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Author Topic:   Holland Michigan 10/9-10/10 Report
Buckda posted 10-11-2004 01:52 PM ET (US)   Profile for Buckda   Send Email to Buckda  
Arrived home safely last night at Midnight CST from a short get-together in Holland, Michigan with LHG, Susan and Kingfish and had a great weekend with one minor mishap.

First, let me say that Lake Macatawa has TONS of Whaler's running around, including three true classic 70's era Outrages (at least).

Second, let me HIGHLY recommend a small ceramic disc furnace for heating your boat under the full Mills weather system. The low on Saturday night was 38 and I was warm, dry and comfy in my 18 with the canvas up. I am using a Pelonis branded furnace - it was expensive, but literally just proved its worth to me on Saturday night.

We arrived Saturday morning at about 2:30 local time and decided to go ahead and launch the boats and find a slip - so we did - it was a nice (very brisk) night and a cold front had just passed through...winds were picking up and would eventually blow at about 20-30 overnight.

In a slip across from us was the first of what would be many local Whaler sightings - a smooth sided classic 70's Outrage 19 with an inline Mercury 115 HP motor.

I woke up around 9:00 AM and set off to find the harbormaster and what would eventually become the infamous $50 bathroom key..I also paid for my dockage for two nights ($37.50 per night). It was about this time that John (Kingfish) called my cellphone from the highway and informed me he was making his way into town right then.

Whatever! I was interested in a john of an entirely different nature. Answered that call and stopped back at the boat, where LHG and Susan were just stirring from within the beautiful tan Mills Canvas on his 21 Outrage. Gave them the all-important key to the bathroom and set off on foot to the launch ramp to help John with Outre.

John arrived with Outre in tow, and, to Larry's horror, with about 20 pounds of Canadian road-construction mud spattered all along the hull and trailer from John's Canadian fishing expedition (chronicled here on the Web site). Well, of course, the boat had to be cleaned before it could be used, and by this time LHG had also made his way to the ramp. We began to clean the hull while John set his canvas and went about the normal routine that is necessary to launch a boat for a weekend excursion.

At this time, a classic 16'7" hull comes rolling by on a trailer. "A Currituck!" (that's LHG, who has an eagle eye for classic Whalers anywhere he goes).

We continue to prepare Outre, and Susan engages the guy with the Currituck in Conversation. (Turns out he's borrowing the boat from a friend to go wave jumping on the big lake. This friend also owns the 19' Outrage at the marina where we are moored and a 15' Sport (which would have been my choice for wave jumping)).

We get everything set up and it's time to go - I go and get Gambler and we set out to find a restaurant for lunch.

The Macatawa Bay Yacht Club has its full fleet of training sailboats out today with Whaler sightings numbers 3-about 8 full of spotters/parents watching these youngsters learn the skills that will eventually make them responsible boaters and accomplished in whatever they will end up doing with their lives. We steer clear.

Ol' Eagle Eye Larry spots a classic 21 on a lift nearby and we veer off to have a few words with the owner, who is tending to some maintenance aboard the boat and has two beautiful dogs on his dock...I believe one is a golden retriever, the other definitely looks like an Iris Setter - beautiful boat, beautiful dogs and beatiful home. This guy is fortunate indeed; however his directions to the Ottawa Beach Inn are somewhat less enriched - "Between the two trees" is what LHG hears. We look in the direction he gestured....Holland State Park is on the opposite shore...there are about a million trees over there, all in various stages of fall coloration. It is a beautiful sight, but gee, we cant' make out the two trees this guy is talking about. We end up parking at some docks about 1/4 mile from the inn and walk there (It is at this point that my shift cable breaks, ending the use of Gambler for the weekend. I will become a spectator and passenger for the remainder).

Ottawa Beach Inn - Nice place and good food. Crowded today. I have the is good, but I will have better later this trip.

We get back to the boats, and I'm able to run the boat in forward at Idle speed. We make our way back to the marina and I moor Gambler up for the day and join Kingfish on Outre.

We head for the big lake. Our destination: Saugatuck or Grand Haven, depending on sea conditions. We near the mouth of the short river connecting Lake Macatawa with Lake Michigan...considerable surge coming in. We continue out.

LHG's comment on the radio "It's Whaler Weather! Doesn't look too bad!"...Just then, John and I notice that all we can see of Larry's 21 is the very top of his Mills flying top as he plows through a trough...the lake is rolling steady 6 footers with about 1-2' windblown chop.

We decide that nearby Port Sheldon is the destination for this afternoon....if the seas had been all chop it would have been quite miserable, but the swells are manageable and while it can be "interesting" at moments, the ride is actually quite comfortable, all things considered. One thing is for sure, the 22' Outrage Outre, with the radar arch and 225 HP Evinrude motor sure does eat waves.

We enter Port Sheldon, navigating the tricky and turbulent water between the breakwaters and raft up for a snack and to enjoy the fall colors/scenery.

This is a nice little community, with an unfortunate location of a power plant. Private docks line the inlet with boardwalk-service to the lakefront facing homes on the north side of the inlet, and the south shore of the inlet is lined with homes ranging from the 'probably original' modest but well-kept to a beautiful three-story stone home.

Back to Grand Haven...Following seas, still building, are no match for the wave-hungry 22' Hull...we crunch through them and re-enter Lake Macatawa. Yet another Whaler (how many Montauks? 6? 8?...) and head to the Marina for Showers (there's that $50 key earning it's price tag) and to change for dinner. John hauls Outre and stows her in the yard at the marina. We all pile into John's truck and head into town for dinner.

The Beechwood Inn has the same printed design for the menus as Ottawa Beech Inn...apparently they are not under the same ownership and the waitress in training informs us that a couple recently came from as far away as Dearborn Michigan just for the perch....We're convinced and we all order our meals.

She is right..the perch is much better than earlier today, and the fillets are HUGE...don't know what lake they're catching these babies in, but I want directions!

After a full meal, it is approaching 9:00 local time. The combination of a full day's boating and only a few hours of sleep the night before has worked it's magic on us and we turn directly in. I set up my heater thermostat to 72 and settle down for a DVD in the bow of Gambler (18' Outrage) and my Mills Canvas....pretty soon I'm taking my t-shirt off because it is so warm in there! After the movie (Enemy of the State starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman) I step outside the boat to use that valuable key and notice that 1.) My face tingles because it's darn cold out there and 2.) there is STEAM coming off the 57 degree water. I check my thermometer...40 degrees. I let out a steamy breath into the cold night air...I can see Orion up there in the starry sky. I hurry to the facilities which are fortunately heated and back to the warmth of my heated boat. I look over at LHG and Susan's 21 in the slip next to me, and the dew has already fallen heavily on the Mills canvas....yeah, it's going to be cold tonight.

I settle into my "cabin" and drift to sleep. (Larry's evening was quite different...the neighbor came home at around 1 am and blasted his radio ... I was blissfully unaware of this, and didn't even hear Larry fire up his Outboard in an effort to "send a hint" to this noisy neighbor).

Sunday Morning dawned cold and bright, and I am actually sweating...I get up and turn off the heater...I see the problem...the thermostat is set at 72, but I've placed the heater in the back of the boat, and it is pulling a steady supply of cold outside air into the it' think's that the "room" is approximately 30 degrees colder than it really is (official low forecasted was 38 degrees for Saturday Night/Sunday Morning). I'll have to adjust heater placement in the future to help control the temperature better...this is a learning process for me.

I get up and have a very nice, if not a little annoying, conversation with the "noisy neighbor" on my way to the facilities. I shower, etc and return to my boat and notice John working on putting Outre back on his truck. I walk over to see if I can help.

He and I go get gas for the boat, and stop by Wal-Mart for some oil and fuel treatment, and work our way back to the ramp. Somewhere along the way, I realize that I have the bathroom key and LHG and Susan have no way to get into the showers...we detour back to the marina so I can give them the key. Turns out they're up and waiting for it...I feel bad..but hey...they should have registered yesterday! We get John into the water and walk over to the office to see about registering. Turns out that this place, like everywhere else in Holland, is closed on Sunday. How am I supposed to return this doggone $50 key?! We return to the boat to get gas for Whale Lore (LHG's 21...he hasn't named it, so we're naming it for him! (Credit goes to JimH on this name, he came up with it at the Georgian Bay Rendezvous)).

Turns out that at least one marina IS open and provides fuel for LHG. We head out for Grand Haven.

Waves rolling about 1-2 feet today, beautiful day again, clear skies and a nice run all the way to Grand Haven. At certain points, we are running along shore in as little as 3-4 feet of water, and could throw a stone to the dry sand...the homes and trees are beautiful this close and we're running fast on the way to Grand Haven.

Grand Haven is busy today, the sun is bright, and the piers are full. Le Levant is moored in the harbor (see and there are people everywhere...including some yahoos on channel 69 yammering away about finding a "gas station" and "parking" their boats in Saugatuck the other day. We turn the radio down and focus on our slip for the afternoon. We find one at the nearly empty Municipal Marina and walk the 1/4 mile to Snugg Harbor restaurant...and eat outside on the porch overlooking the Grand Haven Pier.

I am getting a sunburn and our fair-skinned waitress who is swamped with customers looks like she's going to be a candidate for skin cancer soon..her face is bright red in this unusually strong fall sunshine.

We eat a great meal and walk back through town toward the boats. We take a short detour to view the restoration of the Pere Marquette train (Steam locomotive and short train of cars) and return to boating. Up the Grand River to Spring Lake and up the lake.

We pass what could literally have been a J. Crew Shoot...two fashionable young people standing on the bow of a nice cruiser..literally "striking a pose" and marveling at the beautiful homes along this lake's shore with blazing fall colors on the trees.

The sun is declining, so we had back out to Lake Michigan. The seas have built to about 3 footers again, and we're running back to Holland. A beautiful run, but by the time we're back, the seas have bult to 4 footers and we're happy to be back in port...oops..there's another Montauk trolling in the mouth of the river...

The sun is getting low..John drops me to get my car back to the ramp and then returns me to my boat moored in the marina. LHG tows me the short distance to the ramp and we all haul out and head home.

It was a great trip! I have three beefs!
1. Sucks that mine was the boat to break down
2. Sucks that I paid for my slip and noone else had to due to the Marina being negligent in checking their docks and their lousy hours with no one/no way to allow us to pay or return the key
3. Sucks that I still have the damn key and have to mail it to them to get my $50 refunded.

LHG posted 10-11-2004 02:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Nice report, Dave. Thanks for taking the time to do it, and thanks for buying dinner on the way home, too.

It was a beautifully, warm, "no clouds in the sky for two days" weekend, and we really had a chance to let the Whalers show us their potential. Basically, we were the only boats offshore. That's what I mean by "Whaler weather", when the other brands just stay at the dock. As I get to know the old 21 rib side Outrage, I am continually impressed how well these original Outrages handle the big seas. Running north, against 6' seas out of the Northwest, was really no problem at about 20 mph, with only an occassional hard slap. We encountered a rogue wave that I estimate at about 10', and although watching it arrive was a bit scary, she slide right up and over it, no problem. Running downwind, with these same seas quartering from behind, is great fun, and the old hull is amazingly stable. I guess that's what Fisher meant by "a great day for a Nantucket sleigh ride", which what it felt like to me. Looking over at Kingfish's trim tabbed 22 gliding along in these big seas was a beautiful sight, especially with that freshly scrubbed hull!

All in all, a great weekend of Fall boating, with good CW friends

kingfish posted 10-11-2004 09:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Great weekend and good friends, indeed (weather wasn't bad either; sounds like we were lucky to choose the west side of the state!).

Outré really got the hull cleaning treatment from the high-priced help (where's the camera when you need it?) - she thinks it's pretty banal now that all the attention she gets is from me...

Thanks for writing up the article Dave, and I enjoyed having you crew for me. I may need to ask you to return tthe favor one day...

jimh posted 10-12-2004 07:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Nice Trip Report!

We though we had second-guessed the weather, but got stranded on the wrong side of the front in Alpena on Saturday. It was overcast and blowing 30-MPH NW winds. We took it on faith from the Coast Guard guys that there were ten-footers rolling out there in northern Lake Huron. The boat stayed on the trailer.

Sunday was much better, but we had to drive south about 50 miles to get on the fair-weather side of the front. In beautiful sunshine and 57-degree air/water we had a nice cruise around Tawas.

We passed the time on Saturday at the Lighthouse Festival.

< >

Like John, we slept in a motel. The marinas were closed down for the season, nary a boat or a harbormaster in sight.

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