Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.
As expected, the crew has been delayed on their way south down Lake Michigan. The crew had heard that for every good travel day on the Big Lake there would be 2-3 days of high winds and waiting. This certainly has been our crews experience. The crew spent the Labor Day weekend tucked into Frankfort Municipal Marina while the winds howled for several days at greater than 20 mph. The high winds sure build some wicked waves. Wednesday the winds finally laid down so the crew made it across to the Wisconsin side of the lake. They got one more day of cruising in to make a run to Manitowoc to visit the Maritime Museum dedicated to all things submarine, and to be the Texas Delegation at the International Sputnik Festival.
Sunday – Tuesday, September 4-6, 2016
Some boaters left the safe harbor and ventured out into the waves of Lake Michigan, but our crew has remained tied to the pier. As much as the skipper would like to venture out and dance in the waves, his discernment for safety has won out over the desire for adventure.
It has done the crew well to sit and relax for a few days. They have done some small jobs around the boat, but mostly they have just relaxed and recharged their own batteries. It is good to take some time off every once in a while, and just veg out. From what I can see, they seem to be pretty good at this R&R.
One guy that is docked just a few slips down did come by to chat with the crew. He lives in Arlington, Texas but spends the hot summer months boating the Great Lakes. As you might recall, Arlington is the childhood home of the skipper. He has many nieces, nephews, and a sister and sister-in-law that still reside in the area. In fact, he lives on Kelly Perkins road not too far from Tina, the skipper’s sister-in-law. An interesting 6 degrees of separation with him and the places the crew has been lately: he was in the Coast Guard back when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank. His helicopter unit was sent to go aid with the search and rescue but never got off the ground due to the high winds and flight risk. But he was at Whitefish point as part of the search effort. The crew continues to meet the most interesting folks out on the loop.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
With a good weather window in hand, the crew decided that they would leave this morning and decide where to go after they saw the actual conditions on the water. The waves were predicted to be 1-3 feet initially but were supposed to dissipate as the day wore on. After exiting the break water, the waves were already less than 2 feet and the swell was coming from the port quarter. This was a good angle to cross the Big Lake, so the crew decided to head west to Kewaunee, Wisconsin.
The only variable was the storm clouds. With the way the storm was moving it looked as though the crew would miss the worst of the storm and only get light sprinkles. But you just never know what might spring up unexpectedly while out on a large body of water like Lake Michigan.
As it turned out the weather was kind today and the crew had a nice crossing. In fact, it would be hard to imagine it really ever being much smoother with the less than 1 foot swells.
About half way across, a large juvenile Herring Gull appeared out of nowhere. He would fly a few laps around the boat then go land in the water. When the wake would reach the gull, he would take off, catch up to the boat, fly a few more laps and then land again. The bird kept this up for about two hours before finally flying off to never be seen again. Cheap entertainment out here on the high seas for the skipper when there is nothing else in view except water in all directions.
As the crew began to approach the Kewaunee Harbor a low fog set in. The crew could hardly see the markers for the entry into the harbor. Then once through the break water wall, they could not see the channel markers. Always some new challenge out here for our crew. After docking, the sun finally burned through the clouds for a beautiful evening.
You know you are in a fishing marina when the name of the place is Salmon Marina and they have the following clever fishing boat names:
Thursday, September 8, 2016
The crew had another good weather window and took advantage of the opportunity by moving another 30 miles south to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The cruise was uneventful, but before the crew could shove off from the dock another boater appeared and wanted to talk.
Larry does estate planning for people and is hoping to retire in a few months after some foreign currency investments mature. He has bought a boat that he lives on up north, and also has a place to live in Florida during the winter months. When his ship comes in (investments mature) he plans on moving his boat to Florida, and buying a larger boat to charter out of Ft Lauderdale. Here is to praying that your ship comes in Larry . Another interesting contact on the loop.
After docking the crew went on a walk around town. They checked out the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in preps for tomorrow’s actual visit. The last post may have you wondering (like the skipper) why the Navy was conducting submarine sea trials in Lake Michigan. This museum answers that question. But the answer will have to wait till the crew visits the museum.
The crew also found a confectionary store in town. Beerntsen’s Confectionary has been in business since 1932 and their sundaes come highly recommended.
Fun Fact: The ice cream sundae was invented just 6 miles up the road in a town named Two Rivers.
After the Admiral tried the Coconut Delight Sundae and the skipper had a banana split, they can vouch why this place has been in business so many years. They have already decided to go back for lunch tomorrow to get the energy required to tour the massive maritime museum and WWII submarine.
Upon return to the docks, the crew found two new looper boats had pulled into the marina. The crew went and introduced themselves and exchanged boat cards. One boat, Pura Vida, is being single handled by a young man named Forrest. The other boat, Somewhere in Time, is on their first day of officially starting the loop. The three crews seemed to hit it off together.
Friday, September, 2016
After the skipper made a 25 mile bike ride on the Mariners Trail along the lake shore and the Rawley Point Trail through the Point Beach Forest,……… it was time to explore the museum.
The maritime museum was well done in providing the history of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company’s contribution to the second world war effort. At the time, submarines were only built in Groton, Connecticut by Electric Boat. The government approached the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company to join forces with Electric Boat to increase the country’s capacity to build submarines in the event that they might be needed during wartime.
In 1940, Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company was awarded a contract to build 10 GATO-class submarines. By the end of the war, the company also built an additional 18 BALAO-class submarines.
After construction was complete, the subs conducted their sea trials in Lake Michigan. With a test depth off 300 feet there was plenty of deep water in Lake Michigan to test the boats. The crew saw depths of 880 feet as they crossed the Big Lake.
After sea trials the boats made their way to Chicago where a special barge was built to tow them down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. After reaching the Gulf, the boats were re-launched and headed to the Panama Canal. After getting into the Pacific Ocean the boats joined the Pacific Fleet in beating back the Japanese and helping win WWII.
After spending a couple of hours in the museum, the Admiral and skipper learned many things about the USS Cobia (SS-245). The USS Cobia was the last GATO-class submarine built and was commissioned on March 29, 1944. She performed six war patrols where she is credited with sinking 13 Japanese ships.
Her most famous sinking occurred in July 1944 when she attacked a Japanese convoy. Two ships were sunk. One of which was carrying 28 tanks headed for the island of Iwo Jima. When US forces invaded the island six months later, US Marines credited their victory, in part, to Cobia’s earlier sinking of the transport and the tank battalion.
The two tourists then toured the USS Cobia. They had a great tour guide. They went down into the aft torpedo room, then forward to the control room. While there, the tour guide sounded the dive alarm. Brought back great memories for the skipper. From there they continued forward through the boat and finally back up at the forward torpedo room.
A few entertaining exhibits in the museum:
After the museum, they decided to head back to their boat and skip the Miss Space Debris pageant. However, the crew will go see the alien winner tomorrow during the Sputnik Festival.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
The crew has two new experiences to share today. First was the Sputnik Festival and second was the marina customer appreciation dinner with a fish boil.
The Sputnik Festival was born to celebrate an event that put the town of Manitowoc ‘on the map’ so to speak.
On Sept 6, 1962 a 20 lbs. piece of Russian Sputnik IV crashed landed into 8th street. The catch phrase for this year’s festival was, ‘Sputnik landed here……..Why don’t you?’
The festival had several contests including a pageant for Ms. Space Debris.
There was the alien space pet contest.
The alien costume contest.
There were all sorts of people dressed up milling around all day. The alien in the pink dress travels the universe cleaning up space debris. Notice the vacuum cleaner attachments on her uniform.
A one act re-creation of the event was hilarious. They ended the play singing the following song, sung to the tune of Gilligan’s Island:
Come listen to us and you’ll hear a tale
The tale of Sputnik IV.
It sailed about the atmosphere
And landed at our door.
We’re glad you joined us here our friends
To celebrate this day.
When Sputnik fell among us
And became our claim to fame.
The event concluded with an alien drop. The Fire Department used a ladder truck to get above the landing location for the Sputnik Space Debris. Then they dropped some five hundred alien erasers with numbers on them onto the street. People had purchased raffle tickets with the numbers throughout the day. The alien closest to the ring mark in the road won its owner one thousand dollars.
After the winner is determined, kids are allowed to pick up the aliens. The kids were all lined up ready to snatch up the aliens once the signal was given.
After the alien drop, the Admiral and skipper hustled back to the marina for the fish boil. The owner was busy prepping the first of three boils when they arrived. After the potatoes, onions and fish were done cooking, the owner threw some kerosene on the fire to cause a ‘boil over.’ Supposedly, the ‘boil over’ burns the fat and oils off the water before removing the food. The skipper asked the cook about that idea and the cook replied that it was just for show, old Scandinavian showmanship.
The Flame Thrower sequence:
With a full tummy and a long day tomorrow, the crew headed back to the boat to turn in and prepare for next week.
Speaking of Next Week – With only 156 miles to Chicago by water, the crew hopes they can find a few good travel days (3-4) and land in the Windy City where they will spend a few days.
Loop on – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.
Eric the Red
I heard tell the Skipper gave the sub museum tour guide some sub lessons. What was that about?
After getting aboard the USS Cobia, the tour guide asked if there were any sub mariners in the tour. The skipper fessed up and raised his hand. She asked the skipper to add to the tour a couple of times so he shared a few experiences.
After the tour she came looking for the skipper and they spent about 30-45 minutes talking subs. She wanted to hear a few more sub stories. And the skipper has plenty of sub stories to tell. She had to leave for her next tour or they might still be there talking.
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