stop as she maneuvered Wrinkles around the lake.
The winds had settled, so the sailing wasn't real exciting. Matt took a turn at the tiller and did pretty good for only his second time skippering. Mike had set one fishing line out to troll while underway and caught a pretty nice fish.

We anchored up later in the afternoon to rest, fish and watch Matt eat everything on board. He may be trim, but he has the appetite of a sumo wrestler. Only one fish wanted to play, so the fishing was pretty uneventful.
Matt took Kelly for a tour in our dinghy. Kelly somehow came back completely soaked. We really like Kelly, instead of complaining and being upset, she simply swapped clothes and kept on grinning. "Hey Matt, she is a keeper."

We motored dead into the wind to do a touch-n-go landing for Matt and Kelly before sailing back to Picnic Point for another night aboard. The evening was cold and damp, so the evening was spent in the cabin reading and snacking.
It rained on and off all night which is great for sleeping, and sleep we did. Rising late we had our usual breakfast and then decided to sail despite the yucky weather. Strong steady winds kept Brenda busy at the helm as Mike relaxed and enjoyed the sail. Later we anchored up in the lee of the wind near the Warner Park boat launch for some lunch . Mike messed around with the dinghy and fishing rod while Brenda lounged aboard with her ever present book.
The afternoon sailing was cut short by the next approaching storm front that brought strong winds and lots of rain. Our Gill sailing jackets and our Bimini made the experience much more enjoyable. Sailing in the rain isn't our favorite, but it is OK with the right equipment and attitude. Once again over to the shelter of Picnic Point to anchor for the night. The forecast for Monday was promising, so we stayed the night in the rain. The highlight of the evening was Mike actually winning at Cribbage. This happens VERY rarely.
The forecast was wrong, as we awoke to more rain, fog and generally lousy conditions. We had just decided to have a quick yogurt for breakfast and sail back to Marshall Park where we could load Wrinkles back up on her trailer when we received a call from some friends to meet for lunch. We sailed directly downwind with one reef in the mainsail and a preventer rigged for safety as the waves were white capping and the winds were really gusty.
Our friends met us at the pier to catch our lines and assist in loading Wrinkles on her trailer. After a couple of misses (keel outside the keel guides) we got her on dry land. Off to the Great Dane Brew Pub for a nice lunch with good friends. A neat way to cap off our latest sailing adventure.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Enough with the mulch already!

B and I have been really working hard on getting the house and yard ready for sale. Having a few acres in the country with a big house has been great, but over the past 5 years we have let all the upkeep slide. It's not that we are lazy - sailing just took over our summertime lives. It has been awesome spending so much time on the water while our yard was slowly being reclaimed by Mother Nature.

We have trimmed all the trees, sprayed for weeds, built another decorative retaining wall, pulled weeds out of gardens, replaced bent gutters, mowed, cut back the scrub trees that love our drain field up on the ridge, buried the sump pump outlet hose, finished installing the drain tile around the back of the house and shoveled mulch until our arms ached.

So the house (at least the exterior) is "Reclaimed" as Brenda describes it. We have plenty of projects left to do, but it is time to spend some time on Wrinkles. We plan on sailing for four days and despite the iffy forecast we are excited to go.

Mike slapped another coat of Interlux paint on Squint The Famous Racing Dinghy while Brenda worked on some bimini repairs. We marveled at our little homemade Portuguese dinghy last night. It was built it as a fun project expecting to get one or maybe two seasons out of it. After 5 seasons the little bugger just keeps following behind Wrinkles ready to take us ashore anytime we want to explore.


Enough with the mulch already, lets go sailing


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Brenda with her boys (Matt and John)
A very happy mother with her daughter Tina
Happy Mother's Day to all. I am lucky to have a wonderful mother who has supported everything I have ever done. Delores (Dee) is a talented, witty, loving and compassionate women who is always up for an adventure. Thanks Mom for everything you do for your friends and family.
Brenda, Mom and Matt
My lovely wife Brenda has raised three awesome kids who make her proud. Today she received a Mother's Day gift in the mail from the kids. When she attended the Chicago Strictly Sail Show she fell in love with a sailing vest made from recycled sail material. The kids got together and ordered one for her and she just loves it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Anchoring Hand Signals

We rarely daysail, so we do a lot of anchoring for breaks and overnighting. This means we do the "anchoring dance" quite often. Those of you who know Mike understand that he doesn't like confrontation or tension for any reason. He is just a relaxed easy going type of guy. Quiet is good. Anchoring seems to involve miscommunication, frustration and unfortunately too often raised voices for many.

We have read many (and by many we mean way too many) sailing adventure books which all discuss communications between the skipper and the mate during anchoring. Many couples have developed a set of hand signals to communicate silently from the two ends of the boat. What the authors never seem to discuss is the actual hand signals they use. They seem to guard them like some tribal secret.

So our mission is to develop our own set of hand signals and we would love to hear suggestions on other couples hand signals. We'll keep you apprised of the signals we adopt or create. No secrets here.


If you need a good laugh and enjoy sailing ditties, check out Eileen Quinn's song "The Anchoring Dance". Kind of says it all.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Thank You Weatherman!

A big thank you to the weatherman - not because he brought great weather, but because he failed to tell us how beautiful it was going to be. You see, if we had known just how gorgeous it was going to be, we would have gone sailing....surprise, surprise. But since the forecast was for a rainy cool Saturday and a not much better Sunday, we decided to be good kids and stay home and get some work done around the house. And work we did. Two big loads of mulch shoveled into the trailer, hauled home and spread around the gardens, trees trimmed, lawn mowed (after we bought a replacement for the one that puked 50 feet out of the garage two days ago), rock wall around the garage finished, and many flowers planted (but certainly not the last). .....Whew. Mike is definitely more into the yard work this year. Could it be that he is looking ahead to the pictures of our house in the for sale brochure?

We rewarded ourselves with brats over the fire pit with our son Matt and his girlfriend Kelly. I guess you can have fun on land in the summer!