(published September 2015)
I mentally sifted through our options as I stared at the black and white advertisements on my coffee-stained placemat in the greasy spoon diner near the marina. Décor celebrating Lake Michigan’s nautical past and present dripped from the walls narrating the story of ships lost nearby while a gale whipped the lake into a frenzy outside. By the time my food was delivered I’d deduced that there was really nothing we could do but stay in port for another 24-hours to let the weather settle. It was the prudent choice.
We’d gotten underway too late the day before. That’s all there was to it. Our weather window had slammed shut as we sailed quickly northward up Lake Michigan’s picturesque eastern shore on a breeze that soon built to a gale. We ducked into our first bailout port for a respite, which turned into a good call, as the wind would later switch 180-degrees and build in intensity.
Just a few nights earlier gathered around a crackling campfire near the lake, we talked excitedly about how far we could possibly get on the 40-foot family sloop in our allotted five-day time frame. But the realities of cruising caught up to our zeal as fast as the gale—mine in particular.
Time and again, sailors are reminded that poor planning, schedule keeping and being in a hurry only leads to negative cruising experiences. This is nothing new of course, but with this knowledge you can easily turn potentially disappointing moments into a fun and safe time on the water, which is really all that matters.
We didn’t get as far up the left side of the mitten state as we’d planned, and that was fine by us. Seeing it as a glass half full moment, and knowing full well that weather, not schedules, would determine how many miles we could sail, we took our time and soaked in the good moments as a family. What we were rewarded with was leisurely sailing on a now calm lake and enjoyable stops at quaint towns along the way. Who needs plans on a boat anyway?
Andrew, along with wife Jill and sons Porter and Magnus, are currently cruising the Pacific Northwest aboard their Grand Soleil 39 Yahtzee. Follow their adventures at threesheetsnw.com/yahtzee.