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!

 

Pure Michigan

Did you know they call the western Michigan coast the “Riveria of the Midwest”? We had no idea this area was that beautiful. Craig always visualizes Detroit when he thinks of Michigan, but just like New York, these states are so much more than their famous cities.

Way up north, Mackinaw Island is surrounded by rocky beaches, but as you head south into Lake Michigan the beaches turn sandy. The water is still a breathtaking mix of aqua, sea green and bright blue, depending on how the sunlight hits it. For us girls, there are only tiny, clam-like shells to collect, including the zebra mussels that have cleaned the lake so thoroughly that it’s see-through 20 feet down. But there are multicolored rocks to sort through, including Petoskey Rocks that bear fossil markings from long ago.

The coastline is studded with delightful resort towns, each rightfully claiming a bit of fame, from Hemingway’s haunt in Petoskey to Sleeping Bear sand dunes near Frankfort.

The sunsets were stunning (!) and we were treated to fireworks right off the stern (back) of our boat in Charlevoix during their Venetian festival. There are more lovely towns south of Frankfort, but we’re saving them for another trip as we needed to head across the lake to Wisconsin, Craig’s adopted home state.

We’ve met some fantastic people along the way but there are no friends like old friends, so we were thrilled to have my wonderful college buddy Deb, and her husband Dave, aboard Joy Girl in Petoskey. We introduced them to anchoring out in Lake Charlevoix, strolled through gorgeous Harbor Springs, grilled, dined out and were not ready to see them go!

Biggest challenge on this leg of the trip: Lake Michigan. Home to approximately 2,000 ship wrecks, this beastie is enormous, unpredictable, and prone to squalls and wicked wind that can produce waves that range from uncomfortable to terrifying. Our days were filled with chart watching to identify the weather window when we could venture out without being tossed in the ocean-like swells and waves. We did make it across her, from Frankfort, Michigan to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 7 hours without bodily or boat injury!

The good news: Michigan is usually the “lee” shore, meaning it typically gets blasted by winds from the west. Wisconsin is the “windward” shore, so it shouldn’t be as rough since the wind rolls over it, headed east. Here’s hoping!

Future Plans: We’ll slow down for the month of August and take our time cruising Door County, Wisconsin.

This peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan and the waters of Green Bay, and is well known for its quaint resort towns, beautiful sunsets, and thriving arts community including painters, musicians and excellent theater. As theater people, we’re excited to see a few good shows. In early September, we plan to leave Wisconsin with a big bang by attending the Green Bay Packers home opener against the Chicago Bears in Lambeau Field on 9/9. Go Pack Go!

Joy Girl Gets (more) Ready To Go

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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).

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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.

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

Christening Joy Girl

In December we christened Joy Girl in Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head Island!

All traces of her old name (Rambler) were removed and her new name was unveiled. My cousin Shari and her mother Nancy were very thoughtful and brought us a bottle of champagne, which we used to sprinkle Joy Girl after praying to the Lord (and Neptune!) for safety at sea and fun aboard.

Neptune, the god of the sea, stands in the midst of our marina as working sun dial. We thought it might not be a bad idea to ask for his graces…