Tuesday, October 16, 2007

United States Maritime Academy - 206

I have been taking classes to get my Coast Guard captains licence. This is an intensive process that includes drug testing (I passed) a physical (still have to do visual and hearing), documenting your sea time (minimum of 360 days) attending 80 hours of class, getting a CPR licence and passing examinations. Oh, and 1200.00 for the class not including gas, testing, and physical. I figure that I will have 2 grand wrapped up in this by the time I am done. The closest USMA class is in Chicago, a 4 hour drive for me. Two to three times a week. So yes, I have once again proved that I am completely insane. There are closer classes, but not in the format USMA teaches with quality instructors, at least not that I could find with a 2 hour web search. I feel that this organization is worth the drive and the extra hassle. So far they have been excellent, and the rest of the class is quality, which also says much about the organization. You can have the best instructors in the world, but if the students they attract are fencepost IQ you yourself will not learn much, and believe me I speak from 20 years experience in the automotive field. What can I do with this licence? Captain a ferry, dive boat, charter boat, deliver a boat, charge people for a trip on my boat, teach a captain's class, and have that nice warm glow inside knowing that I accomplished something that others wont because they think I am crazy while they change the channel with the remote control.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Labor Day - 214

About 80% of our house church likes to sail. Unfortunately, 20% of them get really really sick. This is a higher percentage of sailors than other groups we have taken sailing with us. It was a great weekend. We had reserved a campground in White Lake for the weekend, but we never used it. People just camped out on deck, slinging hammocks and using sleeping bags.
Lunch time with Carrie and Dan, John and Faith. We are probably making 2kts. here. Nice for eating. I think Carrie said at least 15 times, "Did I say thank you for taking us sailing?".

John "the fish" proving that you can climb the mast using the hoops. Sorry girls, he just got married.

This lamprey decided Precipice was a giant fish and tried to suck it's blood. Pretty scary creature, like some kind of alien seeking to take over the ship. I think we took more pictures of him than anything else. I eventually got him to move on with an oar, but it wasn't easy and when he let loose he went right for me, bounced off and kept going. Feisty little guy. Good grip to.

Looking under Precipice's skirt.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fifth Third River Bank Run - 216

This is an actual picture of me running the 5/3 River Bank Run - a 25K race. Apparently I wasn't as fast as the camera expected me to be. I finished in 2:32.

Monday, October 01, 2007

South Manitou Lighthouse - 221

Top 10 reasons not to tease your daughter about throwing her over the rail of a lighthouse:
10. You might be categorized with Michael Jackson.
9. Your daughter might have FIA on speed dial and reception is great up there.
8. You were told not to by the park ranger at the bottom before you went up.
7. The park ranger does not have your sense of humor.
6. The park ranger will kick everyone off the lighthouse if he catches you.
5. The other people on the lighthouse will not like it when their time is cut short.
4. The park ranger is in better shape than you, he rides his bike 12 miles a day.
3. The park ranger has been putting up with people like you all summer
2. The park ranger lives on an isolated island and knows where to hide your body.
1. The park ranger carries a bigger gun than you do.

(Not that this ever happened)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bad Weather - 222

One of the things I often get asked about is bad weather. We have had our share of it through the years, sometimes we even have deliberately gone out in bad weather to practice bad weather tactics or man overboard drills. We don't usually take pictures during bad weather because we are busy with all the added workload that reefing, sail changes or looking for things going wrong. We are also working extra hard navigating, even when we use the GPS (this is getting to be more and more rare) it takes more to make sure you are where you think you are in a thunderstorm. We have had it only once where the boat was knocked down, and I will tell that story if someone asks for it in the comment section. Have a great start of the week!

Friday, September 28, 2007

4 - Baie Fine - 224

Following the advice of the guidebook sailor, we rowed up a creek and then hiked about a mile up a trail and found a waterfall slide. Bonus, if you don't mind sliding on slime.

This is an honest to goodness beaver dam.
The backwaters of the beaver dam with the house in the center.

About five miles up the trail is cave lake. About here the mosquitoes attacked in full force, we were prepared with DEET.

Precipice in the pool.

Deb standing on the top of the beaver dam. These were excellently engineered. They were curved just like hoover dam for strength and packed with mud.

Rowing up the creek.

I am sure that there is a video game that could almost approximate the experience of this slide.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

3 - Baie Fine - 225

Our first evening in the pool, another sailor who had been here about a dozen times came over and caught us up to speed on all the things to do in the area. I had two different guide books with me - he trounced them both. He told of a beautiful lake of blue 300 feet above where we were anchored, only a 1 mile walk up to the lake. The walk was beautiful, with no mosquitoes or poison ivy.

These are my beauties.

A quick snack before we go swimming. When I was a kid, eating anything would disqualify you from swimming for an hour because if you ate and then swam you would have a heart attack and sink to the bottom like a rock. (at least it seemed like my Grandma believed this)

This water has about 80 foot visibility.

The bank drops off underwater as steeply as it does above water - of course this means great diving. Steep bank + steep drop off + male human = diving madness.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2 - Baie Fine - 226

I can still hardly believe that I can sail into this beauty.

This is the end of Baie Fine. It is called "The Pool"
Blueberry pancakes for breakfast on deck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Baie Fine - 227

This is the entrance to Baie Fine. We knew something was up already. The rock was white instead of red, and it was higher. The water was bluer. The air fresher. Cue the angel chorus in the background.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Little Current - 228

Calvin and Hobbes in the cockpit, snuggled under a blanket, in the middle of nowhere. They have absolutely no idea what blessings they have. Jannelle was bummed when her teacher told her that Calvin and Hobbes doesn't count as reading time. Hello? In my book it does.
After the Benjamin Islands we were getting low on time because Deb had to be back to teach summer school. I was not sure that I wanted to go any further. Really, could anything be better than what we had just seen? Still, I met a boat builder that told me that I couldn't miss Baie Fine. Besides, what fun is sailing unless you are killing yourself trying to keep a schedule?
I am an expert and arriving at bridges 30 seconds after they close. We had to wait an hour for this to open. I also pick the slowest checkout lane at the grocery store, and the slowest vehicle at the gas pump, and the slowest lane at the toll booth, and never be the person in front of me at customs - they usually get a thorough trunk check - and never be behind me at the airport: I never just walk through. It is all just preparation for sailing. This is the bridge at little current. If you want to go from east side of North Channel to the west side of the North Channel you are funneled through here. Depending on which way the wind blows there may be up to 4 kts. of current. Hence the original name.
This bridge does not wait for you either. Once the line of boats goes through, it closes back up.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Gift of Time - 229

At this point in the trip, I had completely relaxed and forgotten deadlines and work schedules. Life had settled into a "Grapes of Wrath" travel routine. Everybody had their jobs and specialties and did them without being asked for the most part.
Ask yourself - when was the last time you had 3 hours of uninterrupted time to spend with your children. (or to do anything) This was the BEST part - the gift of time with my family.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

4 - The Benjamins - 230

On the south half of South Benjamin Island is an area of lower level rolling rock, the plains if you will. Some of these rocks would have indentations that collect water. We found several with an entire ecosystem built right in. This one had tadpoles in different stages of development with plants and bugs. God's koi pond?

I half expected to find one of these little ponds with minnows.

The rock surface was just beautiful. If you look closely at this picture you can see the scrape marks on this rock going from left to right where the weight of a mile of ice on top of this area would grind away at the bare rock. I was told by a local that the islands had built up much more soil than we see here until the entire area was deforested in the late 1800's causing what little soil there was to wash away. On the Benjamins we saw no dirt, just trees growing in moss.

Our dinghy on it's last days. One person to point to where we are going, one person to row, and one person to bail. Minimum crew: 3, we actually would regularly fit 5 in this 8 foot vessel. Not bad for a boat built out of the best 1/4 inch plywood you can buy at Home Depot.

At first the girls were a little afraid of the cracks in the rock that would go down 20 feet, but they soon got over it and would disappear exploring.

I am not quite sure what this face means, but I am sure that it is something I am doing wrong.

This picture just begins to capture what it feels like. Feel in your mind a slight breeze with no hint of pollution, cool air with just the right amount of humidity, and no sounds other than nature. The air even tastes clean. I had no idea that beauty such as this was so close to home.

The rock here is unique to the area. I could have spent two more weeks here just climbing around this island. Water always nearby, blueberries everywhere - a perfectly engineered relaxation spot.

As far as school, this is the best place for children to learn. The whole life cycle in 4 square feet.

Friday, September 21, 2007

3 - The Benjamins - 231

Jannelle and Bianca hiding in a hole left by a fallen tree.
Precipice anchored between the Benjamins

Nice to be away from it all.
Yea! We are 1000 miles away from school!