We had our first dinner aboard with Mike, Judy, Kathy, and Alex on Wednesday night. Thursday morning a big thunderstorm was threatening south of us, with more storms predicted for later. So we had a leisurely breakfast and then took off for Taconite Harbor, 25 miles away.
Right away it was apparent that we had four eager learning sailors aboard. What fun! The first hour was spent learning nautical terminology and parts of a boat (anyone know exactly what a "clew" does? Or a "topping lift?" I could have used a refresher myself, except I was preparing food and baking bread, which is what I am doing about half of every waking hour.) Then we turned the motor off and sailed....slowly...through fog towards Taconite Harbor. We arrived late afternoon just as another fantastic looking thunderhead was peeking over the trees at us.
The next morning we woke to rain, distant thunder, fog, and wind. Mark put it to the group--we could head down to the Apostles and commit to 10 hours of cold, rain, and possible wind. Or we could spend the morning with more lessons and then head down to Silver Bay, hoping the weather would improve or at least have a shorter time out in the wet. We were torn down the middle. But as three people headed into the dinghy for a morning shore run, and the girls moaned and groaned in the bunks about a potential wet bumpy day, Mike growled under his breath to Mark, "Do whatever is best for your family." Soon after, Mark and I made an executive decision to stay for the morning--a decision that was applauded by the three that returned from shore wet and chilled through.
So we did chart plotting and knots, and headed out into the fog once again that afternoon. The conditions weren't terrible, but there was very little wind, so soon we were motoring once again. As always, people responded in all different ways to the confounded weather, but always with fortitude. The girls love hanging out together in the cabin and were perfectly happy. The rest of us did a lot of talking. This was not a reading group! We hung out a lot in the cabin or cockpit, sharing travel and adventure stories, or discussing the current state of the world. I served red lentil dahl for lunch one day and Mike practically swooned with delight and later declared was the highlight of his day. Now THAT makes the ship's chef glow!
That night, in Silver Bay, we visited with the Lehman family--old friends from Two Harbors who had moved away and were back on a visit. Mahalia, ("Queen Mahalia" from those of you who read about our May Apostle Islands trip in 2011) even stayed overnight! and shared a bunk with Cedar, bringing the number of people sleeping aboard to 9. The weather was still wet and Alex, who had been sleeping in the cockpit, opted to come inside. He slept on the floor and the girls kept their voices to a whisper. Somehow the night passed, slumber party and all.
Finally, the next morning, the skies were clearing. There was still no wind so we ate another leisurely breakfast and then set out for the Apostles, now only 20 miles distant. We sailed 2/3 of that in about five hours, then finally gave in and motored to Sand Island. I should mention that this light-air sailing was not all bad. Everyone took advantage of the helm in relaxing, non-threatening conditions. Even a couple of accidental jybes weren't a big deal in such light winds, and we set up the whisker pole and sailed wing-and-wing twice. The only thing that we didn't practice was reefing.
The fog was finally thinning, for the first time in 11 days. By afternoon it was sunny and almost hot, and the water was a balmy 45 degrees. We kayaked around the sea caves--fantastic--and got bit by mosquitos--not so fantastic. Some of us walked to the lighthouse after dinner; others were turned back by the mosquitos and took a dip in the lake instead. That night, lying in the cabin, I heard that long-ago sound of a breeze!--enough to create a low buzz in the rigging.
We woke up in high spirits and SAILED out of our anchorage. Another great learning experience! In 10 knots of wind we gleefully performed a man-overboard drill three or four times, missing our guy only once. Then we headed home to Knife River. The forecast called for everything from NE to S to NW to SW. Of course, it decided to be WSW, exactly on the nose. Nevertheless, we tacked determinedly until mid-afternoon when the wind dropped once again and we were looking at a late-evening arrival at this rate. We turned on the motor and arrived in Knife River by late suppertime.
Throughout this trip, the girls have been unusually quiet and reticent. They were especially sad to be leaving their beloved bunks. Our guests were very understanding of this, and appreciated that our family we were going through a momentous transition. We couldn't have asked for a better "boat family" to experience our homecoming with. It was quiet, beautiful, calm, hot on shore. We said our good-byes, ate some supper with only ourselves again, and went for a little walk around the marina, just like old times.
And that's it folks! Now our story changes dramatically. By 10:00 the next morning we were home, racing around our beautifully clean but bare-looking abode on 3rd Ave. By the next day Mark was out daysailing and I've spent each day trying to get a handle on things. Trying to get a second cell phone so that I can talk to Mark on the boat...searching for a charger for the phone...trying to find the laundry detergent, clothes pins, and clothesline so I can wash our clothes...trying to find the broom so we can sweep the floors so we can put all our sacks of bulk food down...trying to find a knife so that I can cut the bread...once the bikes were down from the garage ceiling, the girls remembered their life on shore and disappeared.