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

Who are the people in our neighborhood?

We are running into so many Loopers on the waterways and it seems we see the same faces for a few days then lose contact. Then new faces (along with familiar faces) appear. Some folks have been boating for years, some are on their very first boat. Some plan to boat forever and some plan to sell their boat at the end of the journey, moving on to something else.

We were fortunate enough to meet a couple that have been on the Loop for 7 years and haven’t completed it yet. Some people leave the boat for a month or two, or the winter, and then plan to start again in the spring. While we were in Peoria we had heard stories of a couple canoeing the Loop.

Wild Raven Adventures canoe fully packed.

Wild Raven Adventures canoe fully packed.

We happened to meet them in Peoria, and then again in Grafton. I found their story fascinating and exciting. The couple – Jennifer Gosselin (34) and Pierre Pipen (55) – met when Jennifer was enrolled in an extended outdoor leadership course. The course was taught by Pipen. Having the same interests, love blossomed and the two became a married couple. They lived in Quebec City, Montreal. Jennifer was raised in the area while Pierre was raised, in his words “all over Canada”. Pierre joined the Army when he was 17 and became part of a joint venture between the Canadian and U.S. Army special forces. He did his first guide work in the wilderness at the age of 18.

Pierre and Jennifer - modern voyageur.

Pierre and Jennifer – modern voyageurs.

They both enjoy all types of outdoor activities, from snow shoeing, wilderness survival, back packing, hiking, and canoeing. While on a Christmas holiday canoeing in the Everglades they met a local guide who spoke of the “Voyageurs”. Historically these mainly French Canadian people engaged in the fur trade, moving furs from the wilderness to populated areas. All this done by canoe. Jennifer told me that while in school the only mention of fur trade was about the Hudson Bay company. Not much, if anything, was taught on the Northwest Fur Company, which was very active at the same time as the Hudson Bay Companies, and a chief rival. The Northwest Fur Company was established in 1783 with its wilderness headquarters in Grand Portage, now Minnesota, on Lake Superior. Jennifer and Pierre became interested in the travels of the Voyageurs and decided that they would like to follow their route from Grand Portage to Quebec City. The first long distance canoe trip of 2300 kilometer was planned to take 8 weeks. They paddled the distance in 8 weeks, with a 2 week hold up due to poor weather conditions.

They returned to the everyday work scene, Jennifer was employed by a Canadian Software company as an Operations Manager. Pierre worked in construction, with his specialty being theater stage construction. Both Jennifer and Pierre grew disenchanted with everyday life and spoke of the stress of work, the problems with dealing with other people stressed about their lives, and the negativity that they dealt with on a daily basis. Pierre and Jennifer decided to sell everything and begin a “NorAm” Odyssey trip down the great rivers of North America. They had not heard of the “Great Loop” until after they started their adventure. Now members of the AGLCA they have posted on the site and met a number of the members.

Toots and Jasmine - an attempt to play.

Toots and Jasmine – an attempt to play.

Jasmine, the bear dog.

Jasmine, the bear dog.

Starting from Ottawa, Canada, the two have paddled through Canada to the Georgian Bay, the North Channel of Lake Huron, down the West coast of Michigan and currently, into and down the Illinois River. So far the trip has covered 1500 miles. Joining them on their adventure is their dog Jasmine, a Karelian Bear Dog. Jasmine joined the team as a pup and has been with them ever since. When I approached the campsite Jasmine met me prepared to defend the camp, but soon found that I was not a threat and became quite friendly. She desperately tried to play with Toots and got our old girl moving a little. Being from the Montreal area Jasmine is used to commands solely in French. There has been a lot of interest in the “NorAm” Odyssey and their campsite has an almost constant stream of people asking questions and chatting about the adventure. With French as her primary language, Jennifer speaks English but does not consider herself fluent. However, guests find she is more than capable in communicating. Pierre also speaks primarily French, as well as English and Spanish. Both are very easy to talk to and Dearest and I were lucky to be included in a couple of evening get-together around their campfire with snacks. We wish them the best of luck and safe travels and hope our paths cross again. If you want to learn more, or follow them on their adventure, go to their website and blog at www. wildravenadventure.com. We both feel so fortunate to have met these people tackling this amazing adventure.

Until next time, follow your dreams and make it happen.

Jennifer's tattoo says it all.

Jennifer’s tattoo says it all.

I just wanted to let you all know that this post is a joint venture between Cynthia and myself. So, when you see that the text is laid out better than usual you can thank Dearest for her efforts.

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Cruising

Cruising Northern Michigan and Canada (The North Channel)

Just an update on our Northern Adventure. We are currently back in Michigan waters. While still technically still in Lake Huron we can’t be to close to Lake Michigan. We are back in St Ignace Michigan just north of the Mackinac Bridge. I recently found out, from my sister, that St. Ignace was one of my Mother’s favorite places. I never knew that. Being the youngest child you miss some of that information. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like it so much here. It could be buried deep in my psyche, but that’s another case for some therapist or maybe even a book.
We spent almost 3 weeks in the North Channel and Canada. It’s beautiful, people were for the most part friendly and very helpful. Everyone has an opinion of what’s the best to see and where to stay. Word of mouth is the best advertizing. But, you have to just separate the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes that just takes checking out what was suggested and making your own decision. Everyone has their own opinion. (I think I’ve heard that before)
Anyway, some of what we learned are:
You can’t see it all in one visit.
Listen to what people say, then make your own decision
Expect to see the same people in different places
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Water diffuses the view underneath
Fog can really close in around you
Radar is a good thing
Loaner bicycles don’t always work the best
Some marinas are smoother than others
Engines burn a lot less fuel going down stream rather than up-stream
It always takes more cash than you thought
There is always someone better at boat handling
There is always someone worse at boat handling
Keep fenders on both sides of the boat

(Hold on the guy next to us is getting ready to leave and I want to be out by the boat.) Holy Shit This same guy that almost ran into us coming into the dock just about took out us and 3 others on his way out. The guy is a menace!
Well, back to cruising. This is a good example, just because you are trying to relax be prepared to “fend off” what you don’t expect. Now take a cleansing breath and get back to where you were.
On a different note. We had a boat tied up next to us here in St. Ignace. Yes, it is the boat of the crazy man who can’t steer a boat for crap. I noticed the name of the boat “G Wizard”. I thought he might be a retired science teacher. Some may remember the science show “Mr. Wizard” at least that’s how my brain went. Then I heard him talking about a “black” being the head of the ATF.
He was not in favor of this appointment. Then I thought of the boat name again, “G Wizard”, and my mind went another way. I know that the KKK had a large following in Southwestern Michigan. Could this be true for Northeastern Michigan also? It is hard for me to wrap my brain around. I will admit that I am naive about a lot of things and this is one of them.
This brings us back to cruising or traveling wherever. You will find many people ready to help. But, with all the good there are people who will take advantage of you. To me it is sad to think that there are people who look for ways to take advantage of someone elses kindness.
Until next time “Be excellent to each other”.

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Blind River, Ont, Canada

Morning shot of the facilities here in Blind River. Last night I did peek out to look for meteors. Saw none but was amazed at the stars. Haven’t seen the Milky Way in years. We will stay here in Blind River for a day or two due to predicted Thunder Storms. I can see now that there are some ominous clouds moving this way from the west. This will give us some time to restock some supplies and do a little laundry.
I am finding that the “North Channel” is smaller than what I thought. Day trips are only 30 – 40 miles. But the constant moving has left the Admiral travel weary and ready for a day or two in one place. So far this is good. The town of Blind River is about a 15 minute walk from the marina so might put the dingy down and see if I can use it to our advantage and travel up the river and dock closer to the Butcher shop and Grocery store. That’s right there is a Butcher shop, how is that for bringing back the 50’s.

Cruising

Blind River, Ont, Canada

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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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