Jul 312015

Waking up at dawn has its advantages.  We did get to see a blue moon that will not be back for several years.  A second full moon in the month of July.

Scott and I decided that a dawn departure was in order to beat those pesky SSW and W winds.  At 5:00 am today we got up and were on our way, first south to get around the peninsula, and then west.  Our first encounter with Lake Michigan was brisk westerlies that met us as soon as we left the secure harbour of Round Lake in Charlevois.  We continued along a southwest path and past South Fox Island and North Manitou Island where 300 foot sand dunes were.  No way were we stopping with 8-10 ft waves.  Instead of driving at 28 mph we were down to 12 mph or lower.  The waves were doable but coming from the west and then SW and then NW created what I refer to as the soup bowl.  You know when you stir your soup one way and then the other and back again and then put in the cracker.  Well, the cracker was us.  Just trying to find our way to the other side.  The trip across would be a little over an hour in good weather.  It took us 6 hours.  6 hours of pounding in and around and then around again.  The weather stations, at least 3 we listened to, had different outcomes for the day.  If we put them all together they were still wrong.  They should have called us when they said they had 2 -4 foot waves at the buoy.  More like 8-10 ft waves.  Aiden slept through it all.

We listened to the weather the entire way over hoping that we would hear better news.  The weather was changing as much as we were rocking. By the time we were on the west side in Wisconsin there was a small craft warning.  We didn’t care cause the waves were nothing compared to what we just did for 6 hours.  We pushed Conductance up to 25 and headed south.  Our goal was Sturgeon Bay, WI , which didn’t sit comfortably with me being we lost both props in Sturgeon Cove north of Little Current Ontario.  Anyway, we got there on half a tank of gas so we continued at 25 mph to Manitowoc, WI where we got the diesel fill up.  We were thinking of staying but with Sheboygan, WI only an hour away and it was just after 3:00.

We hit a time zone bump in the middle of Lake Michigan and gained an hour because of it.  So we pushed on.  After getting in for the night in Sheboygan, WI with a 12 hour day under our belt we decided that dinner out was in order.  So we were off in Low Voltage to a “canal” off the harbour where the city has done a fantastic job of making the waterfront gorgeous.  Shopping, restaurants, anything you want is there.  We didn’t make it into the city but that is a short block away.  Scott and Aiden took a walk after dinner and I’m here too tired to care.  This marina offers everything, even a pool for those wishing to soak for awhile or spend a couple days here.  One of the nicest marinas we have seen on this trip.

It is our goal to make it just west of Chicago tomorrow so that we can spend a bit of Saturday there and part of Sunday cruising through the canals of Chicago on our first leg of the Illinois River heading south.


 Posted by at 2:28 AM
Jul 312015

The weatherman was not wrong.  Huge winds and a small craft advisory on the lake caused us to rethink going out on 7 foot wave heights.  We listened to the weather for several hours until we made the decision that another night here on the hook in Lake Charlevois was imminent.  Making the best of the waves we headed out to the beach were Scott and Aiden made their first ever swim in Lake Michigan.  It was so windy that we were being sandblasted on the beach.  It was a short visit.  Heading back to the shelter of the town we decided to pick up some grocery items and water.  Heading back to the boat snuggled into the corner of Lake Charlevois the winds were still howling.

I made some dinner but by the time I was done the winds calmed and Scott made use of the time listening to the weatherman.  7 knot winds currently out on Lake Michigan.  Looking at our watch it was far too late to make a dash to Leland, MI so now we wait until tomorrow to head out.  Our plan is to go south where the lake narrows then head west.  So a very early morning awaits us as we plan to get up at dawn to get prepared to cross Lake Michigan where the winds for the rest of the week are expected to be westerly.

 Posted by at 12:01 AM
Jul 292015

Leaving Mackinac Island we saw what most people visiting the island only see from the ferry. The Grand Hotel sitting amongst the green trees and town to its base. The grandiosity of its time visually evident only by water. With the claim to fame as having the longest verandah in the world and pillars the size of ancient trees it is still an engineering marvel. With predicted 20 knot SSW winds we knew we were in for a bit of a rock. The next engineering endeavour that we see is the Mackinac Bridge.  Approximately  miles of steel and concrete she is quite the vision from the open water.  It was a short time after marveling at the bridge that the winds picked up and we had to slow from 28 mph to 15 mph. Our goal was Leland MI or Frankfort, MI but we only made it to Charlevois, MI. 4 hours later and only 70 miles under our belt.

Charlevois is a beautiful town with magnificant homes and boat garages to hold 70 ft yachts. We have never seen a garage that large for that size boat. The homes and surrounding buildings are reminiscent of the rich and famous . We stopped for diesel with high hopes of leaving in the morning. Instead of staying at the marina in town we decided to anchor out in the SSW corner of Lake Charlevois. Sitting in the open water still hasn’t left our blood. The view may be different but the beauty is there. More statuesque homes and very large yachts are here on the lake.

We stayed onboard the entire afternoon waiting for calmer waters. This little lake is feeling the charge from the high winds on Lake Michigan even though we are sheltered here. The anchor holds well in sand and the winds finally died down after dinner. We made our way into town in the dingy where we were told that Ward’s (our diesel stop) offers their gas dock for free after hours as long as you are gone by 7 AM. There were several boats waiting for the space when we arrived. There is a dingy dock available for shoppers who decide to stay on the hook. The town is a shoppers delight with stores for clothing, fudge, ice cream, restaurants, grocery store, and anything you heart desires available right near the marina.

We walked along the town docks and under the bridge that connects the lands around the inland passage to Round Lake which connects Lake Charlevois to have easy access to Lake Michigan. Walking along the “canal” of sorts we walked to the entrance to Lake Michigan. It was very breezy still with the cold front that has been predicted and causing those big winds just coming in and with it those westerly winds. Heading back to Conductance where we listened to the weather forecast with expected more winds overnight. We made the decision that it would be more advantageous to travel out in the late afternoon instead of morning when the winds were supposed to die down. Crossing our fingers for a last minute change but knowing that it would not happen.

We have to get to Chicago by Friday night so the next couple days are crucial for time. The Illinois River has been closed to recreational boaters for the last month or so due to high water. It has just opened but is presently a no wake zonedue to the high water and floating debris. Therefore the last 300 miles or so could take us awhile. We need any extra time to travel down the Illinois River, the Ohio River, The Mississippi River and finally the Cumberland River.

 Posted by at 2:08 PM
Jul 282015

We were up and out by 9:00 am today to head to a favoured spot on Mackinac Island. The island is known for its historical and early settler days. When you get out of the marina it is a step back in time. No cars of any kind are allowed on the island. There are horse drawn carriages and bicycles as the only other means of transport other than walking. The island is very large so traversing the island by bicycle is recommended.

We are staying at Mackinaw Island State Dock on an extremely short dock of 30 feet. They wouldn’t put us on a proper dock as a lot of the larger docks have been reserved for months. We made due after taking over an hour of tying fenders, lines, and removing Low Voltage into a safe spot. The ferry wake is impossible to escape. There are mooring balls out in the harbour and I’m sure they are rocking as much we are. There are at least 5 ferries running on a regular basis. It is now 9:30 pm and they have quieted down but there is still meandering left over wakes from the day. The marina is full even at dusk when a lonely 50 foot sailboat shows up and is put on the outside space to spend the night.

We rented bikes and rode around the island. We stopped at “the crack in the island” in the middle of the forest. Saw a couple small private planes take off, rode the bikes on pavement and in the off road areas. I would recommend seeing “the arch”, the coastline on the east side of the island which is numbered with thousands of Inukshuks made by people who have visited.   The “main street” is a crazy busy place with bikes everywhere, horses waiting for their passengers, people in every shop. There are ice cream stores and homemade fudge shops on every corner. Hotels and bed and breakfast places are abundant for those coming in by ferry and wanting to stay the night. History is what this island is all about. Owned by the Brits, taken by the Americans, taken back by the Brits and finally landing as an American Island. It has quite the story to tell and is a very interesting little spot here in the north.

Rain is expected and south winds too. We plan to head to the east side of Lake Michigan only because there is nothing on the west side for 140 miles. A bit far in a south wind. Wifi is still tough to get and we apologize for not staying in touch daily. We do update daily but not able to post.


 Posted by at 8:43 PM
Jul 272015

We took our time this morning to enjoy our tea and breakfast before heading onto our next stop.  Listening to the weather forecast with winds 5 knots out of the west was a pleasant welcoming first thing in the morning.  Scott plotted our path to our next destination where there seemed to be a lot of small islands but deep water.  We are a little shy these days about getting into small close quarters with these North Channel straits close to land.

With the sun shining and temps hovering around 33 C, that’s 90 or so for our neighbours to the south, we headed out of Humdrum, er Meldrum Bay, to Drummond Island.  Our first American stop on the journey thus far.  We cruised in Potaganissing Bay where there is a well marked channel with lots of shoals on the other sides of the markers.  Scott planned a surprise for Aiden showing him LaPointe Island.  Lots of pictures were taken.  It is a meandering cruise around several islands, some inhabited and some not.  Lots of fishermen out with all those shoals.  Rich, you would love all this fishing!

We need some supplies, a top up of fuel, laundry done and a good swim after the 1 hour cruise in this heat.  We stopped at Drummond Island Yacht Haven.  We are the small boat here.  Lots of 60 and 70 ftrs to drool over.  After gassing up and settling in our slip for the night we dropped Low Voltage and headed over to a small cove where the water was warm and we could swim awhile.  Scott and Aiden headed out on a hike on Harbor Island Wildlife Reserve to find thousands of frogs, monarch butterflies, black snakes and giant dandelions….and some crazy local folks.  Pellet gun in hand and the 12 year old girl jumping around in an infused stupor shooting at a black snake in the water, coming close to the dingy with shots and her own dogs. Parents didn’t seem to mind and seemed to enjoy the sight.  I managed to get the laundry done but no groceries here.  You can rent a car for $12.00 but we won’t need grocery supplies for a couple days so we passed.  The marina doesn’t even have simple supplies like bread and milk.

Getting back from the dingy cruise we had what remains of our “Fish Store” find from Little Current.  Salmon and rainbow trout were on the menu.  After spending so much time in the sun today we are all a little tired.  We did find out that we are on the fringe of the EST time zone.  So in a couple days we will lose an hour as we pass into CST.  We are going to enjoy this last bit of dusk at 9:30-10:00 even if it means we have to stay up to do so.

 Posted by at 8:20 PM
Jul 262015

Leaving Eagle Island we head over to a bay located on Manitoulin Island. Heading west and leaving picturesque areas of granite, rock and pines. Meldrum Bay is a larger bay on Manitoulin Island and can be a first Canadian stop for US boaters. Meldrum Bay is more like Humdrum Bay. There is a small marina with 4 100 ft docks and a restaurant. The liquor and grocery store is closed for good with the building up for sale. The marina does have both gas and diesel, laundry, a small essential amount of groceries, showers. So for a quick stop this is a good one for top up. We stopped here to get out of the SW and SE predicted winds today.

The boys jumped in the water with a more enthusiastic yell than normal. It was cold. The water here in North Channel is anything but warm but here it is chilly. I put on my wetsuit and then was proclaimed to be the wuss of the family. That’s okay I’m warmer than they are. We swam to a nearby dock where we spent about an hour warming up and trying to knock each other off.

We headed into town on the dingy and walked the 2 minutes that it took to walk the main street. Aiden was disappointed that the only treat available would be a freezie. There is a new breakwall for the marina that is called Breakwater Park. You can walk out on a rubble path to the end of the breakwall. Now that was all the excitement we could find in this sleepy town.

Back to the boat for dinner and a quick bevy to quench our thirst. Very poor cell service here and the only wifi is available at the restaurant that serves the lunch and dinner crowd with open hours during those times.

All around it was an uneventful drama free day. Sweet!

 Posted by at 12:09 AM
Jul 252015

With the SW-W winds kicking up this cove has got to go being on the west side of Croaker Island and open to the SW. So at 7:30 in the morning we were picking up the anchor to head to another cove that will be less rocky and better holding in big wind. We found a great easy to access cove called Eagle Island Harbour. It was said in the books that we use to be less on the trodden path so not many boats used this cove.

The winds were picking up with an Environment Canada strong wind warning advisory. We have rain in the morning but full sun this afternoon. We knew that they would be a bit strong but the strongest would be later this afternoon. So we made our way around Croaker Island, past Frechette Island to our north and found the little cove on the east side of Eagle Island where we were to be nestled in for the predicted strong blows. So much for not many boats. There were at least 9 sailboats first thing this morning. It is a large enough cove that there was no problem finding a spot to swing on the anchor line. Home for the day and it was just after 9:00 am.

The boys headed out to a tiny island where they found some eggs the size of tennis balls, a leapard frog and lots of morning fun exploring the new territory. This island takes about 5 minutes to walk the perimeter. They were gone an hour. Of course, those eggs had to be identified so that was another hour to which no result was found. That will be another hour in the future, I’m sure.

After lunch we all climbed into Low Voltage and took the ride around the cove. A picture op of Aiden on a desolate island finally came to be………….on the windiest day yet. I have to say that it was pretty fun bouncing on the waves, getting soaked and sprayed continuously for 45 minutes just to take some crazy pictures of our kid. That was only one way going against the waves. It was a good thing it was the way back to Conductance and not the journey out.

The boys are heading out again to locate the ultimate catch of the day. I think I’ll enjoy the beauty of the area with a book in one hand and a rum and coke in the other. So here we are in this little not really known about cove with about 25 boats. I think I should write to the authors of these books and have them update their verbage.

 Posted by at 12:07 AM
Jul 242015

After filling our water supply, picking up last minute items and getting Mom and Pat on their way we decided to head out to another cove.  A little apprehensive and nervous, like first time jitters.  We made it to a little spot inside Croaker Island which is within the Benjamin Islands.  After reading that this is a very popular spot we both admitted that we liked Baie Fine more.  There are pink coloured rocks here, but I suppose that since we travelled up here when we were kids we saw all types of coloured rocks.  If it is your first time it is an impressive sight and some would marvel at this beauty.  We found a hiking trail, near a beach area, that lead to the other side of this island where there is another cove.  It was a short walk of about an hour or so.  It is quite lovely on the other side.  Not many mosquitos as the last few hikes we have been on.

We headed back to Conductance and as we went for a dip in the hot afternoon sun Scott noticed a sea lamprey stuck to the bottom of the boat.  First time we have seen one in the wild.  They look like very large leeches and are an invasive species to the Great Lakes.  Aiden had done a science project on them.   For anyone who knows Aiden we heard about sea lampreys for the next hour.  The boys tried to catch it but it was too fast.

We took the dingy around the cove and found that it was 40 feet deep with little rocks but the edge of land was about 2 feet.  So there was this huge dropoff.  Most boats tied to the trees and anchored like we did in Mary Ann Cove.  It is busy here with about 20 boats or so.

There is a wind warning in effect but that is mainly for tomorrow afternoon.  We will be leaving early morning to find another spot to ride out the SW – W winds.


 Posted by at 1:29 PM
Jul 232015

Today I pick up Scott from Sudbury Airport, 2 hours away from Little Current.  Uneventful, however Scott’s luggage was misplaced.  It took about a half hour for them to find it.  It had come on an earlier flight.

A dry run of the boat to find that she runs well.   Mom and Pat enjoyed the evening dinner cruise.  There is still a slight vibration but we are going to have that looked at later.


 Posted by at 1:26 PM
Jul 222015

Aiden and I are making our way back to Little Current with props in hand.  Mom and Pat are helping deliver the goods.  The four of us are going up in our car and then they will go back home with our car.  Pat has never been on the boat and Mom has only been on the Erie Canal.  It’s a vacation but again, Nothing is simple………

 Posted by at 1:25 PM