Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 20 Fleeing South

The last time I saw this bridge it was when the Bumboat entered Lake Michigan. This rainy crossing may be sweeter since I am rapidly closing in on a reunion with my family and the Bumboat... leaving my Captain and Royal Eagle an opportunity to train fresh crew.

A great adventure.... and after being 20 days before the mast, I have one significant conclusion: If you can, be the captain!

My Lake Superior image gallery will appear shortly on

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 19 Surrender

I've had command of Royal Eagle for less than 24 hours. Since then, the weather has deteriorated to the worst of the voyage. The water tanks are dry and the head is plugged. The ship's brain won't talk to me... and there is no one aboard to execute my shouted orders.

I must release the Captain to restore order aboard. I have underestimated the responsibilities and skills required to maintain life at sea. If left to my own resources, my survival is questionable.

Captain, please forgive my selfish actions. I am prepared to accept the punishment I am due.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 18 MUTINY!!

I (call me Fletcher) had to take the ship. The Captain.... errr Admiral.. is in shackles laying in the bilge. I think he knew it was inevitable.... he put up little resistance.

The Captain is all about routine. This afternoon he fired up his "passage cigar" and I could take it no longer. For the last 18 days, I've sucked in the second hand smoke of 18 passage and 17 after dinner stoogies. These stoogies are huge and burn for at least an hour. There is no escape from the nausiating fumes. I won't even go into all the other daily routines...

I can now take endless showers, shit on demand, and shout out my own commands. Sail on!!!

Day 17 Promotion

This is the ship's brain. It tells us where we've been and the hazards that lie before us. The Captain spends many hours with his friend. I just observe the interaction of these neural resources.

As we set to sea today a high NW wind warning for Superior was posted. Our course took us over hundreds of wrecks of less fortunate sailors. The Captain executed a perfect gibe off Whitefish Point, leaving the towering seas and the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in our wake.

In celebration of not being another wreck on Gitche Gumee's most dangerous shore... The crew hereby declares Captain Kip an Admiral.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day X? Time Space Continuum

My sea experience is all a blur of place and time; the minutes, hours, and days are becoming more difficult to discriminate. Only the chiming of the ship's clock reminds me of the hour (and half hour).

When ship's business and the needs of the Captain are met, I am able to spend time in the spartan crew quarters. Notice my assigned crew ID number, which also was tattood on my forearm upon initial boarding of Royal Eagle. My ID is a constant reminder of the ship's social political hierarchy. At night, exactly on the hour, I abruptly awake and recite "Sir, 1023395, ready and able to serve".

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 15 Mama Mia! Stayin' Alive Jive Talkin'

Today's strong winds kept the Captain jive talkin' while holding on and stayin' alive. Actually, we listened to the Captain's second favorite group, the BeeGees, during today's voyage. He put them on within minutes of me touching the radio (for the first time) in my attempt to hear some music or news.

The Captain likes a quiet ship; only the drone of the engine and the wind across the deck. Any attempt by the crew to enjoy music aboard the ship is quickly suppressed; by BeeGees at sea and Abba (Captain's favorite) at the dock.

Day 14 Photo Ops

As many of you know, I try to document my voyages with images (with a real camera rather than a cell phone). This voyage has been no exception. At the beginning of the trip, the Captain did not seem to have much compassion for positioning the ship for a proper shot. Even with my longest telephoto lens, I wasn't able to make some lighthouses any bigger than a spec in my view finder.

After many days of crew requests to pilot the ship closer to images of interest, the Captain is beginning to comply. I was able to get some decent shots of Huron Island Light (above) due to the Captain's masterful navigation in treacherous waters. If he continues to be compliant, he will be rewarded with many frame-able images of our voyage. If not, he'll get my cell phone pictures.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 13 Constipation

When I boarded Royal Eagle, I was surprised the Captain didn't have a list of crew rules. No discussion of do's or don'ts. Actually, the rules became apparent as I broke them. Each new infraction would result in a deliberate discussion on the proper compliance.

The only rule the Captain conveyed upon boarding was regarding the head: "Don't shit in the manual head in the crew's cabin. It's macerator can be a problem". Since it was improper for the crew to use the Captain's head and the availibility of shore facilities may not coincide with natural movements, I needed a plan..... I actively monitored my consumption of fluids and ruffage to keep things soft.

The first 12 days went smoooothly. However, in Houghton we treated ourselves to pizza.... with lots of cheese. The next day, with no available comfort stations, constipation set in and so did anxiety on head failure.....

Fortunately, everything worked... and I'm back to increasing my ruffage levels...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 12 Laundry

Tonight was laundry night. The Captain has done laundry twice since I've been aboard..... and me none.... perhaps because my hi-tech clothes are more durable than the Captain's finest cottons... and my backpacking experience resulted in almost daily washing of underware and socks in my sink (water conservation violation). I guess the sheets and towels did need washed.

The task much tougher than the laundry is getting the sheets back on the bunk. The bedding on Royal Eagle is custom made with the top and bottom sheets sewn together creating a body capsule. Sorting out all the flaps and getting it oriented right on the bunk requires an education level much higher than mine.

I now have enough clean garments to last me at least another 20 days before the mast.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 11 Perseid Meteor Shower

In this case, a picture isn't worth a 1000 words. Last night at anchor conditions were incredible to view the Perseis meteor shower; clear sky, wide open horizon, and no backround light at any point of the compass. Even the Captain refrained from his normal bedtime to view the shows opening act.

After a long day at sea today, the crew had to attend to ship's business; registering us with the dockmaster, filling water tanks, offloading garbage, and swabbing the deck. I was surprised to hear that I was the first to clean the decks this voyage... which made me wonder about the diligence of the crews before me.

The Captain appears to have a technology problem and is well behind in his log updates. In absence of the official ship's log, I can offer the following summary; great weather, great scenery, great people, and exceptional cuisine prepared by my Captain. I just wish we sailed more.

My Captain appears totally unaware of the technology I carry in my pocket. If he did, it surely would be confiscated.

The ship's clock has finished the midnight serenade... so it's bedtime....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 10 Anchors Away

Earlier in the trip the Captain grumbled about previous crew disappointments. I have now added to the list of grumblings.... Our plan was to anchor in Raspberry Bay, dingy over to a lighthouse, and grill our fresh Lake Trout for dinner.

Since this was our first anchorage, the Captain took me to the bow for an anchoring tutoral. Shortly after returning to the helm, he issued the command to drop anchor. I released the windlass and the familiar sound of rumbling chain confirmed the anchor was on its way to the bottom. My unfamiliarity with this ship's anchoring apparatus caused me to briefly remove my hand from the winch lever. It took only a moment for the lever to launch out of the winch into the depths of the anchor locker. Without the ability to provide friction, the chain accelerated rapidly creating an uncontrolled release of chain. I instinctively jumped into the locker to retrieve the lever. The confines of the locker made retrieval impossible, so a quick stomp on the chain stopped the release a few links shy of an empty locker.

My predicament of keeping the chain secure while somehow retrieving the windlass lever from the bottom of the locker was solved when the shadow of the captain was cast upon me. Captain Kip firmly placed his foot on the chain allowing me to re-enter head first to retrieve the lever and brake the windlass.

After the Captain was sure the bow escapades were over, he returned to the helm and set the anchor. I returned to a silent cockpit and a disappointed Captain.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 7,8 &9, Crew Booted

I've spent the last three days putting some significant miles on my boots. Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island and the Stockton Island wilderness had exceptional vistas and challenging terain. At a minimum, I've seen close to 35 trail miles over the last three days (which is 3 times the distance we've sailed during the same time). My Captain's boots are not as well traveled; electing only to do only a one mile hike with the crew.

Today I packed my ration of crackers and water in my pack and traversed Stockton Island for a total of 18 miles. Stockton Island has the highest black bear density in North America.... and I can provide some verification. My hike to a deserted stone quarry was extremely remote and the only tracks I saw on my return were my tracks going out and fresh bear tracks (big paws). Of course, I wasn't concerned since I read the National Park bear brochure and took notes during the Captain's safety speech. However, after seeing the tracks... I picked up my pace and spent the remainder of my trail time whistling tunes and talking to bears out loud.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 6 Sleep Deprivation

The Ship's Clock is very accurate and the time standard for the Captain Log. It is located on the bulkhead outside my cabin approximately 5 ft from my head. The Captain treasures this time piece and cleverly uses it to keep his crew on edge.

Every God Damn hour it strikes the number of bells for the hour. "Cling Clank, Cling Clank, Cling......" at a volume sufficient to wake up any soul within 5 boat lengths. To further aggrevate me, it even strikes once on the half hour.

It is impossible to fall asleep anytime before the midnight cresendo. After 5 nights of clanging, I've developed a slight immunity allowing me fitfull rest until 4 AM... a noise threshold I'm not yet able to overcome. My Captain wisely uses his ability to snore loudly to mask the clanging and sleep deep into the morning.

Ahhh... it's time to turn in.... 4 AM comes quick....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 5 Starboard to Port

I was in the head when, without notice, the engine fired up. The Captain decided we were moving to a newly assigned dock at the Madeline Island Yacht Club. Upon arriving on deck, I was disappointed to see that the Captain had already removed the starboard stern line. I felt I let him down... up to this point, I exclusively handled all lines. In an attempt to reassert my abilities, I efficiently changed all the dock lines and fenders from starboard to port while Royal Eagle steamed the 150 ft to our new dock. Cleating that last line while the Captain shut down the engine brought me a sense of satisfaction that I restored confidence in the crew.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 4 Coffee Embargo Lifts

Black River was a primative port, so it was time to break out the illegal substances. I smuggled some Folgers coffee (good RoviSys client) aboard at a previous port.... It took Captain Kip only a few seconds to detect my covert brewing and rush to the galley. To my surprise, the Captain endorsed my actions and unveiled a sophisticated brewing system he had stashed aboard. His step-by-step demonstration prepared this pleeb to become self sufficient with my caffeine consumption.

The 35 NM passage to Madeline Island was pleasant and uneventful. The Captain does an excellent job detailing the ship's business on his blog.... so I will refrain from those important details.

In an effort to conserve water and ensure no interruption of our water supply, I have not showered in 2 days. Topping the tanks in Madeline should reinstate daily hygene.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 3 Before the Mast (Aug 4)

This is sunset from Black River Harbor, which was quiet and off the beaten track. Our 32 NM trip over from Ontonagon was in cool sunny conditions. This was our second day of motorsailing into a persistent west wind.

Not much in Black River except hiking trails and native forests. I laced up my boots and hiked for 3 hours to two waterfalls and a not-so-scenic ridge. My captain and the couple from Red Sky (who we met in Ontonagon) joined me for the first hour before returning for naps.

The Captain whipped up some refreshing Pina Coladas and a gourmet spaghetti dinner for the four of us. While cleaning up the substantial mess, he informed me to cut back on water usage and conserve valuable vessel resources. My transition from a 54 ft vessel has been a bit bumpy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 2 Before the Mast

I awoke at sunrise to walk into town to buy coffee. The Captain informed me last night before turning in that caffeine was prohibited in his diet, so it didn't exist aboard. I wonder what other surprises are ahead of me.

Our departure coincided with the first opening of the lift bridge (second heaviest in US) at 9 AM. Our 49 NM trip to Ontonagon was pleasant in calm seas and temps in the 60s. We motorsailed the entire way into a 10 kt wind off the starboard bow. Gitche Gumee was well behaved today.

The Captain did a great job barging into the lives of two other boats which arrived with us. We had a great steak and potatoe dinner with Elaine, Joe, Stan, and Linda aboard S/V Red Sky. We should see them again at Madelain Island later this week.

Tomorrow we set sail for some wilderness, Black River Harbor. The harbor has no facilities, but lots of hiking and fishing.... and we may get weathered in....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 1 Before the Mast

After traveling nearly 7 hours out of Minneapolis today, my travel weary family dumped me off on the wharf in Houghton, MI and promptly hit the road for Mackinac City. I now have a better perspective on all the complaining crews who have met the Bumboat in remote waters.

The Captain was in good spirits and appeared excited to have new crew to train. After a short ship orientation, Captain Kip masterfully cooked up a tasty tuna cassarole, with peas on the side. My first duty as crew was dishes.

My experiences before the mast will be updated as cell coverage permits. Most of my communications will be from my cell phone utilizing my thumbs and its marginal camera. So... bear with with any rogue keystrokes and images not up to my usual standards... Keeping this activity stealth is impairitive to avoid confiscation of crew property.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Expedition Provisioning

I'm not used to hauling all my stuff onto someone else's boat. Lake Superior is remote, the weather could be just about anything, and 3 weeks is a long time.... My provisions includes heavy weather gear, hiking boots, fly fishing tackle, cameras, watercolors, computer, and telecommunications gear. I've also taken the liberty to bring my own safety equipment in the event the captain abandons ship without crew consideration.