E-mail to Vivant

20040221 Sat Flathead Lake Dennis Jill Cappy Matey
Sunny, No wind, slight ripple in spots
Recon mission around Flathead Lake looking for water (as opposed to ice) at boat ramps. What we discovered is that the water level is very low. It's low to the point of most boat ramps ending at the water line, and the docks ending before the water is reached! We drove 82 to 35 to 93, checked:
Wayfarer's Park- bad road (narrow), bad ramp (narrow, long), lack of parking.
Wood's Bay- bad road, no dock, angled ramp with turn, no parking
Blue Bay- good! Parking good, camping, wide ramp, port-a-potty, dock.
Finley Point- bad road (windy, narrow), closed for season
Riverside Park (Polson)- behind bridge, low water
?- difficult access from hwy
Big Arm- low water
Elmo- undeveloped good other than low water
West Shore-
Somers- ice
Flathead River- narrow, low water
Looks like tomorrow we go to Blue Bay for the maiden launch!

(ps. found a link for the water level in the lake.
Level this date was 2,885.75 feet.)

20040222 Sun Blue Bay, Flathead Lake Dennis Jill Cappy Matey
Sunny! Light breeze. Lake level 2885.25
Attended church in the morning (no sense taking chances), came home, loaded the boat, the puppies, lunch, and left for Blue Bay for our maiden voyage. Arrived at Blue Bay, proceeded to make fools of ourselves trying to step the mast for the first time! After fighting for an hour, we finally did get it up.
Backed down the ramp, trailer in the water, boat won't budge. Backed farther down, Jeep wheels in the water, boat still won't budge. Pulled forward some, backed fast, boat still on trailer (yes, it is untied). Backed until trailer dropped (2-3 inches) off end of boat ramp. Did anyone mention that the water level is VERY low in Flathead Lake (there is a reason for this). Boat nicely floated off as if she were wondering when we were going to finally put her on the water.
As we motored away, we noticed it was 415PM. The sun would be setting in a couple of hours. Decision time. Would we putt around a little, then unstep the mast, and drive 60 miles back home to come back again tomorrow? (weather report said good weather Sun and Mon) Or, should we do the foolish thing and spend the night on the lake?. We stayed. We motored over to Wild Horse Island, arriving as the sun set. I pulled up to where I figured it would be deep enough, but not too far out. Since the power cord for the depth finder is on order, and I don't have a chart of the lake, I guessed. I dropped 100 foot of anchor, chain, and rope before hitting bottom. Another 50 ft for good measure. I stopped the motor and we listened to the lap of waves against the hull.
We ate tuna fish sandwiches and Cheetos (it was supposed to be for lunch). We discovered the puppies (dachshunds, Cappy and Matey) looove Cheetos!
Getting the boat ready for the night, I checked the anchor light. Not working. I checked the rest of the lights. Only 1 mast light worked, the deck light. So I officially named it an anchor light. We didn't really expect anyone to run into us as no one in their right mind would be out there at night. Let me tell you where we were. Flathead Lake is in north western Montana just outside Glacier (you know what glaciers are? ICE!) National Park. There is still ice on the lake. There were small sheets of ice floating near our anchorage. Needless to say, it was chilly. The weather report the next day said 11 degrees (F). We lined the aft bed walls with the cockpit cushions and wrapped ourselves with space blankets from Wal-Mart. They really work, but putting a blanket over them holds them in place better.

20040223 Mon Blue Bay, Flathead Lake Dennis Jill Cappy Matey
Sunny! Light breeze. Lake level 2885.20
We woke to a condensation coated cabin inside and frost covered decks outside. We ate the rest of our "lunch", fed the puppies their treats. I went out to meet the glorious day.
We weighed anchor (heavy and cold), and motored to the "beach". Jill was below neatening up as I motored to the gravel that looks like a beach. I neatly slid into the shore, hurried forward, hopped off, and tied the boat to a tree stump. I came back and found I left a little bottom paint on an underwater boulder just to starboard. Note to self, next time, have someone on the bow watching. I took the puppies exploring, took pictures, and came back aboard. We departed our luxurious resort and headed back to Blue Bay.
Jill asked when we would sail, and since the "wind" was coming from our destination, we motored until we were past the island and had clear water. Motor off. Genny unfurled. Main hoisted. Jill on the tiller, I on the sheets,and  what to my wondrous eyes should appear? A wake! Well, not much of one. I figure we had 2-3 knots of wind. I don't know if it's the nature of Macgregors, or my sailing, but we didn't point worth beans. We tacked back and forth for an hour to gain experience. We fired up the "iron jenny", lowered the sails and headed towards the boat ramp. I went ahead and removed the main and boom while Jill steered. Then I steered while we looked for that boat ramp. I think my landmark was "the third mountain over". I headed east to my landmark. It was hazy, visibility low. I did remember a large clearing being north, so I kept just south of it. Another note to self, binoculars would be nice. And a GPS. A chart and compass would be nice too. Of course the compass was on the pedestal steering the prior owner had removed. We saw a power boater heading down the shore, so I followed him for a bit. Jill pointed to an area thinking that was where we needed to go. After several mind changes, we decided to follow the boat. There was our home dock.
I backed the trailer off the ramp, got back in the boat, motored it onto the trailer (most of the way, anyways), and started pulling it out. As soon as it was partially out of the water, I climbed in and set the ballast tank draining. I cranked on the trailer winch. When the boat was down to a couple of feet it stopped. I guess she didn't want to come ashore. But I have four wheel drive. Up she came to dry land. We parked out of the way as the ballast tank continued draining. and draining. and draining. Finally it's empty. I cranked the boat the rest of the way up, boarded and readied the mast un-stepping operation. Lessons learned yesterday paid off today. The mast was brought down without a hitch. Everything tied down, off we go to our bath and warm bed. Arriving home the mundane sets in when we see all the empty trash cans at the street sides. Oops, forgot about Monday morning pickup. Another week with a full can. What to do for supper? Neither of us feels like cooking, we'll let Pizza Hut do the cooking. We are both dead tired, but we had the time of our lives, launching, motoring, anchoring, beaching, sailing our 26' Macgregor, Vivant.






Dennis and Jill, sailing vessel Vivant, Flathead Lake, Montana