Kelly's Week in the Islands!
Kelly's Week in the Islands!Report Abuse
Kelly IV's intrepid crew spent the week cruising the Erie Islands north of Sandusky Bay, Ohio. Bob Zimmerman, Keith Otto, and Jack VanArsdale joined me for a week of sailing Kelly IV from July 4 - 10. The service team at Sandusky Harbor Marina had replaced the jury-rigged fuel pump with the proper part and also spent a few hours poring over the engine to make certain that there was nothing wrong and all needed maintenance was completed. The engine passed muster with a clean bill of health and was running perfectly.
Saturday the winds were light and from the northwest on July 4, so we decided to motor north to Scudder Marina on the north bay of Pelee Island, Ontario, 23 miles north of Sandusky bay and just 12 miles south of Leamington, Ontario. We took our time since the miles were relatively short and explored the dock (southern) channel from the coal pier up to Battery Park marina, where we topped off our diesel. With the very light breeze, it was necessary to motor our way north. About 2 hours into the trip we found ourselves just northeast of Kelleys Island, just a few hundred yards north of the green "C1" can, marking the shoal extending northeast of the northeastern peninsula. It was then the motor gave up the ghost. It sounded like we ran out of fuel, so we confirmed that the tank was indeed full, having just filled it. Then we tried bleeding the fuel lines thinking some air may have found its way into the system. It was then we discovered that no fuel would pump through the lines. Despite our best efforts, checking the engine manual, discussing and trying different ideas, the engine stubbornly sat quiet. Meanwhile, since we were at the mercy of the very light northwesterly, we tried sailing, but the breeze was only enough to effect a drift, not a forward sail. Of course, our first rate crew kept a close watch due to our proximity to the extensive shoals northeast of Kelleys. We slowly drifted back through the break in the shoal, finding ourselves southeast of our position when the motor decided to end its efforts. From there we put our unlimited BoatUS Towing package to work and were towed back into Sandusky Harbor Marina. The forecast for Sunday was more of the same light air, so we felt we were better off getting into the marina where we could have the mechanic check the engine first thing Monday morning.
We were on vacation, so we spent Sunday as tourists! The hull of the small car & passenger ferry out of Marblehead is painted a distinctive bright orange with a clean white bridge rising above the deck. From Kelly IV we have seen these ferries many times, commenting that they look like small aircraft carriers, the way the bridge looks like the "island" of a carrier with the long, flat deck appearing like the flight deck. Well, this time we were the ferry passengers enjoying the view of the many private craft making their way amongst the islands. The ferry dropped us at the Seaway Marina, right where we had docked Kelly IV just a couple weeks before! Bob, Keith, Jack and I commandeered a golf cart for our tourist excursion around the green isle of Kelleys. It was quite fun to explore the island as we located the dock for the Jet Express and Good Time ferries that serve Kelleys. We wound our way to the west then north finding ourselves trekking around the world famous "Glacial Grooves"! In fact these were quite fascinating as they seemed like a giant had dragged his fingers through the stone as if it were merely icing on a cake. We also spent time hiking around "Horseshoe Lake", a leftover from an old quarry, no longer in operation. After a late lunch at the Kelleys Island Brew Pub we returned the golf cart and joined the ferry back to Marblehead.
First thing Monday morning the mechanic was back into the engine, and of course, all was fine. He was able to quickly bleed the fuel line as the new pump worked as it was supposed to and the fuel was flowing as designed. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the motor and it once again ran perfectly. Our crew began referring to the northeast corner of Kelleys Island as "Kelleys Triangle", the spot where Mia and I connected with the towboat on our return from Leamington, the point where the motor died on Saturday and the towboat once again picked us up. This impression of the northeast of Kelleys was reinforced when 2 hours later the motor once again died at about the same point on the chart! Since there was wind on Monday, we decided to ignore the motor and sailed the rest of the way to our anchorage on the eastern edge of Middle Bass Island, just north of the airport runway. After the 5 mile sail across from Kelleys Island, the wind died as we were pulling into the anchorage, so we decided to try the engine and it ran just fine! There were 2 other sailboats in the anchorage so we seemed in good company. With the anchor down, we assembled the port-a-bote and rowed into the stony beach at the end of the runway. Our walk on shore led us south to a small resort where we enjoyed some adult beverages then returned to Kelly IV at her anchor.
The wind had picked up some on Tuesday morning, but the forecast said only 1 foot waves, so I made the mistake of deciding to tow the dinghy instead of disassembling and stowing on deck. With our experienced crew it was no big deal to sail off our anchor and ignore the motor entirely. Once we cleared into the open water and faced the northerly breeze it was clear that Kelly was not going to weather very well and that the dinghy was gulping in the water rather than floating over it. A significant effort on the part of the crew enabled the bailing of most of the water so we left the dinghy trailing behind Kelly IV. We also confirmed that our crew were "gentleman". At least in the sense that "Gentleman never sail to weather!" We were first planning to sail to Put-in-Bay by way of North Bass Island, just to put a few sailing miles under the keel. With the northerly breeze and dinghy issues, we decided to turn around and head downwind towards the Seaway Marina on Kelleys Island. It became the theme for the week, as we were mostly successful in avoiding to sail upwind. Once checked into the marina, we walked with Bob to the Casino (it is a restaurant, not a gambling venue) as he waited to catch a ferry back to Sandusky. Unfortunately, Bob had to return home for the funeral service honoring and remembering his aunt, leaving Jack, Keith and I to enjoy the rest of the sailing week without Bob.
Wednesday morning found the moderate breeze coming from the NNE, so we headed SSE to Huron, Ohio. A wonderful beam reach all the way! This time the motor worked flawlessly, albeit for less than 20 minutes as we were able to quickly raise sail once clear of the marina. It was the first time Kelly IV had sailed to Huron, so we were eagerly peering through the binoculars in search of the marks for the harbor entrance. The large, white 80 foot tower supporting the Huron Harbor light was easy to spot, but the standard red/green buoys at the entrance proved more challenging. About a mile from the entrance, the 2 marks became evident and we easily turned into the river entrance. With the breeze at our backs, we decided to trust the engine for the short trip upriver. The dock for Kelly IV was just as described on the phone by the folks at Harbor North, so we just pulled in and tied up. No big deal. Well, there was a bit of water bouncing Kelly slightly, as we were on the edge of the marina facing the incoming wind, so our new friend from Harbor North, TJ, offered us a slip inside the small marina. The only problem was that I'd have to back in, if I wanted an easy exit in the morning. Thankfully the breeze was minimal at our point in the river, and Keith and TJ were on the pier to catch us as Jack and I slowly nosed up into the corner of the marina, then backed around into the slip, easily missing the brand new Hanse 31, just as we intended! It was one of the more challenging docking maneuvers I've ever faced and it went extremely well! It was certainly the first time I've backed Kelly IV into a slip, so I was quite happy with the result. Jack, Keith and I had fun poking around the dockyard with its many sailboats of various vintages. It is a favorite pastime to comment and kibitz about the various boats and what ideas we might adopt for Kelly IV or Jack's Cape Dory, or Keith's "Windwalker".
The breeze on Thursday was coming from the ENE, so we went back on a beam reach to Kelleys Island, but this time we sailed to the northeast, challenging "Kelleys Triangle". Since the breeze allowed us to enjoy another terrific sail without the motor running, we think we broke the curse as we blasted past the shoal and cut across the north bay of Kelleys. Given the fair wind, we easily sailed west, then south into West Bay, just south of the quarry pier and dropped anchor, never turning on the motor once we cleared the Huron Harbor Light. The beautiful summer day left the crew in a lazy mood as we napped, read and puttered around the boat for the balance of the afternoon. All week we had been eating like kings on board as Bob, Jack and Keith slaved over the small 2-burner galley stove and stern-rail-mounted barbecue grill. This evening, being our last in the islands, we decided to eat at the West Bay Inn, so we assembled the port-a-bote dinghy and rowed against the breeze into the rough gravel beach. After our meal watching the sunset, we enjoyed several games of "Cornhole" the bean bag toss game that seems to be sweeping the islands. This is the same game we played in the Seaway Marina, just a few weeks earlier.
Friday's forecast was for very light SSE to ESE winds, so our expectations for good sailing were kept to a minimum. The breeze was sufficient to sail off the anchor, but after turning to the SE, there was not enough breeze to tack our way towards Sandusky. We fired up the motor and pushed our way east to a point just off Marblehead. Now that I am leery of trusting the motor for more than 2 hours of operation, I thought it best to give it a break. After 30 minutes of aimless drifting, we once again powered our way using the engine. As we made our way into the channel heading towards the coal pier, the breeze seemed to be on our port beam so we cut the motor and sailed. It was very nice sailing but short-lived. With only 10 minutes of quiet behind us, the little wind we had began a crazy dance around Kelly IV's masthead. At one point I looked up at the wind indicator to see the wind had moved to the north, so I glanced down at the main sheet to see where I might adjust it. Almost immediately, I looked back at the masthead, only to see the Windex showing a southerly breeze! Since the light, crazy breeze seemed to be the standard for the foreseeable future, we trusted the motor to return us to our slip. She came through! But I did not. :-( Although the docking should have been easy, since the breeze was light, I still turned too early and had to back off, turnaround and try again. The second time worked and Kelly IV returned to her slip after a week of fun sailing, great meals, and terrific friends!