Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sea Scouts bring TIME MACHINE home from the Island

Upon arrival at the Island our friend Heather was there to greet us, our shore bags were all at the Inn on Mackinaw and soon we were all showered and changed. Getting the multiple layers of sun-screen off felt really great. The boat was cleaned up and we all met for a nice dinner at the Yankee Rebel. Tuesday was the party, which was held down the hill from the Grand Hotel and was a definite step up from past years. There was a bit of concern that Eric, our crew for the trip home and who's car would take folks home, had not contacted us, but that soon resolved itself. Heather, Andy and Austin took off and the rest of us got cleaned up for the dinner at the Woods restaurant, which was the usual special event.

Wednesday morning we packed up from the Inn and met at the boat to head to Mackinac City. Shawn and Carol took the ferry, as they had arranged for a separate ride (good thing since the scout's truck was small). We fueled and iced and pumped out the holding tank at the Shepplers dock, the Scouts arrived and loaded all their gear and provisions aboard. By 1000 hours TIME MACHINE was ready to go! The adventure for the Sea Scouts was being documented by the Head Photographer of Boy's Like (Boy Scouts of America magazine). Each of the boats would carry him with TIME MACHINE getting the first honor. The other boats in our flotilla (GRIFFIN and WAR CHANT) were much slower to get organized and due to the congestion in the harbor, we took off out into the lake. Conditions were 12-15 knots of breeze..... right on the nose! We motored slowly for about 1.5 hours and then went to flank-speed for the rest of the trip to Presque Isle bay. We arrived at the bay just as the sun was setting and picked out a nice anchoring spot. The Scouts constructed a tent over the foredeck and we settled down for the night. The day had been filled with getting the scouts time on the tiller, showing the different systems aboard and even a deep water swim.

Thursday morning the fan turned on at 6:14am. It went from calm to 20 knots out of the ESE in about 3 minutes. By the time we got fueled and ready to go, it was 0745 and the waves were already building. We worked our way out of the bay and motored straight into the waves for about an hour to put some distance on the lee-shore. GRIFFIN had set a #3 and was already tacking up the shore. We followed suit with our #3 alone and found that we could sail at about 7 knots. Having the sail up made the boat much more stable, which was a good thing since the waves continued to build. By 1400 hours we saw some of the largest waves of the day, estimated at 12 feet. We crossed paths with the barge/tug combination INNOVATION/SAMUEL de CHAMPLIAN and after talking with them on the radio, they altered course to make the pass safer.... very cool. By about 1730 we were outside the Harrisville harbor and we made the entry without any major problems. It had been a pretty wild day. Two of the sea scouts had gotten very cold and sea sick. Our Scout-Leader had also gotten sick. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, one of our scouts called home and asked to be picked up, we were sorry about this but understood. That evening we invited the other sea scouts and venturers aboard TIME MACHINE for a special event. I had brought the Hanson Medal with me and I talked to them all about what had happened that year. The boat was packed, with about 25 people crammed in down below. The questions and comments were great and given the rough day we had all had, it really hammered home the message about being prepared and alert out on the lakes.

Friday morning, the skippers got together to consult about the weather and we decided to try to sail across Saginaw Bay and make it to Port Sanilac. As we departed the conditions were much improved. We set the #3 and a full Main and started reaching across the bay. Conditions were super!. As the thumb came into view the scouts did an outside-set/inside-douse to change from the #3 to the #2 headsail. We continued to make great time as the breeze settled from 12-14 to 8-10 knots. With the afternoon winding down we were approaching Harbor Beach and we contacted the other boats. They really wanted to do some night sailing and would continue to Port Sanilac. Since we had another day to go beyond Port Huron (their home port), we decided to stop at Harbor Beach and anchor behind the breakwall. Once again the scouts did an anchor watch and we had a restful night.

Saturday we got started at about 0515 and motored on flat seas towards Port Sanilac. As we approached the harbor GRIFFIN popped out and we met up with them. They were going to spend some extra time on the water, so we decided to take our time. We did stop to do another deep-water swim and trained the scouts on using the Life-sling and tackle to retrieve a MOB. After the swim the breeze was building nicely and we set the #2 and full main and sailed close-hauled for several hours with the scouts on the helm. About 10 miles north of the Bluewater Bridges, we tacked to the south leaving GRIFFIN and headed to Port Huron Yacht Club. We fueled up and dropped off our Scout Leader. We were met by one of the scouts parents and all together we had a great dinner at a local pizza/subs restaurant, which was followed by ice-cream cones, much to the consternation of the other ships. Ship 1492 really knows how to have a good time!

Sunday we slipped away from the dock at 0500 hours and motored down the rivers to our home port. The scouts got lots of close up encounters with the freighters and did a great job of getting all the gear on board packed up. When we popped out into Lake Erie from the Livingston Channel we were greeted by the usual 3 foot chop that results when a 15 knot wind opposes the current. We continued to motor home and arrived outside our harbor entrance at about 1715. A quick check of the water levels showed that we could have trouble and as we nosed into the entrance we did indeed run aground. We made 2 attempts and then decided to anchor outside. Everyone except the skipper was put ashore by friends at North Cape. By about 2100 hours the wind had reduced and the water levels had come up a bit. With help from a couple of North Capers,we nosed into the entrance, grazed the bottom a couple times and with great relief pulled into our slip. Alice had been included in a pot-luck dinner by the gang on B-line-docks and we were soon on our way home.

A special thanks to Eric for his tireless crew-work and time with the scouts and for loaning Alice his cellphone on Sunday afternoon. We were very happy to host Jay Montgomery, our Scout Leader, who spent hours working with the Scouts on their certifications. Garth, the photographer from Boy's Life was a terrific sport, especially during the big waves on Thursday and we look forward to seeing the pictures from the two days he spent aboard. A special thanks to Bob Bradley, Jeff Mackay, Bill Pribe, Leslie Hill and the folks on B-line!

The Scouts of Ship#1492 did great and I look forward to having them aboard again next year!

All in all it was a super event. We made some new friends..... Scott and Austin.... we had a good race we renewed contact with our fleet mates in the Level35, we had a great time with scouts..... and we got to sail a lot on the way home!


Robert Gordenker

Skipper, TIME MACHINE Sailing Team


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