Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just Returned From The North Channel

This is a copy of our emails that we sent out during our cruise from Grosse Pointe to the North Channel and then west to Mackinaw City. If you did not get a chance to read it, here it is. If you accidentally deleted it, here it is.

Writing a cruising blog seems to be the stylish thing for those out plying the planet’s waters with a sailboat, so I thought I would try it on all of you. Next will be a DVD of our adventures and it will include cruising tips and recipes for those cooking on the high seas. It will go for only $19.95 unless there are unsold copies left over. Those will be distributed for no charge. Please do not take this offer too seriously, it may be rescinded.

In any case, we are now in the North Channel, the place where we originally set out for. It was a long trip up here. It started on the last Sunday in June when we pulled out of Grosse Pointe marina at about two p.m. We sailed in a blast up Lake St. Clair and ripped up the river to Algonac against the current and stayed for the night. The next day, we motorsailed up to Port Huron and had a great visit with our friends, Jack and Harry, who now live there. The next day we stayed over in the marina because of exhaustion and a big rain and wind storm blowing through. Then it was on to Tobermory, out across the expanses of Lake Huron, making stops on the way.

Nothing went as planned. Instead of going to Goderich the first day, we chose to put in at Bayfield, ten miles short. Again, more motorsailing, huge swells, little wind, and rain squalls. Bayfield: A charming town up on a bluff where we spent July 1st, our wedding anniversary having dinner in a great little restaurant, the Albion Inn – charming beyond belief. Then we moved the next ten miles to Goderich, bucking against huge waves from the NW driven by a nasty, but non-threatening wind. It was the town with a marina next to a huge shipping port where they export salt that is mined as far as two miles out under the lake. It is gorgeous, a town of stately old homes and manicured lawns with a square and courthouse. Then came the storm and a day’s layover. Next was Kincardine, a lovely short motoring experience where we arrived in the afternoon. They were having the Highland Festival and we saw 76 different drum and bagpipe groups play together in sync. The National Bureau of Standards atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado does not compare to the precision of this human mass of musicians. We then moved to Port Elgin, our final stop before the last stretch to Tobermory. The marina was super, the little restaurant at the dock was fabulous, but the town was unremarkable. All services were at least a mile away in the town and we had to take a taxi to go to the Laundromat. We planned one night, but the next storm hit and we were there for two days watching the surf crash over the sea walls. The high was about 55F and it was bone-chilling cold and damp. Survival was questionable, but we pulled through with the help of our wood-burning stove. After two days of watching the jetty scene from the French Lieutenant’s Woman, we pulled out, heading for Tobermory. Only two of us left and the couple that went ahead had radar, a nice feature in quite dense fog. We could see only about a couple hundred feet in any direction and sat there carefully watching the compass and the GPS. We could not see them, but could converse on the radio about other boats approaching. Not to worry – hardly anybody was out there. Wonder why. The afternoon cleared and we were suddenly close to the Cape Hurd, the top of the Bruce Peninsula. Brilliant sunshine, clear skies, calm seas and good nerves guided us in through the Hurd Channel to Tobermory. Yes, Tobermory – the beginning of the Georgian Bay and the North Country, a place of granite rocks, pine trees, and blue water.

After an overnight at the town dock there, we headed due north to Killarney, another charming place at the far NW corner of the Georgian Bay. It was a 54 mile motoring day with water as flat a glass, scorching sunlight and a temperature about 70F. Islands floated by, seagulls screamed and we stood perfectly still, yet the scene slowly changed and we pulled into Killarney at about nine in the evening. It had been a rush trip so far, so we stayed there two nights, needing a real day to reconstitute our souls.

Leaving charming Killarney, a town that never had roads to it until a few decades back, was hard. It is one of those places that grows on you in 24 hours. Sunrise comes with cormorants, loons and old boathouses on a canvas of fog and water and weak yellow sunlight. But we had to go – the food in the little marina restaurant was too good and we might have become addicted to eating out.

Suddenly we found ourselves five miles from Killarney in Covered Portage Cove, sitting at anchor in a walled cove with a narrow entrance about 75 feet wide. Walls of rock and pines about 100 – 300 feet surrounded us along with a fleet of gorgeous sailboats at anchor. Luckily, we were there, because the walls gave us protection from a 30 mph wind that blew all day.

In the morning we left and had a great sail – yes, sailing without a motor – to Baie Fine, a few hours north. We entered it, a place that looks like a fjord and takes you in 11 miles to a place called “The Pool.” It is one of the finest, most secluded anchorages around here, consequently a place that everyone goes too and frequently makes it crowded. So much for exclusive. Luckily, there were only six other boats, including that of the folks that we followed north in the fog.

Leaving The Pool and Baie Fine, we motored out against a west wind, headed SW towards Heywood Island and turned west to Little Current, the gateway to the North Channel itself. The westward leg of the trip included motoring into 30 mph wind coming straight on the nose for about five miles. Waves built to two feet and we had to head into it and keep chugging. Just as we entered Little Current at 2:58, the 3:00 p.m. swinging bridge began to open and we were able to push through. There is a 2 knot east-running current here and the gusts were up to 40 mph. Upping the rpm’s to a full 3400 and steering through the swirling pools of water and vicious headwinds, we made about 3.5 mph over ground and slipped through the open bridge. Deliverance. About a quarter mile in we looked back and saw it close. We pulled into Spider Bay Marina, put on fuel and got into a slip and tied up. Finally, we were in the North Channel. Storms in Lake Huron, delays in places we never intended to stay in, islands, bays, channels and tricky navigation around rocks and down buoyed channels have been the daily fare.

It is becoming a world onto itself with two places to sit in the cabin, a cockpit for a patio, and horizon that goes on forever for a yard. A good Laundromat in a marina is suddenly far more precious than having your own washer and dryer in the basement. Food is good everywhere, but we now walk to the grocery story, however far it is and sometimes they deliver to the dock. Nothing on land seems to stand still any more and you fall over when you get up out of your chair in a restaurant to go to the bathroom. Dramamine and our usual prescription meds are a part of our diet – so far no seasickness because of preventative doses on bad days. Today an older couple pulled in and tied up next to us in Little Current. We had met them in Gore Bay 1994 while exploring the North Channel in the Stone Horse. It is becoming an outward bound life that suddenly takes you back in time and turns inward-bound in a second. The next installment of this journey will be forthcoming – sometime when we get back on the internet.

July 16, 2009

It is time to write because we have live internet here in Gore Bay. It may not be available for a long time. Little Current was very pleasant and it was a lot of fun talking to Gordon and Betty, the folks from Indiana we met here in 1994. Back then we had Loran, not GPS. Some very knowledgeable friend advised us not to use Loran for navigation up here because the reception was not good enough to guarantee accuracy, so we left it turned off. Rather, we navigated by sight, paper charts, channel markers and good binoculars. When we met Gordon and told him about it, he said it was ridiculous and that his Loran worked great. He gave us some of his waypoints and we plugged them into ours and they were accurate to the inch. This time I was lacking the charts for a five-mile section of the trip from Little Current to Kagawong and it was a bit distressing. Again, Gordon gave me some waypoints from his chart to plug into our GPS. And then we plowed onward to Kagawong. We really like these people and they give us courage and faith.

Speaking of Kagawong: It is a village with almost nothing except a restaurant, a fire department and a nice little marina. The original marina building used to have steam ships tie up to it and unload wheat for the flour mill that supplied Manitoulin Island way back when. Today it still looks good and has some comfortable sofas and chairs and sells ice cream and various flavored coffees. Moreover, it has two functioning, authentic lighthouses. When you come in to the docks, you must enter through the narrow passage between them and the little breakwall to the left. But do not get too close to it – no closer than the red chlorox bottle moored just off the end of it. If you think the opening is too small and decide to go around the far end of the breakwall, you will come to a soft, crunching stop in the sand. While there, be sure to visit the Anglican Church and find out why the pulpit is the front end of a wooden cabin cruiser. The story behind it and its connection with the Clapperton Channel might leave you with a case of permanent chills, but it will tune you in to the importance of navigational skills in the local waters.

The trip from Little Current to Kagawong was to buy Marilynn a new “Kagawong” shirt – the old one from 1994 is badly worn. And, of course, see Kagawong again. We left Little Current after lunch, having already had a rain in the morning that did not amount to much. A few cells were still coming, but there was no extreme wind forecast, in fact light winds. We sailed west at about five knots with a nice southerly breeze and overcast skies. Then things began to pick up suddenly. We rolled in the jib and turned on the engine because the wind shifted to the west, right where we were going. Then it increased to about 30 mph and rain started falling – not heavy rain, but sideways rain. Visibility was zero to a few hundred yards and the whole place became a maritime washing machine. Idling back to keep the boat from slamming, we continued to move ahead about 3 mph, but had to go off course and quarter into the oncoming 4-foot waves. Marilynn had gone down into the cabin and put on her full suit of foul weather gear and storm hat from Molokai when it first stated squalling, so she did the steering. I slipped on my yellow Gorton Fish Man coat and canvas hat and sat in the cockpit as far forward as possible, cowering under the back edge of the dodger and watched for visual marks to help navigate. Constant spray slammed into the front windows of the dodger, but I was protected well. She sat back in the drivers seat in the rain and spray and just took it and steered, watching the compass and GPS. Two hours later, just as we were at the point we had to round to get into the bay at Kagawong, it cleared and the storm lifted and we had to pull back north to our GPS course to round the tip and get to our beloved bay and town. After docking, we stoked up the wood stove and heated up the cabin. Although we were not really wet to the bone, all our clothes, foul weather gear and all, were moist. By about six (two hours later) Marilynn was warm enough to talk and take nourishment and we had a good dinner of some delectable Uncle Ben’s rice and spice thing with slices of sausage and onions cooked with it. And a good salad.

The problem with all of this is that the marina in Kagawong no longer sells shirts. Well, we tried.

We were planning to head north today and go anchor out in the Benjamin Islands, but the forecast is now for two days of rain. Instead of being anchored out when it is raining and all the rocks are slippery and every time you go ashore in the dinghy you get wet, we decided to go to Gore Bay and hang out. Here were have a toilet that flushes, restaurants and bars and a place where you can sit at a table and type with 110 volt AC. There are other islands to numerous to mention between here and Mackinaw City.

July 21, 2009

We ended up staying in Gore Bay four days while the wind blew and huge clouds circled us. We were in the “eye” of a large low pressure system and the waves out in the open channel were one meter plus most of the time. It was a pleasant place to hang out -- internet, a gorgeous marina on a bay that made you feel like you were anchored out in some remote cove, and most of all, a lot of nice folks to talk with and exchange ideas with. This was the farthest west we got in our first North Channel trip, back in 1994.

A couple of days ago, with the first of the improved weather, we moved northwest to Long Point Cove, the furthest east that we made it on last year’s trip. It was lovely to pull in there and anchor again and we met some guys from Grosse Pointe, always a bit of a kick when you are far from home.

Today, Tuesday, we moved west to Blind River. It was only twelve miles, but cuts the jump to Thessalon down from 43 to 30 miles. We left about ten and unfortunately the wind did not come up enough to sail, so we spent two hours motoring over. Now that we are here there is a nice breeze blowing from the east. The other option is to leave later in the day, have the wind shift against you, and then smash into huge waves out into the evening. Immediately after arriving here in Blind River Marina, we met a man named Roger who is here working on his boat, a beautiful Allegra. He is from Milwaukee and keeps it here for the summer and is also building a cabin up north a few miles, someplace out in the woods. We were asking him where the bank, store, etc. were and after hearing all our needs and concerns said, “Here, take these keys, my pickup truck is over there.” We happily agreed to that and went to the bank and then out west of town to a fast food place operated by some First Nation group. The burgers were excellent, but the service was not fast. We actually had to wait while they cooked our personal food. We delivered Roger’s truck back to him in time for him to make a trip to the paint store and do his errands. He agreed to keep one Nor’Sea 27 as collateral while we were away.

Special notes: The morning we left Gore Bay, we saw two loons out in the marina but did not get any pictures. They spend a lot of their time underwater trying to eek out a living. No recreational boating or diving for them, just work every day. Perhaps they do not see this that way, or any special way. We are not using the wood stove for heat now and it does not feel so damp and cold, although the breeze off the water in the afternoon gets a bit chilly. So far, we have spent precious little time wearing short pants and shirts. People up here are desperate for some real summer because it is a financial disaster when it is so cold. Marinas, coves, restaurants, and marine stores are mostly empty compared to good years.

July 25, 2009. A few days back we left Blind River and made the trip west to Thessalon. Thessalon it is, but not the one to which the Apostle Paul sent his letter to the early Christian followers regarding their faith and other items. Perhaps it was named by some Greek person who happened to be in the timber industry of the 1800’s. It is a sleepy town now with a few smaller sawmills here and there around it and a good amount of mining, but back then it was much different. It was a booming sawmill town of thousands that cut up and shipped out, by schooner and rail, millions of board feet of lumber that built modern Toronto, Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities – at least in their first iteration.

The marina in Thessalon has been upgraded by grants from the Ontario government and is very pleasant. It has white clapboard vinyl siding and a stunning blue metal roof. Included was the building of a marina center, a two-story building with exquisite architecture. The front side is entirely windows on the second story and comes to a point. All floors are oak and upstairs one finds comfortable couches, a modern kitchen for boaters’ use – like if you want to cook a real meal in a real kitchen -- and a nice library. The stairwell leading to the second floor is a tower attached to the corner of the building and it looks like a lighthouse. Quality prevailed and stopping there for the night is a rare treat, all for a bit over $1 per foot of boat length.

On the four-hour journey to Thessalon, many things crossed my mind, and one of them was “What is the North Channel….. what is this place I keep writing about visiting and describing?” An attempted explanation: Starting from the very eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and extending eastward across the top of Lake Huron, lies an archipelago of islands about 100 miles long. They end just above the Bruce Peninsula, that north-extending strip of Canada that defines the eastern edge of Lake Huron and divides it from the Georgian Bay. This strip of islands, Manitoulin on the east end being its largest, was formed during some gigantic upthrust of earth’s crust that pushed an ancient seabed, limestone, dolomite, and all skyward. It is part of a large chain of upthrust that starts around Green Bay, Wisconsin and ends near Niagara Falls, this 600-mile-long formation being called the Niagra Escarpment. The north side of the North Channel, a mere 16 – 18 miles north, the “real” top end of Lake Huron is totally different. It is composed of granite and is part of the Canadian Shield, the original, oldest part of the North American Continent, a piece of the original craton. This means that it was part of the original material that composed the first, and only super-continent, Pangaea, before it broke up into the seven continents that all drifted away on the earth’s molten core. So here, in the North Channel, you see the old and the new, including geology dating from 4.6 billion years ago to a few million years back, new marinas, old port towns from the 1800’s, and wi-fi hotspots in great little cafes.

The last, recent event of geological importance was the great Laurentian Glacier. It moved from the north to the south, extending down to as far as the Ohio River a mere fifty thousand years ago. As it moved south, it cut deep gashes in the granite of the old North American Craton and formed all the little islands and channels that dot the whole eastern end of the North Channel. This maze of islands and passageways results in a scenic wonder of pine-tree-covered cliffs, bays inside islands, underwater reefs to navigate around, and a place to explore and enjoy. To get the full impact of this geology, just turn on Google Earth, type in Blind River, Ontario, and start scanning the terrain to the east. Click on the little picture symbols and you will see a pretty good representation of what it looks like.

Navigation in the North Channel is extremely challenging and taxing with some of the most difficult underwater terrain on the planet. Islands are often clustered and often have shoals extending underwater from one to the other. Some, only a few hundred yards apart, have 100-foot-deep channels between them. Most of the areas with very few islands and lots of open water are about 100 feet deep, yet even there you can suddenly be on a two-foot-deep shoal that is totally invisible from the surface. Consequently, you absolutely must use you charts or a GPS chart-plotter (GPS with a little screen on which electronic navigation charts appear) and a depth-finder. The depth-finder uses sonar to measure depth continuously and reads a simple number – your depth at that point. As of now, we only have digital GPS, paper charts and the depth-finder, but may soon get a chart-plotter device, especially now that the screens are much better. We take latitude-longitude points off our paper charts and program them into the GPS and then navigate from one point to the other through “safe” water. Between points we can determine exactly where we are by reading the current position from the GPS and then going down into the cabin and finding it on the paper chart. Even though that is now archaic, it is very likely that Columbus would have profoundly appreciated it. Channels between islands are often not very straight and frequently have shoals on each side. In that case, especially if they are high traffic areas, the Canadian Coast Guard has them well marked with buoys. You just follow the red and green highway through – assuming you have visibility. The Clapperton Channel is one of these.

Another quirk of this area is its magnetism. Your compass always points about nine degrees west of true geographic north, average for this area, so if you are referring to a course given in geographic numbers, you must add ten degrees. That is fairly easy to remember. The real problem is that this deviation (declination) is not always nine degrees. It can vary wildly due to underground iron deposits – recall that Northern Michigan, Minnesota and Ontario are iron mining country. So, as you make a crossing, guiding yourself exactly with your GPS, following your predetermined course line to almost the nearest ten or twenty feet, you often find that your compass changes plus or minus ten degrees for absolutely no apparent reason. It truly makes us wonder how sailors of old got around up here. Most likely they had everything well memorized and, barring heavy fog, could probably almost smell their way through the area. In any case, we came out without one grounding or even a close call – as far as we know.

Back to the story of the trip: We left Thessalon a couple days ago and moved south to Detour, Michigan, our first American port since leaving Port Huron, Michigan back in June. It was a rainy crossing with little or no breeze and the sky varied from deep blue-gray to pewter and occasional showers of rain fell upon us. It was impossible to differentiate between the water and the sky because of the lack of sunlight. Islands on the horizon seemed to float on some level plane with each other, and thereby gave one a feeling of horizon. Without those islands to define the horizon, the boat itself would have been the only point of reference. Passing close to these islands brought spatial reality back into focus and you could smell the pines and see rocky points extending off them and gain some perspective.

Upon arriving in Detour, we called in to U.S. Customs to report our arrival. We now have I-68 forms, a special permit for boaters that allows us to come back to the U.S. without having to check in through an official customs inspection station. It is a luxury not having to go through Drummond Island, just east of Detour, to report. The marina at Drummond is basically very plain and non-inviting with gravel parking lots and a terrible approach from the north through a maze of islands and shoals. Coming into Detour instead and tying up in a marina that is surrounded by a wildlife marsh on three sides and a footbridge to the mainland was a real treat. Arriving in Detour, we called the customs number, but nobody answered. Ironically, some customs guys happened to be on the dock and tried to help us by calling in themselves on their cell phones, but go no response. Customs and Homeland Security was on a break or really “out-to-lunch.” Osama could have strode onto American soil wearing his spiffy little Columbia sailor outfit they purchased for him at West Marine. Finally, I happened to reach the correct person in the menu, an official in Sault St. Marie, MI, and he checked us in. All he said was “Thanks for checking in” after he had recorded our names. It was pleasantly easy.

Today, the 25th, we left Detour and went west to Hessel, MI, our last stop before the final one in Mackinaw City. It is in the Les Cheneaux Islands, a gorgeous bottom fringe of the eastern point of the Upper Peninsula. As we were cutting through a passage that gets us into Hessel from the east, we encountered a sailboat regatta. It was a huge race of Pearson Ensigns, an old class that is still quite popular in some parts. After passing through the race area, still three miles out from Hessel, we were overtaken by a lady in a small motorboat who suddenly began talking to Marilynn. It was Gail, the Harbormaster of the Hessel Marina. She told us how great it was to see us again and recommended that we get to the marina and take slip 19 with a port tie. We were here twice last year and she remembered us like old friends. It was like coming to heaven and finding out that St. Peter was really one of your old sailing buddies. Tonight we sleep in peace tied to a dock in Hessel, a little piece of heaven 22 miles from Mackinaw City, with rough water crossings, navigation through narrow channels and around rocks, storms, adventures, exhaustion and loads of new photographs and new experiences behind us. Tuesday or Wednesday we will go to Mackinaw City and be there when Katya arrives to pick us up that evening. In the meantime, we will spend at least one night anchored out in Government Bay, just a few miles east from Hessel. I, Perry, may go home with Katya and Marilynn and pick up the truck and trailer and come back and retrieve the boat. Seven hours driving down I-75 to Detroit might be easier and more practical than seven days going down Michigan’s east side by myself. The boatyard in Mackinaw City can load it onto the trailer for me and my local guy at home can pick it up and put it back in the water. My quota for adventure has been well filled at this point and I am still extant. Marilynn is in a good mood after this and is planning for the next trip which already includes a bunch of little things to do to the boat to make it more livable. Next year will be somewhere else.

August 3, 2009. We are now home in Grosse Pointe. The remainder of the trip, down to Mackinaw City, wherewe temporarily left the boat, was very enjoyable, and again – interesting. We left Hessel Wednesday, July 29th. Mackinaw City is about 20 miles SSW, but you get to Mackinaw Island first, about seven miles out from Mackinaw City. The wind was from the west and picking up when we left and the sky was very blue. Because of the wind direction, we had to sail upwind on a beat and initially did a couple long tacks from our GPS line. Then we were able to settle into a final ten-mile tack that took us almost to our destination, the passage between Mackinaw Island and Bois Blanc Island to the east. Miles out we could see the Mackinac Bridge looming in the background. About a mile from the passage between the two islands, it really started to blow a lot and we pulled down all sails so we could motor through the passage. It is a good idea anyway because the area is frantic with activity. Boats, freighters, ferries, and frigates are coming and going and confusion often reigns.

Coming from the north through this passage makes you aware of how enormous the Mackinaw Bridge really is. As you begin to see the western horizon between the two islands, it dominates everything. Although it is several miles to the southwest, it still looks like you are almost next to it. The two pairs of main suspension towers are over 500 feet above the water with a 3800-foot span between them. The roadway at midpoint is 200 feet above the water and the Strait of Mackinac is more than 200 feet deep at that point. It is hard to watch the boat traffic as you pass between islands with such a visual treat awaiting you. Then, suddenly you are between Mackinac Island on the right with its picturesque harbor and Grand Hotel perched on the hillside above the town and beautifully restored Round Island Light on your left.

After about ten more minutes the Mackinac Island scenery is behind you and Mackinaw City is straight ahead and the bridge is still to your right. That puts you in the Straits of Mackinac, that huge passage that the bridge spans to connect Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The water from Lake Michigan and all of its drainage basin pours through from west to east under the bridge and the current is about 1.5 mph. It is not a raging current, but an incredible volume of water moves beneath the bridge in one hour – fresh water, clean water, water that is essentially drinkable right out of the lake.

Now our little personal story about crossing the strait to Mackinaw City: The breeze had picked up to a good 15 mph from the west and the waves were building, already at least three feet. The wind had already had a good hundred miles of fetch from the west to work on them and whip them into good form. We did well quartering into them and did not even have to idle back much. But, meanwhile the three ferry companies that transport passengers from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island were zooming back and forth, one way or the other, about every five to ten minutes. They are huge, fast boats and kick up an enormous wake, creating what we call “confused seas.” That translates into “big honker waves coming at you from everywhere.” Even so, we were able to pick the worst disturbances and head straight into them so as not to be rolled around too much and proceed on our way – for at least another few minutes.

Back in the early nineties, a young lady crossing the strait did not do so well. She drove her Yugo across the bridge on a very windy day – one of those days with gusts up to 50 mph when the flashing sign reads “High Wind Warning – Do Not Exceed 30 MPH.” Nobody knows exactly how fast she was moving in the Yugo, but the lightly constructed little Yugoslavian car was blown sideways and out of control. It hit the guard rails, fairly substantial ones, and flipped over them like the empty little can it was and freely fell 200 feet to the water and then plunged down the remaining 200-feet-plus to the bottom. The lady, the Yugo, and the nation of Yugoslavia itself are now long past, but we are still here, having experienced an uneventful, although very bumpy, crossing. We pulled into the sheltered areas east of the marina, prepared the boat for docking and checked into the Mackinaw City Marina.

Lisa came up to fetch us on Saturday and after doing some shopping in Mackinaw City, we all drove home to Grosse Pointe. She had been on the road at 6:30 a.m. to come for us – a valiant young trooper out to rescue her parents – armed with a Dodge Avenger. Perry and Katya will go back on Wednesday with the truck and trailer to pick up the boat. Katya needs a little vacation up north after completing summer school and Perry will be benefitted by not having to spend seven days bringing the boat back by himself.

Arriving home was a great experience in itself. Everything was perfect. Katya had mowed and edged the lawn and her diligent watering had produced a fabulous crop of red, ripe tomatoes. The house was immaculately clean and the dogs had even had a little haircut to keep them trimmed and neat. After having spent exactly 35 days living, eating and sleeping in the boat, I was almost shocked to see how many possessions we have here at home. Everything jumped out at me – vehicles, lawnmower, power tools, dishwasher, a refrigerator with an icemaker, manicured lawns, and above all, a huge bed that does not sway beneath me while I lie in it. All of this is nice to have, but a bed that does not softly move around a bit in the night is pretty hard to take. It will soon be time again to go down to the sea and the ships.

Perry Munson, Marilynn Fairfax and The Baltika