The Door

Door County, Wisconsin was named after “Death’s Door“, the legendary passage between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The exact number of deaths and ships lost in this narrow passageway is unknown but the official 1906 Sailing Directions for the area describes the passage this way:

There is a strong current setting in and out according to the direction of the wind, and many vessels have been lost in con­sequence. It is frequently so strong that sailing vessels can not make headway against it. The coast is rock-bound and certain destruction awaits the craft going ashore.

Did we go through it? Noooo, we just peeked over as we rode by!

For the past month, we cruised all over Door County and the waters of Green Bay. Although this area is a bit off the beaten path, Wisconsin is Craig’s boyhood home so he was excited to spend some time here. This area has a quieter, laid back, country feel, tons of homemade ice cream, fried cheese curds, old fashioned Supper Clubs and good, down to earth folks who have never lived outside Wisconsin (a foreign concept for me, haha). It’s not flashy like its Michigan coast neighbor but it’s peaceful and pretty.

In Green Bay, we dressed up (as best we could) for a National Railroad Museum event on their Silver Spirit Dining car. After cocktails and appetizers, the train chugged us around the grounds for a bit and then we settled in for drinks and a delicious 5 course meal. Craig was excited as a kid…on a train!

We had a great visit from our friends Dick and Peg Bousum and Peg’s sister Barb and her husband John. The windy weather didn’t allow us to take Dick out on Joy Girl but we ate a scrumptious lunch at historic Wilson’s and ordered the most decadent ice cream creation I’ve ever seen in celebration of their 47th wedding anniversary. Congrats Dick and Peg!

Last, but not least, we went to the Packers vs Bears home opener, the first game of the Packers 100th season. What a heart stopping game that was only clinched by the Packers with 75 yard run for a touchdown at the 2 minute mark! The crowd was so loud my ears ached and Craig almost lost his voice from screaming the Bears down.

We’ve now traveled 2,700 miles. Wisconsin was a crossroads for us since Craig’s main objective was to bring Joy Girl here. After that, we weren’t sure if we would put her “on the hard” and store her here for the winter, which would allow us to go home and reconnect with friends and family. Or, we could continue with “The Loop” and go down the mid-west rivers to the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida, then back to Hilton Head. We’ve been torn, weighing the pros and cons of each option and brainstorming for weeks. At long last, due to multiple circumstances, we’ve decided to finish The Loop!

We haven’t mentioned the Loop a lot because we weren’t sure we would crank all the way round, so here is a map compliments of veteran Looper and resource extraordinaire, Captain John. We will aim for Mobile, Alabama.

We left Green Bay today, heading toward Chicago. After about a week cruising down the eastern coast of Wisconsin, we’ll visit our brothers and Craig’s mom in Chicago, traverse through downtown Chicago in Joy Girl, then head south on the Illinois river. More adventure awaits!

 

Northern Sky Theater

For the past two weeks we cruised the bay of Green Bay, which extends north from the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin. One of the highlights was the Northern Sky Theater, an enchanting outdoor venue located in Peninsula State Park.

At first, we were flummoxed about how to get there since it’s in the middle of the woods, far away from town, and we don’t have a car. After ruling out bikes (too far, too dark) and Uber (too expensive), Captain Craig wisely concluded,

“We don’t have a car, but we do have a boat…” 

That hatched one of our most fun adventures yet. The day of the show we anchored Joy Girl near the theater in Horseshoe Bay, fired up our dinghy (appropriately named Ode to Joy), motored in to shore, parked it on the beach, and walked the half mile wooded pathway to the theater. We chose the 6pm show so we could make it there and back before dark.

We were not disappointed! “Lumberjacks in Love”, an original musical performed here since 1996, was as hilarious as the title promised, with great acting, nice voices, and goofy jokes. And we enjoyed it all surrounded by towering trees in beautiful weather. Very cool!

In fact, we loved it so much that we decided to go back for another show just two days later. “Dairy Heirs” had one performance at 8pm so we got our bold on and decided that this time we could dinghy home in the dark. It definitely added a new twist to an old plot for us.

As to the show, “Dairy Heirs” is a “Mooo-sical” centered around a Wisconsin dairy farm, and was even better with beautiful voices, spot on comic timing and even a bit of drama…and a completely original script and music. Wow!

 

Craig has never met a stranger, and instantly struck up a conversation with Nola and Dave as we waited for the mad rush to get the best seats in the unreserved section. We ended up having a blast with them and hope to see them again in September when we travel through their hometown, Peoria, IL.

 

After the show, we used our flashlight like a dinghy headlight to find Joy Girl as she floated in the harbor with about five other boats. The half moon was glowing gold, the air was warm and the night was calm. We had a ball.

Next week we’ll travel to Chicago to do some family stuff and then we’ll be back in the waters of Green Bay. Talk to you then!

Adult Disneyland: Mackinaw

Mackinaw Island is so picture perfect it’s like an amusement park for grown ups. Touted as Michigan’s crown jewel, it’s encircled by Caribbean-like beaches (only with rocks, not sand), sprinkled with elegant Victorian architecture, crammed full of charming shops, delicious eateries, plus it’s steeped in history, including war. No cars allowed here since the late 1800’s, just horses and bikes are allowed!

The Native Americans believed the Great Spirit lived here and buried their chiefs on the island. It was a fur trade epicenter, site of the first battle of the War of 1812, the nation’s second National Park in 1875 (three years after Yellowstone), Michigan’s first state park, then quickly thereafter transformed into a popular tourist location for the wealthy from Chicago and Detroit. The splendid Grand Hotel, built in 1887, was the filming location of the dreamy romance “Somewhere In Time”.

Sigh. We love it.

All photographers love a Butterfly Pavilion, and I was not disappointed by the small but beautiful one here on the island. I even made a friend…

Only bummer is that the winds picked up. That, and the three ferry lines that bring people in and out on an hourly basis, stirred up the water and flung Joy Girl round and round like she was a bucking bronco. To be fair, we were warned of this possibility, still, we suffered through some of the most uncomfortable days and nights of our entire trip in this marina.

Enduring the bumpy water was worth being here, but tomorrow the weather forecast is good and we’re ready to move on. So, we’re off to Petoskey on the east side of Lake Michigan!

North Channel Island Hopping

Everything we were told about Canada’s North Channel is true… it’s magnificent! More like Colorado than ever, it has even bigger boulders and more pine trees on small foothills. But it is all surrounded by gorgeous emerald green water so clear you can easily see 15-20 feet down.

We focused on the islands in the north eastern part of the channel and anchored at a different island each day, every one unique and beautiful. We explored in our dinghy, swam and bathed off our swim platform, grilled and ate dinner on the back deck, then played cards or read after dinner. Not many people out here, it’s a perfect place to get away. So relaxing…ahhhh…

But the Benjamin Islands deserve a special shout out. Wow, this little group of islands was amazingly beautiful! Not sure we captured it well but let’s give it a shot…

Before entering the North Channel, we stayed at Killarney Mountain Lodge Marina for two days. I fell in love with its mountain decor, pristinely beautiful and expansive grounds, and refreshing pool. If you’d like a Canadian vacation not too far from the States but far away from it all, I’d highly recommend this place. Free kayaks and canoes, too!

Only bad thing about the North Channel is the poor internet connection. But then again, maybe that’s the point!

We headed toward home in FOG. It’s utterly nerve wracking floating through water blindly when visibility is only a half mile – good for the prayer life! But it doesn’t faze Captain Craig who is used to flying airplanes in clouds by instruments only. Ugh.

Yesterday we re-entered the good ol’ USA at Drummond Island, Michigan! We were in Canada for exactly one month and it was very lovely but it’s great to see the stars and stripes flying again, besides on the back of our boat. Today we are headed to the Les Cheneaux Islands in Northern Michigan to anchor out a few days before our stay at Mackinaw Island on July 18th.

And we are delighted to have very special guests visiting us in Petoskey, Michigan on July 23rd!  More on that later…

Where Is Joy Girl?

For our friends and family who wonder “Where are those crazy Kozaks now?” we’ve created a Travel Map that displays our past route and current location. You can always find it by clicking the link “Where is Joy Girl?” at the top of our blog and you can view it here now:

https://joygirladventures.travelmap.net/

We also get a lot of questions about the kitties and are happy to report that they are adjusting well and now sleep soundly through calm waters and no longer freak out in rougher seas. They are doing great!

Today we plan to harbor at Manteo, Roanoke Island then rent a car and drive over to the Outer Banks to see Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers Memorial, Nags Head and Cape Hatterus. We’re very excited to see those historic locations!

 

The Cure for Dock Itch

We’ve now been docked here at Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head for three full months, and it’s about time for a change of scenery.  Don’t get me wrong. We love it here.  The marina, the people of Hilton Head, the fellow boaters, are all admirable.  And there’s nothing quite like the sight of a trio of dolphins playing joyfully in your bow wave:Dolphin trio crif.jpg

But it’s definitely time to get underway on our big adventure, the primary reason for which we purchased this boat.

To be sure, we’ve had our share of events and circumstances that have slowed us down.  But at long last, we now have a tender and outboard engine that are fully functional:Tender ready to go

We have some very groovy new hats with the boat’s name and hailing port embroidered on them:Joy Girl hats red stone

Everything that we can think of to work on (for now…) has been done.  We’re presently the proud owners of six brand new house batteries (to run most all things electrical on the boat when we’re not in a marina), a functional and legal anchor light for peaceful nights on the hook, and a growing and eclectic collection of spare parts and supplies, none of which will I waste your time with pictures of.

Yes, the itch to get going is getting stronger by the day.  Last night, just for the halibut, we slipped our dock lines and headed out for an impromptu sunset cruise.  It was mostly just an excuse to get out of the marina, but I guess God approved of our decision, as our efforts were rewarded with this glorious view which Niki captured from the pilothouse of Joy Girl:Sunset flare 04-24-2018.jpg

Ashore, the urge to get out and go somewhere or do something is often referred to as “cabin fever”.   But on a boat, many terms are a bit different, and I felt this one needed a nautical translation as well.  Like this Anhinga sitting on our dock, spreading his wings and running his final preflight checklist before takeoff, I believe we are finally ready to go!Diving bird ready to fly off pier after drying wings

So I came up with a new term to describe the irresistible urge to leave the docks and friends of Shelter Cove Marina and be on our way.  I call it…Dock Itch!

And now, it’s about time to go scratch that itch!

 

 

 

The Bitter End

We’ve reached the bitter end. It was a struggle, and we worked very hard, but we’ve reached the end of our rope.

If you speak nautical, then you know I’m referring to the end of our anchor line, which is called “the bitter end”.  In the old days, anchor lines were tied to “bitts” on the deck, hence the name. Our bitter end is housed in a cabinet at the head of our bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, we untangled our anchor line and spray painted it every 30 feet so we know how far it’s plunging into the water when we “anchor out”. Since Joy Girl is fully self sufficient we can drop our anchor instead of docking at a marina every night.

 

 

 

 

 

Since the anchor weighs 45 pounds and might damage the boat as it swings aboard, we slathered bright red paint on the last five feet of chain so I know when it’s about to be hauled onto Joy Girl.  Poor little Niki is responsible for dropping and weighing (pulling back in) the anchor…yes, I’m really that strong!

Actually, it’s all electronic and I simply step on a black pad that controls the “windlass”, which is from the Old Norse vindáss, literally meaning ‘winding pole.’

 

So, mateys, indeed we are at the bitter end, but our journey has just begun!

The Officers Move Aboard

After several trips for preparation and on board training by their human crew, the feline officers of Nordic Tug 42 “Joy Girl” have made the long journey from Colorado and moved aboard and assumed command of their new boat.

Here we see Roswell, sitting and looking stately as he prepares to take command from the pilothouse.Maker:S,Date:2017-9-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

Meanwhile, Scully was spending some time checking out the view to starboard from the pilothouse screen door.  She was fascinated (and, seeing that she’s a cat, perhaps a bit concerned) to look out and see all that water,Maker:S,Date:2017-9-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve and was quite intrigued when the boat in the next slip started shooting out water (perhaps from their gray water tank).

Happily and much to the relief of their human crew, Scully and Roswell are adapting to their new home quite well.  With their “Cats On Board” flag proudly  hoisted to the masthead, these two officers of the ship are enjoying exploring their vessel and meeting new friends here at Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head Island.

Joy Girl Gets (more) Ready To Go

20170920_095153_001 crif

A few weeks ago Joy Girl was hauled out at Palmetto Bay Yacht Center to get a fresh coat of bottom paint and “prop speed” (coatings which keep crud and critters from adhering to her bottom), a process that we hope won’t have to be repeated for several years now that she – and we – will be on the move much more.  To say it’s a bit disquieting to see one’s 35,000 pound boat dangling in the air, supported by but two straps, is quite the understatement!

It’s a lot less intimidating to look at her on stands during the paint job (with thanks for the following two pictures to our friend, Captain Shawn Minahan).

bottom job 12-2017 1

As long as we had Joy Girl up and out of the water, we also replaced the seals on the propeller and the rudder shafts, making sure she is once again water tight and will remain so for the foreseeable future, as the parts and labor are far from inexpensive! We had several anti corrosive “zincs” (see picture below) changed out as well, all in the effort to more fully prepare her for the journey ahead.

bottom job 12-2017 2

With some luck, we’ll be back aboard Joy Girl in about a month…maybe even less.  We can hardly wait!