Sunday, September 4, 2011

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

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