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.

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