21 October, 2014
Fueled up, and it’s time for our part of the Great Krogen Raftup. 38 Krogens, all stern-to on opposing docks, bows knitted together in an intricate weave. The dance is orchestrated by the MacDaddy of all dockmasters, Randy Pickleman, who’s barking orders on VHF channel 17 while his capable crew of dockdudes handle lines. Looks like the ballet of hippos in Disneys’ “Fantasia”, and the Girls are lookin’ pretty happy about spending the next week with their sisters. Randy’s the Man, he’s been doing this job for around a decade, and makes it look all so easy (I think he was a cat herder in his former life). The next 6 days will have something for everyone. There will be educational seminars by various speakers, running the gamut from technical (engine maintainence, offshore cruising, troubleshooting, and electronics), to social networking for boaters (ActiveCaptain founders, Jeff and Karen Siegel), to travelogues (Canadian Maritimes, Cuba, and Transatlantic). After the days’ educational work is done, docktail parties and organized (disorganized too) dinners take us to “Krogen Midnight” at 2100. Capping the event on Saturday night is a catered feast followed by live, classic rock ‘n roll provided by “Classic Case” who’ve been playing this gig for the last few years. Interspersed is a whole lot of socializing, and the feel is akin to getting together with cousins that you haven’t seen for awhile-5 minutes together, and it’s like you’ve never been apart. The whole event is a cooperative effort, as all participants volunteer for duties that range from event planning to cleanup. This year, the participant list is comprised of Krogenites, Wannabees, and Gonnabees. For the first time ever, the “old hands” are outnumbered by members who are attending their first rendezvous, 52% to 48%. For my part, the gathering gives me a great opportunity to learn from others experiences, and I do a lot of listening, and not so much talking. We also got a chance to see Lauren and Bill again, as they drove from Ontario, and joined the party as Wannabees. By the end of the show, I was pretty worn out by too much food and sips, and too little sleep. As Dirty Harry so eloquently put it “A man’s got to know his limitations”-guess I can’t run with the big dogs anymore, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit on the porch. Have to get in better shape for next year. On Sunday morning, at the Captains meeting, we get our marching orders for unrafting. Randy’s show, and we’re outta there too fast. In 40 minutes, we’re all untangled and the silence is deafening. Place sure looks different with everybody gone. The Girl pulls back to the dock, as Suz and I are headed back to Michigan for dental appointments, and to check on the dirt dwelling before winter. Bill and Lauren drive us to the airport, where we bid them adieu until next summer, when we will meet them back in the Maritimes for a tour of Labrador and Newfoundland.
We pick up the rental car at Detroit Metro, and are immediately dropped onto I-94, where traffic in the slow lane moves at 80 MPH. Holy Crap! I haven’t driven in a few months, and am used to life at 7 knots-things sure happen a lot faster at 80. I repent, and ask forgiveness for all the times I groused about the “Old man” driving too slow on the freeway. After an hour or so, I’m back in the groove, albeit cautiously. We stay with Dick and Jan in Okemos (just outside of East Lansing). They are continuing to recover from the horrific auto accident last May, and are making slow, but steady progress. While in town, we hit our dental appointments, visit my old office and friends from the area for the next 2 days. Next on the docket was a trip to Grand Rapids, to meet our friend (and stockbroker) Mark Darnell. After a long (but way too short) lunch we pushed on to the house in Charlevoix, where other friends awaited our arrival. I think that we caught up with all of our buds in Northern Michigan over the next 4 days, it was nonstop. During the days lots of prewinter chores were knocked off. That was cool, it was different-I don’t get to use the chain saw and leaf blower much on the boat. Before heading back to the airport in Detroit, we visited my Dad in Traverse City, as we hadn’t seen him since Spring. We were able to watch a come-from-behind victory by the Lions (he’s a long-suffering diehard fan) with him on TV. After that, we all went out for a great dinner. Next morning at O’Dark thirty, we’re ready for the four and a half hour drive to the airport, and find the keys locked in the rental car, courtesy of Yours Truly the night before. While I’m monkeying around trying to break in, The Admiral is on the phone with a towing company. The kid gets there 40 minutes later, gets out of his car, and leaves it running. It takes longer to do the paperwork and pay him than it did for him to open the door and start the car. On our way back to the airport, we’re both pretty quiet. I know what she’s thinking “I don’t miss anything but our friends”-Suz agrees, and we decide that coming back to land every 6 months or so is definitely in the cards. Nine hours later, we’re back at the Girl, then out for seafood dinner with our friend, and electronics guru, Scottie. We’ll work on the Girl tomorrow, installing a digital TV antenna (so we can catch football on network TV) together, and he’ll scope out a few electronic gremlins on board. I’ll replace a leaky H2O pump on the generator, and a circuit board on one of the air conditioning units while he’s there in case I need a little hand holding. While we’ve been gone, Scottie’s bud, Justin has had our recalcitrant outboard, and thinks he’s got the problem(s) doped out. It won’t be ready before we leave for D.C. on the 22nd, but we’ll figure something out.