68 Ludington, MI to Chicago, IL


Badger’s whistle announces her arrival. Fishing boats in the channel move aside as the coal powered car ferry steams into the harbor, black smoke pouring from her funnel. Suddenly her anchor drops and she continues forward until the well-set anchor begins to pull the bow around. Slowly the Badger spins 180 degrees on her anchor and then backs down into her well so vehicles can unload and load from her stern. The anchor is retrieved as she heads out on her next Lake Michigan crossing to Manitowc, WI. I watched this tight maneuvering turn a number of times wondering if we would ever have to turn Tranquility in her own length that way.

Ludington became a repair stop. Nothing serious, but things that needed to be fixed. The plastic windows in our dodger had turned yellow with age and crazed badly. Seeing was tough when the sun shown directly on them. We found a canvas shop and Jerry installed new plastic and did a number of other repairs. We can now see where we are going again.

Our bike crash last spring had left Ruth’s bike with a dented fender and pulling to the right. A bike shop installed a new fork and fender and her bike is like new again. We celebrated with a couple of 20 mile plus bike rides and suffered sore buns as a result. All our good exercise was wiped out when we found the House of Flavors with fantastic ice cream sundies.

The glint of sand in the air caught our eye as we walked the break wall heading for Lake Michigan to check wave conditions. Flying sand stung our legs as we left the shelter of trees and cottages that formed a windbreak. Ahead lay untracked sand, smoothed and sculpted by the wind. We felt we were messing up nature’s canvas as we headed out onto the beach sand. Looking back we realized there was no cause to feel guilty. The blowing sand was already filling in our tracks. We stood and watched our tracks disappear listening to the wind and waves crashing on the beach. In 5 minutes, the evidence we had been there was erased and the sand was again smooth.

Rick and Joan, Ruth’s brother and sister-in-law, met us in Pentwater. Not wanting to party quite as hard as our last meeting in St Augustine this spring, we set out to do healthy activities such as climb very steep sand dunes. The healthy part came about only because $65 per couple to rent dune buggies for an hour was too steep for our wallets. Instead we elected to walk the dunes in pedestrian areas while watching the buggies bounce through the sand ruts in the dunes. For each foot we went up, we seemed to slide back 6 inches in the loose sand. We pressed on enjoying the scenery, the day and our companions.

The dune climbing had been strenuous, invigorating and very tiring. We crashed on Tranquility enjoying a hearty happy hour. It’s probably best to say that dinner kind of got out of hand. Running out of propane started it. That lead to a trip to the mini market where in the process of buying charcoal, a peach pie somehow launched itself from the checkout counter. It scored a perfect 10 as it landed topside down on the floor in a decorative oozy mess. A charcoal fire hot enough to forge horseshoes did a number on the corn and potatoes. Forgetting about the meat placed on the stern grill didn’t help. At one time I distinctly remember the phrase “dinner from hell” floating around as blame was assigned to various events amid chuckles and endless questions to Rick about that pie. The final indignation came the next morning when I discovered the second propane tank wasn’t empty. I’m working hard to repress all memories of that dinner but have trouble because my bemusement won’t let the memory disappear.

We pulled into Milwaukee 2 years and 3 months after leaving. My emotions did unexpected turns and made our visit to Milwaukee difficult. Maybe it’s true that you can’t go home again. I’d made arrangements to visit the plant I’d retired from, but canceled at the last minute for reasons difficult me to understand let alone explain. For those same reasons I didn’t contact a number of friends and apologize to those we didn’t see.

Don had once been our live aboard neighbor in the marina. He and Cynthia got married on Tranquility and finally bought a home. It was fun seeing them and seeing first had the improvements we’d been reading about in their e-mails.

I drove Larry’s MG on a warm summer evening. Top down, working the manual transmission, feeling like I did 30 years ago when we’d owned a TR3. Later he and Carole showed us all the features on their latest motor home and we swapped travel stories. Just like us, they worry about bridge clearances.

Dave lives in Flint, but managed to be in Milwaukee while we were there. He’d cruised on Tranquility in the past with us and we spent a fun evening just sitting on board enjoying the water and talking about sailing.

Churning emotions may have contributed to us finally looking hard at our life style and realizing it may be time to change. We joke and tell people that though we look like a sailboat we are actually a trawler with a really high radio antenna. In fact that’s pretty accurate, we motor most of the time. As we look at where to go next, rivers and coastal areas that don’t necessarily lend themselves to sailing attract us. We took the first step and went to look at Nordic Tugs, pilothouse type trawlers. We liked what we saw, but will look further before deciding, our emotions haven’t quite settled and were not sure we shouldn’t just be a trawler with a really high radio antenna. In the mean time, instead of walking docks looking at sailboats, we now walk docks looking for trawlers.

Mike and Barb Linder sailed Great Feeling out to meet us as we motored down from Racine. They gave us escort service into Waukegan. Years ago, we’d both gone to the North Channel together. It was fun being back together again. Other sailors from the marina joined us and we had a fun time swapping boating stories.

Two years ago, we’d been shocked when we saw the make shift rig Wardel’s used to take our mast down on the Erie Canal. That event made for a great journal entry. Now we were shocked to see what a professional job Larsen Marine did. No story here just nice work by skilled riggers. Once the mast was down, we rigged a radio antenna, and completed the tie down.

We left at first light and headed for Chicago. The wind was up, and there were whitecaps. 28 miles off in the distance you could see Chicago’s skyline. We motored along, watching the skyline slowly grow larger. At about 11 AM we entered the outer harbor and called the Chicago Harbor Lock requesting passage into the river.


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