Saturday, September 5, 2009

Green Bay

Saturday, September 5

Just a quick update, Thursday we had a nice day and travelled from Washington Island to Menominee. The skies were clear and the winds light. In the afternoon we walked from the marina to a nice sand beach just outside the breakwater.

Yesterday was another good weather day, glassy flat water to finish our summer. We got to Green Bay about 1:30. Arrangements are all set for the work to be done on the boat and it will be hauled out on Tuesday as soon as we leave, to go into heated winter storage.

I have a flight out this morning to get the van and expect to be back in Green Bay tomorrow afternoon. We will clean and pack up on Monday and drive Home on Tuesday.

I think Diana has some pictures, I will add them to this post later.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Headed for Home

Wednesday, September 02

After talking it over and checking on options last night and this morning, we have decided to end our journey this year early. Instead of continuing on to St Charles, MO to put the boat in winter storage there we are headed for Green Bay and have made arrangement to store the boat there this winter.

Tomorrow we will go from Washington Island to Menominee MI; then on Friday we will go on to Green Bay. Over the weekend I will fly to St Louis and retrieve the van we left in St Charles. I will drive back to Green Bay where we will pack up our gear and on Tuesday turn the boat over to Harborside Yacht Center for them to store the boat for the winter .

There were several reasons for the decision, a few of which include, both of us having had plenty of time on the water, the ongoing problem with the fish barrier on the Illinois River, two less than pleasant days on Lake Michigan with the prospect of about seven more.

If you are interested in the problems the fish barrier has caused on the boating public check this web page. The short story is you have to get off your boat and have a commercial towing company tow it a half mile through the fish barrier.

We will decide this winter what we will do next year. The current options are to re-launch the boat and continue the trip including up the Mississippi to St Paul (about 1200 miles of water) or to have it trucked to St Paul (about 275 miles). There may also be other options to consider.

With all that arranged, it was a beautiful day here on Washington Island. It was clear skies and light winds with a temperature in the low 70s. We went for a walk and saw some a pretty rural area. The marina has a restaurant and we had dinner there, it was excellent.

I don’t know when I will have both internet access and time for another entry. It may not be until we are home sometime next week.

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island (Door County)

Tuesday, September 1

The weather looked like another fine day, so we were up and out of the Manistique Marina early, (7:30) and headed south. Although the wind was light and forecasted to remain fairly light there were significant left over swells from yesterdays winds.

We punched into them for the first couple of hours but they settled down as the morning went by. They produced more motion then we like but it was nowhere as bad as yesterday. By late morning it had become a beautiful day on the water.

Our destination today was Washington Island which is a short ferry ride north of the north end of Door County, Wisconsin. By mid-afternoon, (we gained an hour on a time zone) we were pulling into the Marina here in Detroit Harbor. The Island is a tourist destination, hopefully tomorrow we can do some sight seeing.

It was a good day of boating but not a lot to write about.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Monday, August 31

First an update on Sunday, as forecast Sunday was still windy, no day to travel. At least the skies had cleared and it was a nice day for a stroll around Mackinaw City. We had breakfast in town.

Then after lunch (when it warmed a little) we walked over to stroll thru Mackinaw Crossings. This is a new pedestrian plaza surrounded by shops. In the center is a fountain that feeds a stream that runs down to a pool at the far end.

Next to Mackinaw Crossings is a large waterfall that is part of an adventure golf center.

Across the street was a large arts and crafts show with 60 or 70 vendors in tents. Diana stroll the displays while I walked down to check the new state harbor marina. It is a beautiful new 130 slip facility that just opened the last week in July, very few boaters know it is here. We got another picture of the old icebreaker and Diana liked this fancy clock and flowers at the end of main (Central) street.

For my birthday dinner, Diana did individual chocolate cakes in the microwave. It is a receipt she saw last spring and made sure she had all the ingredients onboard. Who knew you could bake a cake in less than five minutes.

Now for Monday.

From Mackinaw we were looking at a long day somewhere to get to the west side of the lake. We decided that today looked like a good day to run straight west to Manistique. It would be 76 miles (almost ten hours) but a straight shot once we were under the bridge. The forecast was 5 to 10 NW going SW in the afternoon waves one foot or less, other than 45 degrees a good day.

We were off the dock by 7:30 and under the bridge just before 8:00. The prospect was for driving over 70 miles by compass. I can steer by the compass but it is much easier with a visual reference. As fortune would have it there was a freighter in front of us by about 3 miles, he was on our heading. He was just a little faster than we were but I was able to use him as a visual reference for 50 miles, he was just a spec but then slowed and finally turned north to go into Port Inland. It was only a couple more miles and I had a tower on shore near the Manistique Harbor entrance.

The weather was clear with the predicted 5 to 10 from the NW. About 1:00 it went to the SW as forecast, but instead of remaining 5 to 10 by 2:30 it had built to 15 to 20 and the waves were 2 to 3 feet. It was a very uncomfortable ride for the rest of the day; everybody hunkered down and made the best of it. Just before 5:00 we made the breakwater and on into the marina. Everyone was relieved to be tied up in calm waters.

At least now we are in a position to run down the Wisconsin shore. It will be one day from here to Washington Island at the north end of Door County, and then there are many harbors going down the coast.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tourists in Mackinaw City

Friday, Sat and Sun, August 28 - 30

The weather Friday was not bad but the forecast was for a terrible weekend. We decided Mackinaw was a better place to spend several days then anywhere we might get to, so we stayed put. We had a leisurely morning and finally about 11:00 we walked around to the Mackinaw Icebreaker Museum.

The icebreaker Mackinaw was built for the Coast Guard starting in 1942 and commissioned in 1944. The idea being that it was important to extend the great lakes shipping season as long as possible to keep the iron ore (and other commodities) flowing for the national interest.

She served as the principal great lakes icebreaker for 62 years being decommissioned in 2006 when a replacement also name Mackinaw was ready for service. She has now been turned into a floating museum. If you are ever near Mackinaw City, she is worth the couple of hours it takes to tour.

Diana got many pictures; the executive officers conference area, one of six engines, the mess hall, the aft deck, looking over the bow from in front of the bridge, inside the bridge, the captains quarters and a guest “stateroom”.

She carried a crew of 75. There are six Detroit engines in three engine rooms. All engines drive generators, the props are driven by electric motors. There are three props, two aft and one forward. The forward one draws water out from under the ice making it easier to break. She cruised through three feet of solid ice, about the most encountered on Lake Superior. The ice can be thicker in windrows and pressure ridges, reaching 10 and 12 feet. For this the technique was to drive up onto the ice, pump 100,000 gallons of water from stern tanks to bow tanks and then back off and repeat.

Although the ship is still solid and very capable of doing the job, the 1940s equipment is becoming dated. Her replacement has the same ice breaking capabilities, using a crew of 50 instead of 75 and has more ability to performed needed summer tasks after the icebreaking season.

On the way back Diana took this picture of Memories. It shows two things, the high docks I mentioned yesterday and also the two large cruisers on our starboard side. By late afternoon and through the evening the wind had picked up to 15 to 20 with gusts over 25 knots. It is from our starboard side and those cruisers make a nice wind break.

After a late lunch and a little rest for the feet, we walked into town, getting pictures of the marina and main street on the way. We window shopped all the way to the far end of the street where the grocery store is, picked up a few items and came back the other side of the street.

Later we walked back into town to a pizza place that has a bridge museum upstairs. We had been here years ago but I wanted to go back. They had a wonderful museum detailing the building of the Mackinaw Bridge. Unfortunately it burned down a few years ago. They have rebuilt but have lost most of the original memorabilia they had. They still have an interesting movie of the construction that makes it worthwhile. The pizza was good and they had a cherry wheat beer on tap that was unusual.

As I write this it is Saturday afternoon. It rained much of the night and the wind never settled down. This morning the temperature was 58, it is now 55 with drizzle all day and winds continuing to gust in the high 20 knot range. The marina internet does not reach the boat so I have made a couple of trips to the office; otherwise we have hunkered down for the day.

Tomorrow the rain is forecast to end but the wind will blow until tomorrow evening. The slip is paid through tomorrow evening, we aren’t going anywhere before Monday. Hopefully we can at least get out and go into town tomorrow.

The Illinois Waterway remains closed at the fish barrier, still no word on when that might change.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mackinaw City

Thursday, August 27

The weather continues on the cool side, morning temperatures in the low to mid 50s and highs of barely 70. Today looked like a good travel day with a forecast for light SE winds, we are headed west.

Our destination today is Mackinaw City; we can either run a straight course to Mackinac Island or we can go inside through the Les Cheneaux Islands. Since the water is calm and we did the inside going east we decide on the straight run. It is almost two hours shorter.

We are underway a little after 8:00. As we leave the St Mary’s River Diana gets a picture of De Tour Reef Light. The wind is ESE about eight but drops to flat calm by mid morning. There is still a bit of a swell running but it is behind us and the ride is very comfortable.

By 1:00 we are making the passage between Mackinac Island and Round Island. Diana gets pictures of the Convention Center, the harbor with the hotel in the background and the edge of the fort to the right. Unfortunately her telephoto lens has a problem and is no longer working, it limits the pictures she can take.

As we approach the harbor entrance the ferries are leaving. There are three ferry companies, Arnolds, Sheplers and Star Lines, each runs to Mackinaw City and to St Ignace. Six ferries leave the harbor and accelerate to full speed in just a couple of minutes. We are now rocking and rolling all the way to Mackinaw City.

The Round Island Light is a famous lighthouse. I believe it is now in the hands of a non-profit that has restored it and is maintaining it.

When we approached the Mackinaw Bridge going the other way it was very haze and we did not see it until we were a few miles away. Today I first saw the towers from almost 30 miles away. For the first few miles after I saw them I thought it was a couple of sailboats. At about 25 miles I realized what it was.

By 2:00 we are into the Mackinaw City Municipal Marina. It is nice old facility; I was first here in 1985. The only problem is the docks are fixed (not floating) and with the current water level we need a two step stool to get up to the dock.

It is another great day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

De Tour Village

Wednesday, August 26

With a forecast of nice weather the plan today was go nine miles to De Tour Village and fuel then go on to Mackinaw City , another 45 miles. Unfortunately the weather was clear but with winds of 15 knots gusting 18 and temperatures in the mid 50s.

Finally about 10:30 the winds dropped to the 8 to 10 that was forecast. Then just as we are getting ready to go Solstice comes headed in the channel. We wait and say hi to Cappy and Judy then finally about 11:15 we are out and on our way. We stop at De Tour for fuel and decide that it will be after 7:00 before we can get to Mackinaw City so we decide to take a slip here at De Tour.

The fueling was 157 gallons at $2.90 a gallon. With an eight gallon allowance for sixteen hours of generator it works out to 3.4 mpg.

We walk up to the Main Sail resturant, where we had a good lunch going the other way. They have Wi-Fi, the marina does not.

A very short day.

Drummond Island

Tuesday, August 25

We pushed hard yesterday because the weather was forecast to be bad today, so it was a rest day today. Last night was clear with lots of stars out, living with the light pollution of the city one forgets how beautiful the night sky is with millions of stars out. The clear also lets the temperature drop. This morning was 53 with clouds and blustery winds. Never did warm all day, and we had a couple of periods of rain and heavy blowing mist.

We had a leisurely day, Diana did some painting and reading, while a caught up on the news online. There is some disturbing news for us, the Army Corp of Engineers and Coast Guard have closed the Illinois Waterway at mile 296 indefinitely. This is where they have built the electric fish barrier to keep the Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan just south of Chicago.

My understanding is that they have been running it at a low voltage and allowing boat traffic. They apparently decide that they need a higher voltage and have doubled the current on the water, now they are not sure if it is save for boats to pass through. They have done some testing and are currently allowing barges without hazard material to pass with some restrictions. They are making no comment about when pleasure boat traffic might resume.

We don’t plan to be in that stretch of water for at least two and probably three weeks. If there is no resolution to the situation then we will have to explore the option of putting the boat in winter storage somewhere on Lake Michigan and continuing our journey next summer.

There is a beautiful classic Grand Banks 49 in the slip next to us. It is being prepared for winter storage here in Drummond Island Yacht Haven. Diana got a nice picture of it as it was coming back from the fuel dock.

She also got a picture of Memories and our neighbors from across the harbor.

Late afternoon another band of rain and blowing mist came in and lasted until sunset. It cleared just as the sunset, producing a beautiful sunset.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drummond Island, MI USA

Monday, August 24

It was another cool morning, with a temperature of 53 degrees. The plan had been to take two short days to get to Drummond Island where we would clear US Customs. The intervening stop is Meldrum Bay where we cleared Canadian Customs in June. The weather forecast was for good weather today but high winds and chance of thunderstorms tomorrow. We decided that Meldrum Bay was very small and not a place to spent multiple nights so the plan changed to a long day run of 70 plus miles straight to Drummond.

We had planned on grocery shopping this morning, so right after breakfast we quickly walked the four blocks to the grocery and filled our small list. Before we left the slip Diana took a couple of pictures of the lovely Gore Bay Marina. A couple of sailboats had left the slips next to us giving the open view of the marina office and Canadian Yacht Charter.

We proceeded out of Gore Bay and past the Janet Head Lighthouse. My memory of my trip through Gore Bay 25 years ago was of a beautiful bay with high wooded cliffs on both sides, especially the east side; I was not disappointed on this trip.

As we proceed across smooth waters of the North Channel we see several “flocks” of loons. Yesterday we saw a group of about twenty, today there were several groups of about a dozen. It must be in preparation for migration.

As we pass the end of Manitoulin Island to cross above Mississiagi Straight and then past False Detour Passage the wind suddenly goes from calm to 15 to 18. It is out of the south which puts it right on our side. We rock and roll more than Diana is comfortable with, but she bites her tongue and lets me concentrate on driving.

By the time we are north of Drummond Island it is calm again. I had called Drummond Island Yacht Haven this morning, they said they were there until 6:00 and custom was there until almost 8:00. At 5:30 I called on the VHF and told them it would be 6:15, they said they would wait for us.

We got to the marina and they directed us to a slip on the far side from the office, just as I was getting lined up with the slip a fellow rides up on a bike to take our lines. We get in and before we are fully tied up the customs officer has walked over. She is a cat lover and the paperwork takes longer than it should only because she is distracted by the cats. Other than that it is routine and we are officially back in the USA after eight weeks in Canadian waters.

By the time we have dinner and I help a nice gentleman next to us with chart information (he is headed the other way) it is a bed time and we are both tired. It was a long day, but except for the couple hours of rock and roll it was a very good day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gore Bay

Sunday, August 23

The morning dawned overcast and cold (low 50s) I had to turn the heat on before the Admiral would get out of bed and fix breakfast. While we were eating Diana looked out the window and there were three otters on the next dock over. Needless to say breakfast was interrupted while the camera came out.

By the time I went up to the lodge for internet access and all, it was after nine before we got underway. With a short day planned and the cold we were in no rush. We went out the west entrance to the Killarney channel and proceeded down the Lansdowne Channel. Then it was west to the entrance to the Little Current narrows.

The Little Current Bridge opens on the hour. Going the other way we took the bimini down and didn’t wait, this time we got there about 11:55, so we just waited for the noon opening. Then it was through downtown Little Current, past the interesting little buoy that swings with the current to show which way it is running.

It was then another 30 miles west in the North Channel to beautiful Gore Bay. Finally about 2:00 we meet a clearing line headed east. The noon temperature in Little Current had been only 62. The sunshine was sure appreciated.

Being a summer Sunday we saw lots of sailboats headed in all directions. This is a great cruising area for sailboats.

By 4:00 we were pulling into the Gore Bay Municipal Marina. This is a lovely facility that is a favorite with travelling boaters and also has a 25 boat charter sailboat fleet based here. They have the finest docks we have seen on the trip. They are almost new and the double slips are forty feet wide.

Another great day (if you had enough clothes on).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Killarney Mountain Lodge

Saturday, August 22

Finally a day that looks like the weather will allow us to continue. The forecast is for cloudy, cool with winds around to the NW and N. Unfortunately it is drizzling off and on as we have breakfast and conceder heading out. A look at the radar shows a string of small light cells that are moving over us but not our intended track.

A little after nine there is a break in the drizzle and we take off. The plan is to go to Killarney today. It is 65 miles on the inside small boat channel. At mile 25 you have to go out into open Georgian Bay for about ten miles, if you stay outside here it is only 55 miles total.

The inside passage continues to be a study in granite. Diana takes many photos of all the different formations. For a seemingly isolated area there is a fair amount of boat traffic. There other travelers, fisherman, vacationers with cottages we can’t see and even some kayakers.

The three light houses mark the end of the Bustard Island group and this is where we have to go outside for a while. The wind is light, and although there is still some left over swell running from yesterdays high winds the ride is not too bad. We decide to take the short route and go directly to Killarney. As we proceed we can see light drizzle and poor visibility to the north (the inside route), staying outside was the right choice.

We decide to try the Killarney Mountain Lodge for our overnight stay; we have heard good thinks about it. We telephone and they say they can accommodate us. About 4:00 the Red Rock Point light is at hand and we turn into the Killarney Channel.

We get tied up and the boat cleaned up and there, two docks away is Solstice, the big Fleming we had last seen in Fenelon Falls. We catch up with Cappy and Judy on how the others trip has gone. Then it is off to the showers for both of us.

The boathouse staff had made a reservation for us in the dining room and we walk up for dinner. The lodge is primarily a wilderness retreat and the transient docking is second. To accommodate their guests they have a large dining room and a kitchen that prepares all items from scratch. The meal is excellent and we splurge and have dessert, wild blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate raspberry pie. We split them and they are both fabulous!

They have Wi-Fi in the lodge but not on the boat so I stay to check the weather and e-mails while Diana goes for a walk and takes lots of pictures of the area.

Life is still very good.