Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sheboygan and the Last Leg Home

We had been hearing/reading about a big front moving into the north end of the lake on Saturday night...and decided we wanted to get back to Manitowoc before it  settled in.  We would have been caught for 3-4 days if we did not make it.  So, we dropped Waukegan from our plan for the way home and headed directly across the lake to Racine on Thursday.  It was a direct shot out in open water...64 miles into the wind all day, taking 8 1/2 hours.  We stayed at Reefpoint Marina in Racine.

The next morning we left fairly early to head for Port Washington.  For about 2-3 hours we experienced high wave action and gusts up to 33 mph.  It was, shall I say, exciting?!?  Andy thought it best, at one point, to head toward Milwaukee and get on the leeward shore to be a bit more protected from the wind and waves.  To our delight, the wind subsided, the waves laid flat, and we were on our way to Port Washington in good time.  When we got there it was early and we decided  to make a run for Sheboygan ~ a total of 74 miles for the day.  We got there as the sun was setting and were grateful for only a 26 mile sail left for Saturday.  We were pretty weary when we arrived at the Harbor Centre Marina and chose to have dinner close by at the Yacht Club...windblown and a little ratty looking after 11 hours on the water.

Saturday morning we woke up and found ourselves completely socked in with dense fog.  I took a long walk along the river and down Main Street, discovering the big open farmer's market in a park in the middle of town.  Lots of local color there.
By about 11:30 the fog had lifted but not completely.  We decided to head out and see what it was like.  It was a little scary for about 45 one point a fishing boat appeared, speeding toward us out of the fog.  A few minutes later we were right on top of a 5-6 foot buoy marker that was just suddenly there!  Finally, we sailed out of the fog and had a clear 4 hour sail to Manitowoc. 
It was a great trip, but we were glad to be "home" before the storm.

We saw the mighty and powerful hand of God in the winds and the waves along the way.  It always reminds us of how small and insignificant we are. 
We are grateful for his guidance and protection along the journey.

The Windy City

Chicago, one of our very favorite big cities...the place we went to school, met and fell in love in the 60's!  Lots of memories and fun times to think about and remember. 
We could see the Sears Tower all the way from Kenosha.  We were able to motor sail most of the way down the north shore from Waukegan to Lincoln Park...54 miles and 8 1/2 hours of motor sailing.   We stayed in Belmont Harbor on the north end of the Park. 

 We arrived around 6 in the evening and by 7 we were with Dave and Cheryl McKay, friends from Rockford and Moody days.  Dave has a sailboat,too, so we shared lots of sailing stories/experiences.  We had dinner together in Andersonville (Swedish neighborhood) not far form the marina.  Great fun...wonderful food!

The next morning I took a long walk south through Lincoln Park along the water as well as the bike path.  It goes for miles.  I went as far south as Fullerton, the north end of the Lincoln Park Zoo.  It was a pretty morning ~ the waves were crashing up against the walkway.  I was impressed with how many people jog and bike at all hours of the day and night.  Several statues and monuments dot the park.

Andy's sister, Carol, from Oak Park came and picked us up and we went up to Rogers Park (the far north side of Chicago) for lunch at the Jamaica Jerk.  By mid afternoon we were back on the water sailing the bay, picking out sights along the shore, enjoying the skyline.  In the pictures you will see the old Coast Guard Station, Buckingham Fountain, Soldiers Field, the Planetarium, Navy Pier...the one lone tall condo building was new while we were at Moody in the late 60's, one of the first of it's kind.  The lighthouse in the trees was up in near Winnetka as well as the Baha'i Temple. 

Racine and Kenosha

Monday we were off to Kenosha, sailing past the Wind Point Lighthouse, the city of Racine, and the Racine Reef Light along the way. It was 35 miles and 5 1/2 hours of sailing.  Kenosha was a delightful surprise...the community has spent millions of dollars developing their waterfront...parks and sculptures, wide walkways for biking and jogging, wonderful condos right along the water.  The old downtown is being redeveloped into unique shops and boutiques, restaurants and coffee houses.  If I lived in the community, I would open a Market near the marina with basic food and drug store items.  I say this because I walked and walked trying to find a grocery and/or drug store, only to find a gas station was THE place to purchase supplies...not my favorite place to shop.

I walked out to the red lighthouse that greeted us at the entrance to the river where, it seems, the local high school kids hang out, swim, and goof off after school. Not far from there, old inland stone lighthouse stands completely restored, now a museum.  I must have walked 2 hours...then took a swim at the Southport Marina pool before supper.  We found a little pub with outdoor seating just on the edge of the condo complex.  Right down along the water there was a very large Civil War Museum as well as a Kenosha County Museum ~ both new and inviting.  Fountains and play areas for children lined the harbor, kids feeding the ducks and enjoying the day.

We stopped in Racine on our way back to Manitowoc later in the week.  The marina there is run by a company called Skipper Buds.  It was modern and nice with a pool and restaurant.  We arrived after a long day in the open waters between Chicago and Racine.  We walked around a bit when we went for supper at an Irish Pub on Main Street that had been in existence for almost 150 years...with lots of antique lights and decorations.  Again, the city had invested a lot in a long walkway along the river and harbor front, as well as a big center for weekend concerts and events all summer long.  The old Coast Guard Station is now houses the Yacht Club in Racine.

Port Washington and Milwaukee

It was my idea, my dream, to sail to Chicago this summer...thankfully Andy opted to help fulfil my dream...I couldn't have done it without him!  A cruise on a sailboat can be a challenge.  Normally we just go to Manitowoc, hop on the boat, and let the wind take us where it may...we just enjoy the quiet ~ relaxing, reflecting, savoring the day.  But, when you have a destination in mind, things don't always go the way you hope.

We took off for Port Washington on Saturday's about 53 nm south of Manitowoc.  The wind and waves were from the north ~ behind us ~ so it is hard to sail.  We ended up motoring most of the way with the wind and waves pushing us along.  The shoreline looked a bit different than we are used to.  There were not cliffs but rather sandy beaches most of the way from Sheboygan to Port Washington.  Lots of pretty homes along the shore.  It took 7 1/2 hours and we arrived not a bit too soon.  Right after we got there the waves got bigger and were crashing over the seawall ~ you can see it in the top right hand picture of the collage.  I didn't walk out to the lighthouse that afternoon ~ it just felt too dangerous and I didn't want to be swept away!

We settled in at the Port Washington Marina and then, as is my custom, I took off walking and exploring.  After a day on the boat in an area about the size of our master bathroom, I'm ready for some exercise.  Port Washington is a fun place to walk.  It is built on seven hills ~ each with a ve ld stairway to the top.  At one time it was considered as a candidate to be the capital of Wisconsin.  The old inland lighthouse (building with the red roof) is now a city museum.  Not far away is a beautiful old catholic church ~ both high on one of the seven hills, this one overlooking the harbor.  I had biked through Port Washington last summer on my ride for the diabetes association.  The country has a wonderful bike path and it meanders through the town.

The next morning we were not in a big hurry to get going so I took another walk around the harbor.  The waves had calmed a bit so it was safe to walk out to the lighthouse.  We were headed for Milwaukee and that is just about 4 hours (29 miles) away so we left before noon...the wind and waves were still from the north so we were motor sailing south once again.  The shore line was now back to cliffs ~ some sandy and some lush with trees.

When we got to the Milwaukee bay I watched for the old North Point Lighthouse.  It had been moved inland years ago as erosion threatened along the shore.  Now it is a wonderful nautical museum which I have visited a couple of times ~ seeing the view from the top of the lighthouse over the lake.  Now I was able to see it from the water ~ encased in lush trees (pictured in the collage). 

We found the waters around Milwaukee to be very busy with all sorts of boats...big and small.  McKinley Marina is huge and bustling with activity during the day.  I'm not sure I would enjoy being docked there all the time.  There is a large park along the lake shore in Milwaukee ~ you can rent a surrey with the fringe on top or go paddle boating in a pond.  On a nice day there are dozens of bikers, walkers, kite fliers as well as weddings and parties...just lots of activities.

We walked about a mile to find a restaurant for dinner.  We were glad we were familiar with the downtown or it would have taken us even longer.  Downtown Milwaukee is more of a business/financial center ~ not so much a shopping mecca.  By the time we were headed back to the boat, it was pitch dark in the park and a bit eerie.  Most all the boaters go home for the night ~ suddenly it was very quiet and a bit disconcerting walking through the park.

There are two active lighthouses in the harbor...the red one for the river entrance and the white one for the breakwater entrance.  I'm not sure what it is about lighthouses, but I find them fascinating. I guess I imagine the stories they might tell about ships, pirates, storms, and boats sinking...about families living in the house by the lighthouse, isolated from society, getting visitors only once in a while