Monday, May 16, 2022

And Then There’s Vienna!

After a day and a night in Hallstadt, an idyllic little lake town in the Austrian Alps (oh how I loved writing that phrase!), we headed to Vienna.

Ahoy from Hallstadt!

Um, love this place!

And then there's Vienna! This world famous, ornate, eclectic, vibrant city is living up to its hype. We’ve circled Old Town on a tram, explored the grounds of the elaborately ornate Habsburg palace, gazed at the famed Opera House, spent time in a museum dedicated to education about WW II (an important yet horrible history indeed), viewed world-famous paintings in a stunningly beautiful art museum (Kunsthistorisches), visited Gothic St. Stephens Cathedral (dating from the 1300s, in the heart of the city and very near our hotel) . . . and still a half-day remaining to see and do way more than is realistically possible.

And we hope to find more time to linger in classic Viennese cafes. And hear some music. And sip espresso. Oh, and eat desserts! 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Splendid Salzburg

It’s so exciting to be in Austria! My most repeated phrase lately is: “I can’t believe we're here!” 

The bus ride from Munich to Salzburg provided two-hours of splendid scenery: Rolling meadows and fields of green dotted by picturesque red-tiled roofed houses clustered in villages outlined by the snow-covered jagged peaks of the Austrian Alps in the distance. Wow!

And suddenly there's Salzburg! With not nearly enough time here, we've hit it hard: A night walk along the river, a guided walk through lovely Mirabell Gardens, a step inside to view the splendor of the Salzburg Cathedral, an exploration of Mozart's birthplace, a stroll  under the wrought-iron signs that line Getreidegasse, a ride up the funicular to walk around gigantic Hohensalzburg Fortress with a stunning panorama of the old city below. 

And as an encore we sought out a concert of Mozart's Sonatas for Clavichord & Violin in the Alte (Old) Residenz a venue where young Mozart himself played violin concerts - a perfect way to cap off a grand day!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Munich Oh, My!

We've enjoyed Munich’s Old Town, luckily arriving as the historic glockenspiel chimed its tunes, Olympic Park's still amazing clear tent-like structures held up by steel cables, the BMW headquarters and museum, a mini Spring Octoberfest that we learned about on-the-go, and the totally stunning Neuschwanstein, a castle of fairytale fantasies! We are thrilled to be experiencing the geography of Bavaria’s green fields, pristine lakes, mountains & forests, participating in a convivial atmosphere, and visiting historic sites. We are also discovering acknowledgement of a sobering and sad history with hope for a better future. 

Lake Alpsee in Hohenschwangau

Marienplatz in Munich's Old Town 

Olympic Tower 

On the Bier Karrelsell

Neuschwanstein on a misty day

Friday, April 29, 2022

A Trip to Germany and Austria.

Our trip to Europe is actually happening next week. After two previous overseas trips were cancelled in the past two years (wanna guess why?) we will be on our way soon. We've stopped crossing our fingers about it and are now actually packing! Next Wednesday we'll land in Munich, Germany and two weeks after that we'll fly back from Vienna, Austria. My hopes are up for finding time for a few blog posts, so Auf Wiedersehen for now & we’ll be checking in with you later! 😘

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Not the Day to Go Sailing

When you wake up early in your somewhat comfortable V-berth to the feel of your well-tied-up boat swaying back and forth and shaking beneath you, and you hear the sound of a strong wind whistling around the masts of other sailboats here in the Winthrop Harbor marina, and you check your weather app that shows the wind blowing in double-digits with gusts over 30 knots from exactly the way you want to go (south) . . . well, you just try to go back to sleep and accept that this is NOT the day to sail back to Chicago. 

Or you get up and write a blog post. 😊

Yet what a great little sailing vacation we’ve had this week so far! The day after Todd installed our brand new Quantum mainsail, we experienced a glorious sail from Burnham Harbor in Chicago all the way up to Kenosha, Wisconsin. We enjoyed walking around the harbor area, visiting the Great Lakes Beer Fest (of course! it's Wisconsin!), and hanging out with Bryan & Angie who keep their boat there. And the next day, with their experienced help, we learned to fly our gennaker - yes, it's magenta and magnificent! And now we have a new strategy for our low-wind days. We love it! 

On another day we walked a narrow sandy path lined with sea oats & tall grasses towards the shore of Lake Michigan where waves smashed up against the sandy beach, flocks of seagulls squawked, sweet little sandpipers chased waves, and one surfer guy enjoyed the weather conditions. 

Last night we used our Magma boat grill for the first time. We happily created some delicious veggie kebabs - that paired  perfectly with a Carmel Cabernet. 

And now it looks like we're socked in here for another day and night. 

Not such a bad forecast.

Cheers! 🍻 🍷🍷

Friday, August 6, 2021

Our Sailing Mini-Cruise

After a few days working on our boat in Chicago Burnham Harbor, we decided we were ready to spend several days cruising around some of the southern ports of Lake Michigan. We pulled out of our home slip on, let’s see, um, well it’s hard to keep track of days when you’re on "boat time" - Monday maybe? 

Nancy all set to cast off 

Kent cleaning the cabin upholstery

And sailed 12 fun nautical miles toward the marina in Hammond, Indiana. We trimmed our sails to allow the winds to gently push us along and said happily to each other: “Ah, this is why we bought a sailboat!” It was comforting to find our same slip (we’d been there once before) and pull into it without difficulty. We enjoyed our night on the boat in Indiana even though we discovered that our restaurant (the main reason we went back) wasn’t open because it was, well, yes - Monday!  

The next day we sailed 26 nm to Michigan City, Indiana. Which actually provided us with 28 miles of sailing because we needed to keep tacking to stay on our course - nope, winds aren’t always favorable for the direction one wants to go. And this led to yet another adventure in docking in a new marina - and frankly we don’t really have our home harbor docking perfected yet! We enjoyed our overnight in this pretty port town. 

We even took time to hike along the sand dunes and out to the lighthouse the next morning.

Here's a view of the beautiful sand dunes along the Indiana/Michigan shoreline.
And also a view of how VERY FLAT the lake can be and how sometimes NO amount of trimming sails can help speed the boat along! :)

Yet then the winds were perfect for our smooth and glorious 7 nm ride to New Buffalo, Michigan, where it appears that part of the harbor master’s job is to help sailors pull into their transient slips - ah, perfection! What a sweet little harbor town, in spite of the interesting "duck weed" we encountered in the marina.

We were hoping for a 38 nm speedy return home to Burnham across the big lake. And by speedy I mean, well, all day! Indeed we left at 9 AM EST and pulled (rather successfully I might add) into our slip in Burnham at 5 PM CST. Ah, but so much better than a full day at work, right?! And what a sail for the approach to Chicago!

{SO SORRY - cannot get the videos to play on the blog - YET!}

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Passage to Chicago. Oh My.

Well, we made it to Chicago via water - a rather magical experience!

Cool Heads Prevail was all ready to sail, bobbing about in her slip in St. Joseph, Michigan, and we were certainly ready to sail, yet carrying on at home in Normal, Illinois, frequently checking weather & wind & sea conditions and waiting for all elements to align so we could attempt our 52 mile journey across Lake Michigan to deliver CHP to our home harbor. 

What seemed like suddenly, we found ourselves heading north in two cars, leaving one near our dock at Burnham Harbor in Chicago, and driving together in the other to Michigan - and yes, that would make the sixth time in two months! Back on our boat at last, we made finals preparations to begin our crossing early the next morning. 

Red sky at night, sailors' delight.

Out of the slip before 8 AM, we were thrilled to be greeted with the US Coast Guard standing at attention as they raised the flag and played reveille, definitely a magical and inspiring moment! Of course not meant for us, but we rose to our feet and graciously soaked it up as a perfect way to start our momentous day. 

At 54 degrees and bundled in layers, it felt fresh and sweet to be heading out so early in the morning. As we sipped our coffee we saw fishermen standing along the seawall, a few little boats in the water, and an ambitious paddle boarder near shore. 

As we headed further out onto Lake Michigan there was less activity on the water, but we occasionally saw a fishing boat or a tug with a barge or a giant steamer off in the distance. The further away from shore, the fewer vessels we sighted. And soon we were unable to see land or anything except water in any direction. No internet nor cell tower coverage. Quite a heady feeling.

And out on the water with the light wind blowing from the southwest - exactly the same direction to which we were heading - we knew our sails were not going to help. So we motored. 

And we motored. And motored. Slowly. I got lots of very needed practice at steadily holding the helm.

Along the way we kept hourly track of our coordinates, wind speed, boat speed, and sea conditions. We swatted pesky flies that were hitch-hiking their way from MI to IL aboard our boat, we played ukulele, we listened to podcasts, we marveled at this miraculous journey over this very large body of water. 

SO. Chicago is 52 nautical miles from St. Joseph. And we were averaging, oh 5 nm per hour with our sturdy diesel engine running at 3,000 rpm. Yep, just like you we kept doing the math and coming up with the same thing = we'd be enjoying this ride for ten hours! 

And then, sometime after our peanut butter sandwich lunch: Land Ho! We spotted the gloriously unmistakable skyline of Chicago far, far out in the distance to the west. Wow! We were 26 miles away, exactly half-way! We high-fived and toasted with our water bottles.

Later in the day when the wind changed direction and kicked up slightly we unfurled the jib. And we sat together on the foredeck near the bow to admire the skyline, soak up the warm sun, and enjoy the fact that we'd made it this far. 

A short clip en route across Lake Michigan.

We inched closer & closer while viewing the Chicago skyline.

And many, many hours later with the sun beginning to set, we were snugly tied up in our slip in Chicago! Home port! What a ride!

Securely tied up to our slip in Burnham Harbor. Our new Chicago condo.