Saturday 3 PM: Heading down the river



Labor Day Weekend

A lot of this weekend was spent laboring over trip preparation and trying to finish up a number of tasks before I head out of town at the end of the month. I also had many tasty meals with friends, as well as finishing up the last of the growlers I imported from the Beer Trappe in Lexington.

Early Saturday morning, we went for a sail and enjoyed the last of the warm temps and pleasant breezes before the wind turned cold out of the north, signalling that Fall is not far off.

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Saturday, 3 September

Feet First | 361

Saturday night, the gang of six convened over barbecued lamb to discuss plans and preparations for our upcoming canal adventure. After a few days in Paris, we’ll train down to the south of France where we’ll pick up a boat and cruise for a week down the Canal du Midi. I still can’t quite believe I’ll be doing this, but as we get down to more of the nitty-gritty details, it’s getting real and I’m getting very excited indeed.

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Sunday, 4 September

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As you can see, there’s been no progress on repairing the sliding glass door that spontaneously shattered last week. In fact, it’s worse. We covered it in duct tape to prevent shards of glass from falling all over and after last week’s heat wave, the window is now bowing out. I’ll treat it like a modern art installation until it’s replaced. Hopefully, I won’t still be looking at this when the snow begins to fall.

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Monday, 5 September

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On an unseasonably cool Labor Day, we let Maisy out in the backyard to enjoy her personal patch of catmint.

Another Week of Feet

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Sunday, 10 July

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Had a lovely sail on the lake. Good strong wind and not a lot of power boat traffic.


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Monday, 11 July

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We had a wicked storm blow through early Monday morning. The worst of it lasted less than ten minutes but in that time, many trees up and down the north shore were snapped, knocked over, blown down and ripped out of the ground. Power for 800,000 (including me) was knocked out. We were lucky and had ours restored after 18 hours. Some went without for days.

I took this shot a few hours after the storm. A 100-year-old oak tree, brought to a quick end.


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Tuesday, 12 July

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JD and I played the Name Tag Game, my ingenious idea for getting her to practice writing. The week before, she'd attended a summer camp where she had to wear a name tag. I came up with the idea to have her make name tags for her "friends" and she ran with it, putting name tags on over a dozen stuffed pals. Then, we spent a few hours playing Hide and Seek with them.


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Wednesday, 13 July

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Hot days call for popsicles on the back steps.


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Thursday, 14 July

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Attending storefront theater, a Chicago institution. Saw Northwest Highway at The Gift Theatre. A hyper-local play set in the neighborhood where the theater is located.


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Friday, 15 July

Underground, waiting for the el, while a violinist serenades

Waiting underground for the el heading north, while a violinist serenaded us with "Ashoken Farewell."


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Saturday, 16 July

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Back on the boat, floating around waiting for the wind that never came. We motored out as far as the Wilson crib and back, put up the sails for about 13 minutes and then bailed when what little wind there was died. It's amazing to be out on the lake when it's that glassy.

Fireworks Bound

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Sunday, 3 July

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For reasons I've never quite understood, many communities in the Chicago area have their Fourth of July fireworks displays on the third. The city of Chicago used to as well, but this year they were cancelled as a cost-saving measure. That greatly reduced the crowds down at Montrose Harbor and the lakefront.

We motored the boat north up the lake shore and anchored directly off of the Bahai Temple to watch Wilmette's fireworks display. After a potluck dinner on board, we were treated to a beautiful pre-show sunset that filled the sky with a bright pink light. By 9:30, the lake was filled with anchored boats.

We were so close to the fireworks that on more than one occasion, everything was brightly illuminated around us by the explosions over head, which sounded like cannon fire echoing off the buildings on the shore. Spectacular. As usual, as the last ember from the final firework died out, air horns blasted from all the boats on the lake as they "applauded" the show.

May Day Feet

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Sunday, 1 May

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It had been a looooong time since we’d seen the sun, so it was worth recording.


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Monday, 2 May

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JD, sporting handmade hand-puppets on her feet.


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Tuesday, 3 May

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Washing hands. This girls could wash her hands and play in the water all day long if I let her.


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Wednesday, 4 May

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Putting the Easter basket to use, collecting dandelions.


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Thursday, 5 May

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Cinco de Mayo doctor’s visit. The six-month followup to my final reconstructive surgery. Sitting in the exam room chair one year after this all began. The view was quite different from here.


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Saturday, 7 May

Getting the boat from the dry dock, down the Chicago River and back into Lake Michigan for another season of high seas adventure. Luckily the rain held off until after we’d raised the mast and were nearly into the harbor.

Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Again) ~ Day 8 and 9

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Return to Road Harbour, Tortola

Parting View

Up early and a quick breakfast before everyone packs up their bags, stows all gear, and prepares to take off, back to Road Harbour in plenty of time to check our boat back in, unload our stuff and get Rick and Mary back to the airport in time for their 12:30 flight out.

No chance for a sail back as the seas and wind seem to make a repeat performance of our first two wickedly windy days out. It takes us about 90 minutes to cross the channel and we head directly into Road Harbour and the marina. We call ahead to Sunsail and a crew memeber meets our boat at the end of one of the docks to perform the tricky maneuvers to back the boat into the slip, which he does with ease while Anne lets out the anchor.

Within an hour, we’ve unloaded the boat, stripped the linens, taken out the trash, turned stuff in to the Sunsail office and had our boat de-briefing. Before you know it, were all piled into a taxi for the short ride into town where Jenny, Anne, Karen and I are dropped off at our hotel, Maria by the Sea. Hugs all around and Rick and Mary continue on to the airport.

We collapse with our luggage in the breezeway of the hotel lobby. Reading commences while we wait for our room to be ready. Karen and I walk over to Bobby’s Market (where our boat provisions came from) a substantial grocery store that’s a beehive of activity. We buy a bottle of wine to enjoy on the balcony of our room and take a short walk, wending our way around the traffic circles, back to our hotel.

We have lunch in the open-air restaurant at the hotel, then up to our room to repack our bags and shower. We spend the afternoon relaxing on the balcony, reading and enjoying the surf below and the full view of the harbour, where the water is every color of blue and green. We open the final bottle wine at cocktail time and enjoy it on the balcony overlooking Road Harbour before walking over to Spaghetti Junction for dinner. We sit in the same open air dining room we were in just a week ago, with a view of the Sunsail dock to our right. Dinner is a delicious plate of frutti di mar (shrimp, scallops and lobster) pasta in creme sauce and a very nice bottle of white wine from, of all places, Tasmania.

Road Harbour Balcony

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Return to Chicago

Up with the sun again, watching it rise over Tortola as the first ferry of the day leaves the harbor. I’m listening to the surf below as I finish up these notes, waiting to shower and pack up before breakfast. The dueling roosters from the poultry family in the lot next door continue to crow the morning alarm and our farewell. It’s been another amazing week in the islands.

Last Day, Overlooking Road Harbour

Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Again) ~ Day 7

Friday, 16 April 2010

Key Cay to Kelly’s Cove, Norman Island

Kelly's Cove

Kelly’s Cove, Norman Island

I’m up early to catch the sunrise over the cay. We breakfast on deck, taking in more of the BVI panorama around us. Stowed and ready to go, we head out into the Drake Channel to sail over to Tortola and pick up ice. Our refrigerator has stopped working, so we need lots of ice to keep our provisions cold for our final day aboard.

The sail across the channel is another wild ride with both sails up in strong wind. It takes a couple of hours and then we wend our way first into Sea Cow Bay (Not deep enough! Turn around!) and then Nanny Cay, where we make a harrowing landing at the marina with a strong wind blowing us away from the dock. With help from two guys from shore and all hands on deck, it takes 15 minutes of pulling and maneuvering to get us tied up safely. All this for four bags of ice!

Thirty minutes later we’re back in the channel, heading into the direction we came from to find a quiet location for lunch, preferably out of the wind, but that seems impossible at this point, given the weather this past week. Sails up again and we’re beating over to the back side of Peter Island. Along the way, in the middle of the channel, we see a large sea turtle bobbing around and poking his head out of the water. We pass by last night’s anchorage at Key Cay and head over to White Beach to find a spot for lunch.

White Beach, Peter Island Our anchorage, though relatively calm, is still windy and we swing 180-degrees back-and-forth while we eat our lunch of kitchen sink tortellini salad (leftover steak and chicken, salami, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts) washed down with Red Stripes. Delicious after a morning in the wind and sun.

Conditions are too strong and the wind is out of the wrong direction to do much more sailing after lunch, so we head over to our final overnight spot to see if there are any cans available just outside The Bight on Norman Island. We’re in luck and snag one of the few moorings in Kelly’s Cove, a beautiful spot just at the mouth of the harbor. Night life in The Bight can get wild and crazy, but in this sequestered location, with room for just five boats, you’d never know.

We sit about 50 yards off the rocky coast, where pelicans perch in trees and kingfishers swoop back and forth. The crystalline blue water promises good snorkeling and Jen quickly dives in to check out the underwater view. Reading, napping, and lazing about for the rest of us commences.

Final Sunset

Around five, we light the grill for dinner and mix up a batch of gin & tonics while we prepare a hamburger dinner with sides created by raiding the galley to use up as much of our remaining provisions as we can. By 6:30, as the sun is setting over the Sir Frances Drake Channel, we enjoy the last few bottles of wine while watching the changing colors of dusk into twilight.

Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Again) ~ Day 6

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Little Harbour, Jost van Dyke to Key Cay

Provisioning and Watering Up at Soper's HoleSoper’s Hole

Strong winds out in the channel cause us to change our plans—again. Rather than return to Cane Garden Bay to re-water, we decide to stop on the way. We motor across the channel, around the point and into Soper’s Hole where we spin around the harbor for half an hour waiting for a spot to open up at the gas dock.

Soper's HoleSoper’s Hole is bright and sunny, colorful buildings hugging the steep hillside. We pull into the dock and while the boat’s water tanks are topped off, Karen, Jenny and I go ashore to purchase ice and a few extras from the well-stocked waterfront market. Back on board and ready to go, we decide to hang out for lunch and take a mooring ball in the harbor where we can enjoy our meal before heading out. Brief rain showers call for us to raise the bimini for protection as we munch on sandwiches topside, listening to the goats on the hill and the sound of a nearby shipyard.

Continuing on our way, we raise the jib to sail through the Drake Channel, along the south side of Tortola. Our destination is Key Cay on the opposite side of Peter Island, a location that promises solitude. The sail is nice, with gently rolling seas. We pull into Key Cay, a gorgeous spot with only two other boats in sight. We drop anchor and take in the view, 360-degrees of green island, blue water, open sky, and very little sign of civilization. This is my ideal.

Key CayKey Point in Key Cay

Breezes blow strong at times but in a favorable direction, making this tranquil location perfect for an overnight. The view of the cay is a keeper. Reading and cocktails commence as Anne and Jenny prepare grilled chicken for dinner. Before dining, Anne takes Mary and Karen on a spin around the cove as the sun begins to descend. We all enjoy the light on the cloudscapes as the sun sets.

Sunset over Sir Francis Drake Channel

We devour our meal. Spending all day in the open elements, no matter how relaxing, really works up an appetite. After dinner, over a bottle of wine, the captain entertains his crew with card tricks. We break out the star chart and pick out southern constellations until it’s time for bed.