Thursday, June 8th
Friends and family seem to be always asking what my next biking adventure will be? Gee wiz… Just one time I ride a mountain bike for a few miles and a few days, now I’m ‘the biker guy’? I do have other aspirations. There are many things I would like to see and do, that do NOT involve peddling my butt there. Will say the adventure about to embark on, sailing a boat several hundred miles through the largest fresh water lakes in the world, was nowhere even remotely near my bucket list. Sometimes an opportunity presents itself and like that, you have a new bucket list.
Roughly three months ago in March my friend Chad nonchalantly asked if I would help him sail a boat back to Michigan. He and his wife Michelle were looking to buy a new boat and they had in their sights on one that was located in Quebec Canada. Knowing very few details, other than Sailboat, Great Lakes, time off from work… I responded with a “Heck yes!” Within a few weeks of learning they were in the market for a new boat, they were in full negotiations to purchase the Quebec sailboat, even finding a buyer for the one they currently own.
Not too long into the buying process Chad and Michelle said things just didn’t feel right with the whole deal so they backed out and were on the lookout for another boat. At this point I had invested a good solid month or so of badgering Chad; “Did you buy the boat yet?” When are we sailing it back”? “NO! That’s a horrible idea to have it trucked back to Michigan”. Now I figured the big multi-day sailboat adventure was gone with the Quebec boat, thinking they will now find one that is just a day or two sail away from their home port in Holland on Lake Michigan.
While Chad and Michelle were batteling with an uncooperative boat broker, I’m getting amped up for adventure. With it gone, I turned my attention to what other adventures might be had for the summer in a short preparation time frame. Well-meaning friends and coworkers provided all kinds of ideas that could fit into two weeks of vacation time. Often my response was; sounds nice but that’s a vacation, not an adventure. Finally settled on buying a backpack from REI, big enough to live out of for two weeks but small enough to fit in an overhead bin, and go backpacking Europe.
As luck would have it, Chad and Michelle did find another boat that fit their requirements. Not quite as far away as Quebec but still a bit of an adventure to bring it back, asking again if I would be willing to help bring it home. The boat they had found is in Bayfield Wisconsin, which is located on the western end of Lake Superior. Depending on the weather it’s about a week and a half of sailing to Holland. Again I answered with a resounding YES! Happy to put the new backpack away and make the Europe adventure for another time.
Planning the time to make this trip was a bit tricky. Much like buying a house, many things need to be done before the keys are handed over. As the buying process progressed, it was determined all should be wrapped up with us sailing the first week of June, so taking two weeks off from work at that time should get the job done.
Again just like buying a house, and as many people who have been down that road know… As the closing date approaches one begins to wonder if it’s going happen on time or even within a couple of days of the promised date. Transposed numbers, somebody forgot to sign form 8377W-10B and one important person handling the process heading off to Arizona on golfing vacation at the last-minute. Those were just a few things that made the process of taking possession a maddening process for Chad and Michelle.
Even as we departed southern Michigan to cross the Mackinaw Bridge then west across the Upper Peninsula into Wisconsin, those with the mighty pens were STILL wrapping up loose ends before ownership of the boat was fully transferred. However, it was promised that; “should be taken care of by the end of the day”.
We arrived in Bayfield anxious to stretch our legs after the 10+ hour trip, find the new boat in its slip and learn the boat is ‘officially theirs’. With daylight fading fast and tired from our trek, we decided to unload the van load of boat accessories the next day, only digging out the necessities for a night stay on the boat.
This morning we woke up to a beautiful morning with the forecast of a nice day. Chad and Michelle spent the morning putting everything from the van into its proper place on the boat. By early afternoon everything was stowed away and now it was time to finally untie the dock lines to see what’s what and give me my very first taste of sailing on a “big boat”. Leaving the safety of the harbor Chad kept it under the power of the diesel motor for about two miles before deciding it was time to let Mother Nature push this boat around the lake.
As we prepare to make this transition from motor to sail, I’m suddenly thrust knee-deep in learning a new language. Items like: Main sheet, Main Halyard, Jib Halyard, Jib sheet, is being described to me as this boat is transformed into the type of vessel it was designed to be.
Just as I was learning Chad and Michelle were learning too, all the little nuances of their new pride and joy. Once everything was figured out the excursion was very peaceful and relaxing. What seemed like just a short time away from the harbor was actually several hours of sailing the area around Bayfield.
Any apprehension I may have had about embarking on this adventure was completely washed away with our day sail. Turns out I really enjoy sailing. Have never been the type to get seasick but one never knows just how things will go in the world of unfamiliar. Let it be known now, I handled this day well without even a hint of uneasiness. Fingers crossed it continues.