July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

The Adventure Begins
By Kismet, Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When I was a young boy of nine my parents took a summer vacation in northern Michigan. The only part of the vacation I remember was the stop we made in Charlevoix. I recall the appeal of the Round Lake harbor that sits at the foot of the downtown area, just off of Lake Michigan. I can still remember the feeling when, as a child, I ran down the grassy knoll towards the marina. I still remember seeing all the boats moored at the docks. The year was 1959.

The new and improved Charlevoix harbor

Today the marina is sparkling new with floating docks; the harbor house is built in the style of the late architect, Earl Young. The park has a new band shell and the boats are newer and bigger. What good fortune, what kismet, that 40 years later, Lisa and I would call this same marina our homeport. It’s here that we’ve made all our final preparations, said our goodbyes, and cast off for our two-year Great Loop adventure.

Lisa and I spent Labor Day weekend enjoying time with two of our sons, Bart and Skyler -- Ross is out West. We celebrated Skyler’s birthday ahead of time, had prefect weather for some freshwater swimming at one of our favorite anchorages, and said our goodbyes to Lisa’s mother. The tears flowed easily and the hugs were plentiful, all moments that will be warm in our hearts until we all meet again. Our friends were more than gracious by having us over for dinner, out to dinner, or visiting us at the boat all while we were frantically finalizing all of the last chores on our to-do list.

Saying goodbye to family was one of the hardest things we had to do.

While at a friend’s home, when asked what she’d miss the most while away, tears filled Lisa’s eyes. She said she’d really miss everyone’s friendship, and miss seeing those she cared about for such a long period of time. I tried to lighten things up, saying that I thought Lisa was becoming so emotional because it was finally dawning on her that she’d be spending so much time alone with me. It worked, everyone laughed, and it was on to more merriment as the water and cruising called to us.

So after we said all our final goodbyes, and our I-love-yous, after we stocked the boat, and stored our truck, we woke up to less-than-favorable boating conditions on our scheduled departure day. The remnants of Hurricane Gustav had worked their way into Lake Michigan to foil our exit. We patiently waited three more days for the big lake to settle down.


We enjoy a marina picnic with our son Skyler. Then, just before departure we had one last northern Michigan sunset dinghy ride with our son Bart.

Saturday morning I woke up before the 5 a.m. alarm went off, anxious to get ready so we could make the 6 a.m. bridge opening and enjoy the calm waters that waited. We left under the cover of darkness with the only light coming from the setting quarter moon and the two-dozen fishing boats plying the early-morning waters.

We had to trust that all the fishing boats had lights on and that our radar was picking them up, as we inched our way out past them at a slow seven knots into the Lake Michigan waters. Needing the sunrise to help guide us we were thankful the waters were calm for the first four hours. The waves were only 1 to 2 footers; our decision to delay the start by three days had been a good one.

Once past the protection of the Manitou Islands, just off Leland, Michigan we were rudely greeted by consistent four-to-six-foot waves, with the occasional seven-footer thrown in. We hadn’t expected this after closely monitoring the weather. Although our Kismet handled the rough water and kept chugging along, Lisa and I would’ve preferred not to be tossed around as much as we were.


We were up and departed before sunrise to get an early start on the day.

As the waves rolled against our starboard front quarter, pushing the boat around, I found myself clinching my jaw and grinding my teeth. I was struggling to accept the water conditions in which we found ourselves, conditions our boat seemed to accept without question. The only causality was a latch on the master bed that holds down the mattress platform. I heard one of those new noises I hadn’t heard before so I left the pilothouse to investigate. I found the mattress platform bouncing up and down like the jaws of a hungry alligator, whenever the bow ran into one of the larger waves. Four long hours later we dropped anchor in the protected Frankfort, Michigan, harbor to spend our first night.

Even though we’ve been living on Kismet for six months, we consider the first portion of our trip a shakedown of sorts. Once we got settled into our anchorage I took the time to check all the fluids, inspect the sea strainers, hoses and belts. I wanted to make sure all was as it should be and it was. I then repaired the latch so the mattress platform would stay secure the next time we found ourselves in bumpy conditions

Frankfort has a picturesque harbor approach with the lighthouse and Sand Dunes, which grace the shoreline.

Also on my list was to check our newly installed satellite antenna. It worked fine during the first week back in port but we’d never tried it while at anchor. We don’t watch much television, and never while underway, but it’s nice to be able to catch up on national news or watch our favorite shows. However this was not going to happen on our first night on the hook!

After resetting all the satellite parameters and receiving a reception signal of 86 percent, we had no picture. Very frustrating. It took two-and-a-half more days and several phone calls to our service provider before we finally found someone who knew how guide us to an obscure setting change. If this is the toughest situation we’re faced with over the next two years I’ll consider us very fortunate.

We found the water conditions for the next three days to be less than favorable and decided only to travel two of the three days. We made our way 45 miles south to Ludington, Michigan, where we spent two nights moored at the Municipal Marina. Visiting new towns, whether they’re planned stops or weather related layovers, are all part of the fun.


Kismet at the dock in Ludington, Michigan
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We walked into town to make visits to the post office, a used bookstore, and had lunch at the fourth-generation Greek restaurant Old Hamlin. We then had to stop at the original House of Flavors ice cream store/factory for treats -- they produce 40 million gallons per year! This is small town America at its best.

When we left Ludington Tuesday morning, we were greeted yet again by another water condition, following seas. We had large, mostly four-footers, and Lisa and I agreed it was a gentler ride than during our prior two travel days. After eight-and-a-half hours the gentle surfing began to wear us out and we looked forward to our anchoring out in Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan.

As we entered the protected harbor off Lake Michigan we were greeted by a couple of Looper friends, Ginger and Laura on Stargazer. They too have decided to venture off for a second Great Loop adventure, and their start just happened to coincide with the start of ours. They were calling us on their VHF radio from the same anchorage area we were descending upon. What a small world.


The waves were pretty big the first few days out. It was a rocky ride to say the least. But we got through it, got our sea legs, and now our adventure has officially begun.
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