Day 5 –
Monday, October 17, 2011
Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Calumet Harbor, Calumet, Illinois
It was a crack of dawn cast off. Breakfast at 5:30 and in the quiet of the pre-dawn we said goodbye to Milwaukee. It was nice, very nice, to get a hot shower and opportunity to stretch our legs further than space the 58 feet on deck allows us. The sunrise was simple and nothing to write home about, but the city’s morning skyline was spectacular, all lit up. The Polish Moon was visible. The Allen Bradley clock tower is located in the Southside, a predominately Polish neighborhood. It is referred to as the Polish Moon, because there are certain times when it looks like a full moon over the city.
Even though the forecast was for steady winds, they were to be a bit less and less gusty – only about 25 knots. So once we started the motor, we reefed the main and raised it along with the fore and the staysail. Our day would be to continue south, following the eastern shoreline of Wisconsin to Illinois.
There wasn’t too much exciting to comment about, except there was a nice light house we passed in southeastern Wisconsin – Wind Point Lighthouse. I was not on watch when we approached it. I appreciated when Mike stuck his head down the midships hatch.
“Hugh wanted you to know that we’re coming up on a light house. It might be a good photo opportunity.”
I’m working on finding a good way to post pictures to this blog. Hopefully I’ll get it figured out before I forget what each picture is of. Taking pictures has been very tricky. Actually I should say that taking pictures has been easy, taking ones that are in focus is extremely tricky. I’ve been practicing timing the pressing of the shutter with when the boat dips down into the trough of a wave. It seems to be the most solid and feels longer than when we are on the crest or peak of a wave. I’ve also been experimenting with different shutter speeds and ISO speed settings. A lot of my photos have been set at 800 ISO, due to the low light from the cloudy sky and the constant movement. Sometimes I’ve been able to get away with a 400 ISO. And sometimes I’ve needed to use as fast as 1600. The difficulty with the higher speeds is that they produce a grainer image, especially when I zoom in or later cropped and thus enlarge the image.
I used to shoot with a Nikon D80 with a couple of different lenses, a fixed 50 mm, an all purpose 28 – 200 mm and a 75 – 300 mm. But for the last year I’ve been doing a lot with a Panasonic point and shoot. My last one got legs and walked away during a dissection class that I taught in August. Fortunately it was a second-hand camera, that I had bought it from a friend. I replaced the old one with a newer version of the same, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8, with an actual 16x zoom. It’s a wonderful Leica lens that has a interpolative zoom to 22.5x. I try not to go past the 16x when I am using the faster ISO speeds, as it is more apt to produce a grainy image.
For years I resisted purchasing a digital camera. I didn’t want to spend hours on end sorting, editing and altering images. I bought my first digital camera through Craigslist.com from a poor college student who realized he didn’t want to go into professional graphics and imagery for a living. It was too good of a price to pass up. Once I realized the expression, “film is cheap” applied even more to digital and I only had to spend as much time as I actually wanted on the computer, I quickly gave up my Nikon N80 and 8008s film cameras.
A digital camera is the only way to go on a trip like this. I can snap away for 52 frames in hope that I’ll get at least one decent one of the Wind Point Lighthouse. I don’t have to worry about mailing my film some where to be developed. Instead I get instant gratification (or disappointment) once I down load my memory card to my computer. With digital I don’t have to scan anything in to digitize it so that I can then share my pictures with everyone else in the world who might want to see it’s like being on a schooner in gale force winds.
I’m glad thought that we’re sailing on the fresh water of the inland seas. Salt spray and cameras do not make happy companions. Were we voyaging on salt water I would have brought my underwater Panasonic. Now that I type this I realize that we will be being splashed by salt once we get to the Gulf of Mexico. Oh well, I’ll just have to be extra careful. My underwater point and shoot’s zoom is only about a 6x, so I don’t put it in my gear bag as often. I’ll just have to carry an extra handkerchief dedicated to wiping any salt water off my camera.
The other photo opportunity to speak of was when we came up on the Windy City of Chicago. Unfortunately it was over cast and hazy and the sun was directly over the city at about 3 PM. So I didn’t get the best pictures, but that’s okay. I’ve been to Chicago many times, to help teach classes in CranioSacral Therapy or to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. It was neat just seeing the city from a different vantage point. And it was fun to say “Oh, there’s Navy Pier. I’ve been there! I’ve ridden the ferris wheel.”
Calumet, Illinois was about 20 miles south of Chicago. Once in the break water we struck sail and proceeded down the river a short distance to the 92nd street bridge.
“It’s our first bridge!” I told Bill.
He looked at me. And looked at me, as if I should know better.
“It’s our second bridge,” he informed me.
“Oh yeah, we first went under the Mackinac Bridge.” I replied. “I know you won’t forget that, you were at the helm.”
We waited for a barge to come up river and then the bridge keeper opened the bridge for us. Just around the bend was Crowley’s Yacht Yard. It would be home for a couple days while we down-rigged and had the masts pulled out; preparation for our trip down river under many more bridges and through many locks. (See Our Route for a list of where we’re headed.)
Waiting on the floating dock was Andy, our last crew member to join us, and Rex, a good buddy of Andy’s and Hugh’s. There was a good hundred feet of open dock for us to pull up to easily. A few yard workers were waiting for us. Even though they have seen many sailboats in their yard they were curious about our vessel. They asked the typical questions – how long is she, what is she made of, and where are you headed?
“Where’s the cannon?” was my favorite question of the day.