Covid 19 And Beyond

WOW, it has been a loooong time since the last post! I recently read through all our previous posts while trying to get through the quarantine and it made me anxious for a new adventure.

Since returning from our trip Melanie and I have been pretty busy moving. Moving off the boat back to Columbus, moving into and rehabbing a house, moving in with friends, moving into an apartment – it seems like life right now is nothing but a series of moves!

We moved up to the boat in early May 2020, living on her and prepping for the summer. Things were a lot slower due to Covid, but by the end of June, we were ready for our first sail of the year. It was a beautiful sunny day with 5 to 10 knot light NE winds, calm waves and oh so clear lake waters! Under full sail, we headed over to the North bay of Kelleys Island to visit with Shannon, Melanie’s daughter, Sean and their kids. We dropped anchor after an uneventful sail, hopped in the dinghy and went to shore where we spent time with the family on the campground beach.

Some time during the afternoon, we took Yuli and Shay on a dinghy ride, they were both dying to go since its been a while since they were last on the boat. We motored over to the boat and sat and ate some of Yuli’s chocolate birthday cake before hopping back into the tender and returning to the beach. Shay got to steer the dinghy and got the hang of it quite quickly – he loved it and went on and on about it when we returned to the beach. After they packed up to head back to the campsite for dinner, we returned to the boat and set sail, taking a slow, lazy ride home. About half way between the island and the shore, the wind petered out completely and the last 3 miles were given to the iron genny to motor us safely home.

Early the next week, Shannon and Sean went home, so we picked up Yuli and Shay from the ferry boat and took them with us for a few days while mom and dad went home to work. We set sail over to Put-In-Bay. Melanie cooked up some Jambalaya on the way and we enjoyed a gentle sail and yummy food.

We watched a beautiful sun set on the way and picked up a mooring ball in the harbor around 9:45pm. It was a beautiful evening. The kids watched Netflix while we sat up in the cockpit and enjoyed the view. The next day I worked while the kids ran all over the island with Melanie. Dinner that evening was Salmon cooked on the grill. We left the next day for home port on a promising wind, sailed around Ballast Island, and turned towards home. The wind dropped a bit after rounding the island, but we had a nice sail back until we fired up the motor about 3 miles from home after the wind finally quit for good.

Powell Family Reunion – Kelleys, July 2020

The following day we pIcked up Adam, Sarah and the kids and motored over to Portside marina on Kelleys Island where we dropped off Adam and Sarah. Julian & Luke motored with us around to the North side of Kelleys where we dropped anchor. Luke jumped off and swam. Then we took the dinghy in to shore and spent the day at the beach. Aaron and Jenny had rented a house on the South side of the island, so at dinner time we all headed over there to cook and eat dinner. Then Melanie and I babysat all the kids while the adults went out. We got back to boat around 11 and slept. The wind came up about 2AM from the North East and it got pretty choppy but the anchor held. It was an unpleasant night of bouncing about in the waves. In the morning we motored over to the south side of island and anchored off of Seaway marina near the public beach. We spent day there and then had dinner at the house before watching the fireworks at Cedar Point, Lakeside and other spots on the mainland. It was a great evening, and upon returning to the boat we slept like babies – it was very calm.

We headed into shore the next morning to help clean up the rental house and hung around until they checked out. Then we motored over to the campground on the North side of Kelleys and went to the beach with everyone. We took a trip into town for lunch, then came back and relaxed at the campsite before heading back to the boat. They went kayaking and stopped over for a bit before heading to shore. We hauled anchor and sailed home with help from a GREAT WIND. We watched the sun set over the islands and enjoyed a beautiful 10 knot breeze while sailing home.

Monday and Tuesday were spent working. Tuesday evening we watched thunderstorms form over Detroit and witnessed an hours-long lightning show but the promise of rain never materialized. We went to bed hot and sweaty even after showering.

The Storm…

Wednesday, Randy and Leslie came with the girls and after a few drinks and a light lunch they headed out to the beach to swim while I finished work.

Thursday we made our way over to the island and were the only boat on the mooring balls! We swam and relaxed, before heading into shore to unwind. It was a VERY hot day, but the canopy of trees in the park helped to cool things to a manageable level. We took the kids to the playground, then off to a treat of Tofts ice cream, and then it was to the museum where we watched the movie on the battle of Lake Erie and then helped them get their ranger badges. After a long day on shore we went back to the boat, made dinner and then after a long evening went off to a well deserved sleep.

Next morning we woke to a nice Southerly breeze. We took everyone ashore, showered, walked  the dogs and then took off for Kelleys. It was a great sail and we were there in less than an hour! After dropping anchor we headed into shore, took a quick tour of the Glacial Grooves and then went to the beach to cool off. I was concerned about a line of storms moving through the midwest, so after looking at the radar on someone else’s phone (mine had no signal, common on Kelleys if you have service with ATT) we decided to head back to beat the storms. That of course never works. We started off with a great wind and once around the North shore of Kelleys, aimed straight for our home port and were making great way at over 5 knots.

The skies darkened and when the first hint of rain appeared over Marblehead, the wind died and then backed 45 degrees, so we were aiming at Mouse Island instead of home port. I started the engine and we doused the sails just in time to be hit by our first rain squall along with 25-30 knot winds. The rain came in a white wall from East Harbor and soon we were drenched, although after 5 minutes or so the rain passed and we scurried on to the harbor entrance.  We entered our harbor as the dark clouds loomed closer, a report on the VHF from one boater indicated that 2 jetskis were stuck out on the lake – one towing the other – and the boater was unable to assist due to the need for him to get his boat to safety. Emergency requests for help began popping up on the radio,  and just before making the turn at the end of the channel the full force of the storm hit us. Heavy pelting rain and strong wind gusts pounded the boat as we turned East down the tree lined channel. Ahead of us lay the stone wall and the marshes of East Harbor. As we approached the turn South, the water came into view and it was apparent that the trees were sheltering us quite well from the full fury of the wind.

White caps scurried across the surface of the small bay as the rain began to get harder. We rounded the corner and then the full force of nature hit us. Shrieking winds over 50 mph grabbed the boat and tried to push it over to the left side of the channel and onto the rocky shore.  The rain felt like small stones being thrown in our face. All guests and dogs were below. White caps were being blown off the tops of the waves, and along with the rain, became deadly weapons in the hands of mother nature. I had to close my eyes and turn my head to one side, looking out of only my left eye because the rain hitting my face made it painful to look into the wind and to open my right eye. I kept a diligent look at our speed and heading as we motored slowly to our next channel marks. It was becoming apparent that the wind was winning the battle of position and I was unable to keep the boat on the safe side of the channel – the wind was simply too strong.

Then the engine alarm came on – it was overheating! I had to reduce throttle which meant we were being pushed to the rocky side of the channel even faster. Melanie and I both prayed – Lord, please get us to our dock safely – I kept repeating this and realized we were not going to make it back to the dock. Certain destruction awaited us on the rocky left side of the channel. In my mind a small voice said “turn around”. I swung the wheel hard to the left and the wind pushed the nose of the boat sharply around. 18000 pounds of boat felt liberated suddenly from the push against the weather. We made the turn and were able to get back to the safe side of the channel with the wind and rain now pummeling our backs. Melanie put up the umbrella and the turquoise foul weather jackets mysteriously appeared from the hatchway. We put the jackets on, now both shivering from the cold rain and wind that continued to pummel us. White streaks of rain driven wind lashed us as we headed back toward the shelter of the tree lined part of the channel. Visibility was less than 100 yards. 2 fishing boats came motoring hurriedly by  and looked at us a little surprised, probably wondering why we were headed OUT into the storm. We rounded the corner into the shelter of the tree lined channel, and while the rain still pelted us unrelentingly, the wind blowing the boat around dropped dramatically, and I was able to motor the boat safely up to the part of the channel that took us out to the open lake. Thankfully – due to the engine running at lower RPMs, the alarm went off which was a HUGE relief. 

More boats came rushing by in search of safety, we turned NE into the final part pf the channel and another round of wind hit the boat and lashed it with blinding clouds of rain, this time pushing us out into the lake. With the wind at our backs I was now able to see and maneuver the  boat safely to the windward side of the channel and I was able to hold that position without the struggle we experienced when heading in. We got the umbrella behind us to block the wind and the rain and were eventually dumped unceremoniously out into the lake where I turned and aimed for Mouse Island so I could stay close to the windward shore and avoid the larger waves that would develop as one moved away from the shore.

Wind and rain pelted us for what seemed an eternity, then suddenly the island became visible, the shore and channel entrance became visible, and the white wall of water passed us by and the storm was over. Within 5 minutes the wind was dead calm. We motored back into the harbor and tied up to the dock without issue, there was not a breath of wind. Ugly dark clouds now behind us raced up the lake searching for more victims to devour.

Long Hot Summer…

We had been having issues with the gear shifter, and after some troubleshooting determined that the actual problem was the shifter, not the cable or the transmission. After researching, we found an Edson dealer and $500 later, with a little sweat we had a new shifter installed and we were ready to try her out.

Our next adventure took us for a quick trip over to Put-In-Bay. It was a strong SW wind, and we made good time getting there. Storms strolled through our Marina while we dropped anchor at the monument. We were treated to a glorious lightning show from the safety of our anchorage.

We headed back the next morning to pick up Matthew and Victoria who came up to visit. it rained all day Saturday. Sunday the weather forecast was not much better but we decided to try and sail anyway. We left the harbor and went for a sail towards Marblehead and then headed back. The wind was very strong, we saw gusts of 40 knots with steady winds around 25 to 30 knots. The sail to Marblehead was nice, but turning for home had us headed into the wind and the chop and it was quite a struggle for us to motor into the wind back to port. We made a Flawless docking despite the wind so all was well.

Buffalo – Aug 2020

Our next journey got started with a bang. While backing out of our slip, we got a dock line tangled and almost hit our neighbor despite the docks being almost twice the width of last year. Thank goodness for that! We sailed over toward Sandusky Bay to rendezvous with Mary and Mike off Cedar Point and set sail towards Buffalo, our intended destination for our summer trip. We adjusted our sails so that we could keep pace with each other. We took off, broad reaching towards Cleveland with the tailwind around 15 knots, and just like always, the wind took a sharp uptick around sunset. While attempting to reef the main, the reefing line for the clew snapped and so we had to struggle to maneuver the boat into the wind to get the main taken down. Once stowed we set the 2 jibs and headed up towards Ashtabula, our first stop.

Winds were still quite strong and the Weather Channel kept talking about water spouts. They were east of our position and moving away from us, so we never saw them. The skies looked threatening but overhead it was crystal clear. Even with just a third of the Yankee set we were still doing almost 6 knots! The waves were supposed to be two to four feet, but we saw quite a few 6 Footers and a few broke into the cockpit and soaked us. The wind was now hitting us on the beam and it made for a very uncomfortable ride with a lot of rolling along with the noise of the waves smacking the side of the hull.

As it got dark we lost visual sight of the waves and Melanie went down to go to bed. It was almost impossible to sleep in the cabin. It would be calm for a short while and then a set of waves would come through and thoroughly rock the boat. Some broke against the hull and drenched me in the cockpit.. it was not the most pleasant of evening watches. The boat bounced around in the short chop of the lake. As it got darker, we came abreast of Cleveland and under those scudding gray clouds, we could see the lights of the downtown area. Quite a pretty sight at night. Jupiter rose in the eastern sky followed by Saturn, and they shone above Cleveland quite brightly. They almost looked like aircraft taking off from Cleveland Hopkins Airport. 

The wind bopped around all night – it would die down a little and the chop would quieten down a bit and then it would pipe back up and the waves would get ugly. Our wind generator moaned under the strain of the wind gusts. The green and red navigation lights led the way into the night towards a cloudy, rainy sky in the east. The weather was moving in the same direction as we were so we luckily avoided getting drenched. As the night wore on, the wind abated and soon we were sailing under full sail, making our way slowly toward Ashtabula.

Jupiter and Saturn kept us company for a while until hiding behind a cloud bank above the Eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Promises of light picked above the row of storm clouds to the east and soon the Moon came into full view. A beautiful full moon shone it’s Golden light across the water. The waves slowly subsided and the wind moderated, making it almost a pleasant sail, the clouds glowed with the light of the city and our two boats sailed on with the moon’s golden path of light following our boats and Illuminating the way. Smoke clouds glided across the face of the moon, lit up like silver in the sky. Lights flashed on the shore helping to guide us on our journey. The waves still tried to throw us around, but they were definitely calming down and making the passage a little easier. The wind gradually dropped as we moved up past the lights of East Cleveland. The moon played hide and seek, kicking in and out of clouds as we sailed on through the night. The skies cleared but there were still some clouds cutting across The dark night sky, obscuring it every once in awhile.

Melanie came up for her watch and I tried to sleep. I laid there all night listening to Mary and Melanie chat with each other over the radio, and while the wind did drop, the waves continued their relentless assault on the boat, knocking it around and making life rather unpleasant. The sun finally showed itself, and I took the helm so Melanie could nap for a few hours before I started work. We made it in to Ashtabula around noon and dropped anchor in the harbor near the breakwall. It was dead calm. Bald eagles were flying around and made for a great nature show. I worked until happy hour and then we picked up Mary and Mike and bought them over to our boat for a relaxing dinner, drinks and some route planning.  After taking them back we watched a Netflix episode and then went to bed. It was an early night and we slept well.

We were awoken the next morning by a powerboat wake as they rudely blasted through the harbor on their way to the lake. After a light breakfast and some coffee, we hauled anchor and put up all sail, headed to our next destination, Erie. The wind was light from the SE and we sailed parallel to the coast for a few hours making good headway until around 10am, when the wind began its predicted switch to the NE. This meant that it was directly on the nose and around 1pm, we decided to start the motor, drop sails and head directly to the destination so we arrived by sunset instead of tomorrow morning. The wind gradually increased and slowed our forward progress down, from 5 knots down to 2.5, so even though our motor was set to drive us 5, we made slow, arduous progress. Around 10:30pm we were finally making the last approaches to the mouth of the harbor when our companion boat ran out of fuel! We waited with them, sailing back and forth for 2 hours while chatting on the radio until the towboat arrived and whisked  them quickly off to the safety of the harbor at 7-8 knots while we chugged slowly behind at 4.5 – arriving an hour later in a picturesque anchorage filled with boats. We found a spot, dropped anchor and went straight to bed, exhausted from the long day! By the time we woke up, well rested from our journey, they had all taken off and we were alone, with a light NE wind cooling the boat.

After a hot breakfast and a good cup of coffee, we took the dinghy into shore and helped Mike & Mary get their boat into a dock. They wanted the luxury of shore power to get all their toys charged up, and it allowed us to gain access to the showers on shore, a nice luxury. Once back to the boat I knuckled down to work for a while.

Old fashioned tour boat takes a trip through the anchorage

Mike & Mary’s cat jumped ship when they arrived at the dock the previous evening, and we spent a good deal of time looking for her; putting up notices and searching, all in vain. Then, later that evening while taking our showers she came back thankfully. After dinner on the boat and a little socializing we went to bed. We were up and on our way early the next morning with not a breath of wind. It was a beautiful day and the wind, although it did finally make an appearance late in the day was not quite enough for us to sail. It was a long day of motor sailing with just a little bit of wind for us to put out the jib and get about a half knot of extra speed.

We arrived in Dunkirk at a picturesque Anchorage similar to Ashtabula and dropped anchor. There were some boat clubs and restaurants in the small harbor, so we lowered the dinghy and went ashore to find a place to eat. We ended up sitting outside for dinner and socialized with the locals while enjoying a few drinks before returning back to the boats exhausted. During the night the wind shifted from the north to the South and in the morning, it looked as though we would have a nice lazy sail over to Buffalo with winds around 8 knots. Then we tried to haul the anchor up. What fun! The rode and the anchor were absolutely covered in pounds and pounds of weeds. To make matters worse once I got the anchor up to water level, I found an old 8ft log caught in the shank. It took a little while to get the anchor cleaned and stowed and then I motored over to Mike and Mary and helped them do the same.

Then we were off and out into the lake. It was a glorious day, about a 10 knot breeze from the south which put us on a beam to broad reach. Conditions deteriorated quickly. A beautiful sunny day hid the fact that the wind speed was slowly creeping up until we were flirting with 30 knots and 8 foot breaking waves!

Rolling on to Buffalo

It was quite a white knuckled ride, the auto pilot could not handle the following seas, so for all but one hour of the trip, we had to hand steer until we squirted into the protected bay behind the breakwall that protects Buffalo from Lake Erie’s anger. The coast guard came out to take a look at us and make sure we were OK, thankfully with the wind from behind it was a ride punctuated with surfing down waves at greater than hull speed with very little heeling, so it was not too unpleasant. 

Tied up safely to the free wall at Wilkeson Point

We tied up carefully in the Bay next to Wilkeson Pointe park and then went ashore where we enjoyed happy hour at the little concession stand there. After walking Windsor, we came back to the boat and fell into bed exhausted. No one got up until after 8; Mike & Mary got up around 10:30, and after breakfast on the boat we took a walk around looking at the park and then strolled over to First Buffalo where we met up with Kathy. She had been an immense help to us on our journey home 2 years ago and was once again very helpful in getting us set up with a dock for Mike & Mary. We untied their boat from the wall and then headed over to the State marina where we tied up before enjoying happy hour and heading out for dinner at the restaurant in the marina building. We met a few interesting people and dogs along the way, but before long it was close to sunset and we had to pack it in and take our dinghy back to the boat before darkness set in.

After unwinding with some Netflix, we slept and awoke to a howling breeze – just like Sunday, with huge waves crashing over the breakwall – I am REALLY glad we were not out in that! The trees offered us some shelter from the blow and the water close to the boat, while a little wavy, did not have breakers, although heading into shore at various times during the day, we did get soaked.  Melanie did laundry and some grocery shopping while I attended a work meeting. Then we went ashore for a happy hour at the park – cider along with some BBQ pork sliders – yummy! We topped off the day with some Netflix and thankfully during the night the wind abated. After our morning ritual, we headed off to take the boat into the same Marina where Mary and Mike were staying.  After tying up we took a road trip into Buffalo and along the river to Niagara falls.

US Side of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls
The rapids above the falls
American Falls

It was a perfect day, not too hot and humid, but pleasantly warm. We walked around admiring the beautiful views of the falls before heading up to North Tonawanda – the Erie canal entrance – for some dinner and then drove back to the boat.

We left Buffalo early the next morning on no breeze – motoring until after noon waiting for something to appear. Wind came up and soon we were able to unfurl sails and sail between 5 and 6 knots with a following sea – making it a pretty rolly ride. We scooted into Dunkirk and dropped anchor behind the breakwall, but with a NE wind there was not much shelter – we had 2 footers bouncing us around until about 2am before things calmed down. We dinghied into town the next morning and did a small bit of grocery shopping before we headed back to the boat where Melanie made dinner and we watched a gorgeous Ohio Lake Erie sunset.

We hauled up a TON of weeds once again the next morning when we departed and left Dunkirk behind, our next stop, Erie. The day shaped up the same way, light weather in the morning with a lot of motoring, until around noon when the wind picked up from the NE and soon we were cruising along at 5-6 knots under jib alone, surfing down waves that were getting larger as we approached Erie. We arrived early due to the help of the wind, and upon entering the bay encountered the largest waves of the day – 7 to 8ft! It made navigating the narrow channel into the bay quite interesting. We motored to our anchor spot and dropped our hook after filling up with diesel. Another evening of good food, drinks and companionship ensued while the wind howled – thankfully the bay was so sheltered that it did not create waves – just a good strong breeze to cool us all down.

We left early the next morning, took the long motor out to our turning point and headed West to Ashtabula. Dead.Calm. Another day of motoring lay ahead. A quick zephyr here and there promised some help, but the motor ended up doing all the work until about 2pm. We rolled back and forth on the leftover waves from the previous day and prayed for wind to appear. When it did, we were suddenly up to 6 knots! I turned the engine off and were still able to make 4-5 knots with just the jib and a nice South breeze. The wind strengthened until it was 20-25 knots and we were scooting along at over 6 knots for long periods of time. With the short distance between us and the shore, the waves were small and we were able to move quickly, arriving almost 2 hours earlier than we predicted. We anchored in the harbor and after unwinding for an hour or so, we motored up the river in the dinghy and tied off to a free dock. We wandered around the area close to the river, it was all historic buildings – well kept and bustling with activity. We ate at Briquettes Smokehouse and enjoyed some of the best ribs we have ever eaten before heading back to the boat for the night. After the traffic laid down we enjoyed a calm, restful sleep.

Bad storm coming on the way to Mentor

Wakes woke us up early the next morning, so we were up and moving quite early. We hauled anchor and headed out towards Mentor. The wind was light but helpful – it only gave us about 3 knots of speed so we motor sailed, because there was a chance of storms and we wanted to try and get in before they made their appearance.  We made good progress towards Mentor but the radar showed a wicked line of storms marching down the lake towards us. We prepared for the worst – closed all ports, prepared to furl up sails and waited for the white line of swirling rain and whitecaps to march towards us and fling water in our faces. It never happened. The worst of the weather split and went North and South of us, and the arrival of the storm was heralded by a switch of wind direction to the North and gradually increasing rain – no deluging downpour! God was watching over us!

The rain did get quite hard, but the wind was never more than 15 knots, so we left the staysail up to help us make time. The skies gradually brightened, and when the rain passed, the wind suddenly switched to SE, around 15 knots. We unfurled our jib and between the two sails and the engine we were doing 7 knots towards our destination. We ended up arriving safely around 2:30 – far earlier than we had estimated. After docking and cleaning up, we enjoyed a tasty (and REALLY expensive) meal at the yacht club restaurant before retiring to bed for the night. Melanie spent the next day lounging around and relaxing at the pool while I worked, then she cooked up a fabulous meal for the 4 of us to enjoy at evening dinner.

We were up early the next day, our intended goal was home. We stocked up on ice and were off by 7:30, motor sailing towards the islands. There was a gentle breeze to help us on our way, and the scenery passed by quickly. Soon we were moving at over 6 knots, passing Cleveland and Lorain. There were waves coming from 2 directions,  our beam and 45 degrees from the bow, so we rolled around uncomfortably until the wind was strong enough to keep the boat heeled enough. This made working below quite uncomfortable, I had to take breaks every half hour or so for fresh air so I did not get queasy. The winds petered out late in the afternoon, and with ZERO help from mother nature we were left motoring at 4.5 knots. That is when the invasion began. Biting flies attacked our boat and the two of us spent 90% of our time hunting and killing flies. The carnage was enormous; dead bodies piled up under the cockpit floorboards; those we killed and who fell and couldn’t be reached to dump over board. Thank goodness for Otto – our auto pilot – he kept us going straight while we slaughtered the invaders. Our marina is about 10 miles beyond Sandusky, so we parted ways with Mary & Mike and headed on our course to home while they pointed towards theirs. We gradually separated until we were almost 5 miles apart – they reached home an hour or so before us, but we were treated to a beautiful Lake Erie Sunset before we turned into our channel and returned safely to the dock. After tying up we realized that many of the flies had invaded the cabin, so we had another swatting spree to get rid of those intruders before collapsing into bed for a good night’s sleep. Our Buffalo adventure was done and in the books, but the memories we made will last for a while!

2021 Sailing

Our plans were to do some traveling; plans for sailing Lakes Huron and Michigan, but at the last minute we decided not to go as we were having engine heating issues and it looked like Michigan was going to go into quarantine mode again. So we spent the summer sailing around the islands and hanging out with friends, quiet and uneventful.

The highlight of the summer was our new spinnaker. My parents bought us a new spinnaker to replace the one we blew out in the Florida Keys. I had taken it in for repair and it was simply too old; they said it wasn’t worth the expense, and the sail, as old as it was, would probably not hold the new stitches.. We got to choose our design and the colors. Along with the coral/turquoise theme, our sail was a heavier fabric (up to 20 knots) and a star cut of coral, turquoise and yellow. We finally got to fly it in mid July. A typical Nor’Easter blew up and we decided to take the boat out and give it a try. We sailed up around the North side of Kelleys Island and then tacked toward the South East until we were about 10 miles from home port. We bore off downwind and then hoisted and set the colorful sail.

Our GORGEOUS new spinnaker doing its job

In response the boat leapt forward and our speed increased by a good 2 knots. We sailed for a good hour and a half until we dropped the sail between home port and Mouse Island so we could turn around and head in. It was a great sail, under almost perfect conditions, a good first sail with the new kite. Thank you mom and dad for the wonderful gift!

We also had family and friends come up and visit us, and I was kept busy at work.

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