Off the New Buffalo Public Beach at 11:00 am after a quick run for groceries and one last visit to the restrooms. The wind was out of the northeast at maybe 9 knots, good for southwest course. At 12:30 I passed Michigan City, Indiana with it’s 3 mile island style cooling tower. Goodbye Michigan, Hello Indiana.
The wind was a bit puffy and capricious, but it was generally one long curving tack until 2:30 pm, well near the steel mill at Burns Harbor or Port. That’s when we made a decisive turn towards shore and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I performed a rather clumsy landing and yanked the boat up enough to drain the starboard hull.
The first federal employee on the scene (a lifeguard) was less than welcoming – “Get off the beach,” basically. “I doubt the Gary police will let you park on the City’s beach, and Ogden Dunes has a lot of rules, you probably won’t have any luck there either.” This guy probably didn’t have anything waiting for him at home but a Swanson TV dinner and Seinfeld reruns. Life without magic, what a concept. Turning Hello World into the wind so she’d stay put, I started casting the home spell.
First I called the Gary police and asked the dispatcher to have the beach patrol call me back. Then I headed for Ogden Dunes and the masts poking out the dune grass. I started asking folks I met along the way, “I’m looking for a beach to keep my Hobie for the night.” Nancy told me about Jim, a big sailor and pointed out his house. Before i got there I saw a kid sitting on Hello World’s sister. “Hey, this your boat? Are your parents around, I’m looking for a place to park my Hobie for the night, my name’s Dan.”
His name was Zach and his friend Kyle appeared suddenly from under a kayak. Kinda reminded me of a turtle popping his head out of a shell. I told them my deal and then made my way to the next cluster of Hobie 16s and up to the house behind them.
I met Vicki at her front door and she said I was welcome to park my boat there but I might get a ticket. I thanked her and said I might to her up on the offer.
I hustled back to Hello World and called the Gary Police again just to have some options. The dispatcher wasn’t much help so I thought about calling Gary’s mayor. As his website didn’t have a phone number, I decided to go with my Ogden Dunes plan. Just as I was pushing off an actual ranger showed up. He told me the Feds had jurisdiction for the beach all the into Ogden Dunes but that he wouldn’t bust my boat unless there was a complaint. Thanking him and thouroughly confused, I dragged my baby into the waves.
As I pulled up in front of my safe house, I was greeted by Tom, Zach’s dad. Zach had told his dad and mom Jeni about this guy sailing around Lake Michigan. They invited me to stay with them for the night. How about that?
Zach, Kyle and another pal Cody and had just taken the family’s Hobie out for thier first big wind solo. They were hell bent for Chicago and looked like they might be having a little trouble turning around. Tom and I unloaded Hello World and prepared for a rescue run. By the time we were both wetsuited, harnessed and life preserved, they were heading back. Us old guys were able to stand down.
After the three amigos flew up on the beach like total dudes, Tom took Kyle and Zach back out again while Cody watched me scarf Jeni’s cous cous and beans. Her daughter’s a vegetarian too so she gets it.
They took me home to meet the 4 dogs and grab an ecstatic hot shower. Then the old folks sipped tea and watched the lads doing phenomenal dive tricks in the backyard pool. Before enjoying the sleep of the just, i showed Tom and Jeni the ALM trailer online.
Zach and his pals reminded me of the iconic gang in Bradbury’s R is for Rocket. Made me miss my nephews!