Cruising

Wow! It has been a long time.

It has been a long time since I’ve let my fingers walk on the keyboard. So long that I had to look up my last post to figure out where I left off.

Four Months!

July. It has been a long time.

Let’s get started. Here’s what I’m going to do. Give a brief review of our travels in the last 4 months then go back and expand on what I thought were significant.

Last time we were in Canada celebrating Canada Day with new friends. We still are in contact with them through Facebook.

While traveling the Trent-Severn waterway we had a situation with a recurring problem that required the boat to be lifted out of the water. With out a place to stay we rented a vehicle and drove to our home port of Grand Haven, Michigan. Friends and family were gracious enough to put up with us for almost 3 weeks.20160729_134614

 

Thanks again to everyone that helped out.

With the boat back in the water and August slipping away we pushed through the Georgian Bay in 2 days and back into the North Channel of Lake Huron. At the top of Georgian Bay is Killarney, Ontario. We were now in familiar waters, having travelled here in 2013. My thoughts were to push to Mackinac and down the coast of Michigan to Grand Haven. Silly Me

Lake Michigan is not a lake to mess with. We ended up in St. Ignace, MI waiting for weather and waves to become better. Waves again forced us into Beaver Island. Then with our sights set for Frankfort, we were forced into Charlevoix. Let me tell you this. If you are forced into a harbor Charlevoix is a great place to pushed into.

With an open window we moved from Charlevoix to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Manistee. Where again we had to wait for a weather window to move again. Then to Pentwater, Muskegon and finally on September 4 we reentered Grand Haven harbor and completed our Great Loop.

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We stayed at the municipal marina for 2 weeks, met with friends and family, went to Dr, appointments, and caught up with what needed to be caught up with. We were so busy that by the time we left we were ready to get back to the easy pace of cruising.

A salmon festival had us leaving Grand Haven in not the best of conditions. We traveled the Lake Michigan coast in 17 – 20 feet of water. Very close to shore. But any farther out and we were being banged around by 4-6′ waves. We made South Haven and stayed til better conditions arrived. Then New Buffalo MI and Hammond IN.

We arrived in Hammond on Cynthia’s birthday and went to the Casino next door to the marina. If we signed up for Player’s Cards we would get a free buffet. Whoo Hooo, free food and a birthday dinner to boot.

Now off the big lake and into the rivers again for smooth cruising. Our cruise down the Illinois River was uneventful. The upper Illinois River is highly commercial and is not the prettiest of scenery but in improves the closer you get to the Mississippi River Valley.

The Mississippi River has a great current that makes for easy travel at speeds unthinkable in slow-moving vessels. We would travel around 14 to 15 mph at engine speeds that would usually have us at 8 or 9 mph. Then we make the turn up the Ohio and speeds drop from 15 down to 6 in a boat length. But this is only for a couple of days and we enjoyed our nights at anchor on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

From there we entered the Cumberland River just north a Paducah, KY on a Sunday. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was closed for repair and barge and tow traffic had been re-routed onto the Cumberland. Where when we first traveled the Cumberland we saw 1 barge this time we saw and passed more than 12 moving tows. The Cumberland is much more narrow than the Tennessee and the Ohio and water levels were much shallower than the last time we were on it, making the passing just a little more nerve-wracking. But a great day and we were able to enter the Barkley Lock without waiting.

Now up the Tennessee and on to the Tom Bigbee River. We are currently in Columbus MS and what was supposed to be a short stay has become weeks. I turned and put out my back and have been here recuperating until we both feel comfortable in my moving capabilities.

Life goes on.

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Cruising, Personnal views

Water Communities

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It’s been a week since we left Grand Haven. Seven days and five ports. Manistee, MI, Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Sisters Bay and Detroit Harbor, Washington Island, all in Wisconsin. Medium to small towns working away, tourist focused, raising families and living life the best they know how. It’s a good thing to take a little time in each to look, and then to really see, what they are, these little chunks of humanity.

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Friendly seems to be what ties them together. People talk and smile and look and share and laugh. They give horsey back rides to the littlest ones or strap on a PFD on the bigger ones and take them for a jet ski ride. They walk their dogs, play Frisbee, do their job, paddle board and enjoy nature while it’s still here to enjoy. They also appreciate each other while those near them are still there to enjoy. The youngers offering assistance to the olders, all the while enjoying each other, with the niggling knowledge that everyone’s days are numbered no matter what age you may be. But they all push on, keep their heads up as best they can and try to enjoy life’s blessings. Is this a Midwestern characteristic or a human community trait? I wonder.

No matter where you are folks come together as community, say, when your dog falls in the water. Immediate community concern surfaces for a canine paddling away trying to find purchase to climb out of the cold water. Scared looks on faces you’ve never seen before, offers of help, assistance or even to jump in. Boats stop and everyone pitches in, all because the silly animal refused to obey and ended up in the drink. Some lessons are hard learned …or never learned. But that’s life for human and beast and every creature in between. When there’s trouble we all pitch in to help out. It’s really simple and it’s really what community is all about. And you are thankful when all turns out well, or sad when the situation dictates. Could it be that as humans in communities we are starting to forget that sort of thing? I’ll leave that for you to ponder – or not.

So far it’s been enjoyable, uneventful and relaxing. It’s been a pleasure to have the chance to look, as well as see, life while living it. Blessings, Admiral Dearest

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P.S. Due to spotty WiFi this is being posted a few days later.

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Cruising

The Switch to Boat Time

Previously I have written about “The Great Loop” and how Dearest and I have wanted to take our boat on the great rivers and the Eastern Intracoastal Waterway. Well, it is now more than a dream. We liquidated most of what we called home and furnishings. Anything left is either for sale or has too much sentimental value to let go.
Monday 18, 2014 we began our journey.

Friends gave us a send off that included salutations, wishes of good luck and safe travels. Special cake and music accompanied all the well wishes from our friends and acquaintances. All put together by our friends Terry and Marilyn Benkert and music and arrangements by Joe and Sindee Maxwell. There were many hugs and some tears from friends that we have known for many years.

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On Sunday, we started to make the change from land time to boat time. Still we had friends stop by to give final wishes of safe travels and good luck. Even both of our sons stopped by to give Mama another hug before we left. Jacob our oldest even offered to drive us to diner and let our dog, Toots, ride along. As soon as Mama was in her seat Jacob turned on his radio and had cued up “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. Not only is it a pretty song but it is the first song my wife and I danced to at our wedding almost 33 years ago. (Yes he is that nice of a guy Bridget at French Academy. I would pay for the blind date.)

Now the switch to Boat time

Both Cynthia (Dearest) and I were awake in the middle of the night, early Monday morning. Like little kids about to start a trip to Disney World, we couldn’t sleep. Cynthia is one that will stay in bed and try to rest and get comfortable. Me, I usually will flop around for a bit then get up and read or do a draft for a post. (just like now)

No wind and a flat lake made for a real temptation to leave right then. But we remained, still on land time, schedules and obligations rule the day. Our son Jacob and one of Cynthia’s friends were going to take pictures of us leaving our home port channel. We couldn’t leave until then. That left us both awake and waiting.

The sunrise had both of us awake, though somewhat bleary eyed, and ready to get going. I busied myself with the regular routine, hot water for tea, feed and walk the dog, and I added a short trip to the shoreline for a final check on the water conditions (looked almost flat with just small waves lapping up on the beach). Last minute phone calls from friends wondering why I’m with the dog driving around while I’m supposed to be getting ready to go.

At 08:55 we backed away from our slip and headed for the gas dock. With fuel tanks full and holding tank empty we left again at 09:25 and called sons and friends to let them know we were on the way out. Soon a call from our son Jacob, “I see you! Slow down! I couldn’t get a good parking spot and am walking out on the pier now.” Jacob on the South Pier and Linda, Dearest’s friend, on the North Pier. We moved closer to the South side because Jacob uses the camera on his phone. Once close we waved and shouted “Love yous” across the water. Then back to the other side for more pictures, with more waves and acknowledgments of “safe voyage”. Finally we are on the way and the switch to Boat time has started.

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“What do you mean we are not supposed to go North, we can go any way we want.“
Actually South would be the most obvious way to go. Heading from home port of Grand Haven, Michigan toward Chicago. But, we have never been ones to do things the easy or correct way. We headed North. Our plan, to head toward Frankfort Michigan and cross Lake Michigan from there heading to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. From Frankfort to Sturgeon Bay is 55 miles and the narrowest point in Lake Michigan. Dearest has never crossed the lake and this will make for an easy days travel, with good weather. Also we have never cruised the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, and what better time.

Our first day has us traveling for 8 hours and 87.5 miles to Manistee Michigan. We arrived and were tied up at the Municipal Marina by 6:00PM. First priority is get the dog off the boat for a walk. Dearest took Toots for a needed walk while I did the final securing and power and water hookups. (Relaxing on the boat that evening we had unexpected guests, old friends on their way home taking a break from their own travels walked by and saw the boat. A great final send off from my childhood friends.) Now prepare for the next leg of the trip, check charts and weather. Uh oh, looks like thunder storms and high winds for the next day. Boat Time begins, we are not going to push into unsafe conditions. It’s better to wait for better conditions than risk an unsafe or dangerous leg of the trip, and it’s only the second day.

This is what Boat Time is, we do have a time schedule, however, we cannot be commanded by time and schedules. The weather and water conditions dictate when we travel and when we stay in safe harbors.

Early Tuesday morning I found myself awake and now with charts spread out on the galley table. Do we head on to Frankfort, only 30 miles farther, or do we leave to cross Lake Michigan from here in Manistee. Storms have come ashore this evening, with sport fishing boats making the dash just before the lightning. Tuesday’s forecast is for more Thunderstorms in the morning and higher winds throughout the day. Wave forecast says if we stay close to shore the waves wont be to big and a southwest wind would be on our back side into Frankfort. Do we push on or stay put? Here’s another thought. From Manistee, Michigan it is 68 miles to the Sturgeon Bay channel. From a point just north of Frankfort the crossing is 55 miles, one of the narrowest distances to cross. Do we travel the extra miles for the shorter crossing or just leave and point toward the Wisconsin side. I know what I think makes sense but this is not a decision that I can make on my own. Come the morning and after time to wake up I show my findings and let Dearest decide how she would feel the most comfortable.

We stay another day in Manistee, do some laundry, walk the dog, and meet some other travelers. One in the process of Looping from Virginia and a Michigan sailor with experience with Door County, Wisconsin. We talked back and forth and offered suggestions and I think all parties came out with some great information. I feel we benefited a lot. The sailor suggested great anchorages in Wisconsin and the fellow Looper gave great information on Chesapeake Bay, plus and offer to tie up at his home on the James River.

That’s Boat Time. We will give an idea of when we will be in an area, but weather and water conditions rule. We have also been known to remain in an area for longer than expected if we like it. (One time we went to Charleston for the day and ended staying a week.)

It’s now early Wednesday morning around 4:00AM. I think I have a pretty good draft for a blog post, weather looks like a window of travel today, and I’m getting tired. I will try to post this ASAP. That means if I get to it before we leave the dock or maybe it will be from Wisconsin, not sure, but I will send something to update our travels one of these days.

Until next time; Thanks for all the well wishes, with special thanks to both our sons, Jacob and Ben. Friends, Terry and Marilyn and Joe and Sindee for the special Bon Voyage, Linda for pictures, Hillary for books and, dinners, and the Parmelee’s for the unexpected visit. And, thanks to everyone that wished us safe travels and fair winds.

We will do our best to keep you informed of happenings. It just might be a day or two behind what is expected in your fast paced society.

We are on Boat Time.

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Cruising

Excape from reality, cruising

We have been cruising up the West Coast of Michigan. We are now in St Ignace Michigan in the upper penninsula and prepairing to head into the “North Channel”. We left our home port of Grand Haven and with good weather and seas we about doubled our time out for the day and traveled to Manistee, Michigan.
Manistee’s municipal marina is almost new and the facilities are clean and comfortable. In the boaters lounge there is a “put and take” library. Bring in a book and take one of their’s. I found a book, however, after a couple of pages realized that I already read it. I’ll save this for the next “put and take”
Day two found us travelling in good weather with a southwest wind. Our boat handles well in a following sea. Plus, if waves build we can surf down the backs and gain some speed. We have found that our most economical speed is at about 75% of the power of the engines. That’s about 1950 Rpms witch gives us a speed of around 12mph. Yep, I’m and “airconditioned gypsy”. “Bright Angel” is a power boat and uses diesal fuel. Lots of it. We get use about a gallon per mile at economy and if we power up to make time or run in bigger waves it triples. We try to make the best economy we can but when the waves build I do what I think is necessary to get to a port of refuge as soon as possible.

We passed through the Manitou Passage on day two. The Manitous are islands off Sleeping Bear dunes, last years Goodmorning America’s most beautiful view. The wind and waves funnel through this passage and make it exciting to pass through. Like I said our boat handles a following sea pretty well so it wasn’t a bad ride but after 4 hours it gets old. We opted to travel to Northport Michigan on the Leelanau Penninsula. (I talked about this in an earlier post so if your new look it up. There are not that many.)
We stayed in Northport over the weekend and then headed out to test the waters so to speak. We found them “rough” and discovered the best way to deal with rough conditions in our boat is to power up and attack the waves instead of letting them push us around. I’m glad for the extra power on our trip to Charlevoix we passed trawlers moving at 6-7 knots and really taking a beating.
Chalevoix, Michigan is a beautiful spot and the Municipal Marina is very pretty and the accomadating, when there is room. See everyone else thinks the same and it’s mostly full most of the time. I prefer to go day to day rather than schedule a time and date to be in a certain destination. With no room at the inn we had a break from the waves in Round Lake and then made the 10:00A.M. bridge opening and headed out into “Little Traverse Bay” and Petosky, MI
Only 1.5 hours at full speed Petosky was open to all and we were tied up before noon. The dock attendants were helpful and gave us a lot of information before we were even fully tied up. Like the numbers to the bathrooms. Boy does that make sence, because sometimes it’s nice just to take a leak and relax after a push and rough water. They had bikes available for use and we found beautiful skys and great weather for the afternoon.
Fuel prices in Petosky seemed higher than normal. Could be because we are getting farther north in Michigan. I had enough to get to Beaver Island or St. Ignace but decided not to chance with low fuel. Almost 300 gallons later and the head pumped we headed toward Beaver Island. Outside Little Traverse Bay winds picked up and waves only 1-2 feet. But, Lake Michigan has a phenomenon we call “Rollers”. I guess on the ocean they would be swells. Waves that come from who knowes where and add to the wave conditions. So we get waves of 1 to 2 feet but they are on “rollers” that can be 3-4 feet and out of a different direction. I try to set cource to make for the easiest ride. This day did not mean Beaver Island but more north toward the Straights of Mackinac. Once around the top of Michigan we were in the lee of the land and water smoothed out and made the last 3 hours ride very nice. Dearest posted a video to Facebook as we got close to the Mackinac Bridge. Funny the wind switched again and came right into our faces. No waves though so a smooth ride.
We arrived to St. Ignace, Michigan and tied up. St. Ignace is right next to Mackinac Island where most people try to go. Like Charlevoix it’s beautiful and a destination. St. Ignace Municipal Marina is large and newer. The facilities are clean and up to date, and less than half full. My feelings is if you want to boat to Mackinac do it once for the experiance then go to St. Ignace with its resturants and groceries and parts stores and if you still want to go to Mackinac Island take a ferry. Arnold’s classic (slow) boat trip is $15.00 for adults round trip.
We are here until storms pass then it on toward DeTour Village, Michigan about 45miles away and the entrance to the North Channel.
The North Channel has me apprehensive. Never been there and instead of sand it’s granite. We have been giving lots of advice from other boates and will proceed slowly. Will fill you in more as we go.
Until nex

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