Saturday, July 10, 2010

Four Winns Chicago Meet-up

We had the unique opportunity to meet up with some of our Four Winns friends for what turned out to be an unbelievable weekend! We all met up Friday night at Hammond marina, with Dana and I being the last to arrive which is ironic considering we had the shortest distance to travel by far! One couple, Joe and Pat in their beautiful Four Winns 338 named "Better Yet", had a 10 hour trip up the Illinois river from their home port! Dennis and Christa trailered their Four Winns 278 "Wet Ink" up from southern Illinois, and the couple responsible for putting together this gathering Joe and Miranda trailered their Four winns 268 "Serenity Forever" up from Indianapolis.

The plan was to complete the Chicago loop cruise, see the Gary air show, and try to make it to boaters beach. Along for the ride with us was my cousin Mark and his wife Stacy. After a nice breakfast we casted off and headed north for downtown Chicago. Joe and Pat had decided to ride along with Joe and Miranda in Serenity Forever.

Our first stop was a scenic cruise through Burnham harbor to drool over the yachts (some with their own garage in the back of the boat). We then headed to the lock to enter the Chicago river, but were put on hold due to a massive barge locking through. With boats getting backed up waiting for the barge it gave us a good opportunity to head a couple of miles out into to the lake so we could swim and prepare lunch. We rafted, or tied the three boats together so all three swim platforms were even allowing us to walk from boat to boat. We ended up spending the next three hours soaking up the sun and enjoying the gorgeous weather.

As we were finishing lunch we started hearing reports of foul weather south of us, but none of it seemed to be coming our way. We packed up and headed back to try our luck at the lock again, and this time we got through rather quickly! It was the first downtown Chicago trip (by boat) for Dana and I as well as our first lock experience, but with the guidance of Joe and Pat, our seasoned veterans of lock procedures, we made it through with no problem!

Our trip through downtown was amazing! We have spent alot of time in Chicago, but it was a completely different experience by boat. Actually the city is alot more peaceful from this point of view. We took our time and just cruising slowly through the city at idle speed taking in all the sites and sounds!

At the end of our cruise, while we were watching helicopters chasing each other overhead filming Tranformers 3, the bad weather we had been avoiding all day finally found us and the skies started to open up. It was a mad scramble to put up the canvas while locking back through to the lake! We had the canvas up before the real heavy rain thanks to Mark and Stacey's help.For the first time putting up canvas, they put it up like a old pro's! Once we got past the break wall outside Navy Pier the wind kicked up, the skies got dark, and what was a calm beautiful lake all day turned ugly fast! Our trip back to Hammond Marina was in very rough seas with pouring rain and howling wind. As we entered the harbor the bad weather left as quickly as it came, and the once dark skies was replaced with sunshine and a massive rainbow!

On sunday we fueled up and headed to the Gary air show. Unfortunatly, Dennis and Christa had to pack up "Wet Ink" and head home early due to prior obligations and a long drive home. Joe and Miranda got onboard with Joe and Pat in "Better Yet" and we cruised to the show. Just like seeing downtown Chicago from a boat is a completely different experience, so is seeing the air show. It is so cool to have a fighter jet take a hard bank right over your boat at low altitude. Once again we rafted our boats together and thank to Joe and Pat's hospitality, we had an excellent lunch aboard "Better Yet".

After a great air show we decided to take a cruise along the lakeshore to see Dunes State Park, and then over to Boaters Beach to end the weekend the way every weekend should end, soaking in the 90deg. water with a cold drink in hand! It was an amazing weekend we will not forget. It's so neat that aside from a few emails, three couples that hardly knew each other got together because of a common interest, and by the end of the weekend parted ways as friends! Within days of getting home the emails started flying around making plans for next year! We would like to thank the other couples for their wonderful hospitality, and a big thanks to Joe and Miranda for putting this gathering together...we had a blast!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Executive Decision makes her debut!

The newest member to the family fleet, Executive Decision, made her maiden voyage with Captain Bill (Ben's dad) at the helm and guests enjoying the cruise onboard. (Ben's mom, Kathy, is riding on the bow in the photo) Bill purchased the 36 ft Carver Aft Cabin and delivered it just a few weeks ago. Welcome to boating life! Be careful... it's addicting!

This photo was taken outside the dunes in Chesterton on Saturday, as we enjoyed the beautiful (hot) weather and smooth cruising conditions. We had a nice lunch and playtime on the beach with family before getting kicked off! (turns out you can be IN the water, but not ON the beach) We look forward to many more family excursions on the lake this summer!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

These Are The Days I Live For

We were lucky this 4th of July weekend to have perfect boating weather all 3 days... and we made sure to take advantage of it! We somehow managed to have no weekend plans for once, so we were able to spend Friday through Monday at the Marina. There's just something so relaxing and carefree about Marina life... it's like being on vacation, but only 15 minutes from home. We didn't plan much for the weekend, other than being out on the lake, hanging out by the pool, eating all our meals off the grill, and installing a fuel flow meter (for Ben). Friday night we enjoyed a lake perch dinner at the Marquette Yacht Club.. which I highly recommend! It's nothing fancy and only open on Friday nights, but the perch is delicious!

Saturday we spent the day out on the lake with our friends Sergio & Lisa. Our first stop was boater's beach, where the boats were lining up side by side. Not too much longer later, the shore was reaching capacity and the Seapickle II was getting blown side to side by the wind. After one close call with a neighboring boat, we decided to head down shore to more open waters.

We anchored outside the dunes national lakeshore (chesterton, in) and enjoyed an awesome lunch provided by Sergio & Lisa. Sergio even baked a pineapple rum cake for Lisa's birthday... and we ate it while floating on our raft. This is the life! haha

Sunday brought the 4th of July and fireworks on the beach in Ogden Dunes. It was crazy to see so many boats anchored out all facing someone's house on the beach! I guess it's a resident there who puts on the show and a big party! Definitely one of the better fireworks shows I've seen... with patriotic music and everything... that's a must for me :-)

We finished up the weekend washing & waxing the boat, and enjoying the sunset at boater's beach. Everyone had gone home for the week... so we had the beach to ourselves. My favorite kind of night :-)

Spending 3 days at the marina has made Ben & I even more excited for our trip in August! We were sad to leave Monday night, but look forward to next weekend for the Gary Air Show, Chicago Loop Cruise, Navy Pier Fireworks, and meeting some new Four Winns friends!