Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Getting Ready

You'd be amazed at how much preparation goes into a trip like this.

We don't plan to leave until everything on Meridian is in good working order. But keep in mind this is a 25 year old boat that hasn't seen extensive retrofitting over the years. We've been maintaining her pretty well (we thought), but we wouldn't say there have been a lot of upgrades.

So we've been spending a lot of time lately on the "project list". Funny thing about that list though - no matter how much we accomplish, it just keeps getting longer. There's an old saying that boat projects are like rabbits . . . start with a list of ten, complete one, look at the list again, and there are twelve projects on it. That is oh so true.

How does it happen? Well, here's an example. Phil thought it would be a good idea to have some spare bulbs for our ancient navigation lights. In looking up the bulb numbers, he discovered that the one-mile bow lights aren't compliant for a boat this size. They need to be two mile lights. Ok, so he replaced the lights. Not a major project, and it felt good to accomplish something. But the matter of non-compliance reminded him that our combination anchor/masthead light was only wired as an anchor light. It hadn't mattered in the past because we hadn't used the boat past sunset. Now it would matter very much - so he rewired the light, which involved cutting a hole in the main salon headliner to access the wiring (and praying that the necessary masthead light wire really was there), then making a plywood hatch (with teak veneer and teak trim and five coats of varnish so it wouldn't look tacky) to access the wiring. Luckily, because of prior projects, all the supplies were available on the boat. Oh, but while we're dealing with nav lights, we remembered - the new dinghy, which is now mounted on weaver davits on the swim platform, hides the stern light. We need to move it - might use a pole, or make something from teak that will blend in with the toe rail on which it's currently sitting, or maybe move it to the back of the bridge. That one's still on the project list. Oh, and now that we think about it, the dinghy is also covering up the boat name on the transom. Since we're Coast Guard documented, that name must be visible - so we'll need to put it on the dinghy bottom or somewhere else. Oh, and our dinghy registration hasn't arrived yet, but once it does, we'll need to put the numbers on the side. Oh, and . . .

The results of the "buy spare navigation light bulbs" task:

Well, I guess you get the picture. And remember, all this came from the "buy spare light bulbs" task - something not even complicated enough to call a "project".

Um, we better quit writing . . . we have work to do!!!


Hello everyone! Welcome to Bernie and Phil's Great Lakes Cruising blog.

We've owned Meridian, our 1982 Chris Craft 410 Commander, for over four years now. Although we pretty much live aboard in the summer (May to October), we've never taken her out of the Chicago area.

This year that's gonna change. Beginning in late July the two of us will take Meridian on a six-week journey around Lake Michigan - with maybe a little side trip into Lake Huron.

Why are we blogging about this? Mainly to share our trip with friends, family and whomever else may be interested. We'll be writing about some of our experiences as we prepare for the trip, as well as our adventures during those long-awaited six weeks.

Also, when researching the various ports and cruising points of interest around the lake, we initially turned to the internet, but were surprised at how little information we could find that provided a cruiser's perspective. We've since bought some of the cruising guides, but still poke around the net looking for first-hand accounts of Lake Michigan or Lake Huron cruises and just don't see much. So, maybe, by adding this info we can help future travelers.

Something else about us - we aren't exactly what you'd call highly experienced boaters - unless seeing all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies - multiple times - counts. Meridian is the first and only boat we've owned. (But we did recently buy a 12 ft. inflatable to use as a tender so now we have a fleet) While we've learned a lot during the last four years, we still consider ourselves to be little more than novices when it comes to boating. That means we (ok, Phil) do some pretty dumb things occasionally. And I can hear Bernie saying "Occasionally??" Maybe it'll make some interesting reading, and maybe it'll inspire others who'll think "Hey, if they can do this, so can we!"

Finally, Bernie has a culinary background and is a big supporter of local and sustainably-grown foods. Maybe there's an interesting intersection of interests here - cruising around Lake Michigan sampling farmers markets, local cuisine, and Midwestern wineries and writing about it.