Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Monday morning-- awoke in Chicago, hoping that this might be the day that Jen and I would be able to hook up with a friend of a friend for a sailing outing on the lake.

The sun rose on Lake Michigan about 20 minutes earlier than she does in San Francisco since we are at a few degrees more southern latitude in SF. The lake was like a mirror that morning, so we hoped for a breeze to come up in case an afternoon sail would materialize. This shot was taken on Sunday morning from the park across the street from the Jen's apartment, but the same sunrise happened on Monday.

On Saturday, Jen dropped me off in downtown Chicago on her way to work at a library in a southeastern suburb of the city, and
after wandering around the downtown for several hours taking in the familiar and not familiar sights from when I lived in the Chicago area, I headed back north along the lakefront path, intending to walk the 10-12 miles or so back to Jen's place. As I strolled past Montrose Harbor, I spotted this happy, smiling man rowing his dingy to the dingy dock to stow it for the night.

I was out wandering around the city, heading south from Jen's apartment to walk along the cityfront along the lake, heading south and finally ending up near Wrigley Field, ballpark of the Chicago Cubs, when Jon called and said that Dan was headed for his boat, rowing out his dingy as we spoke and I could call him in 10-15 minutes to make arrangements to rendezvous. I called Dan and he said there was no wind for sailing, but we were welcome to come to the boat and bring some stuff for eating and drinking to sit around and swap sailing stories, and we would go out if a wind came up.

I arranged for Jen to meet me at a nearby grocery store, Wrigley Field being less than a mile from Montrose Harbor, and then went shopping for some snacks and dinner stuff to barbecue on Dan's boat-- corn on the cob, peppers, chicken breasts and barbecue sauce, salsa and chips and wine. We drove over to the harbor and parked opposite the harbor entrance where we saw a red-hulled boat that seemed to be Dan's boat, and called him to say that we had arrived.

He came over to the nearby boarding ladder with his dingy and we climbed down the ladder, stepped gingerly into the dingy-- our virgin experience of getting in a dingy-- and hoped not to topple overboard-- which we didn't. Now, Dan's boat is named the AQUILA, and -- small world and big improbabilities -- the dingy Dan was rowing us in, was the dingy that I saw him rowing toward the dingy dock two days earlier, which I didn't realize until i reviewd the photos that I took of Montrose Harbor that Saturday afternoon. Wow! what a surprise!

So, we climb aboard AQUILA, stow the food, Dan makes us a special drink and we sit in the cockpit and have snacks and drinks while swapping stories about boats and sailing and enjoying the view of neighbor boats and the distance downtown skyscrapers.

Jen was enjoying the warm afternoon air.

The sailboat moored right next to AQUILA is a catboat named "Peace on Earth" -- amen to that!

After stowing the snacks there was still not enough breeze for sailing, but Dan offers to motor out to the Crib- the now unused water intake building for the city's water supply which has a medieval look. "If a breeze comes up out there, we'll put up the sails," he said. So we motored out and took a look.

Dan mentioned that they were just starting to see cormorants
in the area and that this was a sign that the waters were getting less polluted, and there were quite a few standing around like sentinels on the Crib.

The lighthouse on top held more birds.

Dan told us that he tells kids that the Crib is where Frankenstein lives and in this photo it doesn't look that far offshore, but it is about a half mile I would say. In the distant background you can see the John Hancock building with the TV towers on top and to the right of it, the Sears Tower, also with TV towers on top.

Happily our requests to Mother Nature and Neptune for a nice sailing breeze were answered and a freshening wind of 8-10 knots came up, so Dan got out his 140 genoa and hanked it on the forestay and then he and I joined in on unfurling the rolled up main and then I slid the sail slides onto the mast as he raised the sail, little by litte. Then he turned off the engine and we were sailing main only until he raised the jib and we were off and sailing at a nice clip on close-hauled course, Jen at the helm with Dan instructing after I took an initial turn at the tiller.

Dan races the boat in Wednesday night beer can races, and I notieced that his sail numbers didn't match. That's because he purchases used sails, still in good condition, from members of the Tartan fleet who replace their sails quite frequently to maximize their speed for racing.

We sailed southward toward the downtown for a while and so also got a glimpse of the south side of the Crib as skies started to cloud over.

Some pretty cloud patters and light and shadow patterns added to the scenery from the lake.

At telephoto distance with hazy skies this shot captures the here-juxtaposed John Hancock tower and the Sears Tower looking to be the same height through only because the Sears Tower is more distant -- it is much taller than the other.

Jen was enjoying practicing her helming with the tiller, and eventually we headed back toward the harbor, sailing on a broad reach and making less headway than while on close reach.

The sun was getting lower in the now-mostly-cloudy sky as we headed home and creating a brilliant path on the water.

As dinner was cooking on the propane grill, the sun was disappearing in the thickening cloud banks.

The air was a bit less hazy and the downtown towers looked closer than they did earlier in the day.

We enjoyed our diner immensely and chatted away listening to some of Dan's many stories of his recent marriage to a woman in China, his growing up in a family of 9 children, his sailing mates-- including several gorgeous female doctors-- etc. etc. It was dark as we gathered up the trash and our bags and stepped into the dingy for Dan to row us back to the ladder. We tossed our stuff on shore, climbed it, tossed the garbage into nearby bins and climbed into the car to head for home, stopping on the way-- well a bit out of the way-- for coffee and a sweet to polish off the sensuous delights of the day!!!

Jen now has the possibility of adding sailing with Dan and Jon to her pleasure activities in Chicago, and I hope to keep in touch with both of them and see them out with me on ANTICIPATION on SF Bay sometime in the not too distant future.

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