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A Tale of Two Sailings

By Brian L. on Oct 10, 2007

Glub, glub!

For those of you who could only shake their heads sadly at my last posting before I deleted it (alas, this promises you only slightly less embarrassment on my behalf), you know that I had the opportunity to sail across Lake Michigan to St. Joseph, Michigan.

Paraphrasing (and with apologies to Charles Dickens) "it was the best of weathers, it was the worst of whether"

The "Best of weathers" is relative. We started off out of DuSable harbor in Chicago at 4:00 AM in a dead calm. So we endured the oxymoron of "sailing" out of Chicago as any other "stink pot" (Motor powered craft). However, I suspect there is nothing more breathtaking than Crescent Moon-rise over Lake Michigan -- though you who've enjoyed a Rocky Mountain Moon-rise might disagree (I'd like to compare some day.) At sunrise we picked up a steady wind from the Southwest. It was the best of sailing. We actually made it into Michigan State waters before the Marine forecast caught our attention. Forecast for the next two days: 7 to 10 foot waves, high temperature 49 degrees. Rain. Gale force winds. Waterspouts likely. Since the winds were rising at about the same pace as the Sun, we were confident we would make St. Joe'. But the prospect of returning to Chicago on Wednesday or Thursday was... well ... you decide.

That's what we decided, too.

It was the worst of "whether's". (All right. work with me here. I couldn't resist the pun).

It took us only a little over four hours to reach Michigan State waters. It took us over eight hours to return to Chicago. But the return: oh my. Five foot (fresh water) waves -- colder than h*** when they rise over the bow and into my face and down my back. (Natalie, this was the same 46 foot sailboat you were on with me). The wheel controlling the rudder literally was torn out of my hands as we crashed from the crest of one wave into the trough of another. Reefing (reducing the sail area) on the fly to keep the gunnels (side of the sailboat) from heeling (tipping over) into the water. And one of our crew consumed by motion sickness. I felt so bad for him.

Scared my pants off! (Well, not literally). But what a way to go!

I'd do again in a minute!

ANYWAY ... it was a tale of two sailings: The one I anticipated. And the one we had. Both absolutely wonderful!


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