Showing posts with the label Great Lakes sailing

Sailing North - A Cruise Summary

"Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air." - Ralph Waldo Emerson It seems many of the trips I plan have a mission statement similar to Emerson's prose. The sun, the sea and wild air sum it up nicely for me. This trip began with an amber moon setting quickly in the west as we motored out the channel to Lake Michigan at about 4:45am. We raised the main and motorsailed north for about an hour before the winds were up enough for full sails and the quiet calm that comes when the motor sleeps.  And so the motor slept all the way to the Manistee channel where our first night began at the recently renovated municipal marina. The last time we were here (~2010) the shower facilities were akin to standing under a leaky pipe in a musty basement. I'm happy to report that the new clubhouse features private showers (with doors!), painted walls, and just about all the amenities (cable TV, WiFi, nautical periodicals, etc.) many of us leave port for in the f

A New Home Port!

Notice anything new about the blog/website?  I started blogging back in 2007 on and fairly quickly moved over to Google's Blogger.  I can humbly say that the site has grown, matured, and increased in readership.  Now that my blog is nearly five years old, I thought it was a good time to freshen things up with a new look, layout, features and name. Let's start with the name.  Most of you will know that I have used "Sailing Island Bound" for several years, with Blogger's default domain name of .  Since the site has transformed into much more than just the chronicles of Island Bound's journeys, I've choosen a new name that reflects my own personal journey and hopefully inspires my readers...Sail Far, Live Free!  So now I've got my own domain/URL, which is .  Don't worry, your old bookmarks and links to the blogspot address will still work too, but updating is reco

Why I Sail

The simplest answer to the question of why I sail is that something deep inside of me is drawn to the wind and the water with the intensity of a double-reefed beat to windward in lumpy seas on a cold and wet Lake Michigan morning. But I have to admit there’s much more to it than that. It’s not just a deep desire to fulfill the yearning inside that keeps me sailing. In an age where consumerism tries to convince us that faster is better and that life is easier lived through our laptops and iPhones, it may seem odd to non-sailors why some of us take to the water in something crassly powered by wind. In fact, maybe it’s not even obvious to those of us who are sailors. Sailors from years ago had an obvious reason to sail. They needed to cross oceans and sailing provided the only means. But steamships brought a new means. In the business of claiming new lands and transporting valuable goods, time is money and steam power equaled speed when compared to a square-rigger wallowing in the do

Event Review: Strictly Sail Chicago

The middle of a sailor’s winter here in the Great Lakes is marked by the occurrence of the Strictly Sail show in Chicago at the end of January. Chicago is the perfect host for such a show, with frozen Lake Michigan as a backdrop, skyscrapers creating one the world’s best skylines and deep dish pizza to feed your hunger. The show itself gives you something to look forward to after the holidays are over and helps you ease into your spring maintenance, repairs and upgrades for the coming sailing season. As the nation’s largest indoor all-sailboat show, there’s literally something there for every kind of sailor. Best In Show: Tartan 4300 While many of my favorite bluewater sailboat builders such as Pacific Seacraft, Valiant and Tayana were not at the show, the Tartan 4300 appealed very well to my salty sensibilities. I have nothing against the higher volume production boat builders like Catalina, Beneteau, Jeanneau and Hunter but you immediately notice a different feel when you step aboa

Sleep tight, Island Bound!

It seems like just a month or so ago I was writing a very similar post about our sailboat being covered and ready for her winter hibernation.  Hard to believe it's actually been a whole year.  The cruising season goes by quicker the more miles you put beneath your keel and the longer you stay out.  Even with winter approaching (encroaching!) I've got plenty to keep me busy while the boat is on the hard.  There's planning for next season's cruising adventures, writing about this past season's adventures (been doing lots of that lately), Strictly Sail Chicago in January, reading, researching... Anyway, here's how s/v Island Bound will spend the winter:

The downwind run to winter

Another season of sailing (over 1,000 nautical miles on our North Channel cruise alone!), adventure and family growth is now slipping farther astern in our wake.  Island Bound was hauled for the winter over a week ago and I finished up the list of winterization tasks last week.  There's nothing left to do but reflect on where we've been and look forward to where we're going.  I've got a lot to say about the season that was and the season that will be.  However, I've had to lay off the blog posts for a bit to collect my thoughts and prepare some of them for submission as articles to the sailing mags that'll help many of us pass quiet winter evenings in the more northerly latitudes.  If I'm fortunate enough to find a willing publisher, I'll pass on the info here on the blog ( Click here for a previously published article ).  In the meantime, sit back and enjoy some gear reviews, brainstorming about ideas for the 2011 season and other random sailing-rel

Pere Marquette...River and Missionary

The name Pere Marquette is more than just a great salmon fishing river in Northern Michigan. The name itself comes from Father Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary who founded Michigan’s first European settlement in Sault Ste. Marie and later also founded St. Ignace in the Straits of Mackinac. Jacques Marquette is now more commonly referred to as “Pere Marquette”. He was a very successful and influential missionary to the First Nation's people of Quebec and Native Americans in Michigan. Apparently there is some debate about where Father Marquette died, but many historians believe it was here along the banks of the river near a hill in Frankfort. I came upon a historical sign telling a bit of his story while walking to the lake shore on Friday morning. Although he was buried in St. Ignace, Father Marquette may likely have died here in Frankfort.

Solo Sailing (Ludington to Frankfort)

Dad left Island Bound on Wednesday in Ludington, so now it was my turn to try some solo cruising for a couple of days to see how far north I could get the boat before my wife and kids joined me for the rest of the journey. I woke up around 5:30am on Thursday morning and left the dock at about 6am. Winds were 10-12 knots from the northwest, so I was forced to motor around Big Point Sable. As I rounded the point, I put the sails up since my course would now be more northerly and I should be able to sail close hauled. I put a single reef in the main because the NOAA forecast called for some wind gusts to 20 knots and I wanted to be prepared for the conditions before they arrived. Island Bound didn’t seem to mind the reef because she made between 5 and 6 knots, even while sailing so close to the wind. Even though I’m single-handing this portion of the cruise, I’m not the only crew member. “Otto” our autopilot (Autohelm ST1000) does his job very well. He never complains, he never gets ti

Sails to Steam

Sailing is addictive.  There's something about riding the wind and the waves that makes the destination matter very little, but the journey matter a whole lot.  Maybe it has something to do with the way sailing makes you slow down and breath in the world around you.  Out there on the blue there's no internet, no cell phones, no bad reality television, no dramatic news headlines, no hands racing around the numbers on some clock on the wall.  There's only the wind, waves and your dreams. Two of my favorite songs lament history's progression from wind driven vessels to steamships...and now more exotic power like gasoline, diesel and nuclear energy.  Jimmy Buffett sings "Watched the men who rode you switch from sails to steam..." in A Pirate Looks at Forty. Michael Snell echoes Jimmy with his lyric "the steamers have whistled her days to an end..." in The Last of the Leelanau Schooners. The answer is obvious to the question of why professional marine

Summer Cruise 2010 Update: North Channel

The North Channel is a sailor's paradise on Lake Huron in the Canadian province of Ontario.  The channel is overflowing with picturesque islands, crystal clear blue waters and superb wilderness.  This cruising area should be on every Great Lakes sailor's short list of top destination.  We originally considered the North Channel as a destination when we hatched our plan for a 3 month summer cruise in 2010, but ruled it out because of the distance and isolation.  Distance and isolation in and of themselves make the North Channel appealing in many ways.  However, for us, having a 28 foot boat and two young daughters (ages 4 & 7) made the distance and isolation serious considerations.  After doing some research and speaking/emailing with several fellow cruisers and a few staunch North Channel advocates (thanks Rolland !), we've decided to again consider the North Channel for our 2010 itinerary. In addition to the previously mentioned research and conversations, we'

Cozy and snug for winter

s/v Island Bound is now cozy and snug in her blue shrink wrap for the long winter in the Great Lakes. We simply used the boom for a tent from over the after section and the spinnaker pole (attached to the mast and bow pulpit) for a tent over the foredeck. I wish the marina would have made a couple of vents in the wrap for airflow, but I can always add them next time I'm over at the marina. Now that she's wrapped, the winter boating season has officially begun for the crew of Island Bound. We'll now commence with the dreaming, scheming and and planning for next year's cruising in the Great Lakes.

Summer Sailing Cruise 2010

Nothing is carved in stone yet, but we're very seriously contemplating a 2 or 3 month cruise of northern Lake Michigan and the Mackinac Straits for the summer of 2010.  Such a Great Lakes cruise would be a great way to "test the waters" and see how well our family adapts to living-aboard for an extended period while cruising. At this point in the planning/contemplating stages, the itinerary is wide open, but here's a sample of how the route could look: Grand Haven - White Lake - Pentwater - Ludington - Lake Crossing - Manitowoc - Two Rivers - Door County (multiple ports) - Washington Island - Fayette - Manistique - Beaver Island Archipeligo (Beaver/High/Garden Islands) - St. Helena Island - Mackinac City - Mackinac Island - Harbor Springs - Petoskey - Charlevoix (1+ week layover in Horton Bay) - Grand Traverse Bay (multiple ports) - Leland - Manitou Islands - Frankfort - Portage Lake - Pentwater - White Lake - Grand Haven. Wow...that's a lot of sailing!  We we