While we have been fighting rain, wind and dense fog, we have also had a couple of repairs that had to be made to the boat. Neither the weather or repairs, would have been a major issue in our home port, but much more complicated as we are traveling.
Respite lost a spreader boot shortly after we arrive in Port Washington so that made sailing difficult. The spreader boot prevents that headsail from getting caught on the spreader. The boat also needed to have a new jib halyard run.
Both of those issues we planned on having solved at Center Point Marine in Sturgeon Bay. What we hadn’t planned on was the fact that the lost spreader boot may have saved us from losing the entire mast.
The rigger, Dave from England, who replaced the boot and ran the halyard, noticed while he was at the top of the mast, that the cotter pin which holds the forestay pin from coming loose, was so deformed that any real pressure on the top of the forestay, like having the headsail out in a strong wind, may have been enough to snap the cotter pin and allow the forestay pin to come loose.
And the mast to fall.
A 25-cent cotter pin failure and we may have suffered a catastrophic failure.
This possibility was even made even more real to us when a couple of hours after the rigger made his discovery, when a sailboat coming across Lake Michigan the day, we had our boat repaired, lost its forestay pin and the mast came crashing down on the deck. The crew of that boat was able to cut the side stays loose and push the mast along with both sails, into 600 feet of water.
We have spent more time the last 21 days in port than sailing as the weather has been, to say the least, less than cooperative.
The original plan was to spend a day or two at several marinas as we sailed from Port Washington to Sturgeon Bay but wind, rain, and continued dense fog made the stop at Manitowoc and several other ports just an overnight stop.
THE GENEROUSITY OF OTHERS
Every port we have been to this summer, someone upon learning that we are cruising, offers us their car to use so we can go to the grocery store, West Marine to get parts, or in the case of South Bay Marina in Green Bay, to visit Lambeau Field. It is amazing that without even knowing our last name, people just hand us the leys to their car and tell us to bring it back when we are through.
This includes the couple in Sturgeon Bay who had just been demasted crossing the lake. We met them a day after their accident, as we were tied up to the city dock in Sturgeon Bay trying to determine how to get the weeds off the prop and rudder.
People just seem to think that if you are on a sailboat, you must be trustworthy.
We have tried our best to return the favor. The second night we were in Sturgeon Bay, we met this wonderful family who were working on their 23-foot-Benatau sailboat trying to get the boat ready to sail before the 4th of July. Carrie, Paul and daughter Addison were all tired from working all day so we invited them aboard to share some pizza we had had delivered. Turned out to be a great night for all.
We were docked for four days in Green Bay next to a hydro-survey team that was spending the summer mapping the bottom of Green Bay. Turns out many of the maps our chart plotters rely on for the depth and location of obstructions, were done in the 1950s and haven’t been resurveyed since.
The survey crews use side scanning radar to produce 3-D images of the bottom which are then turned into maps. Last summer, the same crew was working between Beaver Island and Mackinaw Bridge. They were able no only to map the bottom there but to also produce highly detailed images of many ship wrecks.
This crew works 3 months on the Great Lakes then several months in the winter in the Florida Keys.
The stop at Kewaunee was more interesting than expected as the quaint town had more to offer than we first thought. Kewaunee is home to the tug boat Ludington which is a floating museum. It is also home to the world’s tallest grandfather clock which is 35’10” tall and still rings every 15 minutes. The building and business the clock was built to advertise are both long gone but the clock remains an icon ion the city.
For those who don’t know, Sturgeon Bay sits at the western end of the Sturgeon Bay Canal which connects Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay. There are three draw bridges between Lake Michigan and Sturgeon Bay which make traversing the canal a little tricky in a sailboat.
The town of Sturgeon Bay lies on both sides of the canal. In the summer, long lines of boats wait for each bridge to go up, forcing long lines of traffic to wait for them to go down.
Sturgeon Bay is home to the largest ship building company on Lake Michigan and in the winter offer space for up to 17 freighters to dock and wait until the shipping season starts again.
It is also home the Door County Maritime Museum. The museum tells the history of ship building in the area as well offers tours of the John Purves tugboat, which was one of the largest and most powerful tugs on the Great Lakes in the early part of the 29th century.
The museum’s 10-story-tall tower is a perfect spot to view the entire area and is lit up at night in rotating red, white, and blue making the tower visible for miles.
While we were having work done on the boat, marina crews said we had to take a short walk up the hill to the Red Room Bar as they have the best burgers on in Door County. They were right.
The water in the entire Sturgeon Bay area is full of dense, tall sea weed that makes getting in and out of marina’s a dangerous task. The day we left, we backed out into a mass of weeds that fouled the prop, shaft and rudder, rendering the boat without steering and power. Wind gusts and current forced the boat against a dock and while the boat wasn’t hurt, the ridged bottom dingy suffered a near fatal blow to one of its air-fill tubes. It has been shipped back to home, hopefully to be repaired and returned to service later this summer.
At the southern end of the Green Bay sit the city of Green Bay which is home to the only publicly held pro sports team in the country – the Green Bay Packers. Being from Michigan, it is hard to say that we have a pro football team but Lambeau Field in Green Bay is a mecca for visitors from around the world who travel to the stadium just for the glimpse of the Packers’ home.
The neighborhoods around the stadium are full of “Packer experience” apartments and B&B.
Cindy and I visited Lambeau Field not because we had any interest in the Packers but because one of our dear friends, who was a rabid Packers’ fans died this winter, not having been to a game in a couple of decades. While we couldn’t attend a game, we did send his widow pictures of the stadium and the monuments surrounding the field for which she was grateful.
We also saw white pelicans in Green Bay for the first time. There is a large rookery a small island just north of the inlet to the Fox River which runs through Green Bay.