In May of 2021, we moved aboard Tumbleweed when she was docked behind Rick and Mary’s beautiful home in Fort Myers.
As we posted way back then, they recently had taken off on their new North Pacific 49. We later documented our rendezvous with them and Exhale in Port Jefferson.
We’re so thankful that Rick and Mary and Buttercup decided to evacuate before Hurricane Ian hit, because their neighborhood took a hit, although maybe not as bad as other areas. We don’t have final information on Exhale—and know they had her hauled—but based on the early reports they received from their marina, she amazingly may have survived mostly intact. That’s all good news. Much of Fort Myers, of course, wasn’t as lucky.
The point is, there’s a good argument that it’s bad form for us to post about our recent experiences at all. We try to be light and sometimes swerve into the silly lane, so people who are suffering greatly might find our sniveling about Sturgeon Bay weather, for example, to be in poor taste. Or even downright offensive. Our excuse, however, is that the blog also is our personal diary, and most anything we skip, we’ll forget. So we apologize in advance.
Friday we finally arrived at Tumbleweed’s final seasonal resting place. Green Bay. The Frozen Tundra. When they make a romantic docuseries out of our blog, we’re going to insist that the late John Facenda be resurrected to narrate this portion of the post.
But let’s not skip over Sturgeon Bay. When last we posted, we were heading that way.
Because the wind was up when we arrived, Taylor the Dockmaster put us down at the end of Dock A. This seemed like a good idea, until we heard that just last year a big storm from the north brought 40-knot winds that swept Dock A out into the canal, dragging boats with it. We fired up a Google search in case the locals were funnin’ us. Nope. True story. Well that’s great, because a huge storm from the north with 40-knot winds was predicted to hit a day or two after our arrival and last for several days. Not much to do other than deploy extra lines and every fender possible. We even dragged out and inflated the big boys that we use on locks.
If that wasn’t enough, moments after we docked a gorgeous blue Berger pulled in beside us One of the prettiest boats this size you’ll ever see. $2 million easy.
The problem is that the anticipated winds were going to drive that Berger off her finger and directly into us, effectively giving us the finger. And the nice couple only purchased her two weeks earlier. And they had dock lines smaller than the ones we used for our ski boat on Saguaro Lake. And they didn’t really tie them properly before they cheerfully headed home to ride out the storm. Imagine trying to sleep knowing that a huge anvil is hanging over your bed, suspended only by a single strand of poorly affixed embroidery thread. That’s what it was like, sort of. So we had Taylor come help us prophylactically add some of our 1” lines to the pretty Berger.*
Sunday evening we watched the storm roll in on the weather radar and on the horizon. Weird color can’t be good.
Literally five minutes after that photo, we had three-foot waves with whitecaps, which the wind drove up and over that same dock that previously ripped away. The temperature dropped until we felt like we were trapped in Minnie’s Haberdashery during the blizzard that hit right after Jody and the Domergue Gang killed Minnie and Sweet Dave.
The good news about three days of high wind and driving rain, of course, is that if you never leave the boat there’s no reason to change out of pajamas. So we didn’t, until cabin fever finally drove us into a six-mile round trip hike through 40° crap to the closest movie theater.
Fortunately, just as our memories of blue sky and sunshine were fading, Thursday brought them back.
Since we left Sturgeon Bay the next day we didn’t get to do or see too much of it during our week stay, but a bit of stuff is worth noting. For example, this is the White Lace Inn. It may (or may not) look like the “posh Victorian B&B” claimed by the marketing department, but not even the quaint exterior can cover up its grisly past.
In April of 1942, one William Drews clubbed a nice little old lady named Sadie to death right inside there, then jammed her body into a small wood-burning stove for a DIY cremation. He supposedly stole $110, which he spent on flowers for his wedding the following day. We’re guessing the marriage didn’t last.
Skipper Bud’s Harbor Club is hard along the Michigan Street Bridge.
This is the “old bridge” that everyone wanted replaced. So they built the “new bridge” one block to the east. Except then nobody wanted to tear down the old bridge, and the bridges can’t be open at the same time, so now boats have to hang out between them when trying to transit from Green Bay to Lake Michigan. Said transit was made possible by the seven mile Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal—distantly visible in the drone photo above—so that anyone stopping to play pickleball in Sister Bay could get to Chicago without going all the way back up and around.
Also between the bridges sits the century-old John Purves, although back in the day she was named Butterfield. She barely missed the First World War, and served in the Second as an Aleutian supply ship. Unfortunately the onboard tour wasn’t available the day we visited the Sturgeon Bay Maritime Museum.
The museum, however, is well worth the cost of admission, and not just because we could see Tumbleweed from the top of that tower.
Off there to the left in the background is the Fincantieri Bay Shipyard, the Sturgeon Bay branch of a huge Italian conglomerate. The local joint builds lakers, and builds and services ships for the Coast Guard and Army Corp of Engineers. As an interesting aside, the Badger—made famous in our posts about Ludington—was built in Sturgeon Bay. From the view on our way out, we’ve determined that Fincantieri also works on dirty old ferries.
Did we mention that the museum is cool? Among other things, we learned that the dude who invented the method now used to haul Tumbleweed out of the water did so right around the corner.
We also learned that for a good while back in the day, Sturgeon Bay was a major supplier of ice, with commercial harvesters cutting 300-pound blocks out of the bay for shipment to towns and cities as far away as Chicago and New York. Which seems like a good thing to discuss with your realtor before relocating someplace. If he or she answers “Yes” to the question “Was there ever a commercial ice harvesting industry around here?”, you just immediately start looking elsewhere.
Most everyone knows that Andrew Carnegie’s steel and railroad companies made him a gazillion dollars and then he built thousands of libraries around the country. This cool old building was one of them.
What we hoped would make this one interesting was the “hint of Lincoln history” promised by the sign outside. As near as we could figure out, however, the only “hint” was the sign itself. Now the place is a CPA office or some such thing so we couldn’t very well go inside and ask. But we do like the ivy.
Anyway, the town is cute and even the Irish folks at Kitty O’Reilly’s—where we had two delicious meals—decorated for autumn.
We hate to admit it, but in a bizarrely-unexpected twist, Hurricane Ian presented us with a happy bonus. Mallory was flying to Virginia to meet friends at a festival, but the festival was cancelled—because of the hurricane—while she was en route to a Chicago layover. So she cancelled the leg to Richmond and drove up to see us. Very exciting.**
At least the wind died down enough for a nice cruise past Sherwood Point and the Sherwood Point Light.
One Minnie Hesh served as Assistant Keeper at the Sherwood Point Light for some 30 years, which is important only because it allows us to double the number of “Minnie” references in this post.
Now back to Green Bay. The marina where Tumbleweed will hibernate until spring isn’t nearby anything except a rickety amusement park that’s closed for the winter. But Green Bay does have the Packers, and there wasn’t anything else to do on Sunday, so we headed over to Lambeau Field.
About this self-aggrandizing “Titletown” nickname.
The Packers indeed have won four Super Bowls, including the first two. The Steelers and Patriots each have won six of them, however, although New England’s win total comes with an asterisk because everybody knows Kraft, Belichick, and Brady are a steaming pile of brazen cheating. The Packers also lag behind the 49ers and Cowboys, and are tied with the lowly New York Giants. And no, you don’t get credit for “titles” won in leather helmets. So maybe the cheeseheads should pump the brakes on all this bragging.***
The Ring of Honor at Lambeau surprised us by surrounding the great Reggie White—the “Minister of Defense” himself—with quite the assortment of villains.
Bart Starr, for example, played at Alabama and thereby forfeited his chance to reach heaven. Paul Hornung benefited from a Heisman fraud so staggering and atrocious that it’s rivaled only by the travesty that handed the same award to Charles Woodson, who also is up there. And Brett Favre currently should be memorizing the details of Andy Dufresne’s escape plans as he soon may reside in a Mississippi prison. But whatever. The Packers beat the Patriots in overtime, but we left before the half because it was getting cold and the drunk guy beside us was annoying.
Everybody up here is really nice, although they all sound strangely like Marge Gunderson or Jerry Lundegaard. The leaves are just starting to turn. But it’s damn cold. And our house is out of the water so we have no place to sleep, as documented in this catchy video of the haul out.
Yup, those Marine Travelifts are damn cool.
At this moment, we’re ignoring the wind and cold and trying to average at least 70 knots in the rental van on the way to someplace warm. Hopefully we’ll be back in Arizona before it runs out of drinking water. We’ll pick up the blog again next spring when we retrace Door County as we pop up to Lake Superior and new adventures. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year.
*It’s a damn good thing we did. The fat bow line we added chafed halfway through. No chance a single 3/8” line would’ve held.
**Special thanks to Mike on Rula Bula, who loaned us his car so we could meet Mallory in Green Bay and schlep her up to Sturgeon Bay so that she could turn around and ride back down to Green Bay by boat.
***It’s sort of like calling the University of Florida “Murder U,” because of the way notable dirtbag Urben Meyer groomed and coddled gang-banging killer Aaron Hernandez. Oh wait. That one is legit.
2 thoughts on “Stay strong Fort Myers, or Hello and goodbye from “Titletown, U.S.A.””
Another awesome season of cruising adventure, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading every word! I’m really looking forward to the spring Lake Superior tour. A beautiful picture overlooking Lake Superior is my screensaver on my iPad. I’ve never actually been there, but it looks super cool. I’ll do as I’ve done for the past 3 years, or so, and live vicariously through y’all 😁. Safe travels!
Thanks! We’re looking forward to Lake Superior. But first we’re looking forward to not being cold. 🥶🥶