R O Y A L E A G L E . N E
2007 Log – Circumnavigation of Lake
Thanks to my oldest son Will and his computer expertise, we now have this great Blog with which we will post a daily log, including some pictures, of our trip this summer. We leave Vermilion, OH on June 15, the wind gods willing, to cross Lake Erie to the Great Lakes Cruising Club's Rendezvous in Leamington, Ontario. From there we head north up the Detroit River, across Lake St. Clair, and then north up the St. Clair River to Port Huron. After traveling up the eastern shore of Lake Huron and heading west through the North Channel, we plan to arrive on Mackinac Island July 6. July 9 we will begin our circumnavigation of Lake Michigan. We plan to return to Vermilion on September 9.
I will be making sporadic postings prior to our departure on June 15 and nearly daily postings thereafter subject to internet access. Subscribe to the blog if you wish to join us on the trip!
May 16: 28 days and counting
Royal Eagle, our Hunter 40.5 sloop, formally awakened from its winter slumber yesterday, when she splashed into the Cuyahoga River at Riverfront Yacht Services. Now begins the hectic activities to tune the mast, mount the bimini and dodger, bend on sails, etc. And speaking of sails, we will soon have a new mainsail which was ordered from North Sails and is due in Vermilion on June 7. Right now we need to get everything shipshape and then wait for a weather window to make the 30 mile trip west to the Vermilion Yacht Club.
June 11: Only 4 days to go
Today is a big day as the new mainsail will be bent on Royal Eagle this morning. If all goes well, we can go for a sail tomorrow and check everything out.
We are in good shape in the preparation department. All systems are working and almost everything except clothes are on board. When we leave early Friday morning for the 5-6 hour crossing of Lake Erie to Leamington, Bob Sanderson, an old sailing buddy from our days at Mentor Harbor Yachting Club, will be on board. He will accompany me all the way to Mackinac Island. Joining us in the crossing will be Don and Kerry Albanese on Excalibur. On Saturday Bill and Cindy Boaz on Argo will meet us in Leamington, and finally, Lew and Gretchen Myers on Windchaser, a sister-ship of Royal Eagle, will catch up with us somewhere along the eastern shore of Lake Huron.
That's all for now. I look forward to keeping you abreast of our travels this summer.
June 15: VYC to Leamington, Ontario -- 37.7 nm
We were underway at 0730 on a beautiful day which I hope is an omen for the weather we will encounter for this trip. We had no wind to begin the Lake crossing with a 2 foot NE swell left over from yesterday's NE winds. At 0900 the wind filled in from the SW at 10 -12 knots and I hoisted the new main (it looks great) and took 200 rpm off the engine. Over the course of the day the wind shifted into the East and then into the NE after we were past Point Pelee. We arrived in Leamington just before 1300.
By the end of the day there will be about 50 boats here to participate in the Great Lakes Cruising Club's Lake Erie Rendezvous. This is our sixth year in a row in attendance and the event becomes more fun each year as we get to know more people who share our passion for cruising. Tonight we will have our traditional perch fry and roasted chicken dinner. I always eat too much! Don and Kerry came over for cocktails before heading up to the Pavilion for the GLCC activities.
The only problem thus far has been my GPS. It would not acquire satellites when I turned it on. I was sure it was the antenna lead I had spliced this spring after having had to remove all the wire running up the stainless steel legs of my radar arch. The removal was necessitated by the welding we did to add additional support to my dinghy davits (you can see the radar arch and davits in the pictures at the top of the blog). So we followed Excalibur across the Lake, and once in Leamington, I took out the old splice, and using new hardware, made a new one. We are now back in business.
We stay in Leamington on Saturday and then leave at 0700 on Sunday for the trip to Windsor. The last time I was there they did not have wireless Internet access so it may be several days until you receive the next update.
June 16: Leamington
We had a good day in port. First of all getting some boat chores accomplished such as washing the topsides and then doing the same thing to the starboard side. The port side was not available since we were tied port side to. That will have to wait until Windsor. It was a clear, cool day but the forecast for the next two days is HOT. The Saturday night GLCC dinner was catered by Spagos and was excellent. Dinner was followed by a terrific band that played oldies and the dance floor was crowded all night. I wish Marcy had been here so I could "twirl" her. Bob and I bartended from 8:30 to 9:30 and we had a blast as the bar is always central to the action. To bed at 10pm since we are off at 7am tomorrow.
June 17: Leamington to Windsor -- 54.8 nm
We did get away at 7am in company with Argo and Excalibur. Before leaving we had to wash off the hundreds of Mayflies that had decided to make Royal Eagle their home overnight. We had light winds all day so the sail cover never came off, and we motored along the north shore of Lake Erie and then up the Detroit River to Windsor arriving at just after 1500. That 7.5 hour trip was the fastest one for us on this leg. Perhaps the relative absence of large power boats throwing big wakes was a factor. I guess there are some pluses to high fuel prices. Being out on the water was to our advantage as we were a lot cooler. All six of us had cocktails in Royal Eagle's cockpit and then we ate together at a table on the dock.
Tomorrow we stay in Windsor at the Lakeview Park Marina. On the agenda are washing the port side, bike rides and a trip to the Windsor Casino. Wish me luck.
June 18: Windsor
We had a hot, sunny day at Windsor. After some boat chores including washing the starboard side, the dinghy and once again ridding the boat of another night's accumulations of mayflies, Don and Kerry and I were off on a 5 mile bike ride down through the parks along the Detroit River toward Windsor. At 1600 we all took a taxi down to the Windsor Casino to try our luck. None of us turned out to be winners so at 1800 we walked over to Patrick O. Ryan's Irish Pub for dinner. That turned out to be a winner as they were celebrating their 100th Anniversary and had live entertainment. The food was very good, and we got free Guinness and glasses, etc. We left at 2000 all in good spirits and took a taxi back to the boats to turn in early for our early departure the next morning to Port Huron.
Bob Sanderson, Don Albanese, me, Bill Boaz, Cindy Boaz and Kerry Albanese (L to R)
June 19: Windsor to Port Huron – 60.0 nm
Underway at 0700 on a cloudy day with rain and storms in the forecast. We set full sail to take advantage of a nice SW breeze with the hope of being able to sail across Lake St. Clair. Not 30 minutes later we were hit with a 35 knot squall for which we were not prepared. All hell broke loose as Bob and I wrestled with helming the boat, getting the jib furled and putting a reef in the main. The only casualties were my coffee cup which went over the side and more importantly the foot of the main which came out of the track on the boom. The bolt rope and slide put on by North Sails when they made the sail were clearly undersized. We were able to sail with a loose footed main for the rest of the day as we motor sailed across Lake St. Clair and up the St. Clair River. We had intermittent rain squalls all day but nothing like the first one.
One of the highlights, for me anyway, of this leg of the trip is all the freighter traffic normally encountered. Given the narrowness of the channel you are forced to be close to some of the ships which can be up to 1000 feet in length. It can truly get exciting when you are in the same place when two ships are passing each other. Well today freighter traffic was disappointingly light. We only had two down-bound freighters and the only up-bound traffic was a US Navy LCU, landing craft utility. Maybe we will have better luck in 2 1/2 months on our return trip.
We planned to stay at the River Street Marina in Port Huron. To reach it you turn west into the Black River and wait for two lift bridges to open. We made the 1430 opening with only seconds to spare otherwise we would have had to wait for the 1500 opening. Once at the marina we all topped off our tanks at US prices and moved to our slips. Don, Bill and Bob then helped me take down the main and reinstall the foot in its slot on the boom. I also took a sail tie and lashed the foot at the outhaul to the boom. Hopefully this will prevent another problem until a permanent fix can be made by North Sails in Chicago.
We left the boats at 1900 for Fog Cutters restaurant which is on the top floor of a building near the river. The view of the river and the Blue Water Bridge is terrific. The Blue Water Bridge crosses the St Clair river where Lake Huron begins and connects the US and Canada. Our dinner was just as good, if not better, than the view so in my opinion it's a must visit if you are in this area. We walked back to the boats after dinner except for Don and Kerry who took a taxi to a store for beer. Another early night as we plan to catch the 0700 bridge tomorrow to start our trip across Lake Huron to Bayfield.
Royal Eagle prepares to make another close pass
June 20: Port Huron to Bayfield -- 53.6 nm
We made the 0700 bridge and spent the next hour under full power fighting our way against the strong current to make our way under the Blue Water Bridge and out into Lake Huron. If you are in the wrong part of the river you can buck a 5-6 knot current, but if you hug the Canadian side the current is only 3-4 knots and the water is much less turbulent. We motored out to Buoy #6, hoisted full sail and set our course of 046 degrees true for Bayfield. It was a perfect sunny, cool day, and we had a 12-14 knot NW wind for a beam reach. That's our best point of sail and we were all sailing at 7.1 to 7.5 knots. However, an hour later the wind had gradually increased to 18 knots and everyone shortened sail. That was a good decision as the wind continued to build and over the course of the day stayed between 17 and 23 knots. Needless to say the seas also built and by late morning we were seeing some 6-7 footers. To make things worse the wind gradually started to veer into the north and we were having difficulty laying a course for Bayfield. At 1330 it became clear I was going to have to start tacking and you know what they say about gentlemen and tacking. We rolled up the jib, and started the engine to motor sail the rest of the way into Bayfield. We arrived at 1445 after averaging nearly 7 knots which included fighting our way upriver against the current.
The Village of Bayfield is a quaint little town with some very nice shops and restaurants. It is one of our favorite places to visit on the Great Lakes. Today we had margaritas for all aboard Royal Eagle at 1800. We enjoyed some great hors d'ouvres as well and then everyone cooked dinner on their boat. Tomorrow we expect Lew and Gretchen Myers to catch up with us, and we will all go out to dinner at the Red Pump.
Royal Eagle under sail to Bayfield
June 21: Bayfield
After a cool night, we had a beautiful, lazy day at Bayfield. I need to thank Don Albanese for the pictures you have seen on this blog thus far. He has been emailing them to me and I in turn have emailed them to my son Will who has posted them. Also, Bob Sanderson understands there are several people at Mentor Lumber who are signed on to the blog and wants me to pass along his hello.
Mid morning, Don, Kerry and I rode our bikes up town to check out the shops. I stopped at the Red Pump restaurant to make reservations for tonight. We made a quick stop at the grocery store for some misc. items, biked across the river for a stop at the marine store and to pick up some smoked lake trout at the fish store. Then back to the boat for lunch.
Lou and Gretchen Myers called to say they were underway from Port Huron. They arrived at 1600 and everyone was glad to see them. At 1730 we got together on Excalibur for cocktails and munchies before heading up to dinner. The Red Pump held up its reputation for great food and in my book remains the best place to eat on Lake Huron. After dinner we walked over to the beach to enjoy the sunset. There was a stiff, cool breeze blowing off the lake and it looks like it will be a cold night.
June 22: Bayfield to Kincardine – 42.0 nm
It was cold last night with the temperature in the low 40's and everyone using multiple blankets. The NW wind and seas moderated overnight and at 0730 we departed for Kincardine. The wind was from the NNW so we had no choice but to motor all day. It was a bright sunny day but we all were complaining about the cool, make that cold, temperature out on the water. We arrived without incident in Kincardine at 1430. Most of the people headed up town, especially the Albaneses and Boazs who had not been here before. We plan to have cocktails below decks on Argo at 1730. Everyone is planning to cook on board tonight. The forecast is for another cold night with the winds dropping to light and variable. We should have no trouble going up the Lake tomorrow to Stokes Bay.
I don't expect to have internet access for the next 5 days so the next time you will hear from me will be from Little Current.
June 23: Kincardine
Late yesterday the ladies came to me and suggested we stay at Kincardine another day as they were enjoying themselves and there was going to be a parade on Saturday. So stay we did and we had a great day. It was sunny and warm for a change. We all went to the Farmers Market at 0815 only to learn it started at 0900. We watched the vendors set up and then bought a few odds and ends; fresh basil for me. The Amish woman told me it was picked this morning with” last night's dew still on it”.
We wandered through town and were back at the boats by 1000 where I cooked blueberry pancakes for all. The other boats provide bacon, Canadian bacon and pea meal. At noon I was off to the laundromat to wash clothes, towels, etc. Later that day, I helped Don make some adjustments to his autopilot, and finally, I cleaned our grill which probably had not been cleaned for the better part of a year. It really needed a cleaning!
At 1700 we gathered on Excalibur for cocktails and a beef burgundy dinner which Kerry had been cooking in her slow cooker all day. Royal Eagle provided pasta, Argo provided a magnificent salad and Windchaser provided dessert. It was a wonderful meal. After dinner, we walked up town to enjoy the Parade the highlight of which was the Kincardine Scottish Pipe Band. There were 60 people in the band, and they gave a stirring performance which we enjoyed immensely. This made hanging over one day really worth the delay.
Tomorrow we shove off at 0600 for the nearly 70 nm trip to Cove Island where we will anchor for the night. The forecast is for favorable SW winds and though the day will be long, we should be able to sail. I'll let you know how it went when we get to Little Current in 3 days.
June 24: Kincardine to Cove Island -- 68.3 nm
We did get away at 0600. This will be one of the longest passages we will make this summer at 68 nm. We had another sunny, beautiful day with no wind to start and then a SW breeze 10 -14 knots that allowed us to motor sail on our northerly course at 7-7.5 knots. On the water it was a cool day despite the sun as we were going across the part of Lake Huron that is 4-500 feet deep and cold. The entrance into the inner harbor at deserted Cove Island is quite tricky, but having trailed Andy Jones into it in 2005 (thank you Andy), we made it with no difficulty. The anchorage was deserted when we arrived at 1500. Good news since the water is 2 feet shallower this year and consequently the usable part of the anchorage has shrunk. Excalibur rafted off us and Argo anchored separately. We got together for cocktails and then had dinner aboard our individual boats.
June 25: Cove Island to Covered Portage – 48.0 nm
We weighed anchor at 0730 to make our last long passage for a while. Today’s long journey is the trip north to Covered Portage Cove. Once again we were blessed with moderate SW winds and warmer temperatures since we are off the open waters of Lake Huron and into the warmer waters of Georgian Bay. We had two incidents during the day. Excalibur hit a rock coming out of Cove Island; no real damage and I had the flexible coupling on my drive shaft separate. The four bolts that hold it together lost their nuts and backed out. I found 3 bolts and nuts right away and reinserted them and then after we were anchored I found the fourth pair and re-did them all using Lock-tite. Never had the problem before, but It is something I will check frequently.
We took a brief detour so I could take the boats up Killarney Channel to see the town of Killarney. The Sportsman Inn is shut down and boarded up. What a shame although I am sure the other marina owners are enjoying increased business.
It is only five miles to Covered Portage from the end of Killarney Channel and we were in the inner Cove before 1500 only to find it filled with boats. I anchored in the outer cove and the other boats rafted off me. Another great day and calm night.
June 26: Covered Portage to "The Pool" at Baie Fine -- 22.1 nm
Bob and I were off in the dinghy at 0700 to fish. No luck. We returned at 0800 to pick everyone up for a hike to the heights above the anchorage. Found some blueberries which will be supplemented with more in the near future for a pie.
It's a misty morning as Bob Sanderson and I try to catch breakfast outside Covered Portage.
Returning without any fish.
We weighed anchor at a 1015 for the trip down Landsdowne Channel and then north to the entrance to Baie Fine. The entrance has always been "hairy" and the shallower water has made it even more so. I led the way through and on the first pass had only 1 foot of water under me. Don who draws 1.5 feet more could not make it. Therefore I doubled back and made another pass using a different track closer to the green spar buoy and had 3 feet under me. Don followed that second track and successfully made it into the fjord. The entrance into the river was much less tricky although Argo bumped after he got off track. We arrived at the pool to find only one power boat and two sailboats anchored. We rafted together at first but a 180 degree wind shift toppled my anchor and we broke raft to anchor separately for the night. I know this is getting repetitious, but another great day and calm night except this was a very warm day.
A typical view in the pool at Baie Fine.
June 27: Baie Fine to Little Current -- 21.8 nm
We weighed anchor at 0730 in order to make the 1100 bridge into Little Current which only opens on the hour. We worked our way down and out of Baie Fine without difficulty and most importantly without further groundings. We motored against a stiff SW breeze before making the turn west up the channel into Little Current. The name of the town is a complete deception since this 200 yard opening is all that separates the east and west end of the North Channel area. When the wind blows strongly from either direction a strong current develops here. The wind has been blowing 20-25 knots from the west all afternoon so I estimate we have at least a 3 knot current flowing to the east. We hope it abates before we leave tomorrow morning as we are headed west.
We are moored at the new town finger docks which is big improvement over the wall you used to tie up to and everyone has power, or hydro as we say in Canada, and water. Today I did laundry (sheets, etc.) and made trips to the LCBO for wine and the grocery store. We shed our garbage from 3 days at anchor and filled water tanks, and we are ready to take off to another anchorage tomorrow. However, the weather may change our plans as a strong frontal passage is forecast. We'll see. I hope to be able to update from Gore Bay in two days.
June 28: Little Current to Gore Bay -- 24.5 nm
We awoke this morning to a thick overcast and winds howling out of the WNW. We originally called a lay day but as the morning passed the skies cleared and the wind dropped to a gusty 8-16 knots. We made the decision to leave and at 1200 we shoved off. Using the jib alone and the motor we had a pleasant trip through shallow Clapperton Channel to Gore Bay arriving just after 1600. Excalibur threw a margarita party to celebrate our good fortune. We cooked on board. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will visit the Farmers Market and the “fish man” for fresh Lake Trout and about 1100 we will depart for the Benjamin Islands. We plan to return to Gore Bay on Sunday to be here for the Canada Day celebration which includes fireworks.
June 29: Gore Bay to South Benjamin Island -- 14.5 nm
Instead of staying in Gore Bay for two days the good weather led us to make the decision to head out to the Islands. We left at noon, had the sails up not 500 yards from the dock and had a perfect sail across to South Benjamin Island. We sailed in through the Sows and Pigs and then The Boars. We did not drop sail until we anchored at 1430. By this time the NW wind was gusting up to 20 knots and all of us had to try anchoring twice before we got a good set. We postponed our hike up to the heights of this pink granite island until the next morning. This was another great day!
June 30: South Benjamin Island to Eagle Island -- 3.1 nm
I picked up Kerry and Don at 0800 in the dinghy and we were off for our hike. The hike to the top was more difficult than the last time I made it because of all the trees that seem to have been blown down recently. Lots of detours or overs and unders were required. But we made it up and down and were back at the boats by 1000. We left at noon for Eagle Island which is just to the west of the Benjamins. Lew and I opted to go through the western exit from the cove at South Benjamin which is tricky especially in the low water conditions that exist now, and we both bumped rocks. Seeing what happened to Don and Bill, I opted to go out south again. Bill came around and joined us at Eagle while Don headed back to Gore Bay. Once at Eagle the three boats anchored and rafted with Lew and I having our anchors down. While Lew and Ken went clamming for fresh water clams, they netted about 50, Bob and I and Bill, Cindy, Kip (yes, there is now another Kip with us) and Anne from Argo went to pick blueberries at a special spot I know on Eagle. It was early in the season but we found quite a few. After that it was back to the boats to prepare for our shore dinner and in my case to bake blueberry pie. We actually had enough for two so we ate a warm one before going ashore for dinner and the other one when we returned after dinner. The shore party was a great success with ample wine consumed. We turned the cooking fire into a driftwood bonfire after dinner and the heat was a plus in the cool night air. Then it was a race back to the boats to avoid the mosquitoes. All days should be this much fun.
July 1: Eagle Island to Gore Bay -- 17.1 nm
We left at 1000 and motorsailed in light winds with just the main up back to Gore Bay. We came back to Gore Bay for Canada Day celebration and fireworks. It was a small display but a good one highlighted by the explosions echoing off the steep hills surrounding Gore Bay.
July 2: Gore Bay to Thessalon -- 51.3 nm
We had originally planned to go to Blind River, a much shorter trip, but Don was worried about getting his 6.5 foot draft boat into the harbor. We changed our plans and headed to Thessalon, a harbor on the north shore of North Channel at its far western end. We left at 0700 and motored the whole way across mill pond like water conditions. Thessalon Marina and the small town of 1300 people was a pleasant surprise to all of us. After cocktails we all ate on board.
July 3: Thessalon to De Tour Village -- 25.2 nm
We awoke to a raw, overcast day with the threat of rain. Once again we changed plans and headed for De Tour instead of the anchorage at Harbor Island. Rainy, cold days are not much fun in port and even less so at anchor. This means we will be at De Tour for 3 days, but everyone is ready for a break from moving nearly every day. Before leaving we went into town for breakfast and I got one load of laundry done. We departed Thessalon at noon for the short trip to De Tour. Bill and I opted for the shorter scenic trip although narrow and with more twists and turns through the Islands north of Drummund Island while Lew and Don headed for the freighter channel. We arrived in Detour at 1600 and I pulled into the fuel dock to take on 42.3 gallons of diesel, 27.3 in my main tank and 15 in my jerry cans. So far my average fuel consumption has been 0.93 gallons per hour. That's good news. We had our usual cocktail party at 1800 and then everyone once again cooked on board.
July 4: Detour Village
It may be a holiday for many people, but it was a workday for Bob and me.. I scrubbed the decks while Bob cleaned the cockpit and Royal Eagle was looking much better. Just before noon we rode our bikes downtown for the parade. We all enjoyed the vintage tractors, fire engines and decorated ATV's but we missed the marching bands. Afterwards we went to lunch and then Kerry, Don and I rode our bikes to the local memorial gardens. A nice spot though somewhat rustic. In the afternoon I continued my boat chores washing the bow which was splattered with mud from all of our anchoring and then the entire starboard side. The port side will have to wait until we have a starboard side tie. I also replaced the pump in the sump for the forward shower. One of the reasons I had planned the trip such that we would be in DeTour on the 4th was to see their fireworks and we were not disappointed. The Town's display started promptly at 10 am and lasted 35 minutes which included a five minute Finale. It must have been fun for the two freighters who passed through as the fireworks were exploding as they tooted their horns. Not to be outdone by the town, a group of locals put on their own private display not 300 yards from the boat which lasted another 45 minutes. It was most enjoyable to a pyromaniac like me and I can recommend De Tour on the 4th to everyone.
July 5: De Tour Village
I am sitting in the De Tour Village Public Library with a chance to catch up on my postings although I hardly know where to start. I guess I'll have to enter all six days since June 29th.
I'll elaborate on De Tour, which sits at the mouth of the St. Mary’s river, Therefore, any freighter traffic going up to or exiting Lake Superior passes no more than 500 yards from the Marina. There are 20-30 freighters from all over the world who pass through here daily.
I am off to lunch after having cleared emails and typed this update for the last 2.5 hours. Such a labor!! We are doing a spaghetti dinner for all aboard Royal Eagle tonight. Tomorrow we are off early for the 30 nm run to Mackinac Island where Marcy, Conor, Will, Brian and Adam come aboard. I will be happy to see them all, but especially Marcy. Until the next update have fun.
July 6: De Tour Village to Mackinac Island -- 32.9 nm
Last night's spaghetti dinner aboard Royal Eagle went well with 6 people eating in the main cabin and 4 in the cockpit. Kerry cooked the pasta as I did not have room for the big pot along with the skillet for the sauce on my stove. Cindy provided a terrific salad and garlic bread which we heated in my oven. My sauce was well received by all and everything went smoothly until Kerry dumped a full plate of pasta and sauce on Ken. Thank goodness this happened in the cockpit. One half roll of paper towels later order was restored. We all went to bed early since we are departing tomorrow at 0630 for Mackinac.
The wind was blowing most of last night out of the west so when we departed we were expecting to find big seas which we were going to have to slog through to Mackinac. To our surprise we found the benign conditions of light seas and a NNW breeze which allowed us to sail for a short time until the wind dropped to nothing.
We arrived at Mackinac Island at 1130 and went right into our slip at the state marina. I will give you more details about the Island in subsequent updates as we are here for 3 days.In the meantime keep big wakes at the dock, 10X Put-in-Bay, and horse drawn carriage taxis with attendant street droppings in mind!
July 7-8: Mackinac Island
Our three days on the island were a lot of fun......mostly! Marcy, our oldest daughter Catherine and her two sons Patrick and Conor arrived by ferry around 1630 having driven up from Cleveland. Catherine and the two boys had reservations that night at the Grand Hotel and Marcy and I joined them for dinner at 1930. The dinner was excellent especially my dessert, a minestrone of exotic fruits. One of the best desserts I have ever had: a real "plate licker".
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
On Saturday we saw Catherine and Patrick off on the ferry, Conor will be staying with us until Chicago, and we welcomed our oldest son Will and his two sons Brian, age 7, and Adam, age 4 1/2, aboard. We immediately set off on an excursion to visit the Fort where we saw the court martial they stage daily, a rifle firing display and a firing of the canon. The view from the Fort is excellent. We all ate on board that night although Will and Conor made a foray into town to pick up fudge and other chocolate for dessert.
Conor, Adam and Brian at Arch Rock on Mackinac Island
Sunday was a cool, overcast day with rain that stopped around 10 am. Consequently, there were not very many visitors and the streets were uncrowded for a change. We all went on various excursions around the island over the course of the day. I was preparing to use our grill for dinner about 1800 when the marina staff made the rounds warning all the boats about a series of strong thunderstorms expected to hit the island in about an hour. So I put off cooking to double our lines and double check the fendering. I was able to complete the grilling and we all finished our dinner before the first storms struck about 1945. They lasted until after midnight and we had lots of rain, wind up to 35 knots and a spectacular light show over the lake which was nearly as good as the fireworks display in De Tour. We were lucky as the worst of the storms passed either north or south of the Island.
My overall take on Mackinac is positive and we would visit the island again. There are drawbacks such as the crowds, the relatively pervasive aroma of manure, and the ferry wakes. I've read about the wakes and if anything they were worse than I anticipated. If you go to Mackinac, try and get an inside dock as your bow will now be facing into the wakes. We were bow in on an outside dock and really pitched when the wakes were hitting our transom.
July 9: Mackinaw Island to Beaver Island -- 40.1 nm
We were underway at 0730 and to our surprise found a relatively calm lake and light W to NW winds. By 0830 we were under the bridge across the Straits of Mackinac and Royal Eagle was for the first time officially in Lake Michigan. We motored all day which was just as well as I was following a short cut through Grays reef and the other reefs that extend from the eastern Michigan shore to Beaver Island. Lew and Don were reluctant at first to take the short cut but ultimately decided to take my route. I never saw less than 25 feet of water under the boat.
We arrived in St. James Harbor at 1330 after a very easy crossing. The boys were off to see the Toy Museum and attached toy store and then swim at a nearby sand beach while Marcy and I attended to boat chores and walked 1/2 mile to the grocery store. That night we were picked up at 1800 by a van and taken to the Beaver Island Lodge for dinner. It has a reputation for its view and whitefish, and it over-excelled in both categories. The boys ate ravenously, and we all split double chocolate brownie with ice cream desserts. It was a happy crew that walked back to the boat.
The forecast for tomorrow is for SE winds on the nose starting at 10 knots and then building to 20 so we are going to leave early for the short run to Charlevoix.
July 10: Beaver Island to Charlevoix -- 28.8 nm
We left at 0745 with an 8-10 knot wind and a slight chop on the nose. The wind and waves built over the next two hours but never exceeded 13 knots or 3 feet until just before we were to enter the channel into Charlevoix when it started gusting to 20 knots. We made it through the noon bridge and into Round Lake just in time. We tied up at the new city floating docks which are fantastic except for the lack of water and showers. The boys took the dinghy out for a swim and to fish before a late afternoon thunderstorm brought them hurrying back to the boat. The storms are expected to continue through the night and the wind which is now gusting well over 20 knots is expected to continue as well. Something tells me we may be here another day.
At 1800 Excalibur hosted another margarita cocktail party. We were able to remain in the cockpit until another thunder call drove us below decks at 1845. While Marcy was busy preparing dinner we all watched Master and Commander; still one of my favorite movies. We are off to bed and a final call tomorrow morning on whether we are staying or leaving for Leland.
July 11-12: Charlevoix
We awoke Wednesday morning to overcast skies and howling west winds. The high winds and periodic rain showers continued through Thursday. The wind gods that had let us pass easily through the Straits of Mackinac had now decided to capture us. Charlevoix turned out to be a good place to be weathered in. Lots of shops, a nearby grocery store and laundromat and an internet cafe with free WiFi. Will kept the kids busy for two days with trips to the beach to fly kites and throw footballs, dinghy trips into Lake Charlevoix to go swimming and fishing off the dock. Conor was the champion fisherman with over 20 caught, while Brian and Adam landed 7 and 5 fish, respectively. The forecast is for the winds to lighten tonight and veer into the NW so we are hoping to leave tomorrow for Leland.
The boys pose for a photo before a morning of fish slaying
July 13: Charlevoix to Leland -- 30.7 nm
Friday the 13th was our lucky day as we got away from Charlevoix. We left our dock at 0645 to move over to a dock near the Beaver Island Ferry to take on water and then we met Windchaser and Excalibur to catch the 0730 bridge out to Lake Michigan. We found light NW winds and large leftover swells from both the W and NW. We motorsailed the whole way as Leland is a very small harbor and we wanted to arrive as early as possible to improve our chances at getting a dock. It was a good thing we hurried. Just after we arrived at noon another sailboat took the last 40 foot slip.
Leland is a surprisingly nice small town with a rustic fishing village that is being restored and a small dam on the river from Lake Leelanau. As the area is crowded with summer homes, there are also lots of nice shops and restaurants. Last night we reserved a river view table at the Blue Bird and had a great meal.
July 14: Leland
Friday night the winds started howling from the SW, which is our intended course for Saturday, and by the time we got up it was running 25 to 30 knots. We took another lay day in Leland waiting for better weather. Hopefully we will be able to leave Sunday. My son Will and his two sons, Brian and Adam, left the boat on the 14th to go back to St. Louis. We miss them, especially Conor, who is now alone on the boat with Marcy and me. We are very happy he will remain with us until Chicago. He is proving to be a great companion.
July 15: Leland to Arcadia -- 44.5 nm
The winds came down overnight and we left Leland at 0800 in a light rain which ended soon after we left. The winds were light all day so we decided to push on to Arcadia versus Frankfort and in essence picked up one day of the two days we lost due to weather. Tomorrow we plan to go all the way to Pentwater some 50+ nm and then we will be back on schedule.
Arcadia is very nice. The entrance is shallow. I saw 7.7 feet in the channel so it is only open to shallow draft vessels and would be problematic with any kind of seas. The marina is run by a couple named Dee and Jack. They could not be friendlier or more accommodating. They have a laundromat and we are now a very clean boat. They also offer free WiFi which I am using to make this blog update. If you have the chance visit Arcadia.
While Marcy was doing laundry, I biked up to the store for some supplies and then I went over to the beach to look for some Petoskey stones. No luck, but I did find some nice fossils for Conor. We all had cocktails together as usual at 1800 and then grilled out.
It was nice to finally have some good weather and the prospects are good for tomorrow. We plan to leave at 0700 for the long trek to Pentwater. Hopefully I can update you further from there.
July 16: Arcadia to Pentwater -- 47.5 nm
We left Arcadia as planned at 0700. It was not a very nice day as the skies were overcast and we had some rain. But the seas were flat and we were able to make great time motoring to Pentwater. About 45 minutes out of Pentwater, Don called to say his motor was overheating, and he had to shut down. The problem was a broken belt which drives his alternator and internal cooling water pump. He had a spare belt on board and in short order was back up and running. We were in the channel to Pentwater at 1400 and tied up at Snug Harbor Marina at 1415. Pentwater is a bustling small town full of people on vacation. After a walk through the town, we had some ice cream and purchased some supplies. We moved our cocktail hour up to 1730 and then the crew of Windchaser and ourselves went to the Gull Restaurant for dinner. The food was surprisingly good. The best news is we are back on schedule.
Tomorrow we are off to Grand Haven, which is another long day for us at about 50 nm. After that we will be making shorter daily trips.
July 17: Pentwater to Grand Haven -- 49.8 nm
We did not leave Pentwater until 10 am as we were waiting for the marina manager to arrive with a replacement belt for Don. The new belt was too small so he left using the original spare that I was able to tighten somewhat for him. We will try to get the another one installed later down the line at another port. The light south winds forced us to motor once again.
The eastern shore of Lake Michigan is almost all high sand dunes; most of which are covered with trees or other vegetation, but occasionally you get into areas where the dunes are just sand. The largest such area was at Little Point Sable where the dunes extend for several miles and are quite high. From our vantage point about a mile off shore you could see motorcycles, jeeps, dune buggies and 4-wheel drive vehicles flying across the dunes. It looked like fun.
As we have been heading south the days on the water have been getting warmer and we are out of Levis and jackets and into shorts. The nights remain cool thus far and there has been no need to run the air conditioning. I'm sure that will change as we get closer to Chicago.
About 1400 the south winds and seas started to build, and we were slogging our way south for the next 3 hours before entering the channel to Grand Haven at 1715. We ended up in slip #1 at the Municipal Marina next to what was a grandstand. We did not realize our good fortune until later when we learned that every night there is a performance of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain located about 250 yards across the river. After cocktails on Excalibur and dinner on board, we sat back and waited for the show to begin at 2200.
The fountains across the river are hidden by a small sand dune and are not visible until the jets start shooting water which is accentuated by colored lights. The fountains do not have the scope and range of the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas but the colored lights add additional interest. To top things off an 8000 watt sound system plays classical and popular tunes to which the fountains are synchronized. The show lasted 20 minutes and it was terrific! So for any of you traveling this way a stop at Grand Haven is a must.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, we are now back on schedule although we feel bad about missing the chance to anchor at South Manitou Island and to visit the ports of Manistee and Luddington. Tomorrow we are off to Saugatuck which everyone has described in glowing terms so we plan to use our scheduled lay day and spend two days there.
July 18: Grand Haven to Saugatuck : 26.5 nm
We were underway at 0830 for our short run to Saugatuck. We were fortunate it was a short day as we had 10-15 knot winds and 2-4 foot seas on the nose the whole way. Everyone was glad to be off the lake at 1215 and into the long, twisting channel up river to Saugatuck. We stopped to refuel before pulling into a slip at the Singapore Yacht Club. We were fortunate to find a dock as this popular spot is packed with boats. Windchaser is here as well but Excalibur could not negotiate the shallow water and ended up going into another marina. I actually had to power through mud to make it the last 35 feet into our slip.
We had lunch at the restaurant here at the yacht club at 1430, and I went back to the boat for a nap while Marcy and Conor prowled the streets of this shop filled, quaint town. We were stuffed from lunch so all we had for dinner was a salad and walked into town for ice cream. On our way back to the boat we stumbled across a bungee cord trampoline and Conor tried it out. He did well and worked his way up to doing several back flips. Now all he has to do is beat Marcy at Yahtzee.
The decision to stay here tomorrow is especially fortunate as another strong cold front with 20-30 knot winds is forecast to come through later tonight and tomorrow.
July 19: Saugatuck
We slept late today and Marcy was particularly thankful for that. We had heavy rain overnight and when I got up we had pea soup fog surrounding us. The fog dissipated by 1000 and the winds up to 28 knots arrived by 1300. We are hoping the winds and seas will dissipate by the time we leave at 0800 tomorrow for South Haven where we are expecting our son Sam and his girlfriend to arrive by motorcycle. Sam has been on a 3 week trip west through Texas and New Mexico to Las Vegas and then north to Spokane to visit his sister and then back east through Idaho, Montana and South Dakota. As they say the fruit does not fall far from the tree.
The dockmaster was kind enough to lend Lew and me his car so we along with Bart made a trip to the grocery store for a major stock-up. Then while Marcy and Conor worked on cleaning the inside of the boat, I worked on the outside. Once again we are shipshape. Conor enjoyed another trip to the swimming pool in the afternoon. I baked two blueberry pies while Marcy boiled chicken for her special chicken salad. At least it's special to me.
At 1800 we had everyone over to Royal Eagle for Margaritas, and then the other boats headed out for dinner while we enjoyed chicken salad on board. Windchaser will join us for a dessert of blueberry pie later.
July 20: Saugatuck
Last night there were storm warnings for 40 knot gales on the lake and the forecast for today was 15-25 knot north winds and 7-9 foot seas so we made the decision to hunker down here for another day, skip South Haven and go directly to Benton Harbor on Saturday.
It has been a lazy day in general. Conor and I along with Bart made the 3 mile bicycle trip to the "local" market to pick up some more supplies, and we are now set to make it to Milwaukee and beyond with food and drink. We called Sam and he is planning to join us here today although it is now almost 1630 and we have not seen him. OOPS he just arrived so I will sign off for now.
Sam and his girlfriend Beth stayed with us for four hours through dinner but then they had to get on the road again. We were glad to see them even for such a short time.
July 21: Saugatuck to Benton Harbor -- 36.8 nm
We left our dock at the Singapore Yacht club at 0800 and powered our way through the mud as we backed out of the slip. Then it was up the Kalamazoo River for nearly 2 nm to the lake where we found the seas had settled down overnight to a modest 1-2 foot swell from the north. All the locals say Lake Michigan takes longer to build seas than Erie and longer to lay down but I cannot see any difference.
Initially we had a nice 8-10 knot off shore breeze, and we put up full sail. Unfortunately that lasted only half an hour before the wind died and we were back to motoring. By 1320 we were in the channel into Benton Harbor and fighting to make the 1330 bridge opening. We missed it by 2 minutes and had to wait for the 1400 bridge. Our slips at Pier 33 were all perpendicular to a substantial current so the landings were not without difficulty. As it turns out this was Venetian Festival Weekend so the town was packed with people and boats. We were fortunate to find docks available. None of us know the meaning of Venetian Festival. I think it’s just a good excuse for a party. In Benton Harbor's case that means a lighted boat parade, fireworks, live entertainment at two venues along the river, a fair and lots of stalls selling the typical flea market goods. Conor and I walked up town to the local min-mart for beer, etc and then we settled into our usual cocktail and dinner routine. We watched the boat parade from the river end of our set of docks and stayed there through the fireworks which started at 2145. It was a very good display.
July 22: Benton Harbor
This was a very lazy, uneventful day. We all walked into town, went through the vendor stalls and then had lunch. Boat chores and some reading rounded out the day for me. We will be turning in early as we intend to make the 0700 bridge tomorrow morning.
July 23: Benton Harbor to Michigan City -- 30.1 nm
The passage was uneventful, and I'm sure all of you will be surprised to hear we had no wind and motored all the way. We are now at the bottom of Lake Michigan, and in the only Indiana port we will visit, and we have sailed a grand total of 30 minutes. It seems the winds when we have any are either on the nose or 25+ knots.
Not long after tying up at the marina, a retired dentist off a neighboring sailboat came by to offer the use of his van, so while Marcy was starting to do multiple loads of laundry, Lew and I used the van to haul major purchases back from the grocery store. We now have clean clothes, sheets and towels and a relatively full fridge and freezer. Tomorrow it's off to Chicago!
July 24: Michigan City to Chicago -- 33.2 nm
I am using Don Albanese's cell phone link to make these updates so I am trying to be brief.
Once again we played trawler and motored all the way to Chicago arriving at 1230. I might mention that is central time as we switched in Michigan City. We found our slip in Du Sable Harbor with ease. This is a big marina with nice floating docks, however the services are dreadful. So it looks like showers on the boat.
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse
In the late afternoon Windchaser's crew and Marcy, Conor and I walked the 1/2 mile to Navy Pier. After checking the place out, and there is a LOT to check out, we ate an early dinner together and then walked the docks to look at the mega power and sail dinner cruise boats.
July 25-26: Chicago
On Wednesday Mary and Tom Mullaney came down in the late morning to see the boat, Tom is an old friend of 46 years. We served in the Navy and on the same destroyer for over two years. Marcy and Mary became bosom buddies the first time they met. Tom was anxious to see Royal Eagle since he will be joining me Friday when Marcy and Conor leave. He will be on board for a week and the leave in Sheboygan where Dick Moore will join the boat.
The five of us walked over to the Corinthian Yacht Club which is actually a large, old ship and had a delightful lunch outdoors on the main Deck. Then we did a little sightseeing by car before they dropped us off on Michigan Ave for a short walk back to the boat. Later that day Marcy, Conor and I donned our best boat clothes and caught a taxi to the Saddle and Cycle Club where Tom and Mary were hosting cocktails and dinner for 28 friends and family from all around the country. All the women oohed and aahed over Conor. It was a very enjoyable evening.
It is now Thursday. Marcy has plans to take Conor and go shopping and I plan on enjoying the peach pie I made yesterday. We are all going out to dinner tonight including Mary and Tom to Bin 36. I hope it is as good as the last time we were there two years ago. Marcy and Conor are already packed up to leave tomorrow via taxi and plane to Cleveland. I'll miss them a lot, but I do look forward to having Tom aboard. We should be off to Winthrop tomorrow morning somewhere between 0900 and 1000.
July 27: Chicago to Winthrop Harbor -- 37.8 nm
We awoke to overcast skies and drizzle with a forecast of thunderstorms and a wind shift to strong northerlies for the late afternoon. As a consequence and also based on the advice of locals we decided to bypass Waukegan and head straight to Winthrop. Tom Mullaney came on board at 0815, and Marcy and Conor left at 0830 for a cab to Midway airport. We departed at 0845 into light South winds and fog. Happily the rain had stopped and we saw no more the rest of the day. As per usual, we motored north all day. Toward the end the wind shifted into the East and we could have sailed, but all of us were anxious to get off the lake before the forecasted storms arrived. We arrived at 1415.
Winthrop Harbor, and more specifically North Point Marina, are HUGE with 1500 slips. The docks are floating and there are ample showers. My propane tank was on its last legs and I was waiting for a shuttle to take me into town when another sailor offered me the use of his car. I accepted and it was fortunate I did so. The refill place to which I had been directed did not refill. They directed me to a camper store that did refill. I was back at the boat in time to easily make cocktail hour.
The wind is forecasted to blow 15-25 knots tonight and the waves are forecast to build to 6-8 feet. If that occurs we will stay here. Otherwise we are departing for Racine which is only 15 miles away.
July 28: Winthrop Harbor to Racine – 15.0 nm
The north wind did blow all last night but when we took a look at the lake in the morning the seas did not look bad so we decided to leave. We left our dock at 1000, went over to the fuel dock to take on diesel and by 1015 we were out in the lake headed north to Racine. The seas were on our nose and running 4-6 foot and we adjusted our speed to minimize hard slamming. In the last hour of the 3 hour pound to Racine the seas started to fall into the 2-4 foot range and it was a lot more comfortable. During the trip we had about 50 offshore racing boats come from the south and pass at 30-40 mph or more. Boy were they slamming into the seas. There are going to be some sore necks and backs tonight.
We arrived in Racine at 1315 and after searching around the harbor for 30 minutes we finally found our docks. This is an even nicer facility than Winthrop; they have a laundromat and pool. We are happy we adjusted our plans to stay here two days. There is an Italian Fest taking place less than 1/2 mile from the marina so we headed over there at 1915 with the expectation of finding dinner and we did. I topped off pizza, roasted corn and Italian sausage and peppers with a root beer float and was a real happy camper. While we were eating, we also got to enjoy a band that was playing some of the old R&B tunes to which we used to dance.
Walking back to the boat under a clear sky with a beautiful full moon, I observed to Tom that the only thing the evening was missing was a fireworks display. No more the 45 minutes later I was taken by surprise when fireworks started going off no more than 1/4 mile from the boat. Another great display and the fourth one of this trip--definitely a new record for Royal Eagle.
July 29: Racine
Sunday July 29: We slept late and then I rounded up Tom, Lew and Paul to help me take down the mainsail to reinstall the foot which had pulled out of the grove on the boom again. North Sails was supposed to have come aboard in Chicago to rectify the problems with the foot that was an error on their part. However, I never heard from them so we a making a temporary repair with a strop they sent to me. With everyone helping and virtually no wind we quickly got the sail down, the foot reinstalled, the strop attached around the clew and the mainsail bent on again. I hope the strop works so we do not have to do this again on the remainder of this trip.
We plan to do some exploring by bike today and then tonight we are going to do a progressive dinner between the three boats. I'll be starting everyone off at 1730 with Margaritas and then on to Excalibur for Lobster Bisque and Windchaser for Pasta. Sounds like a fun night.
The forecast for tomorrow is good and we hope to sail to Milwaukee!
July 30: Racine to Milwaukee -- 21.7 nm
Last night's progressive dinner was a huge success, and we plan to hold another one in the near future. We all went to bed stuffed and feeling very positive about the forecast for today which was 10-15 knot SW winds, and we would have our first GOOD sail on Lake Michigan. However when we got out into the lake after our 0830 departure we found a mill pond with virtually no wind and we became power boats yet again. After we entered Milwaukee's harbor around 1130, Tom and I made a leisurely harbor tour before heading to Mckinley Marina. Lots of foreign freighters and some interesting buildings.
Tonight at 1800 we plan to head downtown to the River Walk for a quick tour and then find a restaurant for a group dinner. After that who knows.
Lew and Paul are picking up a car later today and at some point I plan to use it to do some major provisioning. Where does all the food go?
July 31: Milwaukee
Last evening we all went downtown to Maders Restaurant in Old German town for some German food. It's a beautiful, old, "authentic" German restaurant and I ordered Rouladen. It was OK but it does not come close to matching Marcy's form of Rouladen. Tom was disappointed with his meal as well.
Today was a crew change for Windchaser with Paul, Rose and Gretchen leaving and Gretchen’s brother Jerry arriving. So while Windchaser was busy with their crew change, Don, Kerry, Tom and I walked downtown and visited the Art Museum and the Veteran's Museum. The Art Museum is a spectacular, new $100 million structure that is meant to resemble a sailboat. It is quite impressive. We walked from there to River Walk which runs for about a mile along both sides of the Milwaukee River. We found an outdoor restaurant for lunch along the River Walk, and then we headed over to the Iriquios a double decker vessel that provides tours of the river and the harbor. It was a hot day so we really enjoyed the cool breezes on the harbor. After the tour we walked back to the boat. According to Kerry's pedometer, we walked a total of 6.5 miles. When we got back to the boat my cockpit thermometer was registering 93 degrees, and we spent a lot of time down below in our air conditioning. At 1800 the six of us got together for cocktails. We all ate dinner on board.
Tomorrow we plan to leave about 1000 for the short run up the coast to Port Washington. The forecast once again is for sailable winds so we are keeping our fingers crossed tonight.
August 1: Milwaukee to Port Washington -- 20.7nm
We were underway at 0930, and I know this is getting repetitious, but once again there was no wind. The most we saw was 5 knots from the south, and we motored the short twenty miles to Port Washington arriving a little after 1230. Tom and I had lunch at the Harbor Deli, and he walked around town while I was off to find a barber shop and laundry facilities. By cocktail hour I was a lot less shaggy and my bedding and clothes are clean.
While talking to the barber, I learned about a Greek/Mexican (that is not a typo) restaurant called Tellos with margaritas made with fresh ingredients and mole all at reasonable prices. I convinced everyone to go there, and I am happy to report it was excellent. So if you have the occasion to visit Port Washington be sure to visit Tellos.
This is a very good port with complete services including free wireless. The shops and restaurants are located quite close to the marina.
It's hard to believe it's August already, and that we are only a little over 5 weeks from home. Today, I am typing this log on Thursday morning; we have another short hop to Sheboygan. Ron Williams another Hissem shipmate of Tom and I and his wife Sue will join us for dinner there. Then tomorrow Dick Moore will fly to Chicago, drive to Sheboygan and turn the car over to Tom who will drive back to Chicago to catch a flight to Hartford. Dick will be on board until Marcy returns in Port Huron.
Once again we are hoping for winds but for the moment they are light out of the SW. Tom will be really disappointed to be on board for a week and never had a sail.
Royal Eagle, Windchaser and Excalibur in Port Washington
August 2: Port Washington to Sheboygan -- 20.7 nm
Believe it or not we did have favorable winds today and Tom and I actually got to sail for 3 hours. We arrived in Sheboygan at about 1330 to find the William's waiting at the marina so instead of dinner we had a late lunch so they could get on the road to their cottage in northern Wisconsin. After cocktails Tom and I ate on board.
August 3: Sheboygan
Tom did laundry while I cleaned the boat and everything was in order for the crew shift when Dick Moore arrived at 1330. Except for a snafu on Dick's part concerning leaving his wallet in the rental car, everything about the transfer went smoothly. We all road our bikes up to dinner and then afterward we paid a visit to the local discount liquor store. They had the lowest prices by far that we have seen on this trip and everyone stocked up.
I forgot to mention that when I put my dinghy in the water this afternoon the engine fired right up but then stopped after about 30 seconds. I could not get it restarted. I will sort this problem out in Manitowoc.
August 4: Sheboygan to Manitowoc -- 21.2 nm
The winds we observed in the marina overnight were very light so when we left at 0900 we were expecting a calm lake. What a misjudgment that was. Once out of the harbor we found two distinct swells. A 3-5 foot swell from the NE and a 3-4 foot swell from the SE. The combination or interference pattern gave us some occasional very large peaks and combined with no wind to help us stabilize the boat with our sails made for a very unpleasant day with lots of heavy rolling. As the day progressed the NE swell disappeared, we had no idea where it came from, but the SE swells which we were taking on our starboard quarter built into the 6-7 foot range. We did not pound at all we just rolled. All of us were glad to be off the lake at 1230. Manitowoc is a nice town and another marina with excellent services.
August 5: Manitowoc
When we got up we found a strong SE wind, overcast skies and drizzle and we made the final decision to stay put. This works out well for me since the marina is a Nissan dealer and tomorrow morning before we depart I will be able to confirm my diagnosis of my dinghy engine problem, a stuck float valve in the carb, with a mechanic.
Around noon Dick and I headed off on bikes to the nearby Manitowoc Maritime Museum which includes the restored WW II submarine Cobia. It seems Manitowoc was the site of a WW II great lakes submarine builder and 24 submarines were built here. The tour of the Cobia was quite impressive as was the condition of the ship. You forget the claustrophobic conditions 80 officers and men lived and worked under on their 2-3 month patrols in the South Pacific. The rest of the museum was almost as impressive as well and a good reason to visit Manitowoc.
After the museum, we biked a mile to the local Piggly Wiggly to load up on groceries and returned to the boat via a bike path that runs along the shoreline. We enjoyed our usual cocktail hour and a delicious snack prepared by Kerry on Windchaser. We are all pleased we took a lay day here in Manitowoc.
The forecast for tomorrow is not good so we will most likely take another lay day.
August 6: Manitowoc to Kewaunee -- 26.7 nm
The service center at the marina opened at 0730 and I was there shortly thereafter to inquire about a carb rebuild kit and to talk to a mechanic. They did not have the rebuild kit which was a backup in case there were other problems than the float valve. I was able to talk to a mechanic and he concurred with my diagnosis. He also suggested rapping on the side of the carb first before having to take the carb off the engine.
We departed around 0830 and found a calm lake with light SE winds. Excalibur and Windchaser tried to sail for awhile but I continued to motor sail as I wanted to make port and get to work on the engine. We arrived in Kewaunee at 1300, had lunch and then I started on the dinghy motor. Rapping did not work so I took the carb off the engine. As soon as I opened up the bowl of the carb it was apparent the float was stuck. Hooray. I took the float assembly apart, reassembled everything and I now have a motor that is working as good as ever.
After a few more boat chores we launched our usual cocktail and dinner routine: steaks and potatoes/onions on the grill tonight. Tomorrow we are off to Sturgeon Bay and the Green Bay/ Door Peninsula area we have heard so many good things about.
August 7: Kewaunee to Sturgeon Bay -- 26.6 nm
It rained overnight and was still spitting when we left the dock at 0830. Apparently it had been raining heavier inland as there was a current in the river which was not there when we docked yesterday. As a consequence, we were being set on to the dock and I put a scrape on the side getting away from it. On the lake we had light South winds, drizzle and FOG. The visibility was 1/2 mile at first and then dropped to 1/4 mile or less for the next hour. The rain splattered windows on the dodger did not help our visibility. As my radar is not working, Excalibur and Windchaser were my eyes. There were several small boats out fishing but the radars picked them up without difficulty and we had no problems with close approaches. I did notice that while we had our running lights on, none of the fishermen did.
Royal Eagle and Windchaser wait for the bridge at Sturgeon Bay
Between 0930 and 1000 the rain stopped and the visibility gradually improved to 3-4 miles, and we had an uneventful motor to the entrance to the Sturgeon Bay Channel. The waterway is actually a canal that cuts the Door Peninsula in two and we had to negotiate two bridges before we reached our marina. The first bridge opens on demand, and one long and one short blast from my air horn and we were through in 5 minutes. However we found that the second bridge opens only on the hour and as it was now 1310 we had a fifty minute wait. We put that time to good use by having lunch.
While the marina and its facilities were very nice, it was not a great place to stay as a pile driver was at work driving footings for a new bridge. They worked all day to about 6pm and then started up the next morning at 0615. So I did not enjoy Sturgeon Bay.
August 8: Sturgeon Bay to Menominee -- 18.6 nm
We departed at 0830 for Menominee which lies on the north or opposite shore of Green Bay, and once we powered down the 3-4 mile narrow channel out to the bay we hoisted sail. We were close hauled into a wind that was a little East of North. Our sail lasted almost 2 hours before the wind dropped and moved into the north. I furled the jib and we motor sailed the rest of the way.
The Menominee Municipal Marina has high fixed docks but they offset that with the best facilities ashore we have seen. Their new boaters lounge is fantastic and I am writing this blog from their computer in the lounge.
Don and Kerry and Dick and I took our bikes for a quick trip to the local Kmart and grocery store for supplies which were conveniently located less than a mile away. When Dick and I returned we began a major cleanup of the boat especially the cockpit which was a mess from all the flies and other insects we have been encountering over the last 10 days. Of course our cigar ashes added to the mess. After that it was time for a margarita party aboard Excalibur which included a great appetizer prepared by Kerry. Lew, Jerry and I biked several blocks to Berg's Landing Restaurant for dinner and enjoyed a great meal. Dick was too stuffed from the appetizers to join us.
Our plan was to anchor at Chambers Island tomorrow but the forecast is for a large wind shift tomorrow night so we are adjusting plans to go to Fish Creek instead. We hope to come back to Chambers the next day as it is only 5-6 miles from Fish Creek.
August 9: Menominee to Fish Creek -- 15.4 nm
We left Menominee at 0930 since our docks will not be available in Fish Creek until after 1200. Going to Fish Creek took us back across Green Bay to the east side. It is a tiny little harbor chock full of boats and we are only a block from the very tony village of Fish Creek. This part of the Door Peninsula is very pretty with Limestone cliffs, heavy woods and occasional sand beaches. The wind was just off the bow with 3-5 foot waves so I motored the whole way at reduced speed to minimize pounding. We were in our slips at 1230, and after registering, all of us headed up to town for lunch and then a stroll through the shops.
We had cocktails and munchies on board Royal Eagle and then I made a tuna casserole for dinner.
We are trying to decide on our itinerary for the next 3-4 days. We have learned that Don with his 61/2 foot draft cannot get into Washington Island and the winds are forecast to move all over the place so anchoring at Chamber Island is looking less attractive. We also know that Sister Bay is booked for the weekend. We will make a decision tomorrow.
August 10: Fish Creek
You can tell from the title that we have remained at Fish Creek thanks to several boats who cancelled their reservations for today. We now plan to go to Cedar River tomorrow and Escanaba on Sunday. That will put us a day ahead of schedule and insures Lew will be there to pick Gretchen up at the airport when she arrives late Monday morning.
I'll fill you in on the rest of our day here tomorrow.
August 11: Fish Creek to Escanaba – 38.0 nm
Yesterday at Fish Creek was an uneventful day with some bike rides. Two things out of the ordinary happened when Lew and Jerry went out fishing and actually caught fish, three bass and 6 yellow perch and Don and Kerry had us all on board for a three course meal which included home made split pea soup. We are now planning a fish fry for tomorrow night.
This morning we listened to the forecast and heard of 10-20 knot winds from the south today then going north 15-25 knots tomorrow. It did not take a moment to make the decision to scrap our plans to visit Cedar River and make the complete 38 mile passage to Escanaba. Running in front of the south winds versus bashing through waves on our way north tomorrow was an easy choice.
We departed at 0930 and it took nearly 1/2 hour getting our boats away from the wall to which we were tied and around the power boats and shallow water behind us. We all made it without a scratch thanks to a communal effort which included some of the power boaters.
Once out on the open waters of Green Bay we found the predicted south winds which varied all day from 8 to 26 knots but mostly in the 15-16 knot range. We ran in front of the big seas all day and were in Escanaba at 1415.
Lew and Jerry threw their combined fish fry and wine and cheese party and it was a great success.
We will be in Escanaba at least until Tuesday for Windchaser's crew change.
August 12: Escanaba
I have to preface this entry with some brief family history. After my father left the Army at the end of WWII, he joined the Penn Alto hotel chain and in 1947, when I was 9, he was sent to Escanaba to manage their hotel in the city. All of us lived in an apartment in the hotel, and I wanted to find it. The Escanaba Historical Society Museum is located quite near the marina alongside an old lighthouse so I wandered over this morning and was fortunate to find an older man and woman manning the Museum. They were able to tell me that at the corner of 7th Street and Ludington Ave which is the main street of Escanaba there were two hotels on adjacent corners: the Delta Hotel and the Sherman Hotel. The only thing I remember was the hotel I lived in was on a corner had a large lobby and a fulltime restaurant. The museum staff said that description fit both hotels. We spent some time looking through books and pictures for some more information but we were not successful. My vague memory tells me it was the Sherman Hotel, and the bad news is it burned down about 15 years ago. Over the years I have been successful at finding every other place I lived while growing up so I was disappointed in not finding this final one.
After my visit to the Historical Society, we biked several miles to a local grocery store and once again reprovisioned for the days ahead. Tomorrow Lew's wife Gretchen arrives and on Tuesday Jerry flies out and then we will be off to the tiny, historical village of Fayette.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the wind is now howling out of due north, and we did make the right decision to come directly to Escanaba.
August 13: Escanaba
I was up reasonably early today and by 1000 I had two loads of laundry done, my emails cleared and my blog updated thanks to the free wireless connection the marina provides. At 1300 Marilyn Kinsey, the GLCC Port Captain, came by to take Kerry, Don and I in her car to a place called Herbal Acres. I also forgot to mention earlier that Marilyn, who has been in touch with me since January and has provided very helpful information about Escanaba and other Lake Michigan ports, was on the dock to greet us when our three boats arrived on Saturday. She is a wonderful, knowledgeable woman who is the epitome of a Port Captain. She is also a great advocate for Escanaba and the UP. Anyway, we enjoyed our trip to the herb store where I bought some lavender incense for Marcy.
I read in the afternoon until 1700 when we had cocktails and then biked up to the Hereford and Hops Restaurant for dinner. Gretchen's flight was delayed and she and Lew met us at the restaurant about 1/2 hour later. We had an excellent meal and everyone caught up with each other. Tomorrow Jerry leaves and the next day, weather permitting, we go to Fayette.
August 14: Escanaba
This was a very lazy day, and I have nothing of any consequence to report other than we did not get the showers and thunderstorms that were forecast for last night and this morning.
We plan to leave at 0800 tomorrow for Fayette, and based on the forecast for Thursday, 20-30 knot winds, we are likely to remain there a second day as well. The forecast for Friday is more benign, and if we do have good conditions, we will make an early start for our 70 nm crossing of Lake Michigan to Beaver Island. I doubt that we will have wireless available at Fayette so it may be several days before I can update you again. Wish us luck for a good weather window!
August 15: Escanaba to Fayette -- 21.6 nm
The winds finally subsided and we left at 0800 and powered in light winds to Fayette which is a historic State Park. It is a tiny place that can only accommodate 10 or 11 boats so I was pleased to see only three boats when I rounded the point. We all got on the dock and there was no need to raft. Fayette was a small community built in the mid 1800's to support two iron-smelters that were constructed there thanks to the proximity of iron ore, charcoal and limestone. Many of the buildings such as a hotel, Town meeting hall, school, doctor’s office, and a variety of houses have been refurbished or reconstructed. It is a very interesting and informative place and well worth visiting.
Royal Eagle entering Fayette Harbor in the distance.
Windchaser, Royal Eagle and Excalibur docked at Fayette with the restored
Superintendent's house and another restored house to the left on the hill behind us.
August 16-17: Fayette
We ended up spending three days in Fayette thanks to strong winds which would not subside and the fact we had a very long passage ahead of us across Lake Michigan to Beaver Island. We finally got our weather window on Saturday.
August 18: Fayette to Beaver Island – 69.0 nm
We departed at 0645 with light winds but some high swells thanks to the north wind that had only stopped howling last night at 2330. We motor sailed the whole way and as the swells died away over the course of the day it became a very pleasant crossing. We encountered 3 freighters and had a very close encounter, 1/2 mile, with one of them. We arrived in St. James Harbor on Beaver Island at 1615, and everyone was glad to sit back and relax. After cocktails, I served up a meal of pork tenderloin cooked on the grill which was accompanied by a great salad from Gretchen and an equally good dessert from Kerry. Most everyone retired early.
August 19: Beaver Island
I am sitting on a bench outside the Beaver Island Library which is closed, but they keep their wireless router up so I have been able to get on line. The wind is whipping around my ears so I will try and update you briefly on the last few days.
We had planned to stay 2 days here and that's what we are doing. Today I did Laundry, filled water tanks, defrosted the refrigerator and freezer and then Dick and I visited the grocery store to replenish supplies. Tonight we are going out to dinner at the Beaver Island Lodge where we had such a good meal on our first visit in early July. By the way I should point out we crossed our track into Lake Michigan yesterday, and our circumnavigation is now complete.
The forecast for tomorrow is for strong East winds, guess which direction we are headed, so we may be staying another day.
August 20: Beaver Island
Last night, August 19, was one of the worst nights I have ever spent on the boat. We came back from another great meal at the Beaver Island Lodge to find the east winds up to 18 knots and a surge starting to hit the sterns of our boats. And over the course of the night the winds and surge built such that by dawn we had 2-3 foot swells slamming the boat. You would not have believed the noise and movement. I hardly slept a wink due to the noise and frequent trips topside to check lines. We got through this without any damage to the boat thanks to my fender board I carry lashed to the lifelines. It is a 10 foot long 2X8 wrapped with several layers of carpet. Not very elegant looking but it has worked successfully against canal lock walls, rock faces, and rough dock situations for over 20 years.
The forecast for today, August 20 is continued 15-25 knot east winds and high seas so we made the decision to stay and move out into the harbor and anchor. We made the move out at 0900 and my first two attempts at anchoring in St. James Harbor which is notorious for poor holding were only partially successful. We held each time for an hour or more but then began to drift slowly across the harbor. I tried several more times and even tried using two anchors but nothing seemed to work. Lew who got his anchor down on his first try and seemed secure invited me to raft and we tied off his port side. I then put my anchor in the dinghy and manually dropped it about 100 feet out at an angle of 45 degrees to Lew's anchor. Miracle of miracles it bit and held.
We had our usual cocktail hour with "heavy" munchies and everyone headed off to bed. We were all worn out after last night and today's anchoring fiasco.
August 21: Beaver Island
The east winds continue to blow today. It is August 21, my birthday, and they are not much of a present. I am beginning to feel like Lake Michigan has decided to make us a prisoner. However, the forecast for tomorrow is for the winds to drop to 15 knots and move to the southeast.
With our anchors well set we all went ashore at 1100 and rented a van to make a 4 hour tour of the island. We saw it all including the nature walk to Little Sandy Bay, the lighthouse, the big rock, the largest single trunk birch tree in the US, etc. One surprise was to find that less than a mile out of town all the roads turn to gavel. So it was a dusty trip. The other surprise was the wildlife. We saw at least 50 wild turkeys and 8 deer. After returning to the boats we had our usual cocktail hour and then a steak dinner on Windchaser. Afterwards, they surprised me with a birthday party with cake, candles, cards and gifts. It was fun, but I wish Marcy had been here.
We are determined to leave tomorrow so let’s hope the weather cooperates!
August 22: Beaver Island to St. Ignace -- 36.7 nm
We weighed anchor at 0715 and headed out into lighter winds but a leftover swell from the east. We took the shortcut across Grays Reef and under the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace. The wind remained east all day, and we now wonder where the west winds have gone that everyone says persist in the straits during the summer. By 1400 we were in the relatively new and great marina at St. Ignace. Dick who had never visited Mackinac Island, and Don immediately headed over to the ferries and did not return until after dinner. I cleaned up all the anchoring debris, cleaned our grill and then threw two loads of wash into the machines. We had an abbreviated cocktail hour at 1830 and then Gretchen, Kerry, Lew and I were off to the Mackinaw Grill for dinner. It was another good meal. Soon after we got back to the boat Dick and Don returned from the Island, and took us through their horse drawn carriage adventures, etc. Dick enjoyed the visit.
August 23: St. Ignace to Rogers City – 39.0 nm
We left at 0730 on a cold, gray and foggy day with visibility of less than 1/4 mile and immediately started weaving our way through many small fishing boats between St Ignace and Mackinac Island. Then came the ferries who to their credit maneuvered in a timely manner to avoid our group of 3 boats. After that the visibility was up and down and unfortunately it was down when we heard the fog signals from a freighter headed our way. At the time we were in the narrow channel between Bois Blanc Island and the Mainland. Their were a few anxious moments before we spotted him visually and passed 3-400 yards down his starboard side. From Nine Mile Point all the way to Rogers City the fog really closed in and we ran for over three hours with visibility running from 50 to 200 yards. Thanks to our radars and chartplotters we were never in any trouble but we still had to maintain a constant vigil. The fog was never more than 30 to 40 foot thick as you could see the sky and each others masts but down on the surface it was pea soup. I led the way into the narrow channel into Rogers City, and after slowing to 3 knots, and with the predictor line on my chartplotter running right up the channel I went for it. Two minutes later I saw the first red buoy 30 feet off the starboard bow and we were all set.
Royal Eagle about to enter the breakwall into Rogers City in the fog
While Dick, Lew and Don used the marina's courtesy car to make a grocery run, I rode my bike up to get a haircut and beard trim. I look a lot better now. Later it was cocktails and dinner on Royal Eagle. We are hoping the fog lifts tomorrow.
August 24: Rogers City to Presque Isle -- 18.3 nm
We plan to leave late this morning as we have only a short run to Presque Isle and Dick has committed to making another of his fantastic omelets. The fog in the harbor is up and down, but looks to be consistently bad on the lake. In fact one of the fishermen who went out had to be "talked" back into the harbor with signals from a fog horn. Anyway we left at 1130 and it was a repeat of yesterday with visibility shifting from 50 to 150 yards. However as we rounded Presque Isle Point the fog dissipated and we had clear conditions up the bay to the marina. We arrived at 1445 and sat back and relaxed. The constant attention required in traveling in fog is very taxing. After cocktails we all went up to the Portage Restaurant for dinner. This restaurant is always busy and we enjoyed another good meal. Weather permitting we are off tomorrow for the 45 nm run to Harrisville.
August 25: Presque Isle to Harrisville – 47.0 nm
Windy, cold and driving rain describes the conditions that faced us when our planned departure time of 0800 arrived so we decided to wait until noon to see if the weather improved. I put those four hours to good use and as you all know did a major update to my blog. Come 1200 the rain had stopped and the skies were clearing so we left for Harrisville. The winds were behind us the whole day so we motor sailed with just our jibs out and had a very comfortable ride until we were off Thunder Bay. At this point we were hit by a large cross swell coming down the bay. So we did a lot of rolling for the next two hours. Our only other problem was the lake flies which were back in quantity. With our full screens up in the cockpit we were able to keep up with the intruders. We arrived in Harrisville at 1900 and immediately began to prepare for our shared dinner. Gretchen made cream of mushroom soup, Kerry made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and I provided a big salad. Everything turned out well. We plan to leave tomorrow at 0900 for the run across Saginaw Bay to Port Austin.
August 26: Harrisville to Port Austin -- 40.5 nm
Port Austin lies at the tip of the eastern arm of Saginaw Bay. This will be our last true open water crossing of the trip. We departed at 0915 and once out in the open waters of Lake Huron we found little wind and a large swell from the north. We were rolling a lot before the wind shifted to the NE and increased to 8-12 knots. Then we were able to roll out our jibs which stabilized the boat and gave us some drive. As we progressed toward Port Austin the wind gradually lowered into the 5-8 knot range but we were able to carry the jib all day. We arrived at Port Austin at 1500 and felt our way through this shallow water harbor to our dock. Excalibur with its 6.5 foot draft was forced to anchor in the outer reaches of the harbor. Dick and I made a trip up to the IGA which is not more than 1 1/2 blocks away for groceries. After cocktails a van from The Farm came and picked us up for dinner. This is a converted old farmhouse located in the middle of nowhere 5 miles outside of town, but they are known for their great food. We were not disappointed. The forecast for tomorrow is light winds and we expect to leave at 0900 for Harbor Beach.
27: Port Austin to Port Sanilac -- 51.7 nm
Last evening we had a full moon and crystal clear sky. What a great evening. We left Port Austin for the short hop to Harbor Beach at 0900 and found a flat sea and less than 5 knots of wind. While underway I called the marina at Harbor Beach and determined that Excalibur with its 6.5 foot draft could not get into the marina. Don was reluctant to anchor in another harbor so given the nice conditions we decided to push on another 24 nm to Port Sanilac. Also while underway, we planned a joint dinner for the evening. My contribution was going to be chicken salad but I was missing parsley. Windchaser had some so we made the first underway parsley pass between the two boats. We were off Port Sanilac at 1700 and Windchaser and I made it in without difficulty but it took Excalibur several tries to find the deepest part of the channel.
The parsley handoff underway.
Tonight we had margaritas and the joint dinner aboard Royal Eagle. It was a happy event because we had an early celebration of Lew and Gretchen's 50th wedding anniversary complete with a pie and champagne. It was a sad event as Lew and Gretchen are leaving us tomorrow in order to hurry home to a party their children are throwing for them on 9/2. We will miss them a great deal although we have only 10 days left on the trip ourselves.
August 28: Port Sanilac
Today we had planned to move on to Lexington which is much larger resort town than Port Sanilac but when we called the marina we found out that Excalibur cannot even get into the Harbor. So we have decided to stay here another day and then go directly to Port Huron. We put the day to good use. After lunch up town and a quick stop at the local grocery, I did two loads of laundry and washed the deck and cockpit while Dick vacuumed. I think I washed two pounds of dead flies and other miscellaneous bugs off the boat. We had our usual cocktails at 1800 on Excalibur along with another joint dinner. We then sat back and watched a full moon rise. Initially red in color, it gradually turned to gold and then yellow. It was a fantastic sight and we all went to bed thinking how fortunate we are to be out on the water.
August 29: Port Sanilac to Port Huron -- 28.5 nm
We started off at 0900 on a high note with west winds of 14-18 knots off the land and we had a great sail for 1 1/2 hours before the winds backed into the SW and lightened. We then rolled up our jibs and continued under main and motor. As we got closer to Port Huron we could feel the heat of a 90 degree day coming off the land, quite a shock for a crew who has only seen 60's and 70's for the last 3-4 weeks. It is always exciting to go under the Blue Water Bridge with your speed over the ground at 10+ knots and the turbulent water boiling all around the boat. It also marks our circumnavigation of Lake Huron and by coincidence we crossed the 13,000th mile on Royal Eagle's log. That's almost 1000 miles for each year we've had the boat. We arrived at the Port Huron Yacht Club at 1330, put down our bikes and started out for the River Walk Marina to make reservations for tomorrow. The yacht club is having a Regatta this weekend and we can only take advantage of their free dockage for one day. So tomorrow morning we will go up the Black River and under a bridge a total of about 1000 yards to the River Walk Marina. Then we toured the shops downtown and checked out restaurants for a place to eat tonight. All in all it was a disappointing tour. I remember when Port Huron had a vibrant downtown but now two shops out of three are closed. The restaurant situation is not as bad and we decided to come back to the Quay Street Brewery for dinner. A strong cold front was predicted to come through the area, and it arrived as we were having cocktails. We cut the cocktail hour short and headed out to dinner before the rain hit. After dinner we had to negotiate light showers getting back to the boat.
Royal Eagle finally finds some wind!
We are in a slow mode right now as we have a week to get to Put-in Bay to meet the VYC cruise for Historic Weekend, and we could easily get there from here in one long day. Our agenda includes two more days in Port Huron while we wait for Marcy to join us Friday as Dick's replacement, a day at Gross Pointe YC, two days at Windsor, a day at Leamington and one day at Middle Bass Island. I can hardly believe we only have 10 days left on this cruise!
August 30: Port Huron
We left our dock at PHYC at 0940 in order to catch the 1000 bridge so to kill time I went out into the St. Clair River. With the engine at idle speed I was making 1.7 knots through the water but staying steady, i.e. the current was 1.7 knots. Despite the gusty north winds we made it into the River Street Marina's fuel dock and then subsequently into our assigned dock with surprising ease. I spent the rest of the day doing boat chores and reading. It was nice to kick back. After cocktails we grilled steaks which became somewhat of a chore when my big propane tank gave out. That's why I carry some 2 pound backups.
August 31: Port Huron
This was a busy day getting ready for Marcy to arrive. Don cooked blueberry pancakes and I added sausage patties for a big breakfast. Then I was into the dinghy for a trip upriver to an affiliated marina that had a laundromat to wash sheets, etc. I was back before noon and used the dinghy to wash the port side of the boat. I washed it twice and still did not get all the dirt off. Marcy arrived at 1420 and it was great to see her again. I used our car to get the propane tank refilled at a nearby U-haul rental facility and then Dick was on his way back to Cleveland. I sat back and opened my birthday presents and mail that Marcy had brought along with her. In the evening Don and Kerry were off to a Pub while I took Marcy to dinner at Fogcutters. She had never been there and enjoyed her perch.
September 1: Port Huron to Grosse Point Yacht Club -- 36.9 nm
Another in a string of cool, clear nights and mornings. We left the dock at 0850 to catch the 0900 bridge and with virtually no delay were out in the St. Clair River. There was no wind, and we motored all the way down the river and across Lake St. Clair to Grosse Pointe. The day was sunny and nice and with the current behind us we were making 8 to 9 knots over the ground all day. We passed 6 ships and one tug all up bound so that kept us on our toes. We arrived at GPYC at 1430 and found our slips through the drawbridge without difficulty. We are going to eat at the YC tonight after cocktails at 1730. Tomorrow we go all of 7 miles to Windsor and Lakeview Park Marina. Wish us luck at the Casino!!
September 2: GPYC to Windsor -- 9.1 nm
We enjoyed our one day at GPYC. The only other yacht club I have seen that might be in the same league would be the Royal Canadian YC in Toronto. We left at noon for our short trip to Windsor. The only problem was the hordes of power boats throwing large wakes. I'm glad we were not in one of the many small boats being bounced around by these people. We docked, checked into Canada and by 1700 were on our way by cab downtown to the Casino. After our obligatory contribution, we walked over to Patrick O. Ryan's Pub for dinner. Another good meal washed down with Guinness.
September 3: Windsor
This was a lazy day for us. It was clear and warm and other than fixing a hatch's loose fitting I read and relaxed. We plan to on board with Don and Kerry tonight and then are off tomorrow morning for the long trip to Leamington which was our first stop on this long trip.
September 4: Windsor to Leamington -- 47.7 nm
We were underway at 0800 and raised our mainsails right outside Lakeview Park Marina. With the combination of drive from the mains, our engines and the 1+ knot current we were flying down the river at 8.5 to 9 knots. No freighter traffic and even better no big power boat traffic made it a very comfortable trip. By 1045 we were back in good old Lake Erie and found the usual 1-2 foot chop. Gradually the ESE winds (on our nose) built to 12-13 knots and the chop to 2-3 feet. However, as we got closer to Leamington and Point Pelee the winds and waves were refracted to starboard and we had a much more desirable ride. We arrived in Leamington at 1500. After cocktails a cab picked us up for a trip downtown to Spaggo's for dinner. I did not like my veal but everyone else had better luck. We plan to stay in Leamington tomorrow to do laundry and shop for groceries, etc. Then we will be off to Put-in -Bay and Historic Weekend.
September 6: Leamington to Vermilion YC -- 39.7 nm
We listened to the weather forecast last night and this morning which calls for rain and NE winds on Saturday and Sunday and Excalibur and I made the decision to cancel out of Historic Weekend at Put-in-Bay and head home to Vermilion early today. I have mixed feelings as I would have liked the days at the "Bay" but it's also been a long time since I have been home.
Having had light winds for the last two days in Leamington and with only 6-8 knots when we left at 0900, we were expecting calm seas but instead we were met with 3-5 foot lumps right outside the breakwall. Our course of 164 degrees had us right between a SE swell and a South swell and we were slamming very hard as they combined to create big peaks and holes. As the day progressed, the swells died and the wind moved into the SW which gave us some good drive from the mainsail. The last two hours were very pleasant except for the temperature which continued to climb as we approached the south shore of Lake Erie and reached 90 by the time we reached Vermilion. We finally made it home at 1430 and it was great to see the VYC clubhouse again.
At 1745 we had a welcome home margarita party on Excalibur along with some of the Albanese's relatives and fellow VYC members Greg and Joanne Arko. Afterwards we all went up to Casa Fiesta for some good Mexican food.
September 7: Vermilion YC -- "The Wrap-up"
Well the trip is finished. I have added up all the various mileages, and we covered 1704 nm in Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron , Michigan and their connecting waterways. This trip represents another milestone for us as we have now circumnavigated all the Great Lakes. I have to now get all my documentation together and apply for the GLCC Admiral Bayfield Award. That has been a goal of mine for the last 10 years. Now if only the water levels in the upper Lakes especially Superior start to go back up as I would like to go back to Superior in 2009.
Before I complete this blog I have to thank a lot of people starting with my wife Marcy who has kept the home fires burning, paid the bills, and watered my orchids in the greenhouse, etc., while I was off playing the long range cruiser. Next are Lew and Gretchen Myers on Windchaser who were along on all the circumnavigations except the easiest: Lake Erie. Everyone should be as lucky as I to have such good friends and competent sailing buddies. Next are friends Dick Moore who was on part of my trips to Ontario, Superior and Michigan, Bob Sanderson who did part of Superior and Michigan and Ed Finein who did part of Superior. Bill and Cindy Boaz on Argo and especially Don and Kerry Albanese on Excalibur added immeasurably to our trip around Lake Michigan this summer. I also should thank my 10 year old grandson Conor Quinlan who had the courage to spend three weeks on the boat going from Mackinac Island to Chicago. There is also my oldest son Will who along with his young sons Brian and Adam, joined me for Superior and Michigan and who also was the creator of this blog which many of you have enjoyed. Again thank you one and all for helping me to complete this life goal.