A Fall Filled With Adventure!

Back in Michigan, fall was always a time of adventure for us.  Our last year there, we took a cruise on the S.S. Badger for my birthday, then went camping for Halloween (and first started discussing living aboard–we thought we would move to Lake Michigan in 2 years!).  In Texas, however, daily life has been adventure enough.  We’ve been learning our way around Houston, and getting settled into a succession of new homes.  Our only trip was visiting the cabin at Canyon Lake for Thanksgiving (which we will do again this year!).

But now that we’re living comfortably on the S/V Morning Mist, the adventure bug is biting us once again.  Until recently, it had been 3 years since we’d cruised.  We’re all thinking that it’s time to make life interesting again!

And interesting it will be.  We have so much planned for October and November, that I’ve had to set up a Google calendar!  We’re visiting San Antonio next weekend, and a highlight of our trip will be a special needs amusement park.  After that, Rob and I are attending a moped rally in New Orleans.  The week after Halloween, Beanie will have her first competitive cheer competition!  And then it’s off to Canyon Lake two weeks later!

And all that excitement is in addition to our adventures this weekend and last weekend.

“Rockstars!  Rockstars!  Rah Rah Rah!”


Living in an urban area has had many advantages for us, and one of these advantages has been the number of “mommies'” groups available to join.  I joined Moms of Galveston Country, which lead me to two other special needs groups on Facebook.  It was through these groups that I first heard about Rockstar “Special Stars” Cheer.


Beanie has always had kind of a “cheerleader” personality, especially with her pigtails!  So a free, special needs competitive cheer group seemed to be right up her ally.  The group has kids ranging from age 8 to high school, so the older kids help keep an eye on their younger “buddies.”


From her first rehearsal, Beanie was in love!  The parents get to watch the practices on monitors in the waiting room, and it is a delight to watch, as I get to know the other mommies.  And don’t let the “special needs” part fool you–there are some talented tumblers in this group!


Beanie’s first performance with the Rockstars was last weekend, at the Down Syndrome walk in our town.  They don’t have their uniforms yet, but their t-shirts coordinated.


The fun began with dancing, and of course Beanie attracted attention!


She immediately fell in with some local junior high cheerleaders.


Who let her borrow their pom poms!


Finally, the Rockstars had the stage.


Beanie gains some altitude as a part of their routine!


And this is my favorite picture of her cheering!  It’s definitely a fun, low-pressure group, with some talented athletes!

Setting Sail Once Again

Grandma and Grandpa took Beanie home from the cheering event, and Rob and I headed over to the S/V Reprieve, three slips down from us.


My friend, Deanna, greeted me with a birthday bouquet.  We piled onto their boat with two other couples.





We rounded Clear Lake Shores island.



And then the reason for my flowers was revealed, as we made our departure, past the Kemah Boardwalk.







The whole “flock” of sailboats was out on Galveston bay!











We were quite well-fed on our journey!




I was a little exhausted…


And while I was getting sunburned, this is what passed us…







Meanwhile, this is why I have blisters on my back…


And then I woke up in Galveston!





We arrived in Galveston in time for dinner (it was a 6-hour nap…I mean sail!).  The marina we stayed at was near the Strand, which is the shopping/tourist district.  So we walked into town, hit the shops (the three of us ladies bought $10 dresses!) and enjoyed dinner at a shrimp restaurant.  Two of us had been wearing our bathing suits under our clothes, so we spontaneously jumped into the marina pool, before retiring to our various beds on the boat.

In the morning, we had some company in the marina.





We headed out at a leisurely pace, stopping for lunch and swimming at Red Fish Island.













Underway once again, there was no wind, so we motored back toward the bridge that led the way home.






It was a fun, wonderful trip, and now we’re eager to get our boat up and running, so that we can cruise next summer!

The Cardboard Challenge

This weekend, it was all about cardboard.  Beanie had the opportunity to create something out of garbage, for her school’s “Cardboard Challenge.”  She eagerly went to work on a Pokemon stage, which she displayed at school this morning.






Of course, Beanie’s favorite part was exploring the other creations!  She spent a lot of time in the Tardis.



















October has been a great month so far, and we look forward to sharing our upcoming fall adventures with you!


First Day of School

The first week of school is akin to crashing a boat into a dock.  It’s filled with new routines, new problem-solving, meetings, and a general re-organizing of our time.

It is also a time of new beginnings, of possibility.  For that reason, I’ve often written about how much I love the fall.

This fall, there are no changing leaves, no sweaters, no mornings where you can see your breath, no crisp, dry breezes.  It was a humid, rainy day (that later gave way to sunshine) when Beanie boarded to air-conditioned bus that took her to kindergarten.




Beanie looked very intimidated when she first saw the large bus, and she quietly sat in the front seat.  When she came home, however, she bounced off with a grin, and proclaimed, “Kindergarten is fun!”

Her and the bus driver now are buddies, and she has a “best friend” from the apartment complex, who sits by her.

Do you have a little one who is returning to school?   How has the transition gone for you?

Fall Fun!

Happy fall, everyone! Beanie has had some fun adventures that we would like to share with you.

First, her and Daddy went on a field trip to the Wild Pumpkin.

Beanie and her BFF (or at least one of them!)

The goats were her favorite!

She was dressed appropriately for this!

And then, we did Trunk-or-Treat at Children’s Therapy Corner. Beanie was able to take her time and look at all the decorations. She had a great time amongst people who knew her and loved her for who she is!

This time she was a true sailor!

Giving Louie Loon a funny look...

Beanie's PT was a ballerina pig!

Grandma and Grandpa were there, of course!

Then she hitched a ride back to the car with Tigger.

We’ve had our Halloween! Which is a good thing, because the hurricane weather is supposed to hit tomorrow. Lake Michigan is predicted to have 30 foot waves and a great deal of wind. I made sure that Moonraker’s insurance policy is up to date! We’re thinking of our readers on the East Coast of the US. Enjoy your adventure, but–for Heaven’s sake–respect it and be safe!

When the Gales of November Come Early…

We procrastinated on scheduling our haul-out.

It was the first week of October when we called, and they were booked every weekend this month. We had not intended to haul out in cold, rainy weather, but we waited too long. I have the 24th off, so we scheduled it that day.

Fortune smileth upon us.

This morning, when I logged on to Facebook, I saw this picture:

This was posted by our dock neighbor and fellow seasonal live-aboard, Bobbi. She said that A dock was underwater, and that she was glad they had recently pulled out (into indoor storage). I figured that she would have told me if Moonraker were in any trouble, and that no news was good news. Still, I asked. Lindsey, another seasonal live aboard, said that our sail cover will need repair, but that we’re fine otherwise. Bobbi concurred, but said that our bumper was deflated. So we’ll have to make sure we’re not rubbing against the dock, but we probably won’t be calling the insurance company yet once again.

Bobbi gave me permission to post the pictures she took. It just gives me chills to think that, had we done things the right way and scheduled our haul-out on time, that would be our boat. We were definitely better off in the water, than on dry dock, outdoor storage. It’s sad, because we know a lot of the people who own boats that were ruined.

In front of A dock

Yes, the floating dock is under water.

Stormy skies over A and B dock.

Look at that mast. Total heartbreak.

Look at the keel.

Very sad sight

High water levels

The parking lot for A dock.

This picture made me happy. See the first mast on the right? That’s Moonraker, sitting high in the water. The Wal-Mart bilge pump is keeping us afloat once again!

That will be a stinky mess…

That will be a project in itself…

The boat on the far left is Perennial, one of the only two boats to overtake Moonraker. I don’t know if we’ll get our rematch…

It seems, no matter what the season, the Lakes are full of unpredictability. This time, we were lucky. No more, no less. But suddenly our adventures in Thunder Bay don’t seem so bad…


End of the Season

The end of the season is always kind of a sad time at the marina, as more and more boats are pulled out for the winter.

And we, too, have scheduled our pull out date. Moonraker will be done for the season on October 24. I have the day off of work, so I will be available to help out. Our cradle is in really bad shape, because the boat was hauled on it, on a trailer, from Lansing to Bay City. The marina will not use it unless we repair it. The repair would be easy, but we asked about renting stands. It turns out that they are very affordable! If we’re not relying on our cradle (which is not long for this world anyway), then we can pull out wherever we end up next summer.

When we scheduled the pull out day, we also had to schedule our launch date. I don’t know for sure when this school year will be ending, but we usually get out right before Memorial Day weekend. So I scheduled our launch for the Tuesday after Memorial Day, May 29. It’s later than our launch date this summer, but it will give us some time to work on the boat in warm weather. Our to-do list includes: buffing the hull, painting the upper works, redoing the bottom paint, replacing part of the toe rail, installing a 110 electrical system, refinishing the interior wood (that may wait until it is in the water), and, hopefully, installing wheel steering.

Now that we have our launch day figured out, we have to estimate our arrival at Mackinaw Island next summer. We don’t intend to have a float plan, per se, but we do want to take the Bean to the island. Reservations need to be made 6 months in advance, so we need to figure that out by January. We’re planning on spending a week at Bay Harbor after we launch, so we can see my parents the next weekend. Then we’ll once again attempt our intended route from this summer: Tawas, Harrisville, Ossineke (not Alpena, ever again…), Presque Isle, Roger City, Bois Blanc Island, Mackinaw Island. We will plan multiple nights in some places (probably Tawas and Ossineke), and then make our reservation a week after that, to allow for weather, etc. If we get there early, we will spend the extra days on Bois Blanc, which is one of our favorite ports.

Fall Sunshine!

After the crazy, hectic week I’ve had, it’s great to be back at the marina.

Many of the seasonal live aboards have hauled out, but our neighbors are still living there full time, and hosting A dock’s camp fire.

My parents met us in the evening, after enjoying some time with their friends, who are still in the water. They brought a Dora color-with-water set, which has kept the Bean busy all weekend.

There wasn’t much wind, but there was a lot of sunshine. We decided to try sailing anyway.

We made some popcorn to enjoy on our adventure.

There were so many sailboats heading out, that we thought they were having a race. But everybody was just playing!

An interesting racing catamaran.

We headed out downwind, wing-and-wing with our whisker pole. However, when we left the channel, the wind suddenly died. We made very slow progress on a broad reach, but eventually we gave up and motored in. Of course, Murphy’s Law was in effect. As soon as we dropped the sails, the wind picked up!

Back at the marina, we saw many unfamiliar boats. Bay City is a popular place on Lake Huron for winter storage, so there were boat from all over, in slips, waiting to be hauled. We were delighted to see another Islander. Of course we had to go talk to the owners! They had already taken note of Moonraker and said that, yes, there are other Islanders on the Lakes. Then they proceeded to name them all! There were, perhaps, 10 in all. We’ve definitely found something special. The couple we met had an I36, from the late 70’s. It looked much more modern than Moonraker (which is a 1967). They thought that the earlier Islanders were more durable.

All in all, it’s great to be back. I’m already looking forward to next summer!

Moonraker in the Fall

We were planning on pulling the boat out in early September, but the excellent sailing last weekend led us to change our minds. In the fall, there is wind nearly every day. Most of the live aboards are still at the marina, since they live and work in the area. It’s too far for us to live there during the week right now, but we are enjoying the weekends. The social life is just like summer (only without the swimming!). And the sailing is phenomenal. I don’t think we will use up the 10 gallons of gas that we bought in Tawas.

Here are some pictures from this weekend:

Good morning, A dock!

My favorite part of the day.

Look at that wind!

We borrowed a slip at F dock for the day, next to my parents' boat. We were right on the river. This was our view.

Our friend, the heater.

Feeling fancy at F dock!

We had flowers on the boat in Alpena, and I thought more were in order!

For dinner: Dad's smoked ribs! I even got a barbecue lesson.

Time for some serious sailing. Definitely not a day to use the genoa!

We rigged up the spinnaker pole to use as a whisker pole for wing-and-wing. This made it much easier! (We have to take the mast down this winter to set up the rigging for the spinnaker).

Whisker pole.

So I’m looking forward to much more fall sailing. We haven’t scheduled a pull-out date yet, but we’ve heard that they are booked through October. We will have to bundle up when we winterize the boat!

Changing of the Seasons

The best part of my job, teaching, is that it flows with the seasons. Each change brings with it new excitement, new challenges, and new delights.

I love summer. With it, I have the freedom to pursue my passions–namely, sailing. While I was disappointed that we were not able to sail as much as I had hoped this past summer, we learned a great deal. Summer is the time I take Beanie to therapy, and it is always a good mother-daughter bonding time. She’s my little buddy in the summer!

But now fall is upon us. The leaves are turning red, and tomorrow I return to work. Fall is my new year. It is a time of meeting with my new teaching partners, planning, and meeting the students. It is a time of promise, of goal-setting, of potential. This fall, Beanie will expand her “mother pie” and begin to form relationships with adults outside her family, her teachers and aides at school. It is a bittersweet time, but exciting all the same.

All through the fall, we will be preparing for winter. Living above the “snow belt,” part of this is merely survival. We will be setting up our basement as living quarters and purchasing a woodstove. We will prepare for Christmas, so that it will be a joyful, rather than stressful time. We will fix up our cars, so that they will be ready. We will keep the fridge stocked and lots of entertainment on hand, as we will inevitably be snowed in some days! Winter is a time of student achievement, of holiday projects, and of watching 9 and 10’s homepage for school closings.

Then, the snow melts, and we think about spring break. It is a time to get Moonraker ready for that elusive launch date and prepare for our life on board. It’s about looking back, seeing how far the students have come, and planning for next year. It’s time for Beanie’s IEP meeting and reflection on her progress.

I know I am privileged to have a job, and a life, that revolves around the seasons. Yet, I think everyone would do well to take note of the messages nature is giving us throughout the year, and the opportunity for a new beginning that is presented to us each fall.