Sep 302021

Tobermory, ON, Little Tub Harbour – Eagle Island, anchorage – Sept 30, 2021

We’ve been on plane the last few days and this is no exception.  We are heading along the south of Manitoulin Island, missing some of the most beautiful places to cruise.  We do eventually start to head north as we come into Little Current. 

In Little Current there is a one way swing bridge that opens for 15 minutes on the hour for boaters to travel through.  Timing is important as the bridgemaster will not deviate from this schedule.  We had forgotten this bit of information.  So we did have to wait for about 45 minutes.  No problem, it’s lunch time.  Scott managed to have a down time for lunch without “eating at his desk” and enjoy a bit of reprieve from being Captain. 

The bridge was swung open and we were off through the town of Little Current.  Cute, small town that now is excited to have a Tim’s.  There is grocery close to the city wall, laundry, LCBO, restaurants and whatever you need as you travel west.  There are marinas available if you have issues with your boat as well.

As our fuel should be topped up for the Captain we take a side trip to Muldrum Bay, ON.  In the past while there in 2015 everything was closed.  We called ahead to discover that diesel and gas are available and a full service marina along with a campground has been built up.  The marina has now a management husband and wife team overseeing the property.  Muldrum Bay has 52 residents and is a great stop for the restaurant and if you choose the anchorage or marina. 

We pass the Benjamin Islands a natural, granite rock that is pink.  I’m not sure how it got its name but cruisers love this area.  Mainly because of the pink granite against the black waters of the North Channel.  Note that the water is black because of tannins.  It is naturally clean water but has some many millennials of organic matter that turns the water a blackish tone. 

We find our way into Eagle Island anchorage and enjoy the warm sunny late afternoon.  Tonight we can’t wait to see the stars.  It was a lazy afternoon on the bow with sundowners and appies.

We were greeted with a sunset, sounds of cicadas, crickets, birds and a loon.  Later that evening the milky way showed up and a starry night that we haven’t seen in a long time.  A recharge for us as we end our journey tomorrow.

Sep 292021

Kincardine, ON, Kincardine Marina – Tobermory, ON, Little Tub Harbour – Sept 29, 2021

One of our favourite places the Little Tub Harbour is set in the small town of Tobermory.  There you will find a clean marina with access to the LCBO, grocery, laundry and many different shops for your tastebuds and shopping pleasures literally at your back door. 

Pulling into our slip we reminisce about our past times here.  This is number 4 now both with Heliopause and Conductance.  Always a pleasure and so much to see and do.  Although on this trip the seeing and doing is not much.  Laundry, LCBO and grocery stock up was our main attraction.  We did walk around town and had the famous Aiden ice cream stop that we always do when he traveled with us.  Scott went around looking for the also famous, and Aiden’s favourite, Manitoulin Island Jams.  After the 4th shop he did find the local Hawberry Jelly. 

I had a nice walk around town while Scott did some work on the engines and made sure all was well to go before we made the jump to the North Channel. 

So much to do and so little time, yet again.  We are both looking forward to the leisurely days that we thought we had signed up for.  Tomorrow we will be off to a great anchor spot.  Can’t wait as this trip has not been about us and our wants but more of our needs at a moment’s notice.  We love to anchor and enjoy nature rather than marina after marina and a time schedule.

We will get there.  It’s just a matter of time.

Sep 282021

Sarnia ON, Sarnia Bay Marina – Kincardine, ON, Kincardine Marina – Sept 28, 2021

Window maybe…..comfortable not even close.  Winds were westerlies.  Hitting us beam all day.  Our plan was to do a full day to Tobermory, ON.  We had no time to doddle at this point because the Captain had been set up for a pickup in The Soo. 

Winds and waves were not fun.  I call it the Ralph Factor.  Today the Ralph Factor was a good and steady 7-8.  I didn’t see much as I stayed quietly on the couch waiting for “we’re here” command.  Scott doesn’t get seasick so he was fine but even he said it was not a good day.  We only made it to Kincardine, ON.  Tomorrow was to be a better travel day so we made arrangements at the quaint marina in Kincardine. 

It has everything you need.  Fuel is a bugger to get into if you have anything over 40 feet.  There is no turn around room and the docks and slips are way too tight at the fuel dock.  No fuel for us anyway as we did fill up in Sarnia after the storms.  We were slipped into the T dock for the night and watched a beautiful sunset.  Kincardine has some of the most picturesque sunsets you will ever see. 

Unfortunately we are now on a schedule which was something we did not want to do.  This border shut down has decided our fate and we will roll with it but it doesn’t mean we have to like it.  So a quick overnight stay and an early morning we are headed to Tobermory, ON. 

Sep 272021

Sarnia ON, Sarnia Bay Marina – Sept 21-26, 2021

Yes, it really was a week of wind.  From the first night we stayed where we saw literally 6 inches of rain in a 24 hour period and winds of approx. 60 km winds til the day before we left there was wind.  During this time we did catch up on laundry, groceries, and small maintenance items.  We did not expect to be here for a full week. 

During this time we decided that perhaps hiring a Captain to cross from Sarnia to Port Huron, MI was a great chance.  We started looking into logistics.  We found helicopter charters from Windsor to Detroit.  So that would mean Uber or taxi or shuttle for us from Sarnia and from Detroit to get to Port Huron.  Also found a Captain.  We decided that the best way to make this work was for our Captain to contact the Border Patrol in Port Huron to see if they would allow this to occur.  To our delight,  our Captain did get a written letter to cross.  We were so happy.  This was a game changer.  Our original idea was to hire a Captain to take her across at Sault Ste. Marie, ON to Chicago, IL.  This would mean that since permissions were given in writing that we could now travel the west side of Lake Huron. 

We started making all the logistics happen.  Book Captain, helicopter flights for us, Get the Captain To Sarnia from Toronto, etc, etc.  So many twists and turns to make sure all the pieces fit.  After about two days of phone calls and making it GO TIME we were ready.  We did manage to find a pickleball court and got in a few games and made a few friends.

Then to our disappointment, and beyond our control, the border patrol Supervisor reneged on his letter.  I am not going to go into why, here in print, however it was extremely disappointing.  So now to cancel everything that we had been spending days on and making sure refunds are available.  All the vendors were very agreeable and refunded every dime.

So now what?  Back to our original plan.  Hire a Captain to take her to Chicago at Springbrook Marina, where we bought Heliopause.  We knew they would take care of her if…..she needed to be lifted, winterized and stored.  All this depends on if the border does open.  Springbrook Marina is located on the Illinois River which does not freeze in the winter.  So we decided on a drop date for having her lifted and we would stay in the cold until we could bring her home, only if the border does not open.

We waited for our window on Lake Huron and made a run for it.

Sep 202021

Windsor, ON, Riverside Marina – Sarnia ON, Sarnia Bay Marina – Sept 20, 2021

The storms are coming but we do have a window to make the trek to Sarnia, ON.  So glad we made the choice to not stay in Leamington, ON as the winds kicked up on Lake Erie and there was no way we would have left.

We both really enjoy the Detroit River.  Lots of open area, with the odd laker ship passing by, beautiful homes on both the US side and the Canadian side of the river.  During this time we are very careful to not dip our keel into the US side for long, favouring the Canadian side of the River.  We pass both Detroit with its tall towers and skyscrapers, the General Motors Headquarters standing front and centre and Windsor with its cute town atmosphere and of course the casino.  Note that docking is not allowed on either city waterfront.  It looks so inviting. 

Traveling past the city waterfronts the remaining portion of the river is industrial, homes, parks and boardwalks.  It’s a quiet trip.

We noted the winds were picking up so as we approached Sarnia Bay Marina we made the choice to not get fuel and wait out the winds.  Calling up Jeff, the harbourmaster, we ask for assistance getting in.  We are greeted with 2 helping hands and new friends from the adjacent slip.  The winds are from the south so they are pushing us into the dock.  That helped.

Sarnia Bay Marina is a well kept marina with clean restrooms, laundry, power, water.  It is a little out of the city so having bikes help.  Jeff and the crew at the harbour office are the best.  Always ready to accommodate the boaters. 

The winds didn’t subside for almost 4 days.  So we were here longer than expected.  Good to know we were in good hands.

Sep 192021

Port Stanley, City Dock – Windsor, ON, Riverside Marina – Sept 19, 2012

Winds are achangin’.  We have been watching weather several times a day.  It’s what you do when you are left to the wind Gods and Mother Nature.  There are some nasty storms coming in over the next few days.  Our goal is to head to Leamington and check weather once again to see the update. 

The winds are currently out of the south making for a bit of a beam swell.  Not too bad that it’s uncomfortable, just annoying.  Sunny skies as we watch the cliffs of Lake Erie disappear into the distance.  Not much happens on open waters other than a lot of squinting and wondering what we are missing on the shore.  It is still beautiful from afar.  The beam waves are hitting our port side.  We didn’t think much of it until Scott went down to the master stateroom and realized I had left our porthole open.  The laptop was now soaked. 

As we head to Leamington Scott checks on the weather up and coming.  Seems that there are storms rolling in.  We want to be off the lake and into the Detroit River before the storms or we will be waiting them out here at a marina on Lake Erie.  So we decide Windsor is the best bet.  Afterall, it is just in the confluence of the Detroit River and Lake Erie so even if weather does start we may still have a run to Sarnia, ON. 

We decide on Riverside Marina across from Peche Island.  Peche Island is where the acclaimed Hiram Walker (you know the guy that started the whiskey) decided to purchase and started to build a home there.  The home was never completed but the foundation and some of the grounds are still visible.  The island is now owned by the City of Windsor and has walking trails and a small passenger ferry available.  That is, of course, if you do not have a dingy. 

The weather stayed to our south so we enjoyed a cool evening on the deck with the mandatory sundowners.  Scott took apart the laptop at this point, pulled off the keyboard, stood it up and set up a fan trying to save the computer.  Crossing fingers that the entire laptop isn’t toast. 

Sep 182021

Long Point, Anchorage – Port Stanley, City Dock – Sept 18, 2021

Waking up to a stunning sunrise on anchor we begin our day with the usual breakfast.  Off to Port Stanley with calm waters and a long day of travel.  We do tend to stay around 7.5 knts unless running a storm or on a tight schedule.  Port Stanley is a good 6 hours away at that speed.  With the winds extremely fair we watch the Lake Erie bluffs pass by, the windmills aplenty and the ripples of the few waves we see. 

Arriving at Port Stanley the commercial walls are very inviting.  Large tractor tires align the walls making for an interesting dockage.  The bridgemaster who opens the bridge to Kettle Creek every 30 minutes joins us to open the power outlet.  The pedestals have both 30 and 50 amps.  No water though.  The town is at your fingertips at this point.  We decide to head out for a walk into town, the beach and just pass by some cute shops.  It isn’t busy due to covid but it is easy to see this little town is set up for lots of tourists. 

There are 2 beaches, the main one to the west and a smaller one with shade trees to the east.  You can walk the pier or meander down streets showing a century of homes, cottages and times of old.  No basements in most of these little homes as they seem to be directly on sand. 

After dinner we hop into the dingy and head on down Kettle Creek.  There are several marinas in here with back in tie and pillars.  Not much for the transient.  Very shallow at points however there are some 48 footers tied off at their seasonal slips.  We decided we would not have brought Heliopause into this creek.  It is too unpredicatable in its depths.  Local knowledge would be an asset.  Kettle Creek is very nice to ride down on the dingy  Passing several geese migrating for their trek south and having their own dinner we meander down the river for about 3 km.  Boats and dead heads, along with tree covered shorelines disguising homes tucked into the brush make for a pleasant night cruise.

Heading back to the boat in the harbour we pass several large Searays making their way back to their slips.  Still a beautiful boat.  Back on Heliopause we lift the dingy and settle in for a night cap and good night’s sleep.

Sep 172021

Port Colborne, Sugarloaf Harbour – Long Point, Anchorage Sept 17, 2021

After spending yesterday provisioning, cleaning up loose ends, and seeing family we finally made it back to the boat at Sugarloaf to find we had a new neighbour.  Theodore the Tug was snuggled up beside us in full lights.  So nice to see him back in Niagara again as he heads for homeport in Hamilton to sleep for the winter.  A good night’s sleep for us as we are ready to move west on Lake Erie.

Winds are calm and calming more throughout today as we travel.  We head out with SW prevailing winds and find ourselves quite comfortable as the winds die down as we travel.  Flat waters greet us as we pass the shoreline making our way to Long Point to spend the night at anchor.

Arriving, we set anchor for a quiet night as the weatherman proposes extraordinarily calm waters.  Lake Erie can be nasty but she can also show off her stunning side.  Scott decides to drop the tender and finds that he left the depth finder on that drained the battery.  So he hooks up the charger and we wait for it to charge up to go for a cruise and a dip in this 30 degree C temp, in September. 

Long Point seems to have had some bad storms as many trees are down, some of the lighthouse structures are gone and the large debris is onshore.  We cruise around in the tender for over an hour, take a dip in the 70 plus degree F waters and take a bunch of photos. 

Long Point is about 10 miles from shore with a lot of anchor areas that are great except in easterly winds.  South winds are not pleasant either.  So plan accordingly.  If you can anchor you will be awarded with spectacular Lake Erie views with sunsets and sunrises that are some of the best photo opportunities. 

Now it’s off to dinner and docktails on the deck to watch the sunset.  Tomorrow we run to Port Stanley.

Sep 152021

St. Catharines, Port Dalhousie Yacht Club – Port Colborne, Sugarloaf Marina – Sept 15, 2021

Starting off from our home port at Dalhousie Yacht Club (DYC) at 7:00 am we head off with a full crew with Patti Jo and Doug, and Heather and Joe to the start of the journey upbound on the Welland Canal.  After registering online with the St. Lawrence Seaway and paying our $200. plus some fees we are waiting for another recreational vessel to join us in the climb from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.  Waiting until almost 11 the two vessels head toward lock 1 after being hailed on the radio by  the Lock Master.  Turns out the staff start at 11:00 but we are asked to stage for 9:00. 

Lines are dropped down to waiting vessels from a team above.  They will stay with you for the entire trip southbound.  Two lines are tied together and dropped down to your waiting crew.  Untie the lines from each other from the wall and hand the lines to the crew.  Each takes a line and loops the rope around the cleat on the opposite side of the boat.  For instance, if you are starboard tie then you loop to your port stern and bow cleat.   Do not tie your lines to your boat or have them not easy to release from the cleat. 

A quick run through the first lock and open doors at the second lock we are enjoying the journey as the sun comes out and warms the day.  Note that upbound is a starboard tie in locks 1 and 2.   It has taken us to almost 1:00 when we reach Glendale Bridge.  We see our DYC buddy Leigh meet and wave us on at the viewing station at Lock 3.  Thanks for being our papparotzi Leigh.  Wanna see those pics you took.  Lock 3 was a fun lock with the viewing station there and several folks watching us lock through.  Lots of waves and people watching as we slowly climb this big lock.  Passing General Motors and the head office of the St. Lawrence Seaway we head to the flight locks of 4, 5 and 6. 

The flight locks of the Welland Canal are 3 locks in succession climbing the Niagara Escarpment.  Not only are these 3 locks flight locks but they are also twinned.  So when you are upbound there may be another vessel going downbound in the chamber next to you.  Each lock takes about 10 minutes to fill according to the St Lawrence Seaway website.  The turbulence isn’t too bad but it does come up under your boat on the sides of the locks.  Don’t forget to take that picture of the gorgeous view and lock doors.

Lock 7 is an even more beautiful view.  As you get to the top you see all of St. Catharines and the locks you just came through.  Another photo opportunity not to miss.  After lock 7 you have approximately 1 hour and a bit to reach Port Colborne and the last lock, lock 8.  Lock 8 is a leveler lock or more of a guard gate to meet the level of Lake Erie.  It can fluctuate depending on lake levels.  Today we climb 2 feet.  There are no ropes to worry about and crew gets to take a break from handling lines.  The captain stays in the centre of the lock monitoring the vessel’s stability as the water climbs the last few feet. 

Now with 1 more bridge to go under we can head to Sugarloaf Harbour.  A beautiful marina with large docks and many amenities.  Laundry, restaurant, restrooms, a fabulous staff, 50 and 30 amp power, water available for your requirements.  Dinner with the crew was amazing and docktails are available at this time.  A great thank you to all our crew Heather and Joe, Patti Jo and Doug. We can’t thank you enough. We will start our journey to the north to get to the south on our own.