Saturday, October 31, 2009
We woke up this morning at the marina in Clifton Tennessee feeling groggy and slightly hung over. As per our normal routine, I began to tell Gary, in great detail, about the crazy dream I had. This one was a doozy! It started out with us having happy hour beers with all the locals in the marina store. Everyone was really friendly and we were having a great time, getting pretty buzzed up. Then this one guy invites us to go out for a few more beers. One of the other guys, who reminded me of Jamaica John from the Bay, decides to go along. Next thing we know, we’re in a the back seat of a big pick up truck winding along the dark deserted back roads of Tennessee. First stop, somewhere out in the woods, was to pick us up a “Welcome to Clifton” jar of Tennessee’s Best Moonshine. Then all of a sudden we’re at this juke joint called BILLY BOB’S, where I flirted outrageously with all the bib-overall clad guys at the bar. I remember sitting on the cutest one’s lap. He liked it so much he shared some of his moonshine with us. We heard music coming from the back room, and discovered it was karaoke night. Next thing I know, Gary’s bringin the house down with Chantilly Lace. And the night wouldn’t have been complete without some serious co-ed pipe smoking. Somehow we made it back to the boat, and I think we even had a nip of moonshine for a nightcap. “Baby, that was no dream” Gary interrupts. “ Look at the pictures on the camera.” “And by the way” he adds. “We decided to stay another day and we’re all meeting again this afternoon at 4:00.” WHAT?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Just a quick update. We departed Paris Tennessee this morning, heading as far south as we can get today to avoid the predicted rain for tomorrow and Friday. We're really looking forward to Pickwick Lake, the scenery is supposed to resemble the North Channel. Next we enter the Tenn-Tom Waterway, which we've been told by fellow cruisers is a great experience, lots of quaint towns and friendly marinas. Love, Lori & Captain Gary P. S. Does this guy look like he's having fun????
Monday, October 12, 2009
“Keep the Faith” Last spring on our voyage home from Key Biscayne, Tessa and I had a bit of a falling out.. Miles out in the Atlantic between Miami and North Carolina, I lost faith in her. I was frightened, distressed, uncomfortable, and just plain miserable. After three days and nights of arduous ocean conditions, Captain Gary and Watch Commander George agreed that we needed a well deserved break, and navigated Tessa into the South Port North Carolina Marina. As soon as we tied off the dock lines, I walked up the dock toward the marina office and began to feel normal again. Gone was the fear, the lack of confidence, the distrust of Tessa’s abilities to keep us safe. I stopped and looked back at her comfortably tied at her dock, looking so proud and confident. “Why did you doubt me?” she seemed to be saying. I stood there, tears streaming, and vowed out loud “I’m sorry, Tessa. I promise I will never lose confidence in you again.” OK, maybe some of the nearby dock hands thought I was a loony tunes sailor, but anyone who loves their boat will be able to relate to this emotional reconciliation. This trip south was going to be different! Nick James, our Second Watch Commander for the first leg of the “Great Loop” south, arrived at Put-in-Bay for a scheduled 8:00 a.m. departure on Friday October 2nd. Except it was cold, blowing like crazy, and pouring rain. Thankfully, around noon things began to clear up. We pulled away from the deserted Boardwalk Docks, remembering our well attended celebratory departure last September. This year, it was just the three of us and Tessa, on our own all the way from PIB to Chicago. Tessa scooted across Lake Erie averaging eight knots, and even hit ten knots to tie her all time speed record. Gary and Nick kept tweaking, but couldn’t push us to 10.1. We made great progress, and when a beautiful rainbow arched over the Detroit River, we took it as a sign of good luck for the rest of the journey. After seven days and seven nights, three exhausted sailors pulled into the Waukegan Harbor, north of Chicago, where the masts would be unstepped. While dock lines were adjusted , a full rainbow filled the sky. We certainly enjoyed the awesome sight, but could not believe the cruel irony of it’s appearance at the end of this trip. In between the two rainbow sightings, day and night, we endured miserable, dreary, cold, wet, boisterous, nasty, uncomfortable conditions. Was there supposed to be some good luck hidden in there somewhere? It wasn’t luck that brought us across 636 nautical miles. It was the calm, competent, determined perseverance of Gary and Nick. Along with my hot meals, hot tea, hot chocolate, and moral support of course! We did manage to squeeze in some fun at a rainy stop-over in Rogers City Michigan on Sunday. There weren’t many warm dry bars to hang out in, but we managed to find a bowling alley with great pizza. I was completely humiliated by my score, but pleased that it made Nick James giddy with unsportsmanlike pleasure. The second stop was Tuesday evening in Frankfort, along the northeast coast of Lake Michigan. A gale was predicted from 11:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, so we sought the security of a dock. Gary expertly secured Tessa with extra dock lines leaving no room for error. Or so he thought, until we were awakened in the middle of the night to a powerful surge. Gary braved the wind and adjusted the spring lines as taut as possible yet the surge still continued to drive us three feet, fore and aft. We slept fitfully until morning when the winds subsided. Sadly, there was damage to a few of the boats in the marina, thankfully Tessa came out unscathed. Wednesday nearly broke our spirits. Although the gale had passed, it’s after affect left Lake Michigan in an uproar. The waves were on our nose, relentless, and confused, which confused the heck out of Tessa. She couldn’t decide whether to buck like a bronco, hobby horse, or wallow in the swells, and at some points it felt like she was trying to do all of the above at once. This continued all day and through the night. Gary was absolutely amazed when I dished up pan seared porterhouse steaks and steamed asparagus with hollandaise sauce. I can’t vouch for how it tasted, since after lurching around down below while cooking, I had completely lost my appetite, and just crawled into our bunk to suffer through the night. Gary came to bed after his 8:00 to midnight shift, but didn’t last long being tossed around in our bunk and returned to the cockpit. Nick James looked pale and exhausted after his early shift Thursday morning. We needed to find the most convenient terra firma, while still able to make our deadline in Waukegan Friday evening. Gary plotted the course and gave us our options. Stop in Milwaukee Thursday night, or keep on course for Waukegan through the night. “MILWAUKEE!” Nick and I replied in unison. It turned out to be the best choice, since it rained again all day and sapped our strength. I found the most economical dock, no frills, but with free laundry and showers. That’s all we could ask for. It was also conveniently located within walking distance to the Milwaukee Ale House, where we relaxed and drank some great local brews. Nick James entertained us during the walk back, dancing about as though he were a member of the Jets Gang in West Side Story, ready to KUT someone. This was supposed to make me feel safe on the back streets of downtown Milwaukee. I felt safer when the cops came by, but Gary worried that Nick would be arrested for interpretive dancing in public after dark. Friday morning we departed Milwaukee in the wind and rain AGAIN, but we were on the homestretch and ready for closure. Lynne James was meeting us at the marina to drive her man back home to Port Clinton. None too soon, as Nick had a meltdown earlier in the week, missing his wife terribly after he witnessed Gary and I hugging….and saw the provocative cover of the book I was reading. It was just too much stimulus for him. The three of us agreed that: a. We were uncomfortable 98.9% of the time. b. It was an adventure that we found great satisfaction in accomplishing. c. Two out of the three of us would do it again. OK, there you have it. I would not want to make this trip again!! But, honestly, there was not one point during the entire trip that I was frightened or lost my faith in Tessa. Yes, I was uncomfortable. Yes, it is not something I would want to experience again. Ultimately, undeniably, Tessa performed remarkably, kept us safe, and she knows I did not doubt her. Although once I slipped and said I wanted off “this nasty boat“, but Gary quickly shushed me and apologized profusely to her…..hopefully she’ll let that one slide.