Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Sunday, August 11, 2002:

Still in Grand Haven... what a nice town! Such excitement. Just after dawn a large tour bus arrived at the dock. About seventy professional staff members of the Upper Midwest Boy Scout Councils attending a conference in Grand Rapids  have chartered the entire Chinook Pier Charter Fleet and are intent on reducing the salmon population hereabouts. The person-in-charge organized boardings and in twenty or so minutes they all put out to sea -- er, lake. We'll see how well they have done in a few hours when they return to the weighing and cleaning station.
We're staying over here until Monday. Looking for "Pod" to show up later, more shopping and restauranting... just a restful day. Leaving tomorrow for Holland where Kibon has a date for an oil change, fuel and filters. Plus we'll be meeting Jean and Garrett Mulder there. It's their homeport where they have started and ended at least two loops already.
A trolley car came by the docks so we took a half-hour guided tour of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg. After the early morning excitement, it was nice to relax. We were the only ones aboard the trolley so we got the first class spiel.

The Scout fishers are back; and do they have a catch! The photographers have photoed, the weighers have weighed and the filleters have filleted. Bags of salmon fillets and steaks are packed aboard the bus and are on the way back to Grand Rapids... hope there is a big enough freezer there to take care of the demand! And we keep hearing about how fished out the lakes are lately... is it just a rumor that the charterers have perpetrated?

Monday through Thursday, August 12 - 15, 2002:
Up with the dawn... the forecasters all agree that today is probably the best "between the storms" day to attack the big ole' lake again. They've been wrong so many times lately we've almost stopped listening. But let's give it a shot. The wind is from the South at about ten knots and has been blowing all night. Rain, thunderstorms and much higher winds --which the forecasters have been predicting for days are finally and, we believe really, due to hit tomorrow. Out on the Lake the waves are averaging two to three feet and are coming in short, uncomfortable bursts. But Kay has taken her "happy pill," Kibon is plowing along at a sedate 8-knots and we are enduring. Three hours later we enter the breakwater at Holland, Michigan, and Kay says, "Piece of cake."

We've docked at The Anchorage Marina and Yacht Club and what a marina this is! This is the Mulders' home port and we can sure see why. It has a ship's store that's a small super market, an indoor-outdoor pool, showers and sauna and a full restaurant all in the main building. Each of the several hundred boat slips has its own dock box in addition to electric,  water and cable tv.  The Anchorage is one of numerous marinas and yacht clubs on Lake Macatawa, a five-mile-long inland lake off Lake Michigan. The city of Holland is at the far end of the lake so a car or taxi is necessary to tour the city. Thanks to Jean and Garrett, Holland's "official tour guides," we are getting the red-carpet treatment.

 Holland was founded in 1847.  Although it is famous for its Tulip Time Festival and the windmills, there is much more to see in Holland.  Almost all of the buildings were destroyed in the "Great Fire of 1871," so the restored downtown is mostly buildings from the Victorian era.  Jean took us on a walking tour of the downtown.  This is a vibrant area full of retail shops, galleries, and restaurants.  The interiors of many of the buildings show the original wood floors, tin ceilings, and brick walls.   During the winter pipes that run under the streets and sidewalks of the downtown area carry hot water discharged from one of the factories.  There is no need to shovel snow.  Much of the credit for the renovation of Holland goes to Ed Prince, who invested in projects to eliminate eyesores and create parks and restored buildings.   He also founded the Senior Citizen Center, a model that people around the country wish to emulate.  It is a two story building, converted from an old school, and contains a huge auditorium, an up to date gym/fitness room, swimming pool, woodworking shop that has every tool a craftsperson could want, game room, computer center, a place to grow flowers and vegetables, a day care center for frail seniors, and facilities for health screenings. Not such a bad place to live, right?

The Caterpillar man happened to be working on a boat in the next slip, so we asked him to come over and take a look at a coolant leak the filter man had noticed... a loose connection had belched a gallon of anti-freeze into the bilge. The Caterpillar man fixed it and also tightened up a couple of other small oil leakers that he said had not been caught at the factory. Also he says we need a valve and timing adjustment. He says they are way out of spec...  In spite of this, though, these big cats have been purring along for almost two hundred hours now and are ready for some significant servicing. We did get a chance to change fuel filters. What a snap! Caterpillars truly do deserve the phrase "User Friendly." Thanks, Cat. We wish we could say the same for our air conditioner. We have two, one in the main salon and another in the stateroom. Having spent July and half of August in Canada, we never turned on the stateroom unit. Only here in Michigan have we tried it only to find that it doesn't work. Many phone calls over half the country have determined that a relay somewhere is defective. We're assured that it's a simple fix, but we don't have the part, don't know where on the boat it should be installed and are still waiting for a callback from the installer in Long Island. We realize the problems of servicing a boat away from the dealer's local area. Almost every salesman will say, "No problem!" But there is a problem and we have become painfully aware of it. Barry Segal, President of MTS in Freeport, who did the A/C installation said it very succinctly: "If you buy a new boat, plan on sticking around for a few months. Unlike a car which is mass produced, a boat is hand made. There are too many things that go wrong and have to be fixed before you can start a long cruise." You're so right, Barry. Thanks for an honest answer... and please ship that relay ASAP.
Friday, August 16, 2002:
Two days later and Barry has still not called back. Don't know what we are going to do about the defective A/C... maybe call our lawyer. Silverton, are you listening? Getting service when a thousand miles away from the service givers is a problem. Isn't it a shame that the manufacturer is so dependent on its dealers? They may let you down, Silverton, but it's still your name on the side of this boat. How about it?
The same goes for the Caterpillar engines. We remember very distinctly when the port engine was running rough and hard to start in the first few days we had the boat. Both Steve Karp, our salesman, and Tom Prete, SIBS' Service Manager in Freeport said, "No problem. These new engines will run real smooth after a few hours." Well, the hard start and rough run didn't smooth out and by the time the Catepillar man determined that there was definitely a performance problem, we had clocked off enough hours to be ineligible for a warranty fix. They now want a thousand dollars to fix what they didn't fix in the first place. Hey, guys, why don't you just fix it instead of arguing over who's going to pay? It's starting to sound a little like Congress dickering over drug aid for us old folks!

 The weather finally broke... a calm, waveless day, the kind of day that makes Kay forget about her "happy pills" and yearn for the other side of the lake...     We go! Chicago bound! It's a little hazy today on Lake Michigan, but not anything that "Hal" and Pearce cannot manage. We head further south, hugging the shore, and finally strike out westward at New Buffalo, Michigan. The haze closes in as we leave sight of land, but Hal's GPS bearing is good and in a couple of hours we sight the skyline of Chicago. The lake is peacefully calm and the tops of  buildings are being smothered by low clouds as we approach.

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