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.


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