Three Ports in Two Days!

Four days into our trip, and already plenty of adventures! Clarity is currently docked at the Muskegon Yacht Club, though that will change in another 10 hours or so.

Aaron’s sail from Chicago to Holland on Sunday took just more than 13 hours. Luckily, the sail was relatively uneventful, and Claire and I also had an easy drive up to Grand Rapids the same day.

We stayed with my mother-in-law, Penny, and had wonderful family time Sunday evening and all of Monday, when Aaron was able to join us. We also ate so many delicious homemade meals that I thought I might burst. My mother-in-law is an amazing cook and an excellent baker. I think she made five pies in the two days we were there.

Many thanks are also due to Penny and Brian, her husband, for all of their help. They watched Claire while Aaron and I both got some work deadlines out of the way, and Brian accompanied me on my epic shopping trip that afternoon to provision the boat as best I could for the next few weeks.

On Tuesday, Penny and Brian drove us to Clarity, where we waited out a storm before making the decision to set sail for Grand Haven. Also, after yet another failed nap attempt, Grandma and Grandpa offered to drive Claire up to Grand Haven to meet us. The change in routine had wreaked havoc on Claire’s sleep. Too many fun things to do with Grandma and Grandpa! I don’t need to nap! Sleeping through the night? What’s that?! But we knew that once we got into a routine on the boat, she’d fall back into place. And for the most part, she was in great spirits.

The sail up to Grand Haven just the two of us was a great introduction to our trip. The sun came out and we were able to sail without the engine a little more than half of the way.¬†Claire actually napped for Penny and Brian on the drive, thank goodness, and we all had dinner together in town before getting Claire to bed on the boat – just in time to catch the musical fountain show, which is exactly what it sounds like. As much as I roll my eyes about how silly it is, the show is a cute idea for a seasonal town, and they’ve made some improvements to the lighting and sound since last year. Claire would dance her heart out to it – maybe next year, when 9:30 p.m. isn’t so far past her bedtime.

Penny and Brian headed home and we started sawing logs shortly thereafter – all the way until 10 a.m. this morning! Claire and I dug around downtown Grand Haven for a bit while Aaron tended to some work calls, and after a stop in Oddside Ales, our absolute favorite local haunt, we packed the boat up again and set sail for Muskegon.

Claire napped about half of the three-hour sail, and even though the wind shifted onto our nose halfway there and the waves steadily built, our first family sail of the trip was a memorable one. We grabbed a slip at the yacht club, home to just about the nicest people on earth, and Aaron took Claire for a dip in the pool while I got dinner ready.

Tomorrow, our plan is to keep heading north while the weather conditions cooperate – either Pentwater or Ludington, depending on how ambitious we feel.

It sure feels good to be back in the saddle again…

 

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See Ya Later, Chicago!

ClaireSunglassesFinally this boating season, stars and schedules have aligned! Tomorrow, we cast lines and head to Michigan for three or four weeks.

The plan? Live on our boat full-time, make our way north and see as much as possible before throwing the trip in reverse. We are so excited and blessed to be able to do this. Also, the decision to pull the trigger and go was not one we took lightly.

Interested parties can find any number of sailing blogs out there, though I don’t know of any others focused on sailing the Great Lakes with a toddler. But many families are cruising the Caribbean, or even circumnavigating the globe, and documenting their experiences. I’ve actually gotten frustrated reading some of those blogs lately. The pictures are beautiful, and the stories are alluring! But I don’t find them altogether honest. I’ll always be honest here.

Aaron and I had countless conversations about whether or not we should take this trip – not because it wouldn’t be an amazing experience, but in order to make sure we really wanted to take on all of the extra weight that comes with it. Last year, we did a similar trip, and for a similar length of time, so we have a pretty good idea of what we’re in for. With any sailing trip, though, there’re bound to be surprises.

What if weather and waves kick up while we’re sailing? I will likely get seasick, though I’m finding better ways to manage this. Also, if I’m sick, it’s almost a guarantee that Claire is, too. And then the bulk of the responsibility for sailing the boat and getting us safely to shore falls on Aaron. And that’s a heavy burden for him if I’m not at my best as co-skipper.

What if Claire gets a cold while we’re gone? What if she enters another lovely phase of being 2 years old, testing even more boundaries? What if, an hour into a six-hour sail to our destination, she decides she wants off the boat? And then refuses her nap?

What if we’re out and the autopilot quits? Or the steering fails? Or our engine or batteries shut down? Do we have a back-up plan for as many situations as possible? Are we prepared for emergencies?

What if Aaron and I get into a fight while we’re out there? Clarity’s 36 feet can seem pretty cramped in situations like that, and it’s not as if one person can just go for a drive to burn off steam.

(I bring all of these scenarios up because they’ve all happened at one point or another.)

And can we get things organized enough at home to be comfortable leaving for that long? What about work, for both Aaron and me? Oh, and somebody has to stop in on Tink regularly, too!

Then, of course, there’s the financial consideration. Sure, we will be taking our “home” with us wherever we go, but unless we anchor out, we will be paying for slips in every harbor we stop at. These can run anywhere from $35 to $75 per night, sometimes even more, depending on if we stay in a relatively basic municipal marina or a fancy private one with a swimming pool and a hot tub (yes please!).

The truth is, while we’re gone, we will be paying for our condo in Oak Park, paying for our slip at 31st Street Harbor, and paying for our transient slip. G. U. L. P.

I mention all of this to explain that, in order to do this, you really have to want to do it. And you have to accept the inevitable challenges of a trip like this – and embrace them!

Luckily, Aaron and I are both realists, and at the same time, adventurists. With as clear a view as we can have, we are so excited that everything came together and we are able to “take to the sea” once again.

So, here’s the plan:

Aaron will be sailing Clarity over to either South Haven or Holland tomorrow (something he felt was important to do on his own), and I will be driving with Claire to Grand Rapids to visit with his family for a day or two. Then, while Claire and Grandma have some bonding time, I will do my big shopping trip to provision the boat for the next three weeks.

Aaron will likely take the boat one more stop up to Grand Haven and we will rendezvous there as a family on Tuesday, spending a day getting settled before pointing the bow north and seeing where the wind takes us. We will both be working remotely while we’re gone (how fortunate is that?!).

There will be lots of adventures and lots of pictures – I’ll be sure to share them with you! And I’ll be taking notes on each port to create a guide for anyone who hopes to follow in our footsteps, either wet or dry, with their kiddos.

Inevitably, there will be some trying times, and I’m sure we’ll get into some pickles. We always do. I promise to share those moments, too.

See you on the flip side!

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