Monday, November 7, 2016

A Special Blog By AnnaMay

Getting started:
Getting started is tricky. You unplug the cords, untie the ropes, start up the engines, take a seat and go. When we were on the Great lakes, sometimes it was hard on my belly because of being out on the rocky waves for so long... sometimes it was six hours or more! Three hours seems like 10 minutes now that we are on the rivers and the water is smooth. Now it is much easier to travel for my belly.
On the way: 
As you know, there is stuff to do on the way. Sometimes I go to the fire (which is really the heater under our steps). Sometimes I play with my dollies. Sometimes I go up to the fly bridge and read. And sometimes I just go up on the fly bridge and look where we are going. One time, I was up on the fly bridge and birds started landing on our life vests. It was right around Chicago. Chicago was really pretty and it was sure something I was never going to see again. Unless... I took a boat trip again.
Last week, I was walking down the dock and I saw this brown, furry, long animal with 4 feet. It reminded me of a hot dog. If you know what it might be, let me know. I wondered if it was an otter, but I don't know if there are otters around here in Kentucky. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of it, but it ran across the dock towards me and then it went into a hole in the dock that went right into the water. That's all I know about it. It was a quick meeting. :-)
Another time when we anchored out, when it was dark out, I was sitting in the dining area and then there was a high pitched howl of a wolf. Nina said, “it sounded like a lady screaming.” Mom heard it too and looked at me with wide eyes! Ella was fortunately asleep and probably would have been scared. Nina was excited. It was a pretty cool night
(In this picture I'm pointing to the hole that the animal leaped into.)
(This is the "fire" where I get warmed up and sometimes eat chocolate :) )

Friday, September 2, 2016

Even Mermaids Get Seasick

"You're the most mermaid friend I have" -Sammy Williams

This was something one of my friends told me just before we left for our trip. I took it as a compliment! I think deep down every laker girl pictures herself closer to a mermaid than other girls. I mean lets be honest, laker girls were practically born with fins. Anyways, we've had an interesting couple of days and learned some very interesting things about each of us. After being stuck in Port Huron we excitedly left and went to Lexington. It was cute, but would've been much better had the town shops actually been open! LOL! Two days ago we left Lexington behind and arrived at Harbor Beach. Our biggest lesson was learned on the way here.

Mermaids, my dear friends, can get seasick. Horribly seasick. It hit me first. As most of you know I am one that gets cold super easily, so picture this. I'm curled up in a ball on a seat with my hoodie wrapped around every inch of me, a blanket around me, and I'm wincing at every big wave we hit. That day had been especially windy and the wavs were about 3-4 feet high. It was not pleasant. The second one to get hit with the sickness was Anna May. So now, picture this. Two of us cuddled in blankets clutching our stomachs and freezing. It was quite an interesting trip. We finally docked here at Harbor Beach after three hours of going up and down and back up again. I will be honest in saying it took everything in me to not run for shore and kiss the sand!

We definitely learned our lesson and the next day went shopping at a local store for some motion sickness medicine and some of those Sea Bands (pictured below) that are suppose to use acupressure to prevent seasickness. After that we enjoyed a day of shopping and visiting with some friends. Our next stop is Port Austin. Our friend who visited us our first day here told us all about it and it sounds very fun! We are really looking forward to it! We were supposed to leave today, but we took one look at the waves across the water and decided against it.

I guess that even though this experience wasn't the greatest that it makes for a good story about how mermaids can indeed get seasick as well! Now you learned something new today also! Thanks for boating alongside us on this adventure! Can't wait to write to you all again soon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stuck In Port Huron

      It was a hot morning and all was busy as we made ourselves ready for the next journey. The girls and I rolled out of bed, ate breakfast and dressed quickly as mom and dad began getting everything in place for our departure. We packed everything up and off we went! We started off pretty slow. (We had to wait for two bridges to lift up before we could go through.) Everything was fine and dandy. Everyone was settled into their place and was looking forward to our arrival in Lexington, MI. We had stopped right before exiting the river we were in and filled up on some fluid that we hoped would stop the little bit of smoke that we were praying was just a remnant of yesterday's mechanical work. We were gathered up on the flybridge talking and carrying on when all of the sudden, we saw it. And our hearts dropped. A HUGE mass of disgusting grey fog was billowing out the backside of our beautiful La Cigale. We instantly stopped, internally crying as the smoke surrounded our faces making us cough and plug our noses. It smelled of burning rubber times ten, and it was very unkind of the wind to blow it all directly into our faces.
      My father looked down in frustration, remembering the work that had been done on the boat the day before, knowing that we would not be able to carry on like this and would need to turn around. Just as we began to make our way back we heard a faint siren and turned to find the U.S. Coast Guard looking up at us as if we were crazy. But, we did not stop, we already knew what they were going to say and sure enough we were right. "Hey! You've got a lot of smoke coming from your engine." They cried. "Thanks," my mother replied, "we've noticed and we're making our way back to the marina now! You can follow us if you want." My mother made her way down to the lower cabin to investigate a low buzzing sound that we had heard. We found out a few minutes later that the buzzing was not buzzing, it was instead an alarm. Notifying us that our engine was overheating. We slowly made our way back and pulled up to the same dock we had used to put the fluid into our engine system.
      By this point it was around lunch time and the girls and I were getting hungry, so my mom and I took them over to the Maritime Center for some lunch while my dad hung back and worked on the boat. We were all sitting and eating when some friends walked into our view. We chatted for a while and they invited to take the girls and me back to their lakeside cottage for some jet skiing and tubing. We thankfully said yes and the girls and I set off for a fun evening on the lake!
      Meanwhile, mom and Mia stayed behind with dad as he continued his work on our boat. He worked until he thought it was good enough to test and then worked some more. They then took the boat out for a test drive and unfortunately saw some smoke still. Not as much as before, but it was still present. That's when reality hit. The part that was malfunctioning was a part that would need taken out, ordered and replaced. Our 3 day trip to Port Huron was now going to be a bit longer. We knew at that moment, we were stuck in Port Huron.

((Hope you enjoyed this little blog post about our events from today! I thought I would make it a little fun and create a story out of it. Not to worry though, hopefully within a few days we'll be back on our route. Until then we will just continue to adventure around this great place! We praise God that we aren't stuck someplace boring and that none of this happened while we were out in the middle of the lake.))

Friday, August 19, 2016

Welcome Aboard

So far traveling on our boat has had it's ups and downs. The ups being the wonderful people we're meeting, the wonderful food we're eating and of course the wonderful sights we're seeing. The downs being the sometimes nauseating waves, the storms and of course that one time that I was smacked in the face with a pole. Ahhhh this is the life!

We have traveled to three different marinas so far. One in Toledo, OH, another in Grosse Pointe, MI and the one we are staying at over the weekend in Port Huron, MI. All have been very nice and at each place we were able to hook up to both electricity and water. This helps keep our A/C running as well as other things such as chargers, lights, the fridge, our sinks and the toilet. Although, each marina provides a bathroom and a shower house, so our little bathroom on the boat is mainly used for storage, nighttime teeth brushings, and clothes changing.

Some of the people we have met along the way have been very welcoming and have had quite an interest in our trip. We are known as "loopers." It's funny because anywhere outside of a marina no one seems to know what The Great Loop is, but say the word "loop" just once in a marina and everyone flashes you an encouraging smile and tells you stories of their own trip or a friend's trip.  We used to say, "oh, there's just something about the people who live on the water, they're all so nice." And we have yet to take back that sentence!

It has been a great trip so far and I can't wait to continue adventuring with the family! Mom has put me in charge of the blog, but don't be too surprised if you see something from someone else in the family on here soon! Don't forget to follow us on FaceBook at Wilsons On The Water and if you have any questions feel free to send us a message! I hope you enjoy the blog and reading the adventures of the great La Cigale!

 Nina (The First Mate)

Friday, July 29, 2016

We are going on a "little trip"....

In 2001, Bobby and I followed the journey of our dear friends, Bill and Ruth, as they boated their way around the United States on this crazy thing called The Great American Loop. We followed along as best as we could with no Facebook and limited internet access at the time. During the course of that year, we lived vicariously through their intermittent posts and waited anxiously for sporadic emails. By the end of their travels, what was born in us was a desire to someday take this same trip in a boat of our own... someday... maybe when we retired...

In 2011, our 4th daughter was born with a severe and critical complex congenital heart defect. She was given only a 10% chance of surviving. We were prepared to have only 20 minutes with her at birth if she survived long enough to be born. By God's grace, she lived long enough to be life flighted to another state where our family lived at the Ronald McDonald House for 11 1/2 months waiting for her to get well enough to bring her home. Since her first discharge, we have learned a lot. We have learned to live life to the fullest and to truly not take things for granted. We also learned that living in one room at the Ronald McDonald House may have in fact prepared us to "live" on a boat.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, but it is even more in our face with Mia.

In 2015, we had the crazy idea that maybe that "someday for the boat trip" should be now. We discussed our potential plan with Mia's cardiologist and he was on board as long as Mia's next open heart surgery went well. So for the better part of 2015, we cautiously made plans for our family to take The Great American Loop. We were planning, but careful to not get too excited because with Mia, anything can happen. So, with cautious optimism, Bobby took boating courses through the United States Power Squadron and we did lots and lots and lots of research. We even talked to Make A Wish to see if they could help us in any way for Mia's wish through them. She loves the water and boating so it seemed like a great fit for her wish, but it was out of their scope of wishes able to be granted.

As the end of 2015 approached, we stayed in contact with Mia's cardiologist and other doctors as well as her pharmacy to see what we would do about getting medications and medical supplies. The next big thing was obtaining a boat. With all Mia's expenses, we were very limited on our options. In a stroke of what can be nothing else than a huge blessing, the very couple that we followed their journey (and by the way are lifelong friends of our family), decided that they no longer needed the boat on which they cruised The Loop in 2001. Not only did they not need it any longer, they wanted to essentially "gift" it to us at an extremely reduced price! We met them at the bank one very cold day in early 2016 and signed paperwork for the transfer of "La Cigale".

The next big step was getting Mia through this next big open heart surgery. The plan was to do the surgery early in the spring to give her time to heal. The best laid plans.... you know the saying! Well, she has had many bumps in the road, complications and readmits, but it seems as though she is finally "holding her own", so we have decided to move forward with leaving on the boat trip, beginning August 14th, 2016. (Weather permitting).

In an even crazier twist of events, we were wondering what we would do with our home while we are away and a good friend of our family was moving back to Akron for schooling and needed a place to stay. What a fantastic way to hopefully bless someone else in this process!

15 years ago, we had considered doing this upon retirement, but after all that we have gone through with Mia, we know that tomorrow is never promised, and we find it necessary to experience this trip as a family. Some people save for retirement and never make it that long so if we need to dive into it in order for this to happen, we are ready and willing! If we don't do this now and we lose Mia early, we will always regret it.

Will it be easy? No. Will we have bumps in the road? Of course. Will we likely visit hospitals in states we have never been to? Probably. Will it be worth it? YES!

We realize this is completely crazy and some people will not agree with our decision to do this, but for those interested, you're welcome to follow our journey. We would love to have you along for the ride!