Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hauling Out

Today was haul out day. We moved to the haul out slip about 11 this morning after washing the outside of the boat and unloading everything we want to take home for the winter.

The radar mast is being lowered.

The lift slings were then placed under the keel in just the right spots. Easy to tell, since the sides of the boat say "Lift here."

Mara Beel is gently lifted out of the water.

Next, the boat is maneuvered around to be backed into the storage building.

"Snake" power washed the hull.

Finally, she's moved inside the building:

Mara Beel is resting on this cradle until spring. The whole process took about 3 hours, with a few interruptions.

We are sad to put her away for the winter, but the weather is supposed to turn snarly later this week. It's time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Cleaning

Who knew there is so much to clean on a boat before putting it away for the long, cold winter? I think we have laundered everything except money today. The morning began with changing the oil in both engines (Caterpillar 3208 diesels, for those who want to know). 13 quarts of oil per engine. Then, Mark helped change the transmission oil- 2 quarts, and the generator- another 4 quarts. Now we have nice, clean oil and oil filters (5 0f those). In the spring we will replace 5 fuel filters. Mark is really smart about all of this- must be his farm background.

Mark in the engine room.

 Next, we cleaned the bilge. One of the guys at the boatyard here told us how to get it so clean that we could have sex down there. Mark put something called Northwoods Trapper in the bilge (if you don't know what the bilge is, Google it.) It smells like oranges. After a few minutes, Mark scrubbed it with a long-handled brush and hosed it with hot water. My job was to control the valve from the water heater and the water pump- the first time I have actually worked in the engine room. Then Mark used the boatyard's sewage sucking hose to remove the dirty water in a jiffy. The bilge area is much cleaner, and fresh-smelling now. But, no....

Meanwhile, we took down all of the curtains (15 windows) and I hauled them to a dry cleaner. We won't hang them until spring.

Next I loaded the settee cushions into our truck and we took them to Menominee, Michigan, this evening to have the foam in them replaced during the winter.

We had ring-side seats to the moving of a 75-foot sport fisher today. It has been refurbished at Palmer Johnson Yachts, a few blocks from here. The Great Lakes guys moved in down the streets with their TravelLift and then put in in the water near us. This boat was purchased in San Francisco and traveled here on her own bottom. After the fishing superstructure is attached, she will sail to the east coast. Unbelievable $$ in this project.

This boat is huge!

Full moon over Sturgeon Bay tonight- can't believe my iphone takes such good photos.

More cleaning tomorrow, then Mara Beel will be hauled out.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Getting ready for winter

An entire month has gone by since our last post! It was the height of summer then, and now there is a chill in the air and the trees are showing their autumn colors in Door County.

We are back on board, prepping the boat for winter storage. We arrived on Friday to discover that someone, who shall remain nameless (his initials are those of a well-known candy) had inadvertently turned off power to the refrigerator when we left a month ago. The food lost was not a big deal- just a few condiments- but the mold growth was impressive. Eeeew! I was NOT happy, to put it mildly. After a tag-team power wash we now have the cleanest, well-scrubbed fridge in the marina! 

A fellow boater took this photo of us.
Last night we made some new friends (again). We wanted to watch the Wisconsin-Nebraska game, but our TV needs an antenna. We walked over to a nearby marina that has a big screen TV in its lounge and walked right in. (Y'all know that this is typical behavior for Mark.) A party was going on, and we were invited to have a seat. We were even offered food at what turned out to be a family get-together. They obviously knew we didn't belong there, but they welcomed us anyway. We left before the game ended and avoided the gloom and doom of the last-minute Badger loss. Sad day here, but we're happy the Hawkeyes won! (Hoping the Packers are victorious tonight.)

Mara Beel is scheduled to be hauled out of the water on Tuesday-- we have many chores to do before then....

We took her out on Lake Michigan this afternoon- what a gorgeous day!
Pretty calm water
Entering Sturgeon Bay- lighthouse and Coast Guard Station

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Menominee, MI

On Monday we finally made it to Menominee, MI, where we are docked at the Municipal Marina-- a beautiful facility. The crossing of Green Bay was uneventful- there was hardly a ripple in the water.

Aerial view of the Menominee Marina

Mara Beel in the foreground

The boaters lounge
Before we had even signed in with the harbormaster we met Stephen and Charlotte, Loopers from Florida on Jackets II. We later met for docktails and dinner at Table Six, just 2 blocks from the marina. You can follow their travels aboard "Jackets II", their Krogen Express 52 on their blog. We like it here so well we decided to stay another day.

On Tuesday I took advantage of the marina laundry facilities while Mark cleaned the outside of the boat. We did a little shopping and ordered screens for our flybridge from a local lady. Of course we met new friends- Larry and Caryl, who will be starting the Loop next month, their granddaughter Mille and friend Bruce. We all enjoyed docktails and a potluck dinner on their boat, another Ocean Alexander, "Prime Time".
Gorgeous sunrise
Remote controlled sailboat race

We were able to get tickets for the Packers' final exhibition game thanks to Larry and Caryl. Being at Lambeau was a thrill, even though it was 92 degrees at game time. And I thought it was always freezing cold at Packer games. ;-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Boating = Friends

One meets the nicest people on boats! By most accounts, people are the best thing about "doing the Loop". We have barely begun our travels, and we have made many new friends and admired their boats.

Last week we were fortunate to have Ken and Pat for dinner at our house. They started the Loop from Red Wing, MN a year ago, and stopped overnight in Muscatine then. We ran into them again in Marathon, FL, last winter on board the 20Bucks$. They have a wonderful blog chronicling their adventures.

On Friday we met Joel and Debby as they stopped in Guttenberg to have lunch with us. They were then 6 days out on their adventure, on Water Music.

After a fun lunch we wistfully watched them sail off. One of these days it will be our turn!

Yesterday we drove up to Sturgeon Bay and the Mara Beel. We detoured to Manitowoc for a brief visit with Clay and Sally, and their friend Bob. They were our "dock neighbors" in Sturgeon, but they started out on their Loop last week. You can follow their trip on SaSea Sally via their blog.

So fun to talk with 3 other couples living the dream! Since the Upper Mississippi is not actually part of the Great Loop route, we don't see a lot of Loopers up here- but when we do, it is special!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Menominee or Bust

Mark confirms our course
Today we cruised across Green Bay to Menominee, MI, the beginning (or end) of the Upper Peninsula. It's only about 18 miles from here, but with a cruising speed of 8-9 miles per hour, it is not a quick trip.  Before we left Sturgeon Bay, we topped off our tanks with 235 gallons of diesel fuel. And I thought our truck had a big tank! The fuel purchase came with a free pump out of our holding (sewage) tank, which eased the pain a miniscule amount.

Anyway, we headed out on the Bay. We used our autopilot, but fought the wind quite a bit. We have an iPad app called iNavX that lets us download charts and plot a course- it's very cool. It also runs on my iPhone, but that display is too small to be useful.
iPad running iNavX
On nautical charts white colored areas are deep water- the darker the blue color on the chart- the shallower the water is. Kinda counter-intuitive in my opinion. Tan areas are land.

Since the ride was bumpy, we each carried a whistle. When one of us went down below  (to check the engines, make lunch, etc.) we blew the whistle to let the person upstairs know that we had not fallen off the boat or anything. You can't always count on hearing a big splash, I guess. Carrying our lunch up top in the rolling seas was a challenge!We also use "marriage savers" which are headsets with mics when we are casting off and coming into the dock to tie up. The nickname is appropriate- we can quietly voice our frustrations to/with each other without screaming at the top of our lungs!

One of our readers asked about my goal of not smashing my head on the door frame when entering the boat this week. Keep your fingers crossed- so far, so good- my head is injury free!

Brats and Dinghy Day

We have 2 big events to report on today, although they actually took place yesterday. First, we hosted the people who work at Great Lakes Yacht Service for lunch. We grilled brats and Belgian Trippe, a local sausage that is a brat stuffed with cabbage. About a dozen folks enjoyed the brats and my Greek Dip and Guacamole salad. We are so grateful for everyone here-- we bought our boat here and have docked it here all summer. The entire staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable and patient with our inexperience!

guacamole salad photo
Guacamole Salad

I got this recipe from my daughter, who got it from a friend of hers. It is always a hit!

Guacamole Salad:                                                                                              
·         1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
·         ½ c. diced red onion
·         1 yellow, orange, or red pepper – diced in 1/2” to 1” pieces
·         1 can - 15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
·         1 handful of chopped cilantro
·         ½ tsp. lime zest
·         1-2 minced jalapenos (optional)
·         2 diced avocados

·         ¼ c. lime juice ~ 2 limes
·         ¼ c. olive oil
·         ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
·         1 clove of garlic, minced
·         1 tsp. kosher salt
·         ½ tsp. ground black pepper

   Place tomatoes, onions, peppers, beans, cilantro, lime zest and avocados in a medium size bowl.Mix all dressing ingredients together well and pour over the other ingredients. Stir gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate. 

Greek Dip Platter  
6oz plain Greek Yogurt
10oz Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (may not use entire thing)
To taste:
minced red onion
chopped cucumber
chopped tomato
chopped kalamata olives
feta cheese
chopped fresh parsley
Dippers: Triscuits, pita chips, whole-grain crackers, carrots, celery, cucumber slices
Spread Greek yogurt on the bottom of a deep plate. Spread hummus evenly on top. Sprinkle on red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese and parsley. Serve with dippers.

from iowagirleats.com

And now for the second important event of the day--- drum roll------ we launched our dinghy and went for a short cruise around the "neighborhood"! Eventually this will be very routine, but it was the first time that we single-handedly attached the crane to the dinghy and lowered it into the water. We didn't even swing it into the side of the M.B.! No smashing/crashing is always a plus. After our ride we hoisted it back up on board without incident. One of these days we are gonna be real sailors!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Who's a chicken?

Another short cruise on Lake Michigan today-- this time the waves were a bit more significant. At least I thought they were significant- white caps here and there. But our dock "neighbor" assured us they were BABY waves -- only 2 footers. We were rockin' and rollin' into the wind, (I was holding on to my seat) but it was calmer on the return trip. Not like the good old Mississippi at all. It's good to get s small idea of what we will be facing!

Supper tonight was grilled chicken breasts from the local meat market- Marchant's. We bought one breast that was ginormous! It tipped the scales at 1.93 pounds. I wonder what they feed their chickens around here!  I marinated it as usual and Mark grilled all 8 pieces of it. It was delish- so moist and tender and flavorful- what a difference never-frozen makes! I used the marinade I have used for 35-plus years. It's an adaptation of the grilled chicken served by the Jolly Ox restaurant in Memphis where Mark worked as a waiter.

Hawaiian Chicken Marinade
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T. cooking sherry
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Place all ingredients in a gallon-size ziploc bag and shake to mix thoroughly. Add 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Refrigerate for 4-48 hours. Grill hot 3-4 minutes per side, then turn down heat until cooked through. This is a fail-safe recipe, but this time it was the best ever!

After supper we took a short walk (ice cream run actually) and discovered the community band free concert in the park.Nice!

Working toward goals

I have two major goals I want to accomplish while on the M.B. this week. The first is to NOT smash the top of my head on a door frame while entering the salon. (Last time we were here I left with 2 big knots on my head. I can be a slow learner sometimes.) Anyway, so far so good on this one. One day at a time-- keep your fingers crossed.

Goal #2 -- even more difficult -- is to drive the boat up to the dock. I am fairly confident about driving on open water, but docking terrifies me. So today Terry, the very calm and patient gentleman who sold us this boat, took me out for a lesson. Mark, being somewhat less calm and patient, stayed below while we navigated from the flybridge. First Terry had me drive right up to a green buoy in the Bay. Easy to do, but he wanted me to get sooo close to it-- then quickly reverse the engines. That's how you brake when there are no brakes. I passed that test- didn't hit the buoy. I wanted to close my eyes, but remembered I was driving. Next, I had to bring the boat up alongside a face dock- meaning parallel to the dock. Sort of like parallel parking a car. Luckily I did not have to squeeze in between other boats. Terry taught me how to maneuver by using just the 2 engines- no steering wheel. Left/right/forward/reverse. It was scary but fun when Terry left me alone to help Mark move some of the lines on deck. He said, "I'm leaving the bridge. You have control now, sir--- I mean ma'am." Holy mashed potatoes as my granddaughter would say!  I have to say I am proud of myself.  I did defer to Mark on backing into our docking spot when we went "home."

We ended the evening by grilling pork chops from the local meat market.

We spent all morning cleaning the isenglass (plastic windows around the flybridge,)

Mixed reviews on Mark's beard

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back in Sturgeon Bay

Here we are again on board the M.B. in Sturgeon Bay-- yay! It's a little cooler than Iowa has been recently-- but so are most saunas!

We are still working part of each day on updating and maintaining things around here. I know it doesn't sound exciting, but Mark installed a new propeller on our dinghy and changed its oil. We hope to take a cruise around the Bay in our dinghy this week-- which means turning the boat around in its berth. The dinghy has to be launched from the port (left) side of the boat, which is currently against the dock. Then we have to figure out how to operate the crane that lowers the dinghy into the water. Piece of cake- right?

After supper we walked a few blocks to the Door County Candy Shop for ice cream, then strolled by the boat show at Stone Harbor resort, very close to our marina.

Stone Harbor

Severe thunderstorms surrounded us but missed us.

Beautiful cloud formations

Friday, July 6, 2012

Exploring Door County

We had a very busy day today. We began with an early morning cruise on Lake Michigan. We traveled through the canal connecting Sturgeon Bay with the Lake, between two lighthouses. The water was so smooth.

After returning from our morning cruise, we drove farther up the peninsula to Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, and Sister Bay. Door County flowers are impressive- they grow profusely everywhere! Unfortunately, (our opinion) tourists are also abundant in these villages.

We then headed to the east side of Door Peninsula to visit the Cana Island Lighthouse. We climbed the 97 steps to the top of the tower (built in 1869) to experience the view.

Photo by J Baldwin

A large rock shelf just under the water here caused many shipwrecks in the 1800's.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th

Our daughter Caitie arrived after a long drive on the 4th. It's so much fun to have her on board!

We took our bag chairs and walked across the bridge to have a good view of the highly touted Sturgeon Bay fireworks. Unfortunately a brief but strong thunderstorm blew in from the Bay minutes before the fireworks were scheduled to start. The fireworks display was cancelled and dozens of boats scurried to shore while we hiked back to our boat. So the only aerial display we saw was lightning!

Earlier in the day the sailing vessel Denis Sullivan cast off from the dock near us, headed for Green Bay. What an impressive ship! We counted a crew of 14 visible on deck as she sailed by. I'd love to see her with sails unfurled!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


We were privileged to be part of two birthday celebrations in the last 24 hours! Our new boating friend Clay's big day was yesterday. We were invited to their boat for dinner and birthday cake.
Sally and the birthday boy.

Today we celebrated with "old" friends from home, Frosty and Linda on Linda's birthday, with our first venture into Lake Michigan. That is a LOT of water! Linda loves lighthouses, and was excited to see this one at the entrance to the Sturgeon Bay Canal.
Linda, the birthday girl

Frosty and Mark

Through the entrance to Lake Michigan.