Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fright Night

Michigan is fabulous!  Except for Lake Michigan which is a fickle, excuse my language, Bitch!  We left Frankfort yesterday and got into Portage Lake early.  A good place to anchor for the night.  It started out well.  Very calm, light winds, protected water.  We went for a dinghy ride around the small lake.  Returned to the boat for dinner and a beautiful sunset.

In the light of day maybe the dark horizon should have been a clue, but it's been there many times with 'nada'

Should have known better.  Complacency set in.  We thought our one anchor had a tight hold seas calm, wind non existent, so we crashed early only to be pulled out of our sleep at 3am when the rain started.  No biggie, close the open port lights, it was a gentle rain.  
Well.....3:30 am was a different story, winds howling, time to check our position. 
Then all hell broke loose.
We had drifted over 300 yards ....NOT GOOD....in case I didn't tell you before, Lake Michigan Lakes are very deep, to anchor you must get very close to the shore.
We had anchored about 500 yards off of a couple of boat hoists.....getting our bearings with visuals on shore, only to find we had drifted about 150 feet away from them.... in the dark, wind howling, rain pelting......Every boaters worst nightmare crashing into another boat....the other being crashing into a rock seawall....you get my drift...these are the things we hope will never happen.

                                 This is 500 yards imagine being 150 feet

We ran up to the bridge, started the engines and like a smooth operating machine under great duress, who under extreme pressure managed to get the anchor up, repositioned, and put two anchors down thanks to the Captain. I must add that I did not blind either one of us with my use of our handheld spotlight, a skill I am still learning! 
Of course by now it was 4am and there was nothing to do but wait the storm out.   Gary got not one wink of sleep from then on and I tried to sleep for an hour.  Our plan had been to set off early and get to Ludington.  

We did leave at 7am for Ludington but pulled in at Manistee at 9 am for an encroaching storm. Stayed there until 12:30 and checking FOUR weather apps. things looked OK for heading to Ludington.   Seas were fairly calm for about an hour when again....all hell broke loose. 20 Knot SW winds and 4 to 5 foot seas
Suffice it to say when we reached Luddington 3 hours later we were never so glad to see a Lighthouse.  It was a nasty day on a snotty Lake Michigan.

24 hours to be remembered!   Not with fondness  :-)

City of Milwaukee...Manistee

A lighthouse we passed don't ask me which one..I was having a hard time hanging on. Actually I was astounded the photo wasn't a total blur!

We are now anchored in front on the Dow Chemical Plant in Ludington, hopefully safe and sound.

Tie A Knot.....over and out

Monday, August 26, 2013

'Pure Michigan'

Michigan is without doubt a beautiful state.  Every time I come back I wonder why we left,. Actually I remember pretty well when the skies are gray for days on end, but that aside someday I hope to be able to return to Michigan for the summers. With the short summer season there is constant activity, fairs, car shows, boat shows, art shows, antique shows, camping, boating, kayaking, boat races......and on and on. No matter what your passion is you will most likely be able to pursue it here.  

We met Carl and Wendy on South Manitou Island sixteen miles off of Leland.  These Islands are part of a chain (with Beaver Island in the North) that were formed after water filled the Lake Michigan Basin that was created by Glaciers eons ago.  We hiked almost eight miles (oh my aching legs, hips and neck), rule of thumb, inactivity on a boat should not be followed by hiking eight miles!

BUT it was worth every ache and pain....it was a picture perfect day for the Pure Michigan ads you see everywhere.   Blue sky, bluer water, no wind and gorgeous scenery.  The only way you can get here is by ferry from Leland or personal water craft and it is one of the few places of natural beauty that hasn't been disturbed by man mainly because of its inaccessibility. 

It is an uninhabited island which is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We were able to dinghy over the wreck of the Three Brothers (1911) in water so clear we could see the remains of the hull 20 feet under water.  We saw giant Northern White Cedars, some of the largest in the world, one estimated at being over 500 years old.  There is a restored lighthouse, a 'village' of houses that were once occupied by settlers on the island.  Google "South Manitou" Island and you'll be amazed at the history of this gem in Lake Michigan.

SOUTH MANITOU SLIDESHOW           (speaker upper left corner...new slideshow)

Yesterday we walked to the beach to see the wave action in the 15 to 25 MPH winds and then walked some of the streets.  It's amazing what you see if you just stray off the beaten path!

And here are the swans bobbing around in 18 MPH winds.  We were in the dinghy and didn't want to get too close.  They can get pretty darn ornery.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


We have had a very busy week. We met up again with the three original boats we left Albany with, ' Freya', 'Love n' Life', and 'In My Element'....it's funny how things work out.  We hope we can all meet up again and travel together for a while. We met new friends on land and boats and are enjoying being back on the water.

We left Boyne City on Tuesday. Gary's sister Meredith and our friend Denny, who took time out of his hectic retirement to get our props repaired and returned to us, (Thanks again, Denny) cruised with us to Charlevoix where Gary's Dad treated us to a night in the marina before we were to head out Wednesday morning (thanks Dad!).  It was a beautiful day and we had a nice 3 hour trip and we all just enjoyed being together again. 
Wednesday morning we headed North and ended up in North Port which is on the Lelenau Peninsula.  A nice little town with a great bakery.  We had planned to anchor all night but after four hours ashore we got back to the boat and the wind had really picked up (it has been a very windy summer in the north) and our buddy Mother Nature decided to stir things up again and throw in a rather large storm heading right for us.  So.....once again we had to go into a Marina.  Our money saving anchoring plan is not working out so well for us and I haven't heard the word "Free Dock" in weeks!!!  It did really blow that night and rain and thunder and the whole show, so I was glad we weren't whipping around our anchor on Grand Traverse Bay.
Thursday we decided to meet up again with Gary's sister Wendy and husband Carl.  We stopped in Leland for a quick tour before meeting them at the anchorage on South Manitou Island.  The first night went well until about 3 am when out of the blue these soft rollers started coming in.  At first we thought freighter wake but it continued throughout the night.  It was like being in a big hammock, rocking back and forth.  Luckily my mal de mer seems to be under control now that I've developed 'sea legs' but it was a pretty weird experience.

Friday ended up being about as perfect a day you could ask for. We took advantage by hiking around Manitou Island. We were sore when we had completed what ended up being almost eight miles of walking....but this morning we were able to function so all is well. We had a great day.

We are now in Frankfort tucked in for the 20 to 30 MPH winds predicted for tomorrow.....suicide to be out in that.  Turns out there is a Salmon Tournament this weekend so there is lots of small boat activity but we are anchored in a no wake zone with 2 other trawlers and so far so good!  We also have the added entertainment of a wedding on the shore nearest us.  Oh, those were the days....

I know, I know, less talk, more action ....

                  Let's start with the bad!!!
Damage incurred while at the dock in Boyne City....There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Gary's pretty sure he can fix it and pretty sure he doesn't really want to!!

Lake Charlevoix House/boathouse

Lake Charlevoix House/ sailboat house


                                         A dreary start


                                                             Fish Town Docks Leland

Small towns have Yogis' too!

Point Bessie Light.....Frankfort

The rush to the scales....

Now that's a fish....and he said it wasn't that big!!

Main Street Frankfort

I scream, he screamed, we both screamed   ICE CREAM

Tie A Knot....in the rear 

We had a birds eye view of  the wedding 

And the post wedding fireworks

Well I'm beat this wedding stuff is killing me!!  Tomorrow I'll post the real deal.....Pure Michigan

Stay tuned...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Quebec and the St. Lawrence

We left Lake Champlain on Sunday after stopping in Plattsburgh to get cash and a Canadian Courtesy flag.  Plattsburgh was a happening place  on a Sunday afternoon. They were just closing shop on a downtown jam session and there were lots of people around.  Amtrak  takes people from Plattsburgh north to Montreal or south to New York City.  The station is circa 1886 and Amtrak now only has a small office, the rest is commercial offices.  It was a neat building in good condition the only advice I could give is..."WASH YOUR WINDOWS"!  I can't figure out why that is a business' lowest priority.  Drives me nuts.
We anchored that night about a mile north of the city and left the next morning for Canada.  Unfortunately I left until the last minute to figure out our phone situation.  So as usual I was frantically trying to make a decision after contacting Verizon.  Actually we had to go VERY slow to the Canadian Customs office while I got the job done, hoping they weren't trying to figure out what type of contraband we were hiding while loitering. The decision ended up being .98 cents a minute for in coming and out going calls and no Internet.  The calls part was ok.  The Internet not so much.
You see, I hadn't factored in that we were heading into Quebec where French is the language. The radio stations are in French and the weather on the VHF French, so we didn't know the weather other than what the sky told us for the entire 3 days we were travelling there. There were even a few of the lock tenders that didn't speak English which surprised me.  I didn't realize how much I really do depend on the Internet for information.  Remember this 'doing the Loop' was a last minute decision and we did not have the information most people have for doing it aka...charts and guide books.  Our Chartplotter doesn't cover Canadian waters so we were doing it like the explorers did...isn't that cool!
I guess it was in a way, we had a Lake Ontario Chartbook from John Mackie, but the rest of the charts were hard to find.  I called all the Marina's and nobody in Lake Champlain had charts for the Richelieu and St. Lawrence...but we were pretty sure that someone had to have them in Quebec, so the first marina we came to a couple of miles over the border we stopped and sure enough they had just what we needed for this leg...so onward.
The Richelieu and St. Oar were very lively.  The French Canadians LOVE the outdoors.  In all of our trip we have never seen that many people walking, biking, running, paddle boarding, kayaking, just enjoying the outdoors in general.  From young to quite old (funny how your perception of age changes over the years).  The waterway was in some places very narrow and the bike paths were right next to the canal.  Unfortunately I couldn't make the sun shine that day.

The locks here are unique in that they are all manually operated.  They open the lock on one end with a crank, let the boats in, crank 'er shut again and then go to the other end and crank again to let the water in or out and then yup' they crank open the doors to let you out.  Most of the locks now have students tending the locks Canada is following the US in getting rid of older more costly labor and replacing it with younger cheaper labor.  The older tenders were mostly ok with it as they were getting 'bought out' and were ready to move on, and I must say the younger workers (half of them female) were very friendly and animated.  They seemed to be enjoying the work while getting fit while pumping that 'iron'!!!

This guy was a riot.  He gave me half of a cucumber wrapped in a napkin to pass to the girl at the next lock.  A relay they had going.  She just laughed.

Here they are at the other end lowering the water

She is passing info to the next lock.  They don't answer or communicate on VHF Radio only by phone, which seems odd to us but that's how it's done.

Then she had to go to the other end of the lock to open the doors.  
It was a pretty tight fit in these locks My Therapy is 34 and we are 42 feet so we did well together.

The scenery on the canal was very rural.  Lots of farms growing lots of corn.  We didn't go by any more "towns" the water was houses and maybe a few small business. No big roads either just a bike path all the way from St. Jean at the beginning of the canal to Chambly at the end. Then it was a short trip through the more residential St. Oar section of the waterway which ended by spilling us into the mighty St. Lawrence.

I was a little intimidated by the St. Lawrence from stories I'd heard and read which just proves, don't read or listen to stories, it was a piece of cake!  We did it during the week so there was no boat traffic except for the couple of freighters we saw during the day and the five that rocked us out of sleep at between 2 and 5 in the morning the first night when we anchored just off of the shipping channel.  We were in an area where they were "putting the pedal to the metal" so had only ourselves to blame.  

Day 2 on the St. Lawrence took us through the first two of the six BIG locks, the St. Lambert and the St. Catherine. We had to wait for an hour at the first lock as a freighter was down bound.  It was really neat watching it come out of the lock.  The locks ended up being easy and not as tiring as the canal locks which are very close together. The only downside to the big locks was, they were not included in our Canal Lock Pass so we had to pay, at $30 a lock!   The last lock was almost a drive through, I think they made us tie up only so they could collect their thirty bucks!  Waterway Robbery!!!!
Oh well, you play, you pay.

It was quite an interesting experience with nowhere near the amount of boats travelling as we had expected.  The most we were ever in a lock with was five boats.  No wonder they have to charge, right?

Locks Slideshow

Remember: click the  i at the bottom of the slideshow for the captions and if you click the speaker button you can even get my newly added soundtrack (I am loving this)   :-)

So, here we are three weeks after arriving in Michigan and ready to head out.  We've had a nice stay with Gary's dad, Bub, who at 97 is still going strong!
Let's see what have we accomplished while here, you probably have come to realize that we don't sit idle anywhere, no time to relax when you live in a money pit on the water (big smile here)!

Gary rebuilt one of our turbos to see if that will help with the smoking and it went well until he snapped the V-Clamp on the exhaust hose.  Trying to find parts for old boats is not an easy task. Today he drove to Gaylord, an hour from here, hoping to find the part we need at a diesel truck repair place. We haven't gotten our props back from repair yet but our friend Denny will deliver them to us somewhere downstate.  Plus lots of little chores and another major provisioning.

We should have left on Saturday as the weather over the weekend was perfect, but then we would have missed the Music Festival, a top event here, and because we stayed we met up with Chuck on 'Luv n' Life' who pulled in right next to Wendy & Carl's boat at Petoskey Marina on Saturday afternoon.  It was great to see him again.  The last time we saw him was on the Champlain Canal on July 4th.  AND THE BEST PART of waiting is that gas prices are going down!!!!  We are overjoyed!!
             Rosie, Ron, Wendy, Gary, Jann, Meredith, Chuck, Carl at Festival On The Bay

Now you are all caught up, and ready for the next part of our adventure.  We plan to head out Wednesday morning.
Stay tuned.....

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Castles

I'm backing up until I make it to the beginning ....
While on the St. Lawrence, after checking back into US Customs we stopped at Singer Castle on Dark Island  & Boldt Castle on Hart Island both in the 1000 Islands, N.Y.

Boldt Castle was built by George Boldt, the general manager of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City,  for his wife Louise.  Unfortunately she died while it was being built and George left it unfinished and never returned to the island.  We went there 25 years ago and it was a sad wreck. We were not going to visit it again until a woman in Waddington N.Y. told us how it was being refurbished and it was really worth seeing again.
We were SO glad we talked to her because the restoration that is being done by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority who now own it was nothing short of Spectacular.  Honestly, I teared up when we went in and Gary was flabbergasted (where in the heck did that word come from).  They have poured millions into the castle following the original plans as to the architectural details that were to go into the interior even down to the furnishings that would have been put in place.( I am sure Louise is smiling from above.)  It is now a huge tourist attraction and wedding locale.  Some of the pictures show rooms that have not been restored.

The following from Wikipedia:

The construction of Boldt Castle ceased abruptly in early 1904 after the death of Boldt's wife, Louise Kehrer Boldt. For 73 years, the castle and other stone structures were left exposed to the harsh winter weather and occasional vandals. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired Heart Island and the nearby yacht house in 1977, for one dollar, under the agreement that all revenues obtained from the castle operation would be applied towards restoration, so that the island would be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. In the two decades after acquiring the property, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority spent some fifteen million dollars for restoration and improvements here, and work continues annually. 

When we got there it was 11 am and the place was already jam packed.  They have tour boats which come from Alexandria Bay across the river and a dock behind the castle for boaters.  As luck would have it the dock was full and we were milling about waiting for someone to leave when I thought let's call the Castle office and see if we can tie up at the Yacht House.  I was a bit surprised when they said "sure"!  So you will see Tie A Knot moored at the beautifully restored turn of the century Yacht House at Boldt Castle!

Singer & Boldt Castles

This link will take interested readers to a brief history of Singer Castle.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Georgian Bay to Petoskey

The 30,000 Island of Georgian Bay were fantastic.  Raw beauty.  Beautiful blue green water surrounding rocks, rocks, and more rocks.  Every cabin is built on rock.  How they did it we couldn't fathom.  There were some pretty old places out here so they've been doing it for many years. The Small Craft Route here was a winding weaving tight course.  You could look over the side at almost any time on the narrowest passages and see rocks jutting up just below the surface.  This was definitely a place where you want to follow the charts and bouys without any shortcuts.  In some places the water was over 100 feet deep only to drop to 15' a boats length away  BIG ROCK under the water.
It was so far my favorite though as I'd never seen anything like it.  

Click the link at the end of this blog for a slideshow of some highlights.

We left the Port Severn Lock at 7 am on a chilly morning and it took us two full days to get to Killarney, Ont. where we had to stop to get a chart from Killarney to Little Current.  There wasn't much in Killarney but a lot of boats and people there on a miserable Saturday for their Fish Fry Fest.  We stopped to get fuel $5.00 a gallon  (heart attack time), but just enough to get us back to the states.  Unfortunately the going against the current in the St. Lawrence fouled up our fuel use estimates.  S*** Happens.
Little Current on Manitoulin Island ended up being a nice little town with 2 great grocery stores, best prices I'd seen in Canada !We picked up more groceries than planned because of the great stock and prices at the store and ended up getting a ride back to the boat (three blocks) from a very nice local lady who was in line behind us.   
The next day it was gray and drizzly but because  we had a west wind which meant a smooth crossing we decided to head across Lake Huron from the tip of Drummond Island which is in US waters.


Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island


Straits State Marina ....Mackinaw City

They're everywhere!!  Cute till you step in the goose poop!

Power for the marina

A different view of "Mighty Mac"

We left Mackinaw City on the 31st and met Gary's sister Wendy and husband Carl on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan....

Wendy & Carl  on Sea Glass dropping anchor

We anchored and visited for the night and left the next morning to less than optimal looking skies.  It ended up being an "on the beam" rocky, rolly trip where we had to tack our way to Petoskey.

After 2 nights in the Petoskey Marina we found a cheap 'boatel' for our boat on Lake Charlevoix a three and a half hour trip from Petoskey.  But $15 a night versus $65???  A no brainer.

Heading into Charlevoix

Sights on Round Lake, Charlevoix

We were behind this Tall Ship from Maryland heading up Lake Charlevoix
Tie A Knots's new dock on Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City

 Clear Water


Gary and his sister Meredith and dad Bub 

Jann with sister Jill, brother in law John and niece Lindsay at Young State Park



Click the (blue) link for photos:  If you click the italic i at the bottom of the slideshow screen you'll see the captions.  

Georgian Bay 30,000 Islands