Where to go?
Such a difficult question as we're still getting "back into it" with our Matilda. We do want to try a longer trip, but not too far! Just long enough to prove that we can stash enough food, water and toys to stay out for a few days at a time.
We decided to try for the lighthouse at the tip of Long Point, via an overnight at Pottahawk - then over to Port Dover before heading back to Bluebill Marina. Should be able to manage it in a week, regardless of what the weather throws our way.
For those not familiar with the Long Point area, you should check out - www.kwic.com/~longpointbio/bio.htm the area is a unique "World Biosphere Reserve". It has also claimed its share of shipwrecks...
So much to take - so little space! Three days out seemed manageable. I entered the bitter "stove debate" (alcohol vs. propane) and decided on butane. Well made, several safety features, igniter, 10,000 BTU and the surface under it stays cool. Certified for inside use too... A bargain at $40. Lenore figured out breakfast, lunch and diner - we tossed in a flat of bottled water and felt ready.
Then came the stuff our children wanted! Wake board, electronics, beach toys, books, stuffed animals.
But, it all fits!
Not sure where some of it is - but it all fits!
End the day with a campfire and a sleeping baby...
Our plan was to make Pottahawk Point, which can be a difficult 6 miles as it's often dead upwind. Not so this time! Wind at our backs and we're there in a little over an hour. OK, lets go for the lighthouse! It's about 13 miles but dead downwind - only have to avoid "bluff bar", which extends a couple miles out from shore. A few GPS waypoints and watching for the buoys that mark it's tip and we're safely past it.
We can see the lighthouse!
I decide to sail right up to shore. It's the lee side and we're barely moving. Lindsey is up front spotting shallow water and points out what looks like sand. A few moments later we find out it's a concrete "groin" - an underwater (barely) structure designed to help hold the sand in place. Have to remember that Long Point is really just a huge dune/bar. We gently bounce off the side and we're there! Anchor out and we're exploring the beach and lighthouse. Pretty much all to ourselves, except for a few resident birdwatchers.
Nice supper too.
Cranked up the butane stove and heated a frozen stir fry dish.
That and a bottle of wine and we're in fine spirits... hic!
Go to bed on the lee side, no forecasted wind shift, calm water.
Woke up in the middle of the night on a roller coaster!
The wind shifted 180 degrees and picked up to 10 kts. We are now in meter and a half waves - more like surf as they were breaking on those "groins" about 50 feet in front of us. Since we were close to shore, I pulled us out a bit and shortened the anchor line. Then we "rode it out" - couldn't do much else. Wasn't going to try and get through the surf, past the "groins" and around the tip in the dark. Especially when that "tip" is the graveyard of dozens of ships and several hundred sailors!
Ever spent the night on a roller coaster?
Dawn is a long time coming. Finally see some light in the east...
Lets get out of here!
Motoring out proves to be a challenge. The outboard goes from completely out of the water to almost submerged!
Takes two tries as the fuel filter clogs on the first and we frantically re-anchor to fix it. Never worked on an outboard while it's bucking up and down a good 4 feet.
Finally make it to the other side and anchor in a foot of dead calm water.
Had a great day on the beach, excellent super and a camp fire (lots of driftwood). The only negative is that our boat is full of flies! Yes, hundreds of them - and they won't leave. Apparently they are called "cluster flies" and they're looking for somewhere to winter. They bite any exposed flesh. Man, it's like something out of a horror movie!!
The portapotti is also full - forgot to empty it before we left.
Wind picked up a little but still pretty calm. Nothing like the previous night. Got up once to walk out and reset the anchor. Strange experience to be walking about in the lake at night, without any other boats or people in sight.
Keep thinking of the 100+ people that went down about 1/2 mile from where I'm standing.
Full moon makes everything look surreal.
Flies are still with us... Flies don't sleep...
Day 3 - Night 3
Woke to a swim and hot breakfast. Can escape the flies this way as they won't leave the boat. We load up and start our journey to Port Dover. Starting to notice the amount of garbage on board! Those little plastic water bottles take up space. Have to look into a water tank for the next cruise. It's dead calm and we're not moving - at all. It's also so clear that we can see the water tower at our destination, some 20 miles distant. We motor the entire distance, stopping once for a swim.
At Dover, I notice another sailboat tied up along the outer harbor wall. It's on the lee side and the water is like glass, so we tie up behind him.
This represented two mistakes that we'll find out about tomorrow!
First mistake - never assume the "other guy" is more experienced.
Second mistake - if you have a harbor, use it!
Our first task was to head into town and buy some "Raid" for those pesky flies. It worked like magic - now we have several HUNDRED dead flies all over everything. Despite it all, we had an excellent evening and slept well in calm water.
Day 4 - Night 4
Awoke to a beautiful calm day! Headed into town to use the public washrooms/showers (yes, showers!) and empty the portapotti. Still calm, so we headed out for breakfast and explored several of the shops.
Third mistake - if the boat isn't in a harbor, don't let it out of your sight!
Headed back to see a crowd of people hanging onto the lines and our little boat in one meter waves being slammed up against the pier!!! You have to remember, the pier is solid concrete and about 8 feet higher than our boat. I'm told she broke away twice and was slamming up against the other sailboat - who had just barely made it away a few minutes ago.
With everyone?s help, we get our boat turned around and the motor running. I motor into the harbor and tie up in calm PROTECTED water.
Man, the bow pulpit is smashed to pieces, the one side has major scrapes all over it - and the tiller is missing!
I head back to the pier and wade around hoping to find the tiller. I was lucky and located it in a few minutes. As luck would have it, I'm anchored about 500 feet from Bridge Yachts.
Lenore takes the kids into town while I head over to Bridge Yachts to present them with my credit cards.
They have to order the smashed deck fittings, so I buy some sealant to temporarily seal the holes and go looking for my family.
Can't get too bent out of shape by all this - it's a learning experience and an inexpensive boat. A fresh perch dinner and local beer with friends that drive down for the day and we're feeling good once again.
Day 5 - Night 5
Breakfast in a decent restaurant, more ice, beer, wine, groceries and gas and we?re ready to head out.
Would you believe it - another day of dead calm!!
We gave it a valiant effort, but we weren?t going anywhere. Motored the 6 miles over to Pottahawk Point. Another beautiful sunny day, warm shallow water and good food. Hate for this to end!
Managed to get a good look at the hull damage. Most of the marks came off with a scrubbing pad. The edge of the deck was a different story. We had talked about a wood coaming around it - now it needs it! Did some significant but cosmetic damage - all of which will be hidden by the wood.
I also think I'm in love with my butane stove. It just works so well! Can boil a kettle of water in a couple of minutes, stays lit in the wind and is very inexpensive to operate.
Slept well too - and - no - cluster flies!
Hey - I get to use my stove again! Did I mention how much I like it?
Oh, I did - ok...
We GRUDGINGLY weigh anchor and head out home. Decent wind this time, about 10 - 15 kts. We finally get to sail on the smaller "working" jib. Still make hull speed, but what a difference in handling!
We anchored once about halfway back to go swimming and made Bluebill Marina by evening.
We learned several things on this trip:
- garbage piles up quickly, especially those water bottles. We'll install a water tank next time.
- empty the portapotti before you leave!
- pack a big can of Raid!
and from Port Dover:
- don't assume the other boater is smarter than you are!
- if you have a harbor, use it!
- if you're not in a harbor, don't let the boat out of your ight!
All in all, it was one of the best vacations we've had in a long time. North Channel here we come!