Sailing RedSky to Petoskey
It was Saturday morning – Aug 24, 2019
We planned the weekend as much as we could, and waited in anticipation. We were ready. After weeks of living in the Mackinaw City Marina, we were ready to make our first journey to the Little Traverse Bay. We planned for 50 Nautical Miles. I filled the gas tank and took an extra 10 gallons of gas. Jenn took pride in planning and packing snacks and meals for the night in Mackinaw, and the day on the water. We tentatively planned for 12 hours since we were still learning how to navigate with sails, and other than going a few miles, had not been on motor for more than about 20 or so minutes at a time. After our late night trip to get some last minute supplies, we watched some fireworks with a glass of wine, and went to bed dreaming of our trip ahead of us.
We woke up to a cooler than normal morning. The dew covered boat was sitting as still as could be on the glass lake. We made jokes as were walked from the boat to the Marina office one last time, that there was not a bit of wind. I even made a video of the flags, in disbelief of how still they were. However, the plan continued, and we left Mackinaw just before 8AM.
As we motored away from the Marina, and under the mighty Mac, we continued to note how calm the lake was. The wind was not moving at all, and the water was like glass. Most inland lakes I had not seen this calm. The pictures could not even capture how smooth the lake was. For the first 3 hours, we motored along waiting for the chance to put up the sails. That chance continued not to come. We took our turns at the tiller, the Captain and the Skipper. Making sure to each have some time at the bow, where the engine noise was silent and the glassy water splashing on the hull was the only sound. I made coffee, as Jenn tested her knowledge of using the compass to keep a steady course.
The day continued, and we continued to motor. Here is where we learned one of the most valuable lessons of sailing… the weather can and will dictate your day and trip. We ended up running on motor for seven straight hours. Twice we tried to raise the sails thinking we felt some wind, only to sit on a calm lake, with limp sails. We pushed on, just enjoying our time on the open water.
At about 3PM, we finally started into Little Traverse bay. We could see Petoskey, and at this time noticed the winds started. They were about seven knot winds, and coming from the East, which was not normal, but finally provided us a chance to put up our sails. We put them up and for the first time all day were able to shut of the motor and enjoy the power of the wind.
This ride was short lived, as about half way across the bay, the weather completely changed its attitude, and the winds and waves started to intensify to what a seasoned sailor would not bat an eye at, but brought a new level of stress on us. Jenn pointed us towards the Petoskey harbor as I scrambled on the deck to pull down the sails. We rocked at every wave, and I fought to check every line I pulled, still learning what order to do everything.
We spend about 20 Minutes fighting the waves to pull around the pier, and had luckily taken a moment to call in requesting a deck hand be ready to assist us. We found our slip, being the first on as we entered the marina; it was full of waves, and current. The docking was an adventure, with us still trying to learn to use a tiller at slow speeds.
We had made it. Our little 25 Ft piece of heaven on the big lake. It was a small trip to some, but in our eyes, it was amazing, nerve wrecking, challenging, and a trip that began our journey. It taught us how to navigate, work together, and some of the limitations of our boat along with what it can truly handle. This set the hook of desire deeper into us, as we knew this was adventure that we would always want in our lives.