Sunday, August 28, 2016

Family Time Kept Us Moving

Sunset over the Port Austin Lighthouse
One would think eight weeks at home would be a long stay. However, we didn't stay in one place for long. We dropped our bags, sorted out our storage locker, bought some new street clothes, got the car out of storage and hit the road!

First stop: Carmel, Indiana. Mackenzie was graduating from high school so we represented
the family. It was fun to visit their farm in the middle of suburbia and see the Upton family in action. Usually they come to Pointe aux Barques to visit us, but we will be gone before this year's visit.

Next stop: Saugatuck, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. Dennis' niece Beth (Beverly's sister) and family live there and we had never visited them. Since we were on that side of Michigan, we called to see if they were free for a night and if so, we would stop to see them. We learned that her parents were going to be there, too.

Michigan has beautiful beaches and blue water AND
no salt, no jellyfish, no sharks and no crocodiles!
Great! So we can see Barb and Joe without a trip to Saginaw. This is good. Then we hear that brother Larry is coming too. And then we learn that brother Rick from Arkansas is driving up with his son, Tony! It could not get any better: an impromptu family reunion! Over Memorial Day weekend. Wonderful fun.

Thank you Phil and Beth! Hugs!
Beth and Phil were gracious hosts for the gang. They showed us their entertainment business call BAM! in nearby Holland. Most of all, it was wonderful to see the four Day brothers together and looking marvelous! What started as a little stop to say "hi", turned into a wonderful family weekend. And we are still living out of a duffle bag.

Larry, Joe, Dennis and Rick

Next stop: Grosse Pointe. This time for a very important dance recital! Miss Addison is so grown up at age nine and quite a dancer! Ballet, tap and jazz! She is making good use of those long Gallagher legs she has inherited! It was great to hear about her activities, school and friends. And I caught up on my hugs!

We were able to snatch her away for the weekend and take her to the cottage with us. What fun: catching frogs at Frog Pond, chasing minnows with a net, skipping stones, swimming in icy Lake Huron, and nature walks.

We went on golf cart rides looking for deer in the forest and found eight of them. Probably the same 2-3 just in different locations! Then I let her drive the golf cart on the golf course. That was a big deal!
Catching frogs with Grand D

And, of course, no visit to PAB is complete without a trip to the Grindstone General Store for ice cream. This is a place where a Baby Cone is more than you can eat! Miss A. didn't want a Baby; she wanted a Single. She insisted she could eat all of it, so she bet made a $10 bet that she could.  

Dennis ordered her a Baby without telling her and she was overwhelmed by the size of it. She tried to eat it all, but finally declared her tummy was feeling too good! Then we told her it was a Baby. She was amazed. I won!


Taking possession of the boys' bunk room!

The Explorers
Actually, it was a profitable weekend for me. Miss A. wanted to sleep in the bunk room on the first floor by herself. She really wanted the top bunk, but I know how much she moves around in her sleep, so we agreed on the bottom bunk until I find a side rail.

This will give her mom a heart attack!

Her mother bet me $10 that she wouldn't sleep in there alone. I won the bet both nights and she made it her special place with books and toys on the top bunk during the day. She agreed to share the bunk room with Uncle Nick - her favorite uncle! I so enjoyed watching her curious mind at work and she is such a polite young lady.

These were the most precious days for me. I loved just watching her take in everything. She shook hands when introduced and conversed like an adult with people she met. They grow up so fast!

And she and Grand D really bonded and were busy with all kinds of activities!

Good stone skipping form!

The minnows were elusive.
My sister and husband drove over from Traverse City to spend a few days at the cottage. It was nice to have time together when we weren't involved in a holiday and all of the cooking and chaos. Vicki and Larry may meet us when we complete our circumnavigation in St. Lucia next April. Having sailed with us in the British Virgin Islands, we know they won't sail as Vicki gets seasick. Unfortunately, I did take any pictures of us!

We are looking forward to sailing with Merc and Bob
Merc and Bob from Chicago joined us for two nights while on their way to Toronto. We met them in the World ARC when they were sailing on Vivo, a boat that dropped out in Australia. There are people you just click with and they are one of several couples we connected with on the WARC and continue to stay in touch. It was great to spend some relaxing time with them. Since they didn't get to complete the circumnavigation, they are planning to join us in Brazil and sail to St. Lucia. Then it is party time!

We manage to get in dinners with a number of friends on Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills. It was fun seeing the Bloomfield Hills gang. Unfortunately, our friends Deborah and Bill had to cancel their long planned visit to the cottage, but we did have dinner together. And we caught up with Grosse Pointe friends. A lot of dining out!

And I managed to make it to three of Miss A's swim meets. She is following in her mother and Aunt Katie's flip flops. Uncle Nick and Daphne were in town for a swim meet and dinner so that put me down the line for hugs!

Unfortunately, we did not get to see the London boys this trip, but they will be in town for Uncle Nick's wedding next summer. Can't wait to have all of the kids and "Grands" together and some cottage time with them, too. It has been too long since the whole gang was together.

Our time "at home" flew by and once again we were packing those same bags to return to the boat. This time we were carrying new B&G touch screen chart plotters that the company generously swapped with us. And we have the latest navigation software. The guys in Australia hadn't even seen our new version!

So we are on the road, air and sea again. And I brought back favorite things: lemonade mix, dill relish, unsweetened instant ice tea, Costco canned chicken, etc. And I even managed to bring back six new cockpit pillows! All important essentials to my happiness!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Crossing the Pacific - By Air

Heading home for a dose of Pure Michigan!
Not realizing what a really big country Australia is, I made the mistake of booking us out of Brisbane. Unfortunately, Mackay is a ten-hour drive north of Brisbane! Maps and chats can be deceiving! I found a flight to and from Mackay to Brisbane. So we were packed to the limits and ready to haul home the things we no longer need on the boat. Home. Humm! And just were would that be?

Once again we boarded a Virgin Australia jet and settled in for a very long flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles. Fourteen hours! And five large duffle bags (four checked), one roller suitcase full of electronics (including two chart plotters!) and two overweight backpacks. We looked like a mule train and felt like the ol' gray mare! Somehow we managed to wrestle everything into the overhead storage. This time we flew Premium Economy which was as nice as Business except the seats were not sleepers, but they were bigger overall and had more legroom.

Tanner reading to Grand D. The roles have reversed!
After good food, lots of snacks, libations, several movies and a few hours of sleep, we landed at LAX. Now for the fun of clearing customs. We had to haul all those bags through Customs and Immigration and recheck them to San Francisco. We planned to spend five nights there to visit kids and Grands. It had been a year since we had seen Tanner and Henry.

Sue, Tanner and Ben
After piling all of our luggage into to Ben's little car, we headed to the city. I then slept for about 16 hours before rejoining humanity. Lea in the boat for an extended time is like trying to leave your office for a long trip! Too much to be done and too little time. Then you are exhausted when you finally step on the plane. Unfortunately, Sue was away at a conference so we had a very limited visit with her. We had a lot of time with Tanner, though.

Jon, Krystal and Henry live about 20 minutes away, so we had some time with them, too. Henry has grown so much and was at that shy almost two stage. Beverly and Dean, Dennis' niece who sailed with us in Australia lives near Jon and invited the whole fam-damnly over for dinner. So much fun to be altogether!

Krystal, Jon and Henry
We found San Francisco cold and damp though not surprising as that is typical weather there, but our bodies have grown used to warmer climates. The kids just wore shirts and sweatshirts while we were in fleeces and windbreakers. We will have to adjust quickly as we are heading to Michigan and May's weather will be similar without the damp air.

Once back to Michigan, our schedule was packed with the four F's: family, friends, finances and ph(f)ysicians. First stop: dermatologist. All OK. Skin cancer is a big concern in Australia as apparently there is a hole in the ozone layer above them. And of course, it is a concern among sailors as we are in the elements all of the time. We use sunscreen and try to stay in the shade when possible.

We based ourselves between Pointe aux Barques and Grosse Pointe. Once again our friend Loretta graciously welcomed us into her home. It is so nice having a house where we have room to unpack our things. Heather's house is too small and it is better not to disrupt their daily routines as her schedule is challenging enough. At Loretta's I enjoy being in a big kitchen and cooking up a storm. And she gets to come home from work to a meal on the table. Win-win all the way around!

Early morning visitors!

It was good to be back at the cottage again. I hadn't been there for three years. The best part was that we acted like retired people! Sleeping in, lingering over breakfast, late nights playing cards by the fire, etc. were pretty darn nice! I think I can do this! Of course, we had projects to do there, too. My fledgling flower garden has really taken root and was looking great. The hydrangeas were going to be spectacular, but we would be gone before they bloomed. Family and guest have taken good care of it for us.

The famous Turnip Rock at Pointe aux Barques.
It is private property belonging to the township.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Heading Home!

Stepping the newly rigged mast at The Boat Works
It has been a long time since we have been home to see family and friends. I am in need of some "Grammy Hugs" from a special granddaughter and half of our brood of grandsons. It is especially emotionally challenging when it is holiday time or special occasions like birthdays, recitals, etc. to be away. Not only are the flights long and expensive, but putting the boat on the hard for several months brings a whole new set of costs and chores.

Checking out the rigging
Following our trip to Australia's Outback, we sailed north to Mackay where we would meet up with the World ARC 2016-17 fleet at the end of July. With the new rigging and everything else we did to S/V Trillium at The Boat Works in Coomera, we were satisfied that she was ready to cross the Indian Ocean. The plan was to get to Mackay, put her on the hard and fly to the USA for two months.

With a slight challenge with the weather, we were able to accomplish that goal. Unfortunately, we did not get to spend time in several places along the way because the winter winds were too strong.

Sunrise over the Great Barrier Reef
We had not planned to go to Bundaberg once we learned that some friends from the Isle of Mann who we were hoping to see had sold their yacht and had gone home. However, Mother Nature decided that we would spend four nights in the Bundaberg Marina during a big blow!

This is really smooth sailing! Actually, it's motoring!

Sunset within the Great Barrier Reef

As a result, we did not get to stop at several beautiful islands as planned. We anchored off the northwest end of Fraser Island, but did not go ashore. Apparently that was a good thing as we later learned there were salt water crocodiles there.

Once the blow was over, the wind subsided and, of course, we had to motor through the islands inside the Great Barrier Reef. We found comfortable anchorages, but didn't have time to linger and go ashore.

I am pleased to say that my mal de mare issues have subsided somewhat. In addition to medication, I tried something new and it appears to be helping. I had read this in a sailing magazine and I must say it looks a little odd. Who cares if it keeps my stomach and head settled! What is it? Placing an earplug in your non-dominate ear! I will continue to test the theory, but it has worked for the last 800 nm!