Start: Sheboygan, WI, 0623
End: McKinley Marina, Milwaukee, WI, 1456
Total Distance: 45.5 nm
Time: 8:33
Average Speed: 5.3 kts

We are back in the big city and loving it…

Saturday seems to be our moving day. Weather kept us in Sheboygan a couple of days longer than planned, but that was OK–we really liked the town. Port Washington was our next stop, but looking at the weather forecast, if we stopped, we probably would be there 4-5 days so we decided to push straight through to Milwaukee and then rent a car and go up to Port Washington for day trip. Our plan is a 40ish mile day. We have a light wind from the west which should help us push along with the sails up.

Which is where we are at right now. Three hours into the eight hour trip. And we are moving along between six and seven mph depending on the wind strength. And feeling pretty good. And then a monarch butterfly passes us. Blows our door off. Couple of questions. First–what in the heck is a butterfly doing a mile off shore on Lake Michigan? And second, is this like the superman of the butterfly world or are we just that slooooowwwwww?!!

Truth is? We are just that slow. A quick search of google (because the internet is always right) shows that slow monarchs can travel at 5mph, faster ones at over 20mph. So even for a slow one, we were easy game. But we weren’t in a hurry.

And now that we are back in civilization, a Saturday afternoon on a gorgeous summer day in August in a big city is a fantastically bad day to show up at a marina. Which we knew, but we forgot. And then remembered! We knew that our trip had taken a bit of a turn when we got about 10 miles out of Milwaukee. First the big buildings began to take shape on the horizon (no AJ, those aren’t big trees…). Soon after a whole flock of sails appeared on the horizon. Scores of sailboats on the water with sails up! First we thought it was a race or a regatta. But then we realized that it was just a whole bunch of people on their boats enjoying a gorgeous Saturday afternoon on the water. And more sailboats we have seen on the water since last year on the Chesapeake!

We wove our way through the sailboats and the one fishing boat who planted himself right in the middle the northern entry channel, took a hard right and entered McKinley Marina; our stop for at least a week. I called into the marina office and though I already knew my slip assignment, they wanted us to tie up at the fuel dock for check in. Hookay. McKinley is a large marina and we puttered our way over to the fuel dock, dodged powerboats launching off the docks and got tied up and checked in for the week. And we could understand why they wanted us to come to the fuel dock; it would have taken us a half hour to walk from our slip (P dock) to the marina office. The Marina is right in downtown Milwaukee, in McKinley park and in the middle of a bunch of parks and green space along the waterfront. On this day it is packed with people riding bikes, walking, flying kites, grilling and enjoying the gorgeous day.

Assignment in hand, we headed to the T-Head of the P dock where we tied up for the week. The dock hand who met us was excellent and let us know some of the good places that are wishing walking distance. And there appears to be a lot. Brady street for food and he said that Irish Festival was going on at the Summerfest grounds. My name is Donnelly…I think Irish fest just jumped on the list of ‘things to do.’ And, as an added bonus, there was a parade of lights in the marina starting at 8:30pm tonight where boats decorated in lights would be parading around the marina for our enjoyment. And since we were on the T-head, we had a front row seat.

We got our boat recovered from the trip and headed up to Brady Street; a 20 minute walk in the heat and humidity. Since we were back in the big city, the temperature was jacked up about 20 degrees and the breeze from the water was at the water, not in the middle of the street. Ugh. We got some appetizers and back to the boat to make dinner. At 8:15pm people start collecting at the end of our dock. It turns out that the ‘P’ in ‘P Dock’ stands for ‘Party.’ These folks have been together on this dock for many seasons and are looking for a reason to party. And lighted boats are just what the doctor ordered. There were 30+ people in chairs cheering on the 15 lighted boats. The crowd favorite, at least on the Party dock, was a powerboat that had a huge sound systems pounding out Disco music.

Sunday morning and we were up early. For the P Dock anyway. I took Lucky for a run, AJ did some school work and at 10:30 we walked over to the Summerfest grounds for Irish Festival. Gates opened at 11am and we were there. Honestly I was not expecting much. Irish dancers, cat squeezing bags (bag pipes), accordions, music, corned beef. And maybe a hundred people. Thought we’d be there a couple of hours max and then head home for a late lunch. How wrong I was. There was a ton of all of the above, but mostly there was music. Like ten stages of music of any variety. And story telling. And history. And cooking. Dancing. Plus food and beer. And thousands upon thousands of people some of whom may have been Irish, but all of which were having a hell of a good time. The place was huge and it was packed and it was fun. We ended up eating and drinking and watching bands and dancing until 5pm until AJ threw in the towel. Our favorite band of the day was “We Banjo 3,” two sets of brothers who play “Celt Grass” (their description). Our description is that they ROCK! No maudlin version of Danny Boy (though I’m sure it is in their repertoire). This was get up and dance music. They were joined by a horn section from the band The Huntertones. This ain’t your mother’s Irish Music. It was fantastic.

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We met Kathy Wade, old Ripon College Alum, just before we left and decided that we would drop off AJ at the boat so he could decompress with electronics time and come back to the festival to catch the 7pm show where ‘We Banjo 3’ would be joined by almost every other band in playing Beatles songs in Celtic style. Sounds weird, but it was awesome. And we linked up with Kathy and Bruce Bolivar (another Ripon Grad, we are EVERYWHERE) for the show. By the time we got back to the boat, it was late, we had walked almost 15 miles and danced for about six hours. I’m thinking that Milwaukee has bounded to the top places that we have been on the loop.