As background, DISCOVERY has been at a mooring on the Sassafras River since the end of  May.  We met Dave and Karen Lauser, in 2002 when they were doing the Great Loop on their Southern Cross 31 named FREEBIRD. Spent some time with them at the Annapolis Boat Show last October when they told us about a mooring that we could use when we returned to Michigan in June. Dave and Karen live in an neighbor hood called Well Bottom Cove---they often refer to it as "The Shire" (if you are a Lord of the Rings fan you know that the Shire is where the Hobbits live). Dave and Karen have introduced us to several of their neighbors who share our love of sailing and cruising.

Caught a flight from Philadelphia to Grand Rapids, MI on May 31. Our friend, Al Forte, met us at the airport. Went to a soccer game with Al and Laurie forte to watch their daughter, Jamie's, team play their first game in a tournament. Unfortunately, Jamie's team lost. Al, Laurie, Jamie, Carl and I went out for dinner after the game.  After dinner, we drove up to White Lake to stay on Al and Laurie's Defever trawler, 9 LIVES. The boat was supposed to be launched that afternoon, however, the newly painted boot stripe needed to be repainted so the trawler stayed on the hard for another 3 days. That night, was the first night Carl had slept on land for one year! Yes, we were on a boat but the boat was on the hard so there was no motion from the water.

Below is a picture of Al, Laurie and Jamie's DeFever Trawler, 9 LIVES

Drove up to Pentwater the next day. Stopped by the Artisan Learning Center to see how the Center was doing. Pleased to find that it is going strong---the newest interest is glass work. A group of women donated their time to make various items that would be offered for sale at the upcoming Pentwater Art and Craft Fair as a fund raiser for the Center. After visiting the Artisan Center we stopped by the cottage. It has been rented since we left last July---the interior looked the same as we left it (a very good thing!). Carl and I did some yard work---raked all the oak leaves from the lawn and flower beds. My garden looked really good with irises and chives in bloom.

We returned to Michigan for three major reasons: 1) File our taxes; 2) Doctor appointments; and 3) Dental appointments. Can't think of anything good to say about paying taxes other than it is done. Happy to report no cavities for either one of us and we both are in good health. I need to return in December for my routine 6 month follow-up with my oncologist but that is just routine!

The best part of the trip to Michigan was having time to visit with friends. Russ and Robin Barnsveld on ROBIN'S NEST, had us onboard for dinner one night while we were at White Lake. Ken and Sharon Wierenga invited us along with friends, Pam and Brian McClenithan up to their stone cottage near Ludington for the evening. Ken and Sharon are in the process of building a new cottage next door to the stone cottage. It was fun to review the plans and walk the building site.

The following picture is of Ken and Sharon's Stone Cottage

Back in Kalamazoo, we went out for dinner with friends--Ron and Jackie Baden, Ray Lezotte and Debbie Smith, Karen Altemoos-Kastner and Tayo Adebiyi. Stopped by Ron and Jackie's place for cocktails one evening. Invited out to Gun Lake for a boat ride and dinner at Dick and Polly Huff's cottage. Had special entertainment (Sam played piano and recited two poems while Ben sang to a very limited audience--me!) and dinner at Mark and Laura Eiler's. Dinner at Gull Lake three times--once at Jeff Price and Sue Harrison's place and the second time at Steve and Kathy Pew's house. The third time was at Jack and Sue Johnston's--first a boat ride and then a dinner party.

Let there be no doubt---it was fun to be in Michigan but we looked forward to getting back to the Sassafras River where DISCOVERY was waiting for us. Our flight back to Philadelphia was uneventful. As we approached Philadelphia by air we could see all the clouds in the area. Karen and Dave Lauser picked us up in the airport. Stopped for lunch on the way back to Galena. DISCOVERY was in great shape. While we were gone, some birds tried to build a nest in the end of the boom. Dave cleaned up the mess the birds left in the cockpit and stuffed the end of the boom so the birds could not get in. Can't tell you how good it was to sleep in our "own bed" on DISCOVERY.

Dave and Karen went sailing for a few days while we were in reality they went motoring because there weren't any winds for sailing. Dave and Karen joined up with Ben and Carol who were sailing on NARWAHL---another Southern Cross 31. To celebrate the return of FREEBIRD and NARWAHL, Joe and Ronnie had a dinner party on Sunday night---we were also invited. This was the first time we met Joe and Ronnie. They had been in the Bahamas (Abacos) when we first arrived on the mooring so dinner at their house was our first introduction.

Monday, June 26th---Dave helped Carl move DISCOVERY from the mooring a quarter of a mile to Gregg Neck Boatyard. I was responsible for moving our dinghy to the boatyard! Arrived at the boat yard about 8:30 and we were hoisted out of the water and had the bottom washed between 9:30 and 11:00. The bottom of the keel was coated with see, we rubbed the bottom paint off the keel when we plowed our way into the marina on the St. Lawrence to have our mast taken down on the way out of the Great Lakes. By around noon, we were on our jackstands ready to go to work. STELLA POLARIS, the schooner arrived by truck around 11:00- and was lifted off the truck and placed on jackstands.

It needs to be mentioned that Gregg Neck Boatyard is something else. On the bright side---the owner/operator is competent, helpful and friendly plus it is a "do it yourself yard". On the dark side---I have never seen so many boats that have been abandoned in the middle of the project. Right beneath the abandoned boat are cushions, radios, scrub buckets, cleaners, paint, etc. There is alot of stuff that in my opinion should should be cleaned up and alot that needs to go to the dumpster.

The following two pictures are from Gregg Neck Boatyard. The first picture show what it looks like in front of the office immediately after "spring clean-up". The second picture is of one of many abandoned boat projects!

Back to the work on DISCOVRY--Carl started working on the bottom of the keel. He sanded all the rough areas, smoothed it over with epoxy and sanded it again. The schooner, STELLA POLARIS, finally arrived. This schooner had been in a building being refinished for 8 years by the owners Tom and Joyce. A crowd gathered to see its arrival. We stopped working on DISCOVERY to join the spectators! Shortly after the schooner was unloaded, it started to rain for two days. No problem, Carl and I did what we could do in the rain (the bottom of the keel and sanding). By Friday, Carl had the keel in shape plus 3 coats of bottom paint on the entire bottom. We were pleased with progress---our thought was were "are ahead of schedule".

Friday afternoon, our land dinghy arrived. Joe Moran is letting us use one of his extra vehicles so we can get around without depending on Dave and Karen all the time. Also on Friday, STELLA POLARIS, was splashed into the water. The crowd for the splashing was even bigger than the crowd the gathered to see it on Monday.

Pictured below is DISCOVERY's Land Dinghy courtesy of Joe Moran. Thanks Jo!

The following picture is of Joyce christening STELLA POLARIS with champagne. Isn't the boat beautiful. The teak is finished like fine furniture! Tom and Joyce provided champagne to the spectators for a toast.

We haven't spent so much time on land for close to a year. Of the 30 days in June, we were landlubbers sleeping on land all but 8 nights--2 on DISCOVERY and 6 on 9 LIVES! While it was great spending time with friends in Kalamazoo, right now our comfort is on the boat living the cruising lifestyle. Special thanks again to Al and Laurie Forte for the use of Jamie's car and to Ann Early for the use of  her home in Kalamazoo.

Submitted by Marilyn Thoreson
July 6, 2006