Adventures with Ship 1148, Cheboygan to North Cape transport
This year it was my pleasure and honor to host Sea Scout Ship 1148 for the return voyage from the Port Huron to Mac Race to our home port at North Cape Yacht Club. We had a full boat with 6 scouts, 3 adult leaders and 1 special adviser.
The goal of the trip was to give the scouts experience with big boat sailing, experience with sailing in general and opportunities for the scouts to make progress with their advancement through the ranks. I think that this year's group succeeded in all these areas.
Perhaps it's best to review the trip in chronological order.....
|Will it all fit?|
I have never seen such a mountain of gear, food and supplies stowed on board. Soon we had all the new provisions aboard and had brought as much ice aboard as space would allow. The gear was stowed and things looked to be pretty ship shape. We made contact with WAR CHANT, our sister ship for the voyage and found that they were a bit delayed in their preparations. The scouts voted to make a visit to the beach and venture out on the harbor jetty.
Before setting off the scouts divided into two crews, the PIRATES and the MCA2 crews. They agreed to alternate boat-duties and galley duties for each mealtime. The arrangement seemed like a good one.
|Sailing under BIG RED!|
TIME MACHINE got her sails up smartly and soon we were running under 'Big Red' with all the scouts taking turns trimming the chute and driving. Because our course was dead-down-wind, we had to execute several gybes, which went off without much problem at all.
We looked back and found that WARCHANT had doused their chute and were motor sailing. Although they passed us, the building breeze soon found us matching their speed under sail alone. As we approached Roger City, we took in our sails and prepared for docking. It had been a wonderful first day and it was special to be able to sail all the way.
|Making the boat go!|
WARCHANT fueled up as TIME MACHINE undid the night-time configuration and became sea-worthy again. We agreed to have 2 of our scouts join the 2 scouts on WARCHANT for the day. We set off at about 0745 with the destination of Harrisville. There was no wind on the lake and scouts took turns helming, being navigators and we attempted several radio call practice sessions. Soon we had left Presque Isle behind us and we made a close approach to the Thunder Bay Island lighthouse.
|Radio Comms is more complicated that it looked!|
|Final adjustments on the foredeck tent|
The big question was.... were conditions right to make it all the way to Port Sanilac? WARCHANT decided that they were going to make the long trip, 91 miles. The TIME MACHINE crew was given a choice.... make a long day with the potential of a dying breeze and then 2 shorter days to get to North Cape by Sunday.... OR.... take a 'fun-day' and sail in the glorious conditions to Tawas Bay and plan to arrive at North Cape on Monday. The prospect of a 'fun-day', ice cream at Tawas Bay and a bit shorter day won the vote. So we said farewell to our sister ship WARCHANT, wished them well the remainder of their voyage and commenced our beat to Tawas Bay.
|Trimming the chute and|
watching the breaking luff
On approach to the bay, the wind shifted and died, so we struck our sails and motored the last 45 minutes to the State Harbor. We entered without any problems and were soon fully fueled and docked in our slip for the night. Most everyone went for a swim at the beaches and it was decided that we would eat dinner, head for the Miriam's Ice Cream and then when the sun had mostly set, swab the decks. Once the decks were dry, we set up the tents again and soon the crews were all resting comfortably. Good thing, as the alarms were set for 0445, with the intention to depart at sunup!
It was very early for the scouts, but they did a great job of getting us ship-shape again and preparing some breakfast. We got underway at about 0615 with the destination of Port Sanilac. The forecast was for moderate Southwesterly breeze and thunderstorms in the afternoon. There was already a large complex of storms over the eastern lower peninsula and we needed to make good progress. As we exited the bay we found wonderful reaching conditions, so we set the main and the #1 genoa and reached all the way across Saginaw Bay around the tip of the thumb and down the Michigan shore past Harbor Beach. As we drew alongside Harbor Beach the skies were getting a bit threatening and the radar confirmed that the storms were catching up to us and strengthening.
|A clean boat is a happy boat|
We waited to the last minute before dousing the #1 followed quickly by the mainsail. The rain came in sheets and it seemed like we had picked up our own private Linus Cloud that simply parked on top of us. It was only a few hours to Port Sanilac so we pushed on and arrived just as the clouds broke open the bright blue skies returned.
During the crossing of Saginaw Bay we made radio contact with the M.V. MANITOWAC. There were bound for Bay City and were happy to chat with us. I think the fellow were talked with might have been a Sea Scout in his youth!
With all the wet gear, the boat soon looked like a laundry, as items were hanging from every available line, pole or boom. Soon things were stowed and we were able to have our friends Paul and Doreen and Doreen's sister come over for a visit. The scouts were able to visit the festival and soon it was time to prepare for sleeping again.
|Reviewing where we are and where we are going|
Destination Edison Boat Club.... host club for Ship 1148. It would be a flat out motor, but still there were adventures. With an early start, both crews were soon asleep anywhere they could find space. By lunchtime they were stirring again and as we approached the Blue Water Bridge we rocketed through the rapids.
Every day we flew a great set of flags with Ship 1148 over the Venturing flag over the BSA ensign over the pirate crew flag. From the forestay we always put up our J/35 battle flag. In the rivers a lot of waving from the scouts and respect from the crews on the freighters resulted in several 'salutes' from the freighters. They rarely do this and it was really cool! There was a possible problem with the closure of the river at St. Clair for the Classic Power Boat races. We did indeed encounter a 45 minute delay while they finished the 1st heat of racing, but soon we were permitted to transit the race area. With the heavy current pushing us along we made it into Lake St. Clair where we completed a couple Man Over Board drills. We decided that there was time for a swim.
|LIFE SLING in operation|
Fully refreshed, we got back underway and at about 1830 hours we made entry into Edison Boat Club. A number of adult leaders were there to greet us and soon the scouts had dinner prepared and the boat ready for the night. There was a bonfire and time for the scouts to relax.
We got underway at about 0630 hours and had a nice easy motor down the Detroit River. There were a lot of opportunities to look at the amazing industrial complexes and important relics like the old Bablo Boat. We popped out of the Livingston Channel into Lake Erie and found fewer weed piles than expected, but still had to back down 3 times. With our arrival at North Cape fast approaching, the scouts packed and stacked all their gear in a giant pile on the cabin sole.
|Flags for this voyage|
A special thanks to Shawnee S. who not only completed her first Mac Race but also helped to make the return trip safe and an amazing experience for the scouts. Thanks to Becky and Rachael W. for also completing their first Mac Race and being amazing scout leaders and trainers as the scouts worked through their SPAR books. The whole trip was made cool and very rewarding by the scouts from SSS 1148. They can be very proud of what they accomplished and I hope that it was an experience that they will remember and treasure for a long time to come. It was indeed a pleasure to have them aboard!