Summer 2022 First Mate’s Log

We’ve wandered North again, this time to prep our vessel and sail on into the North Channel of Canada. After two plus years “on the hard,” during Covid, we had much to attend to. Critters chewed off the curly wire from the ship’s radio and wreaked havok in the anchor locker, shredding sticks and grasses to make some sort of nest.

Most days I’ve been cleaning while the Captain replaces hosing, wires, the radio, and fixes the drooping vinyl. Every so often I get a chance to read or scoot off with my sister or friend to walk and window shop.

The Chicago to Mackinac sailing race was a disaster for many sailors this year. A brutal storm cropped up, injuring sailors, breaking boats, and forcing many to seek harbor in unfamiliar places. The race is rarely called off–it’s up to the Captains to make a determination.

In spite of the hardships, we met some interesting sailors whose captains made the right decision and holed up, scratching the race. Two gentlemen from Poland 🇵🇱 showed up. We invited them to dinner, but they’d just walked back from a nearby eatery, and came aboard for technical talk with the captain. Upon noting our electronic winches, they both insisted I listen to a story about a person they sailed with who lost a finger using one of these winches. They looked me in the eyes and said in their very Polish accents, “You must be very careful.” I thanked them for this story. I’d hate for anyone to try carrying my bloody, severed finger back in their pocket to the nearest port! These two most gracious, funny, sailors slipped quietly from our marina around 3 am the next morning heading for Chicago, their home port.

Another sailing vessel, the Mary Gail, limped in from the race having torn their jib sail in the unpredictable and shifting 50mph winds of that same storm. The captain, Peter, turned out to be from Austin, Texas. Before he left to drive back to Chicago, his crew from Austin arrived at the marina, a hearty looking young crew of two females and three males. This group will sail his boat back to Chicago for him as they would have from Mackinac had the boat made it that far.

We found two Polish sailors at the dumpster later that afternoon fishing out the Mary Gail’s torn jib after my husband mentioned that it had been thrown there.

Interestingly, while window shopping with my friend in Grand Haven, we found a shop called Sea Bass. Based in Maine, this company recycles sails! Since 2019, they’ve received 8,832 sails to clean and recycle. That’s 700 tons of sail cloth saved from landfills. This company contributes to a scholarship program for kids as well as GoOcean, the company that cleans trash from the world’s oceans.

Apparently many sailboat racers replace their sails after every race. That’s a lot of sails going into the landfill! Unless a captain is not one to buy new. Then repurposing a sail from a larger boat to a smaller one might just be the ticket. See the Sea Bag I purchased in the picture. (By the way, our sails are fifteen years old!)

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