The Wind Blew Me Home – Chapter 2

It’s best to start the morning slowly after a 9 hour enchanted sail, to take a languid inventory of all of your parts, cozy warm in the sleeping bag. A trip down to the boat for toothbrush and iPhone charging gear, a sauntering walk in an open sunny field to brush up the teeth and make a nitrogen rich deposit, lazing in the tent with a light breakfast of cheese, raisins and sesame butter.

Atop the bluff, the wind felt stiff and westerly. I was packed and launched by 1:00 pm.

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Looking back at North Manitou Island, north is to the left and south to the right. The bluff campsite above the landing is the green swath just left of south edge of the photo. Crescent City is the low lying area to the north.

After much tacking and fitful wind, I finally approached and cleared South Manitou at 5:00 pm. The wreck of the Francisco Morazan standing out in the sun was a temptation, I’d never been able to approach from the water, much less board her. That expedition would have meant another night camped and now that I was only 19 miles from my home turf I felt ready to finish, even if it meant sailing into the night again. Also, who could say what the wind and the weather would be tomorrow or the next day? Sans robot radio and cell phone connection, not me.

An ore boat on the horizon

An ore boat on the horizon

My charts gave me a heading of 193 degrees, and a half an hour later I could see some smudges on the far southern horizon, my destination. The wind was blowing me home now to the south and then eventually providing real power from the east. As Point Betsie grew, I kept looking back at South Manitou to gauge how much I had traveled. The big bluffs were still towering over the water 10 miles away. I had never realized how easily one could spot the Manitou Islands from Point Betsie. No wonder John Barnes had lusted after them. He and Joe Sturges had done the trip on their 16 foot Hobie Cat almost 20 years ago, and everyone thought them crazy kids.

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I decided to head to the western most edge of the point rather than follow the bearing offered by my chart. I hadn’t been adjusting for declination on the trip and I suspected that was why the chart offered the odd bearing off to the east. There’s a reason it’s called Point Betsie – the lighthouse is at the end of the point.

There was some question whether the light in the lighthouse was actually operational. It had been years since I’d been there at night and the complex had been mostly decommissioned and sold to private parties many years ago. I spotted the Frankfort Airport light, past the bluff and behind Crystal Lake about 10 miles. Crystal Lake! The Artist house and my Benzie rook was about as close as Point Betsie now, if Hello World could go airborne.

The west was gray and overcast so the last hour of the sun’s progress was hidden. There would likely be no sunset watchers at Point Betsie to greet me. I was judging how much light I had left by the official sunset time from windfinder.com – 7:44 pm. It was just about that time when the lighthouse began flashing at me! Yee hoo!

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I really felt a homecoming now, like a mariner of old returning to home port. The wind was stronger and I even got a little song out of the rudders as I flashed past the lighthouse. The moon was like a streetlight, bright and white on the beach. As I turned into the beach, the wind just shut off. I made a couple of feeble passes back and forth before finally landing with a crunch. Made it!

I threw all the bags off and dragged up Hello World, using the baolong fenders under the hulls over as usual. It was a good hour before she was 6 feet from the surf, sitting prettily on her baolongs. I repacked her for the night removing only the bike, the prepared food bag and the drybag containing the precious cargo of project hard drive and computer. I hit the road and biked the 6 or so miles back to the house. I was in the tub soaking and sipping stew by 11:00.

The next morning I started catching up on the blog. My plan was to call Patrick as if from the boat and ask him to go to my house to “look for something”. Then I’d surprise him by being there. My brother Steve called to ask where I was, I made some misleading references to Wisconsin and so forth, telling him that my actual location was secret. Patrick called me back later and told me he’d drive to my house in 45 minutes and would call me from there.

After about an hour of waiting for Patrick I got a call from Justin at the Coast Guard. Did I have a boat called Hello Kitty at Point Betsie? There was a report it was half in the surf and he wanted to know if there were people that needed searching for. I assured him that no search was needed and that I’d be picking up the boat later that day. Half in the water? I checked windfinder and sure enough, the easterly wind had picked up over 30 mph overnight, possibly blowing Hello World off the beach. Shit, where was Patrick? Icalled his cell without getting through. I then started to worry that maybe something happened to him, he was running pretty late now.

I forgot about all my clever surprise tactics and just waited for him to drive up. When he did I jumped in and said “Let’s go to Point Betsie.” Off we went.

Sure enough Hello World was being sucked into the surf, her gear hanging off precariously. The baolongs were long gone, but amazingly, everything else was there. We threw off our shoes and socks and waded into the frigid surging waves to do battle. Struggling against the sucking surf, we tossed off all her baggage and began wrestling her up. I had left one of the hull drain cocks open and water and sand had packed itself into the hull, increasing her weight. Not good.

With a few clueless tourists looking on, we eventually muscled her up high and dry. All the baggage and sails went into Patrick’s Subaru. We dropped the mast and lashed it to the roof rack. Much lightened, we were able to drag her all the way to the dune grass. While we were there John Anderson from Detroit showed up. He had phoned his brother with the project URL and they had checked out ondesire.com, got my information and phoned the Coast Guard. He had even tried to pull her up with help from some bystanders. So not all tourists are clueless, my apologies!

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John Anderson, Hero

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Post Point Betsie recovery - Photo by Patrick Kelly

I put a request into Jim Barnes to borrow his van. He had a catering job the next day but said he was pretty much ready and would be happy to give us a hand. We drove to his house and the three of us jumped into Jim’s van (after unhooking the catering trailer) and sped out to the property where he keeps his Hobie 16 and trailer, with only an hour until dusk. We off-loaded his Hobie and dragged the trailer over to Point Betsie where I waylaid a sunset watcher from Springfield, Illinois to help drag Hello World to the road. The four of us together huffed and puffed her up to the trailer suffering no serious injuries in the process. I thanked our friend and sent him back to the water with plenty of time to see the sun sink. Getting her up on the trailer and strapped down in a jiffy, we were off again to my place to dump Hello World gently in the driveway. Another trip back to Jim’s property where we put his Hobie back on his trailer (it was dark now) and finally returning to his house for a beer and sandwiches. Phew! Patrick and I eventually returned to the house where I taught him to smoke sage out of the old flintlock pistol.

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