Dynamic Equilibrium was not our 1st sailboat. My 1st year experiences
occured in Compromise, a VanDeStadt & McGruer Siren 17. My wife, Deb &
I had purchased the boat + Chrysler 6 hp outboard + trailer from a
dealer in Midland, MI. We daysailed it for a couple of weeks &
overnighted once with it on Sanford Lake. But, the dealer had said,
"This boat is seaworthy enough to sail on the Great Lakes." So, we
decided we were going to put the boat in at Au Gres, MI, stay
overnight at the Au Gres Harbor of Refuge, sail about 30 nm up the
western Lake Huron coast to Tawas, MI, overnight at the Tawas Harbor
of Refuge, & sail back to Au Gres the next day.
I could tell many funny stories about that 1st cruise because things
started going crooked right from the launching. However, for now, I
will only relate something which happened as we were pulling into our
slip at the Tawas Harbor of Refuge.
I guess I should 1st explain what a "Harbor of Refuge" is. The US
Army Corps of Engineers, local communities, the MDNR have teamed up
to build a wonderful system of recreational marinas along Michigan's
Great Lakes coastline. They're called Harbors of Refuge & the state
is attempting to put one every 15 miles of Great Lakes coastline.
They're not quite there yet because Michigan's Great Lakes coastline
is so vast & there are long stretches of virtually uninhabited
wilderness in the upper peninsula along Lake Superior.
However, there are a couple of hundred Harbors of Refuge
already up & running with more being added to the system every year.
So, it's already a pretty impressive system. The Harbors of Refuge
system makes it possible & safe to sail the Great Lakes with much
smaller watercraft than would be otherwise required. The Tawas Harbor
of Refuge is built up at the northern end of Tawas Bay, which gives
good protection from every direction except the south.
To complete the weather protection for this Harbor of Refuge, the
engineers designed a mile long steel & concrete bulkhead which is
attached to the shore on one end & wraps around the
harbor like a capital letter C. It's a pretty impressive &
intimidating structure, something you wouldn't want to hit with a
shiny new plastic boat...
The outboard motor was also new & the dealer had adjusted the air/
fuel mixture to be a little on the rich side for the break-in period.
At idle, it tended to foul the spark plugs & stall.
So, after a long day of sailing, we're pulling into our slip. I'm
going a little faster than I would prefer in order to keep the motor
from stalling. But, it's OK because Deb is going to throw the dock
attendant the bow line as we pass. He'll snub it off & everything
will be cool. However, Deb neglected to attach the bow line to a
cleat. I wish I had a picture of the dock attendant's face as this
neatly coiled dock line landed in his hands & we zoomed past! Or
my face for that matter. I attempted to shift into reverse & the
By now, the steel bulkhead at the end of the slip is looming up pretty
fast! Without thinking, I ran to the bow, jumped over the bow pulpit
onto a piling, grabbed the bow pulpit, & started pushing to stop the
boat. I immediately realized I'd made a big mistake & the boat was
probably going to pin me against the bulkhead! Scared to death, I must
have had an adrenaline surge, because I managed to stop the boat with
just enough room for me to fit between the bow pulpit & the bulkhead. I was
breathing heavily, pulled every muscle in my back, arms, & shoulders,
& was starting shake a bit from the fright.
As I started to climb back on board, a polite applause went up from
all the neighboring boats. I was embassased, but stood there on the
foredeck & acknowledged the applause. Deb was so mortified she ducked
below into the cabin, leaving me to finish tying up the boat.
Eventually, she got her composure back & we went out to dinner in
Tawas. So began my cruising career...
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
07 Feb 2001
The first year's experiences, which we all can laugh about years
later, are things new folks don't want to bring up. It's only after a
bit of time passes, and the wounds heal that most of us talk about
the first time we put our foot up to brace against the seat, only to
miss and slide off the seat and under the leeward seat. Man did that
hurt. Of course, after I pulled myself together and got up, the first
thing to do was look and see if anyone else saw that magnifignant
maneuver. Yea, I planned that neat tack and I followed through just
like I expected. Of course I can steer from that position.
Hasn't happined to you yet??? Bet it will. It's funny a year later.
Ever gone swimming when you actually planned to get in the dinghy? I
am not going to talk about that one. Nobody was there to see it, so
it did not happen.
07 Feb 2001