For the last 5 years we have been doing an annual sailing weekend with the same group of four friends. This year our plan was a shakedown cruise for the recently purchased boat of one member of our group. Here is a travelogue of our two day adventure.
Episode 1: Prelude
Thursday PM, 2016-06-16
Overcast skies, no wind, the ground still wet from a torrential downpour. The local barmaid let us know she had to pull over driving back from town, the rain was so heavy.
By 2045 the crew and skipper had arrived. Quick tour, stow supplies and luggage, then off to the nearest watering hole.
The brewpub was closing up, but they stayed open for us as long as we had beer and wood oven pizza. A fresh northerly breeze forced us inside just as the last of the daylight ebbed away. Good food and good friends, the real reason why we continue to do this every year.
A few hours of checking out various systems on the new boat, watching the fourth quarter of the basketball game and it’s decided we are going to sail to Cleveland tomorrow, 45 miles. It should take us 9-10 hours if the forecasted winds hold steady.
Episode 2: Bacon, batteries and breakers
Friday AM, 2016-06-17
We woke at dawn, 0530, no breeze, but a nice cool temperature and some birds chirping. The crew was eager to get going so no lounging around.
A grocery and coffee run simultaneous with Coleman stove maintenance converged with bacon and eggs for breakfast.
A group training session on batteries and engine starting procedures followed. We are all acquaintanced with the location of the house and engine batteries, how to remove the access panels and how to remove and reinstall the battery in a Toyota Camry.
Dishes and ablutions followed and then we picked up our dock lines and power cords and cast off.
A decent North East wind over 10 knots and the boat galloped along at 6+ knots. Steve helming his new vessel for the first time, the look on his face a cross between overwhelm and bliss.
At this rate we should be in Cleveland for dinner!
Episode 3: Spinnakers and Motoring
Friday Afternoon, 2016-06-17
The one constant in sailing is that nothing goes as planned. After a great start and high hopes for a quick passage, the wind decided to teach us a lesson.
Gradually the wind started to die, our speed also tracked downwards. But opportunity is hiding in adversity, so we seized the day and figured out the spinnaker. A beautiful rainbow coloured affair.
30 minutes to understand how to rig it, and swoosh it filled with the breeze, glorious. We enjoyed it for another 30 minutes while we were blown towards a fishing net. Once clear, we took it down, regular sails again, but by 1130 we had the motor on.
Limited wind, a wavy lake nonetheless, and we motored to Cleveland, arriving at the East 55 Street Marina around 1915.
Steve landed it perfectly and we checked in uneventfully with US customs via the videophone. An experience. You call them, exchange some trip details and then each crew member stands in front of the phone and puts their passport in front of a little scanner.
Off to dinner.
Episode 4: Taxis and Tapas
Friday PM, 2016-06-17
After a quick beer on the boat, a change of clothes and a discussion re the pros and cons of Uber vs a regular taxi, we set off for downtown. Our destination, East 4th Street, a score of restaurants on a pedestrian mall each with its own outdoor patio.
The sun was down, but the temperature was perfect for four recently arrived travellers looking for an alfresco experience. (With the US exchange these 50 cent words are cheaper, so I don’t feel as bad making copious use of them).
The Butcher and Brewer offered a selection of tapas dishes to share. Our choices included pretzel dough buns with runny cheese and mustard to dip, a pair of flatbreads, perogie and mushroom, buttermilk fried chicken with a maple infusion, and potatoes cooked some mysterious, but awesome, way. Some artisanal beers to chase it all down.
According to our server, an expat Californian, Cleveland is a mecca for food as well as music. The neighboring restaurants featured James Beard winners and Iron Chef competitors. Who knew.
While we were dining, the nearby Indians baseball game was coming to an end and they celebrated the win with fireworks that startled us, but didn’t seem to scatter the locals, so we didn’t panic.
We made our way back to the boat, first walking amongst the hustle and bustle of Cleveland night life and finally taking a taxi back to the marina.
A terrific end to Steve’s inaugural voyage of the good ship Day Dream.
Episode 5: Rock and Roll Motorboat – Series Finale
A later start today, up at 0615. A long day yesterday. We might have been up, but we weren’t moving or doing too much. Bill persuaded the Coleman stove to boil some water for coffee and initiated the new Bodum in the art of brewing and pressing.
After a leisurely coffee we cast off, sans breakfast, making our way to the Cleveland downtown waterfront. After a pleasant 30 minutes of motoring, a cold breakfast of bagels and peanut butter, Capt Steve delivered us to the dock of a marina Bill knew of hidden from view on the Cleveland waterfront. And there we were at the foot of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
We jumped out and wandered around, admiring the architecture and the view. After some selfies and tourist photos we headed back and cast off, leaving the under appreciated Cleveland dead astern.
Next to no sailing today, a gentle breeze on the nose teased us, but only enough for a 20 minute engine reprieve during lunch.
The afternoon was almost totally wind less, so we kept ourselves busy with cleaning, testing the reefing system, re rigging the furling, retrieving a wayward scrub brush, yoga, various guest lectures on a variety of topics including the existential nature of man, the role of colonialism in a global economy and the best way to keep freeloading insects out of the cockpit.
Finally, we arrived in Erieau around 1930, happy, hot and a little tired. Showering, dinner and rehashing our adventure is the plan for tonight.
Another great guys weekend, always something different!