Sunday, September 6, 2015

Month Twelve/Total Trip Stats

August/September  2015

Number of days:                           35         Trip to date:          368
Miles traveled:                             442                                    6295
Engine hours:                                48                                       826
Locks:                                             0                                        109                           
Gallons of gas:                          OK, OK, here it is!                 6687
Nights on anchor:                             4                                        60
Nights on free wall/marina:                4                                        59
Nights at marinas/lock wall:              27                                     249

States covered:  Michigan 

Laughs and memories made  - too many to count
Trip travel days - 172
Trip cities/ports, anchorages visited - 172
Average cruising speed - 7.62 mph 
Highest fuel price - $4.70
Lowest fuel price -  $2.35
Transmissions replaced - 1
Fuel pumps replaced - 1
Spark plugs replaced - 2 sets
Distributor caps replaced - 6
Props dinged or damaged - 0
Boat haul outs - 0
First mates replaced - 0!!!!!!

Highlight: Being together 24/7; 368 days! 

Grand Haven - HOME! - September 4

The final voyage! We cruised 15 miles on calm Lake Michigan to our home port of Grand Haven. As we approached the lighthouse we were greeted by friends and family cheering, waving balloons and holding a large "Welcome Home Pura Vida" sign. At 4:02pm, Friday, September 4, 2015 we paused as we crossed our wake between the pier heads to remove the White Looper flag and hoist the Gold Looper flag. Wowdywowwow! 

We proceeded through the channel and took a slip at the Grand Haven Municipal Marina where we were welcomed by more friends. Throughout the evening many more friends arrived via boat, dinghy and car to congratulate us! Also in honor of our arrival, the city of Grand Haven put on a musical fountain show at sunset which we were to exhausted to stay up and watch. (Sorry)

Saturday morning we cruised back to Keenan Marina our home marina in Spring Lake where we were greeted by many of our dock mates with balloons, champagne and cheers! 

It is with mixed emotions that we write this final blog. While it's good to be home safe and sound, it also marks the end of our Grand Adventure. We thank our Lord for 368 days and 6300 miles of safe seas, good health, great weather and many new friends.

To our faithful blog followers: Thanks for riding along. It was way too great of an adventure to keep to ourselves! 

Steve & Sheli

 Wow! What a welcome!

 Changing of the flags.

 We did it!


 Our escort.

 Happy homecoming! 

 Pura Vida!

 Celebrating at Keenan. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Muskegon - September 3-4

Thursday morning Steve and Henk went out for breakfast at a local diner in Muskegon. Around noon we left the marina and anchored inside the Muskegon breakwater and awaited the arrival of our friends Reg & Vicki who came up on their boat from Grand Haven. After they arrived we moved into Muskegon Lake an rafted together and dropped our anchors. The 2 captains successfully set the hooks for the night. It was a fun adventure as it was our last opportunity to anchor out on our trip and Reg & Vicki's first opportunity to anchor out with their recently purchased boat. It was great to have such a nice day for the last day of our trip! 

Friday morning we shared a yummy pancake breakfast on the boat before Reg & Vicki headed back to Grand Haven. The first mate thought one more dinghy ride was in order. We took the dinghy to shore and climbed the beautiful sand dunes for one last view of the Pura Vida anchored out. After some time spent reminiscing about our incredible trip we headed back to the boat, pulled up the anchor, headed out the channel and turned left.

 Reg & Vicki arriving Muskegon. 

 Vicki enjoying the day!

 Our last anchorage (for this trip anyway)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ludington-Muskegon - August 31-September 2

Sunday afternoon we exited the Ludington channel, turned south and traveled 16 miles to Pentwater where we dropped the anchor in Pentwater Lake. It was a smooth, comfortable ride. After getting settled, we took the dinghy to town for dinner.

After breakfast on Monday we lifted the anchor and moved over to Snug Harbor Marina in Pentwater. We were assigned a great location on their north sea wall where we were parked under a large shade tree with a picnic table and grill right next to the boat. Awesome! It was a hot sunny day so we spent time at the beach and also took a dinghy ride across Pentwater Lake and up the Pentwater River. 

On Tuesday we had special visitors! Sister Sue brought our moms up to visit! It was so great to see them as we have not seen them since we were home in March. Big hugs all around!  It was beautiful day for picnic lunch under our big shade tree. It was a perfect summer picnic including brats on the grill. We enjoyed chatting, spending time together and even a little shopping! What a fun day!

Wednesday morning we left Pentwater and traveled 48 miles to Muskegon. There were small swells on Lake Michigan but it wasn't too uncomfortable for our 6 hour ride. We pulled into Lakeshore Yacht Harbour where our friend Henk Witte was waiting to catch our lines. Henk and Thressa are platinum Loopers which means they have completed the Loop twice! Henk invited us aboard their boat the Marco Polo II to share Loop tales. Henk was a big influence in our decision to do the Loop and seemed very happy and proud of our accomplishment. Thanks Henk! Later we jumped in Henk's car and went to Dockers, a local restaurant for dinner. After returning to the marina we were treated to a beautiful sunset before retiring for the evening. 

 Pentwater, made in the shade!

 Sheli & mom!

 Steve, mom & sister!

 Freighter arriving Muskegon.

 Marco Polo II

 Platinum Looper Henk & soon to be Gold Looper Steve.

 Cruise ship leaving Muskegon channel.

 Sunset over Muskegon Lake. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Frankfort-Ludington - August 25-30

The winds kept a blowing! Lake Michigan was living up to its reputation and Loopers were stacked up like cord wood along the Michigan shore line. We waited patiently in Frankfort for the winds and the waves to die down. Our friends Dick & Pat on Dream Catcher abandoned their plans to cross northern Lake Michigan and came down and holed up in Frankfort also. We shared several evenings together dining and playing cards. 

On Wednesday the first mate insisted that we get on our bikes and ride six miles to a local Alpaca Farm & Boutique. What a hoot! The first mate thought they were adorable. The captain thought they looked like Donald Trump! Sheli bought a pair of alpaca socks to keep here feet warm this winter as she will not be running around Key West in flip flops this year. Boo Hoo!

Thursday morning as Dream Catcher left the marina and headed across the lake to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin we also cast off our lines and headed south to Ludington. Our 45 mile cruise was rough. In fact we heard another Looper on the radio who was headed for Ludington but decided to stop at Manistee because the first mate was sea sick. We were happy to pull into the Ludington pier head and out of the waves. This was our worst (combination long/rough) cruising day of the trip. We docked the Pura Vida at a private marina at a condo project where Steve's company has provided doors & drawers. This is also home to Patriot (fellow Looper friends) who will be finishing their loop here next week. This is a very nice marina that ranks in our top 10 of the trip!

Our friends Reg & Vicki Stroven came up from Spring Lake on Friday afternoon, went to dinner with us and spent the night on the boat. It was fun catching up. Late Saturday morning Reg & Vicki left. By afternoon the weather finally began to clear and get warmer. It's been a cold couple weeks in Michigan. To celebrate the change in weather we went for bike ride, a dinghy ride and cooked out that evening. 

Sunday morning our friend Jim who manages the marina took us by car to his church, Cornerstone Baptist Church for the morning service. (Take a car to church, what a concept!)  After church, we readied the boat, untied our lines and headed out. 

 Love these guys!


 Can I have one on the boat?

 Dream Catcher.

 Passing Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course.

 Lake Michigan shoreline.

 Pura Vida docked in Ludington. 

 Ahhhh....the good life!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Leland-Frankfort - August 18-24

Our cruise from Northport to Leland was a little rocky, but we were glad we made the run when we did. It was hot and sunny when we arrived Leland so we dropped the dinghy, headed out to Lake Michigan and cruised along the sandy coastline. That evening we walked to a nearby restaurant where we ran into Tim & Eileen VerStrate high school friends from home. Tim is a builder and customer of Steve and awakened the captain to the fact that his time away from work is ticking down! Argh!

As predicted, the weather turned ugly on Tuesday. Leland Harbor is a unique harbor. Rather than a channel to an inland lake or river it is simply a marina surrounded by a rocky breakwater right on Lake Michigan. So while we were protected from waves we were exposed to the wind and therefore bounced around in our slip. 

The cool, wet, windy weather on both Tuesday & Wednesday kept us land bound (no boating on the Pura Vida or the dinghy). Are these the dog days of summer? For excitement we walked the nearby beach with the big waves a crashing. 

On Thursday with umbrellas in hand we caught a bus at 8am to Traverse City. We spent the day dodging rain drops, exploring the town and even took in the movie Mr Holmes. After the movie, Sheli asked how they made Sherlock Holmes look so old in some scenes and younger in other scenes. The wise captain replied "it's simple, they filmed all the young scenes, then filmed the old scenes after he captained a boat on the Loop for a year!" HaHa! Traverse City was the largest city we've been in quite some time so it was a fun day. 

Friday morning after checking the weather and allowing the lake to settle somewhat from the previous day's winds we untied our lines and headed out. We had hoped to anchor out for the night at South Manitou Island but our weather window (wind) dictated that we carry on to the next safe harbor - Frankfort. Our 40 mile trek started out somewhat rough, then smoothed out and then the winds and waves began to build again as we neared Frankfort. We pulled into Jacobson Marina around 3:00pm. Later in the evening Steve's sister Sue and husband Randy arrived by car from Grand Rapids to spend a couple days with us. 

Saturday morning Sheli & Sue went shopping to the local farmers market while Steve & Randy toured Betsie Lake on the dinghy. In the afternoon we drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes and climbed the dunes for a view of Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands. Wow! After our hike we checked out the small town of Glen Arbor. It was a beautiful but windy day. 

Sunday morning with umbrellas in hand we walked to the Frankfort United Congregational Church. After church, with umbrellas overhead, we scampered back to the boat in the rain. The rains continued until mid afternoon. Once the rains stopped, Sue & Randy headed for home. The winds continued to strengthen into the evening and night causing Captain Elvis to claim the next morning that we "rocked and rolled" more than any other night of the trip. (He even went out in his underwear during the night to adjust our dock lines.) 

We will continue to wait out the weather for a safe opportunity to move on. There are 6 other Loopers here doing the same.

 Leland Harbor right out in Lake Michigan.

 Dead end dinghy ride.

 Approaching storm.

 Lake Michigan bouy conditions. 

 Rough, rough, rough!

 Being Loopers, we took the loop bus to Traverse City.

 Passing Sleeping Bear Dunes.

 Point Betsie Lighthouse with Sleeping Bear Dunes in the background.

 Sister Sue brought her famous Death by Chocolate!

 Dune climb with Glen Lake in the background.

 Dune climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes with Randy & Sue.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Elk Rapids-Leland - Aug 14-17

Friday morning we bid farewell to Dick & Pat, wishing them safe travels for their grand adventure. We cruised 19 miles traveling around Mission Point to Suttons Bay. We took a slip at the Suttons Bay Marina where we met our friend Karen Dupy who had driven up from Grand Rapids to spend a couple days with us. Karen and her husband Nelson have been close friends for many years. This was the first time we have seen Karen since Nelson passed away in early June after a courageous battle with ALS. It was so nice to spend time hugging, crying, laughing and sharing many great memories of Nelson. (Hawaii, Florida, golfing, boating)  It was such a hot afternoon that we went to the beach next to the marina for a swim and later took a dinghy ride around the bay. 

We awoke to a gorgeous sunny day on Saturday so we took out the Pura Vida and traveled 15 miles south on the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay to anchor out near Marion Island. The waters were clear, calm and warm. The three of us spent much of the afternoon swimming, floating and reminiscing in the turquoise waters. Late afternoon we moved and dropped the anchor in Suttons Bay, pulled out the grill and enjoyed a great steak dinner as the setting sun sparkled across the water. By dark we were nicely tied back up in our slip at the marina. What a perfect summer day in Michigan! 

After breakfast on Sunday morning, Karen headed back to Grand Rapids and we untied our lines and cruised 13 miles to Northport. Half way there the winds picked up and the bay became very choppy. The winds made it tough getting the boat into the slip but we succeeded without incident. It was a crazy windy and steaming hot afternoon and night. The power kept going out on the entire dock at the marina evidently due to everyone running their air conditioners. We explored town by foot and had dinner at a local restaurant.  The electric remained out overnight so it was a long hot night without AC.
(a "luxury" normally reserved for nights on the hook)

Monday morning we pulled out early, fired up the generator, got the coffee brewing and the fridge chilling down. We traveled 29 miles around the tip of The Leelanau Peninsula to Leland Harbor Marina. We had planned to stay in Northport longer but decided to leave Monday as the weather forecast for midweek was for rain and winds. 

 Crossing Grand Traverse Bay - East Arm. Deepest water of our entire trip!

 Suttons Bay - Looks like Ft Lauderdale!

 Karen & Sheli - good friends.

 What a great day!

 Beautiful coastline approaching Leland.