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Lake Michigan Cruise 2009
by ryanjohnson77
United States Michigan
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My Adventure Story

My dad, Dick Pugh and Jeff Pugh took the Hop Scotch for a cruise of the Michigan shore. 

We departed Chicago Thursday morning to light breezes and motored most of the way to St. Joseph... finishing the passage under sail as the NE breeze filled in.  After docking in West Basin Public Marina, we enjoyed dinner at SJYC, a short walk away.  The marina lent us bicycles in the morning which we rode to a solid breakfast joint only a few blocks away.  Of note, we stayed north of the river this trip... downtown St. Joe is south of the river and I'm told you can tie up to the wall there for free.   Could be worth exploring next time. 

After brunch on Friday, we took off for South Haven.  The wind had backed to the NNW, and we were able to tack up the coast line pretty effectively.  However, we got knocked each time we approached shore, so we spent most of the day a few miles offshore.  The boat was happy with a reefed main and partially furled (100%) jib.  South Haven has many fine bars within an easy walk of the harbor and is probably my favorite harbor town I've seen thus far in southern Lake Michigan.  Capt. Lou's bar, right by our dock, was special... as was the bar on the barge across the river.  Enjoy  ther  S.H.I.T. (South Haven Iced Tea) with caution.  

After a fun night in South Haven, we cast off early Saturday morning for New Buffalo.  Winds were light again, and we motored the entire way.  The municipal harbor is straight down the channel after entering New Buffalo Harbor.  Despite assurances from the harbor folks to the contrary, we found depth to be an issue, slowing to a standstill in the mud on the way into our assigned slip.  A couple of showers and lunch at Redamak's really set the crew straight for the return trip to Chicago that afternoon. 

Having heard the forecast for Sunday... 25kt westerly winds and a small craft advisory... we decided to cut the trip short.  Adding to the ease of this decision, we found New Buffalo to be relatively unremarkable as harbor towns go.  In fact, I would probably forgo New Buffalo in favor of Michigan City, whcih has a nicer (and deeper) marina and a few more restaurants/bars within walking distance.  New Buffalo did have a pharmacy and delicious Redamaks burger, so may be worth a short lunch stop on the way out of Michigan City on future trips.  Not much more.

The return trip to Chicago was hot, with light winds from astern, there was next to no apparent wind on our motor across.  The breeze built as we approached Chicago and we made the last ten miles or so under the cruising spinaker, followed by jib only as the breeze continued to build.  Yet another great meal at Columbia YC, and we retired for the evening.

Sunday mornign was beautiful, with offshore breezes... so we headed out for one last sail.  As we cleared the breakwall and watched the puffs touch 30kt, we decided to abort the sail, making a lap of the "playpen" and Navy Pier before packing up the boat and unloading gear.  The crew departed early afternoon, leaving me with a relatively clean boat (despite a couple of errant cheese-it... my fault) and a couple of spare beers.

Hope to make it a bit farther north next time.  Dad wanted to get to Saugatuck.  Possibly a long initial passage would allow for shorter hops down the coast on the way back to Chicago?  Anyway, something to think about this winter...   ******
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