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Plan X

Where to start? (Rhetorical) I suppose I do know, the beginning. This might be a little long but I put off writing anything before because I didn’t want to jinx certain things.

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You go back. No, you back. Your butt is too big. Ha, yours is bigger.

The last 8 years had a specific plan for the two of us – pack up the house, become liveaboards and circumnavigate the Great Loop in our worked-on for 8 years Grand Banks 42. Then we got two dogs who grew larger than we had anticipated so now our 42 seemed a little cramped but still liveable. The 2017 summer was when we were going. And everything was in place until …..

Paul found another boat for sale. A little larger all round than our present one, and designed to go blue water cruising but probably still suitable for completing the Great Loop. I was surprised actually because he had always given me the impression that his next boat would be a sail boat even though the GB42 was going to be the last one. But the one he was getting excited about was still a trawler design with 2 great big engines. It was a Kadey Krogen 54.

I am trying not to waffle whilst setting the scene for the last few weeks. While still intending to leave come mid July, Paul had two visits to look at the ‘new’ boat and I had one and we decided, yes despite the fact that she needs so much work doing on her we would make a bid. And guess what, that bid was accepted.

Oh shxt. Now what do we do? We are closing on the ‘new’ boat around 1 August, still leaving on a trip somewhere, and trying to sell our GB42 before we have to make the payment on the KK54.

We did have someone from our home marina very interested in our GB42, test drove it etc but then decided he wasn’t yet ready to leave sailing to become a power boater. So our next dilemma, with which broker should we register her to let the broker sell her?

The final plan ended up being, we would take the GB42 to NC to a broker there, rent a U-Haul van/trailer, drive it down to FL to the new boat. Load it up with enough stuff to get us back to NC to the same marina where we left the GB42 and live there for a while.

But once again, our best laid plans were disrupted.

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Leaving Sandusky Harbor Marina for what we thought was the last time.

We set off from Sandusky heading east, the first night of our trip was going to be in Fairport OH. Just before we passed Cleveland OH, we got a phone call from a gentleman who said he was very interested in buying our boat. Hmmm. And could he come and look her over. Paul and I debated; the weather this week was not too conducive for comfortable cruising towards Buffalo and we had to pick our weather windows carefully, one of them being Sunday, the day this gentleman and his wife would visit.

Fortunately, we decided that we would take this last chance of selling her privately and altered course for Edgewater YC. Spent Saturday cleaning her from top to bottom and awaited our visitors with a little skepticism – how would this turn out?

To cut this part of the story short, they loved the boat, made their decision and said they wanted her. Gave us a deposit and discussed the next couple of weeks’ agenda for hauling her out to survey, who would do the survey, who to contact for transferring the title ……

So we have discarded plan A – do the Loop in the GB42; plan B – take the GB42 to a broker in NC and travel to FL from there; plan X – leave Cleveland, turn west, can’t go anywhere until we find out when the survey will be taking place, cruise a little in local waters until then, haul the boat out for survey, rent a car to drive to Pittsburgh, bring the truck back, with rent-a-trailer, empty the boat again, drive back to Pittsburgh to collect the rest of our stuff for the KK54, hope that we have actually closed on the boat by then, and then drive to FL and offload everything on to the new one.

Are you following this? Haha. Good job we are flexible.

That’s where we are at this moment in time – Plan X, a sort of limbo.

The above is rather the meat and potatoes of the story so far, now for the ‘sauce’ of the last few days that make it more interesting.

Anticipating that we would be on the GB42 for around 2 months we put together a huge amount of stuff to load on to the boat. Paul drove up on Wednesday with a truck full of stuff, food, clothes, dog food etc, all the tools we had taken off because we thought the first guy was going to buy her; now we needed everything back onboard for our trip to the east coast.

Thursday was L day from Pittsburgh (leaving day). With the truck full for a second day in a row with items we would need and probably some we could really do without, we drove back up to Sandusky OH.

But now we have a problem with what to do with the truck.

Somehow we needed to get our truck back home to Pittsburgh from Sandusky OH once we left for good (in hindsight, that’s a huge haha). Fortunately, even though I only gave 3 days to think about it, one of our members from T2 CrossFit very kindly said that he would ride with us to drive it home. Perfect.

The plan for Friday morning was to set course for Buffalo NY and stop overnight at different ports (first stop Fairport OH) just before sunrise. I took the dogs for a walk while Paul got the boat ready for the off. Halfway round our walk, I heard a ‘fshpoosh’ sound, then a yelp, then a very very smelly black dog trying to rub her face on my leg. Yes, Bella just got ‘skunked’. OMG the smell was overpoweringly bad. She wasn’t too happy either.

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No-one wanted to pet Bella.

Back at the boat I soap-sudded her with Dawn dish soap but that did no good. But we were leaving so that’s what we did, smell and all. Fortunately, I was able to draw on other people whose dogs have suffered the same fate and I had more or less the correct ingredients onboard. Three days later, she still stinks but not as badly.

As already mentioned, our change of course took us to Cleveland and Edgewater YC. Through choice we docked right at the far end of the dock so had a good 0.15mile walk to the shore for anything.

First time going ashore I didn’t bother to put on the dogs their zap collars because neither of them had ever jumped off a dock into the water. Oh my, I will never say never again because the dogs suddenly disappeared to the right down a finger dock. Then there was a yap, splash, quack followed by a huge ruckus. Two dogs, one duck pretending to injured swimming away as fast as their little legs would go. Fortunately both dogs came back as soon as I called. Hauled them both out and swore zap collars next time.

Sunday morning, I decided I would go ashore to use the facilities and I would take the dogs and just tie them outside to wait. Ignored my own advice and set off with the dogs with the thought that I would leash them before we got to the duck’s finger dock. More best laid plans went out the window. The dogs did not listen at all as I called them; they just made a bee-line to their launch pad. This time, Bella listened and came back but not Ebba. She glanced at me, stuck her nose in the air and continued chasing the duck (the same one as yesterday, I think). Again long story short, apart from making me realize how easy it would be to lose a dog and how unhappy I would feel if I did, she swam almost the whole length of the dock (remember 0.15 mile) and Paul hauled her out of the water by the boat. Bloody dog.

Lesson learned: dogs walked on the leash right from the boat.

We had a good time at Edgewater YC but it was very noisy on Saturday night so we decided to move. But where to? Again, we were in limbo because we didn’t know when the survey would take place. So we turned left (westward) back the way we had just come. (It reminded me of the first time I ever visited Pittsburgh and the Eagles song Hotel California – you can check out any time you like but you can never leave; that’s another story for another time).

The weather radar looked good – no storms in the forecast or at least not until after we would be tied up somewhere. And that’s another haha.

We departed the pier heads at 14:20hr with minimal wind and waves, partly cloudy skies and nothing threatening on the horizon. Set course for Sandusky Bay, turned on the auto pilot and sat back prepared to enjoy the ride.

And then of course, a blip appeared on the radar, the clouds darkened, black streak flowed out of the bottom of the darkened clouds and we knew the weather forecaster were not quite right; again.

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The beginning of the initial storm – tracking SE @ 15Kts

We watched the track of the storm and adjusted our course accordingly to skirt around the top of the storm and this seemed to be working until another cell began to develop at the north end of the now very big storm. But Catawba Island did its thing and split the storm so we managed to push through between them both without getting wet. It did get very windy on the backside of both storms and with the change of wind direction to the north, the air temperature dropped drastically and the waves grew very rapidly.

With our altered heading, Kelleys Island was now a closer destination than Sandusky Bay; it was about 19:00hr by now. So that is where we ended up – Seaway Marina. I made a very rooky error though as we were coming alongside the dock wall – I got my hand caught between the dock post and the boat. Thought I had crushed it to pieces as it happened. Fortunately though, the bit that got caught was the fleshy bit between the thumb and first finger. I have to say, it is rather tender to touch and is a little swollen but I have no restricted movement with any of the fingers.

Not sure what we will do for the next couple of days. I do know we have to be back in Sandusky Harbor Marina by Wednesday night for the survey/haul out on Thursday.

And then we will be faced with the next dilemma – we have no car in Sandusky.

Bearing in mind we have almost 2 months worth of dog food onboard as well as all the other stuff we repacked on the boat when we thought we were going to the Chesapeake, one truck load won’t cut it. Also we have to go home to Pittsburgh to collect all the stuff there that we deliberately left off the GB42 but will need on the KK54.

But it all has a knack of turning out OK.

A little plug for the Edgewater end of Cleveland. For the two days we were there (over the weekend), the park was kept amazingly clean and the beach has a doggy friendly section. It was awesome. You have to walk past the people’s beach but then you can let the dogs off-leash and they have a blast – open beach and the lake.

Monday, moved on to a ball at Put-In-Bay. Going to watch some of Junior Bay Sailing Regatta and reminisce. Maybe a night at anchor on Tuesday and then back to Sandusky Harbor Marina. Who knows? We’ll see which way the wind is blowing.

Thank you for reading. It is rather long.

Joanna

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(Written Thursday, 11 and Friday, 12 August 2016)

IMG_1316Can’t remember where I left off with my Boating With Dogs’ blog and as of right now, we are on our way down the St Mary’s River just leaving Lake George and have no signal so I can’t check. So apologies if I repeat myself a little.

We thought we were going to have to spend an extra night at Rogers City because the weather forecast didn’t look too promising. However, as I walked the dogs along the beach in the morning, conditions didn’t look too bad so I text Paul to see if he wanted to push on to Cheboygan. By the time he answered, I was at the furthest point away, “Yes, let’s go, the sooner the better”. So what I had anticipated being leisurely walk turned into a hurry-up-dogs-we-have-to-leave almost run. It turned out that there was a swell more or less on the nose so Paul kept the revs down and I sat down below with the dogs while they lay in their bed baskets feeling sorry for themselves. They were very good. They kept down their breakfasts. Phew. I hate cleaning up barf.

We spent one night in Cheboygan MI and the dogs loved it again. Seems as though so long as there is access to water they are happy. There is a lovely beach right next to the marina and a pier to the lighthouse all of which was just perfect for them. And the marina staff were wonderful too. The dogs were allowed in the office and were given a treat to boot. I think they should have been on a leash but no-one said anything. The dogs behaved themselves and we cleaned up after them.

IMG_1354Cheboygan to Mackinaw City was quiet in contrast to the day before; just windy but the waves were less than 1ft as we made our way up the Mackinaw Straits to Straits State Marina (from a boater’s point of view, Mackinaw City’s best kept secret). The biggest swells we encountered came from the Mackinac Island ferries.

Another boat came into the marina not long after us and tied up which was fine. But then he put on his music … for everyone in the marina and onshore to listen too. I wouldn’t have minded too much if it had been pleasant music but it was awful. Eventually it got too much so I went and asked the marina staff if they would ask him to turn it down. They did speak with him and the next thing we knew, he was gone. He obviously didn’t like the fact that we didn’t all want to listen to his choice of music. I felt bad for the marina because they now have a disgruntled customer but that feeling didn’t last very long. Our afternoon and evening there were much more relaxed than they would have been. Oh, and quieter.

From Mackinaw City we made our way into Les Cheneaux . A beautiful cruising ground again. We called in at Hessel for lunch, well coffee and fudge, and then carried on to an anchorage, Government Bay. There were several other boats in the bay, a couple with dogs so the dogs ended up barking/talking to each other. Quite funny really.

Left there to make our way to the DeTour Passage and up into the North Channel. The wind had been blowing from the SE mainly but during the previous night it blew from the West making for a interesting and sickening wave motion for our trip along the coast (imagine washing machine effect). The dogs looked at us as if to say, “Are you kidding us?”

It was pretty bad. Good job Paul doesn’t get seasick. I took the dogs down into our cabin where normally movement is kept to a minimum but not on this occasion. I put on a ‘seasick’ prevention patch which usually kicks in after about half an hour. But I was too late. I felt nauseous almost immediately after we set off and ended up sleeping for most of the journey across to Drummond Island. Relief came in the calmer waters of DeTour Passage up to Harbor Island.

IMG_1388Harbor Island has a horseshoe shaped anchorage inside the island with a narrow entrance so it is totally sheltered unless it is blowing from the south, which fortunately it wasn’t.

I took the dogs ashore and we went for an explore on the island. Firstly, the dogs disappeared around a little headland and I heard a small scream. Then a woman came back around followed by the dogs. They had just scared her; she was reading a warning notice about bears and saw movement out of the corner of her eye.

I know how she felt because I had had a similar experience back at Government Bay. I was walking the dogs in the forest and saw movement behind to my left. I thought it was Bella because what I saw was black. I called the dogs expecting to find Bella come at me from that direction. But no, she came from in front with Ebba. Hmmm… what had I just seen? I didn’t wait to find out. We retraced our steps and beat a hasty retreat to the dinghy.

Back to Harbor Island. Required clothing for serious island exploring – long boots and a hat. Long boots to protect your lower legs from scratches and stinging plants and hat to prevent tree twigs getting caught in your hair.

Back on the boat, Ebba decided to try to catch dragonflies. She would stand on the swim platform, watch for them to dance by and then launch herself at them. Don’t think she ever caught on but you have to give her 100/100 for perserverance.

IMG_1437Wednesday, we ended up at Sault St Marie MI. Not a very dog friendly place. The marina was OK, clean and quiet. We had to do a 3 mile hike to get to a place where the dogs could run free. And we got to paddle in Lake Superior. Thursday, made our way back to Bruce Mines Marina. Had to check in with Canadian Customs and the officer asked me if we were tied up at the government dock. “I don’t know, we are tied up at the only dock there is.” Fortunately the Harbor Master was there and I asked him. No, the dock is owned by Bruce Mines. I told the Customs officer and this seemed to satisfy him.

Bruce Mines Marina and community – again not really a dog-friendly place. There were notices all over re dogs being kept on a leash. The shoreline is very reedy and we managed to find access to it for the dogs. I set off for the grocery store, Paul had left a few minutes before me to take Ebba and Bella to this little bit of shoreline and as I walked down the road, first I saw 3 geese come flying (literally) out of the reeds, closely followed by a very angry duck and then a brown and a black head bounding through the water, ears flying. They were happy.

This morning before we left, I was walking the dogs off-leash but saw someone coming along the road I had to take and she had her dog on a leash. I called Ebba and Bella and shackled them. As we passed each other, the lady comments, “You have 2 very well trained dogs. (Thank you) Are you just visiting? (Yes) Oh, OK then.” I think I was about to get a mouthful of abuse for not having the dogs on their leashes before. Oh well. We left.

And now we are in Milford Haven, southeast corner of St Joseph’s Island, still in Canadian waters. We had a quick trip ashore for the dogs to run and do their necessary. As we were wandering through the trees and undergrowth, low and behold in amongst the pine and fir trees, there were two apple trees. Just two. And the apples looked like Golden Delicious. Unfortunately they were not yet ripe or there wouldn’t have been any left. It was just a bit bizarre.

Now the dogs want to swim but the water is 67F. I think I’ll take them ashore again.

Thanks for reading.

Joanna

PS: We did go swimming and then because of tomorrow’s forecast, we actually moved on down to DeTour Village Marina.

Yacht: San Graal

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