Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Traditional Stop in South Haven

After over eight months, we're finally cruising again! Yeehah! And what better way to start it off by crossing over to South Haven again?

So on Thursday morning (6/12) we bid goodbye to Chicago bright and early, leaving our slip at 6:30 am. As we passed the Chicago Lighthouse, it was looking to be a sunny day with one to three foot waves from the south.

After paying over $5 per gallon for gasoline, we decided to do what we could to save gas on this trip. That means convincing Meridian that, this summer, she's a trawler. We plan to run her at a speed that gets us a 50% improvement in fuel economy over last year. That means running at between 7.5 and 8.5 knots depending on waves and current. So it took us almost nine hours to cross the lake.

It was an uneventful crossing, very pleasant. But boy was it cold out there. Bernie wore warm clothes, a jacket, her big warm life preserver and, for the crowning touch, her "granny blanket" while at the helm. Pretty nautical, huh? (Hey, that "granny blanket" has the map of Lake Michigan on it -- I was using it to navigate.)

As we approached South Haven we began feeling a little warmth in the breeze, and as we cleared the pierhead light, it was suddenly hot and humid.

This was Harbor Festival weekend at South Haven, so we couldn't get a slip in the South Municipal marina. Instead, we were across the river in the North Marina. And after staying there, we've decided that's the marina we'll request in the future. The water is much calmer on the north side, with the surge from the lake that frequently affects the south marina nonexistent over here.

Harbor Festival is a big weekend in South Haven, with music, an arts and crafts fair, dragon boat racing, and more.

We were delighted to see an old friend of ours, Steve French, at the arts and crafts fair. Steve is an artist from South Haven. We've collected a good number of his watercolors over the years and really like them. We took a photo of his booth from Meridian as we were leaving. Steve was busy helping a customer. Phil thinks that's half of him in the red shirt and jeans. (Bernie thinks he was wearing a plaid shirt.) Hi Steve!

If you're like Phil, you've never heard of dragon boat racing. Or dragon boats, for that matter. In fact, we met a couple at the marina who talked about the various events at Harbor Festival, including dragon boats, and it was one of those times where Phil had to pretend he knew what they were talking about when he really didn't have a clue. (They talked about dragon boats as if everyone knew, and Bernie seemed to know as well, and why look like an idiot by showing your lack of knowledge - again . . . ) So here, as a public service to all those of you like Phil . . . . here's a photo of dragon boats racing.

And, of course, how could we visit South Haven without Bernie stopping at the Farmers Market? Yes! It's great to hit the local farmers markets. The farmers like to talk about their products. And I like to talk to them. I bought strawberries, asparagus, zucchini, granola, honey, and Eucalyptus Spray (to keep the bugs away).

After another nice stay in South Haven, we pulled out of the slip on Saturday at 11:45 for a relatively short trip (35 miles) up to Port Sheldon where we planned to practice anchoring, spend the night "on the hook" and spend the next morning testing the kayak and dinghy before hopping up to Grand Haven, a distance of only 11 miles.

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