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Kickin’ Summer Off Right 🇺🇲

onlookers at Long Beach parade

Summer in the midwest really kicks into high gear with the July 4th holiday. Around the sunset coast – Southeast Lake Michigan, this kickoff can be epic. With Chicago just a short drive away, tons of people have summer vacation homes all over Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan. People seem to pour into the local towns and onto the beaches.

Each of these small towns has their own schedule for the holiday celebration – whether that’s ice cream socials, military fly-overs, parades with decorated golf carts and local heroes – police, firefighters, etc. throwing candy to onlookers, food trucks and fireworks … or all of the above!

Don’t fight it, join it!

Although I enjoy the peace and quiet winter brings, I’m also learning to love the excitement that comes with the summer population growth. Everyone doin’ their thing to make summer last as long as possible!

When so many people converge in a small area, there’s bound to be conflict – especially with those in your own household … through it all, I just try to stay cool. 🤙

Kyle at the beach
kyle & kara on beach at sunset

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28 NLT

Dog Days of Summer

(July 3 – August 11)

Once July 4th passes, summer is in full swing. The days are long, the air is warm and the sun is shining … a lot! I can’t help but get up early and get projects done. Kara is excellent at making and executing all kinds of lists – I just try to keep pace. But as the afternoon heat cranks up, the beach is calling … we hit ‘island-fever’ and the only cure is to head to the lake for late afternoon water + sun. 😎

zeke laying in the grass
SV Zeke E Boy ready to sail still at the dock

Sailing Lake Michigan

On SV Zeke E Boy we like to head out onto the lake in the morning.  It takes about an hour to open up + commission all the systems for the day.  Each time we finish and leave the boat, all valves below the water line are shut off.  There are 4 main valves that must be opened:

  • one for each toilet intake water (waste water is stored on the boat, not dumped in the lake, which is illegal)
  • one for the kitchen sink gray water
  • one for the engine cooling intake (this is the most important one)

Teamwork makes the dream work

While I work on commissioning the mechanical systems, Kara helps with getting items organized & stowed: food is put in the fridge (even if we don’t turn it on – it’ll keep it safe from moving while out on the lake), clothes are put away, boat shoes are set out and the cockpit canvas is opened, so we can easily see out

Before cast off, we review our plans for the day.  Does the wind (and waves) look like what we saw online?  Are we prepared for these conditions?  We talk through our disembarking routine and options if things go poorly.  Leaving the dock is my most arduous task.  In reverse, our boat – actually many sailboats have this issue – is not very maneuverable.  Without getting too technical (although I love to discuss this with whoever would listen), the boat wants to spin one way and not reverse in a straight line.  I am constantly learning the boat – what she can and can’t do in different conditions. I have to be aware that just because I want to go a specific way, the boat may not respond like I want, so I must have options for alternative paths always ready.  Oh, and I have to communicate it to Kara so she can help as well!

Keep Calm & Sail On

Once we are out of the dock, under control and moving forward, my pulse starts to go down and things become much more enjoyable.  It takes about 15 minutes to motor out to Lake Michigan from our slip.  When navigating in and out of a harbor, other boat traffic is always considered.  While there are rules and guidelines to follow – similar to driving a car – we found that you can’t assume others know what they are doing.  We like to be extra cautious, take things slow and most importantly, be kind – even when others are not.  After all, the goal is to have fun, but also to avoid dangerous interactions.

last sunrise in NB
kyle at the helm

Once we’re past the harbor entrance and the river deposit, we’ll turn off the engine, raise our sails and head out on Lake Michigan.  After just ~1\4 mile out, we typically have the lake to ourselves – most of the boat traffic tends to stay near shore …  I enjoy my last cup of coffee on the water, while Kara takes notes, pictures and videos to document the trip for our Ship’s Log.

Keeping Cool Under Pressure

kara in the marina pool

Of course, we’ll meet up with several other boats as we near the harbor entrance coming back in from the lake.  If we try to race or cut off another boat at the harbor entrance, we missed the whole point of our chill day on the lake … so I navigate cautiously and carefully.  I’ll purposely slow down to let others lead and calmly make our way to our slip, working hard to keep everyone safe.

Working together, Kara and I can put the boat away in less than an hour.  And if it’s hot and we want to take a dip in the pool, we’ve even done it in about 30 minutes!  There’s nothing like a little motivation to make you move faster!

Let us know what you think

Day sailing on Lake Michigan is our favorite way to stay cool in the dog days of summer.  We would love to hear your favorite ways to stay cool!  What activities do you enjoy to make summer last as long as possible? 

As we’re in the middle of our 2nd sailing season, exploring towns around the Great Lakes, eating good food along the way, and sharing our adventures with you – we want to hear from you.  Please share your feedback in the comments.

– Kyle from Zeke Life

Live like Zeke
You’re such a good boy!


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