Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Manitowoc to Racine, WI

Tuesday, August 26 - Checking the weather this morning we honed our plans for the day. There was a small craft warning out for the waters below Sheboygan so we decided to run only from Manitowoc to Sheboygan in winds of 5-10 knots and waves 1-3. Yeah, right.

Getting up early (due to the central time change) we had coffee and then I set out for the farmers market with the idea of coming back with something for breakfast, too. The air was crisp this morning, feeling a little fall-ish, actually. It was a nice walk to the market, though, and by the time I got there I was feeling very comfortable with the temperature. The marina is located next to a little beach and the local YMCA...

Most of the vendors were Asian at the farmers' market, which was different. The produce looked great and I came back with strawberries (yes, past the season, I know...but they smell delicious and are small...look like wild strawberries, actually), peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, yellow tomatoes and yellow cherry tomatoes. Since the market offered no breakfast choices I stopped at a nearby hotel cafe for a carry-out breakfast sandwich. While I waited on the order I talked with the hostess about the goings on in Chicago this time of year...

Back at the boat, we ate and set off for Sheboygan. Before we got out of the harbor we knew it was going to be a rough ride for a while. We were hoping it would mellow out when we got out a little way into deeper water. And it didn't. Then we had to decide whether to go forward or go back. Go forward, we decided, but at a faster pace so we could "get on top" of the waves. And so we did. I was thinking how nice it is to have the power to use when you need it in situations like this.

About 10 miles out of Sheboygan the starboard engine quit. Yep. Wouldn't start back up. OK...good thing, I'm thinking, that we have two engines and not just one! We rolled on into Sheboygan and the Harbor Centre Marina on one engine. To be prudent and safe, we called the Coast Guard station at Sheboygan and told then we were traveling on one engine and while we didn't expect any problems getting into Sheboygan we would appreciate their being aware of our location and course. They took down our coordinates and destination, then asked us to give them a call when we actually got into the Sheboygan Harbor.

We went slowly and just rode up and down a few 4-footers. It took us an hour to do what would have taken 15 or 20 minutes at our previous speed. Wayne did a great job harnessing the one engine to do our bidding! Once safely into the slip we called the Coast Guard and thanked them for their assistance.

So...what's wrong with the starboard engine??? Well, we needed to wait a while to let the engine room cool down so Wayne could go in and check on some obvious causes. Meanwhile, we took off for lunch.

As we walked on the waterfront we came across this almost derelict looking fishing boat...with a nice Furuno unit perched on top. I like that. Spend money on the important things.

There are several nice spots along the waterfront for dining in Sheboygan and we selected the Duke of Devon, an English pub type restaurant owned by the same group that has Trattoria Stefano, a local Italian restaurant that gets great reviews. (Stefano's is not open for lunch...so if we need to stay here a couple of days we'll try to make it over there for dinner one night.) The pub meal was just right. We split a plate with selections of Wisconsin cheeses and ham, served with curried greens, chutney, and a delicious locally made bread. The bread was so good we almost made a meal of that (with butter) and ordered more when the ham and cheese plate came. (I was telling David later how good the bread and butter were and he recalled a time when he was in Wisconsin for work and ordered a hamburger. They asked if he wanted butter on it, and he said yes. The hamburger was served with a slice of butter atop that looked like a slice of cheddar cheese in size. They don't call this the Dairy State for nothing!)

Wayne left after lunch to go back to the boat and see what he could tell about the engine issue and I struck off for the historic downtown area. The weather was perfect for walking around...low 70's, breezy and sunny. I found the Mead County Public Library and spent a little time there collecting some future reads from their book sale area, then visited the Boston Store downtown to browse the sales.

Back on the boat, Wayne had done his check on the engine and found nothing out of order...except that it wouldn't start. He had already scheduled a mechanic to come in tomorrow morning. We went to bed wondering what the next day would bring.

Wednesday, August, 27 - The mechanic was scheduled to come at 8:30AM, but Wayne predicted he'd be late. At 9:30 AM his boss called and said he'd be another hour getting there. Wayne was going to do some reading until he came...so I headed out to take a look at the local fine arts center.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center (family name, Kohler, of bathroom fixture fame) was within easy walking distance of the harbor. Known for its contemporary art, touring the Center was a morning well spent.

And its claim to fame? Well...remember the Kohler heritage.

The bathrooms in this art center have been designed by artists! This is the first time I've ever taken a picture of a toilet bowl...and I'm not sure I want to know about the others of you out there who have done the same! I checked out two of the women's bathrooms while there. The toilet bowls (at least one in each bathroom) were decorated...and the walls were done up in an elaborate fashion, too.

The exhibits were very unique. The Art Center highlights contemporary pieces done by people who are considered on the outside of regular art circles. Things the "Rhinestone Cowboy" home crafted by Loy Allen Bowlin (http://www.galenfrysinger.com/sheboygan_museum_rhinestone_cowboy.htm)

I especially liked the exhibit that dealt with hand crafted items. One artist had constructed a quilt from "found" pieces of cloth (used clothing, fabric samples, etc.) and documented the origin of the various fabric pieces in a little bound journal. I'm all inspired to do a quilt from some of my "treasured" aprons, t-shirts, clothing....well, you get the picture. At last I'll have a way to display my original, hand painted t-shirt of Tammy Faye Bakker (makeup smeared all over the face) that reads, "I ran into Tammy Faye at the mall!" I bought it back in the 80's when we were living in Charlotte, NC. And those rock concert t-shirts!

So, anyway, after the museum stroll I headed back to the boat to see what the mechanic had found. Turns out the engine was running fine now, and they weren't sure why. He had bled some of the lines from the fuel tank to the engine...and the engine wouldn't start. Then he took the air filter off the engine, and the engine started. He examined the air filter and declared it "good." They put it back on and the engine started just fine. Maybe an air bubble in there somewhere? Could have been all the jostling around yesterday???

With the engine back in working order we were ready to continue our journey down the Wisconsin coast to Port Washington. The weather report looked like this was a pretty good day to go, and the conditions were improving as the day went on. So we left at around noon.

Well...it was still a bit bumpy getting into Port Washington, but we fared just fine. But all this bumpiness brings up the point of how one navigates around the boat when it's rocking and rolling. Now, I'm not talking about taking a stroll 'round the deck. More like heeding a call of nature...or getting food.

Here's my strategy. Hang on to something all the time. And if you find yourself needing to stand in one place for a while (like fixing a tuna salad sandwich in the galley), brace your feet in a position so that you are steadied against something. I think this is why galleys are narrow. I can place one foot against the stove baseboard and one against the opposite cabinet baseboard and ride pretty comfortably, rocking side to side as the boat rocks front to back, with no hands required.

Have something prepared ahead of time, if at all possible, so the trip downstairs is a quick one! Or...on especially bad rides, we have been known to bring up the snack boxes (peanut butter crackers, dried fruit, nuts, etc.) and skip a meal. But you know that's gotta hurt. :-)

Just a little insight here on what we're learning...

We were staying at the Port Washington Marina this Wednesday night and stopped at the fuel dock as we entered to refuel and get a pump out. Diesel was a glorious $3.79/gallon! Can you believe that's cause for celebration now?! Here's a view of the light at the entrance of the harbor and the city of Port Washington as we came into the marina.

Once all tucked into our slip we took Lucy for a walk around downtown Port Washington. It's a cute little place. We have plans to stay here for several days...maybe until Monday, Labor Day, so we can visit with family in Grafton, a little south of Port Washington.

Thursday, August 28 - Andrea's birthday. Happy Birthday, Andrea!!!

A day off the water! (Well, you know what I mean.) We're so excited! We struck out after checking emails and having coffee with the idea of getting some breakfast in town. As we walked we spotted Beanies Mexican Restaurant and decided to hold out a little longer until they opened for lunch and have some spicy food. It was a good decision...lunch there was great.

We needed some large items...motor oil, paper products, bottled water...and decided to check out the local transportation options. Turns out Port Washington has a shared taxi service that would pick us up at the marina and take us to the Walmart and grocery store location for $3.75/person. We jumped on that! We were the only people in the little van as we went over to Walmart. It's the kind of vehicle that can accommodate wheelchairs, so there were really only about 5 regular seats in it besides the driver's seat. We shopped Walmart, then I went over to the grocery store for those items we hadn't found already (it wasn't a Super Walmart...just a simple Walmart.) As Wayne was waiting with our Walmart loot, the little van drove by and offered to pick him up. I wasn't quite ready at the grocery store, though, so the van took one person home, Wayne along for the ride, then came back and picked me up.

OK. There's no way we could have gotten all that stuff in a regular taxi...maybe not even in a regular car! 15 gallons of oil (all they had on the shelf), bottled water, large packages of paper towels and toilet paper...well, you get the picture. I don't know what we would have done if we'd encountered a wheelchair client on the ride back...there was no room! The driver was so nice. He took his gypsy clients back to the marina and even helped us unload the stuff. What value!

That afternoon I got in touch with my Aunt Joann, wife of Mother's deceased brother, Tom, and arranged to go to a family gathering tomorrow night at the home of Betty, one of her daughters. Then I strolled into a hair salon and got a haircut. We were off to a good start in Port Washington!

Friday, August 29 - After a breakfast of waffles and bacon, I headed out for the local veterinarian to pick up some Lucy supplies. My cousin Betty called as I was going back to the boat and said that she'd love to bring the kids by to see the boat. We arranged for them to come over that afternoon.

I hadn't seen Betty or the kids in a couple of years and was surprised to see how much Adam and Abby have grown! Adam, 10, is starting football this year and Abby, 8, is very active in gymnastics. We had a great time showing them around and answering all the questions they had about life on a boat. How does Lucy get to the bathroom? How do you know where to stay each night?

Here are Betty, Adam, Abby and Abby's friend.

That evening Betty and her sister Chris picked us up and we went to Betty's house for supper. What a great time! We had appetizers, brats, salads....and cheesecake for dessert. It was so nice to catch up with the family and see Aunt Joann again. We ate out on the back deck and took advantage of the great weather. Here are Wayne, Joann, Fred, Chris, Betty, and Mike.

Here we are, posing for a family picture with Sonny, the dog....

And Adam with his new football jerseys...

I even caught a shot of the illusive Abby sampling the cheesecake....

Saturday, August 30 - Another day off the water. How nice. We had breakfast and coffee while watching the latest political news and checking emails. Then we checked the weather to see if we could get a feel for what Monday might bring. Lo and behold the weather for today, Saturday, looked great! Waves 1 ft. or under. It took us no time to decide we needed to travel today to Racine, WI, about 40 some miles down the coast.

We were out of Port Washington by 9 AM...our only regret that we didn't get to do brunch on Sunday at the Port Hotel. The water was all it was cracked up to be...for the first 3 hours, at least. Then the 3-4 ft. high waves came on, along with a wind, and we bounced on into Racine taking big waves on our bow. I took a few pictures to give you an idea of the water...we had water splashing up onto the bridge windows.
And as we came into the harbor you could see the choppy water and the flag flying!

We got into Reefpoint Marina and settled in for the evening. Glad to be off Lake Michigan, a-gin, and glad to be staying put until Sept. 10. We were out on the back deck enjoying the evening air when Bob and Carol Kunath of San Souci stopped by to say hello. Bob writes the section on Lake Michigan for the Waterways Guide and we had followed his suggestion to come down the east side of Lake Michigan for a while...then switch over to the Wisconsin side. They invited us to a dock party in the marina on Sunday evening.

Sunday, August 31 - Last day in August. Amazing! This year has flown by.

We set out for....breakfast, of course. Found one restaurant serving that morning--Blueberries, a natural foods restaurant. I had biscuits and gravy (whole wheat biscuits with organic pork sausage gravy) and Wayne had French toast stuffed with blueberry cream cheese. Mine was way too filling...and Wayne's wasn't filling enough.

That afternoon I gave Lucy a haircut. She's a little overdue. I didn't hack her up too badly. When I walked her this evening she still got "cute dog" comments. :-)

We had supper at Spinnakers, the marina restaurant, then went over to Bob Kanuth's area for the dock party. We met a great group of people who referred to us as, alternately, Loopy Loopers and "real boaters." It was a fun evening.

We're here, like I said, for a while. I'm going to fly back to Raleigh on Thursday to hang out with Alex while Heather and Dave celebrate their anniversary. I'll be back on the 8th and we'll re-provision on the 9th and leave here on the 10th. 'Til then, email us or call...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Manistee, MI, to Manitowoc, WI

Monday, August 25 - We had planned to leave Manistee Sunday, but the weather wasn't good for traveling so we stayed another day. It was like having a day given to us! We caught up on some record keeping, reading, and laundry. We walked up to Flavors Restaurant for lunch and topped it off by splitting an ice cream sunday. Yum, yum! After that I decided I needed even more of a walk and walked back up to the fishing pier at the harbor entrance.

Wayne and I had visited the pier on Friday and things were really hopping down there then! This young duo posed with their catch.

People were bringing in loads of salmon and a fish cleaning venture had been set up that charged $2/fish for cleaning. Believe me, at the speed with which those guys were cleaning fish they were making money! I've never seen anybody clean a fish so fast.

On Sunday evening there wasn't as much activity going on, though there were still a lot of people out enjoying the day. I walked over to the public beach to enjoy the view of water, sand and shoreline. You'll notice a few brave souls out there in the 70 degree waters...

We've had three full days to see the sights around here. Manistee has some gorgeous old buildings downtown. In fact, the downtown business district is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. Here's a parting shot of downtown Manistee on our rainy Saturday morning out for breakfast.

So, yesterday, Sunday evening, we checked the marine forecast to plan our travel for today. After a lot of studying and looking we decided that we had a shot at making the crossing from Michigan to Wisconsin. It seemed that Lake Michigan was going to have a good day for travel from Manistee north...and a rough day (at least out in the open lake part) for the south section. (Check out the marine forecasts for Lake Michigan on this website: http://www.weather.gov/os/marine/zone/gtlakes/lmopen.htm) We decided to stay in the upper part of Lake Michigan for the trip and go from Manistee to Kewaunee, WI.

I was up early this morning...checking the weather again. It can change so quickly! It still looked like a decent day: winds 10-15, waves 1-3. The direction of the wind was north or northeast, and that could prove to be a problem since the course to Kewaunee would have the wind and waves on our side, or "beam." That can cause the boat to rock from side to side and can result in a very uncomfortable ride. (See segment below where we crossed the Grand Traverse Bay...) We decided to go out and test the waters. If we felt uncomfortable with it, we'd head back into the Michigan shore and go to Pentwater for the evening.

We left at our usual...8:30AM. Golden Lily, Our Turn, and Blue Max all left out before us going to Pentwater. We wove our way through the maze of fishing boats out that morning and into the lake. The waves were rolling, far apart...and of the 1-3 variety. Fortunately they were slow and far enough apart to be tolerable. About 20 miles into the trip, though, we decided the waves might work with us if they were on our stern so we switched direction and headed in a more southerly path to the town of Manitowoc, WI. Then we surfed Lake Michigan! We ran the engines at around 1700 rpm's...a little faster than we normally go...and rode the waves. Our speed varied from 9.5 mph to well above 12 mph, depending on how we caught the waves.

It was a beautiful day and we didn't see one boat in the "big" waters. We did see depths of over 750 ft.! A personal best for us on the Segue.

We got into Manitowoc Marina at around 2:30...or, on their Central Time, 1:30. We were beat, though. Just the anticipation of crossing the lake, not knowing whether we'd end up turning back or not...and almost 7 hours of travel...we were drained. We checked in, plugged in, and took Lucy for a long walk through town. There's a farmer's market tomorrow morning beginning at 7 AM! Shouldn't be a problem getting up with this whole "central time thing" going on. Once we've loaded up on some fresh fruits and veggies we'll head out for Sheboygan or maybe even Port Washington. We'll see how the conditions are for travel.

We just polished off our first Papa Johns' Pizza since we got back to the States...and at 8:30PM OUR time, we're ready to crash. We'll be helping the farmers set up at 6 in the morning. :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Charlevoix, MI, to Manistee, MI

Wednesday, August 20 - Time to leave Charlevoix...with reluctance. But there are port a-callin' out there...Just one more "fairy tale" house, though. Actually more like a fairy tale castle...and it's for sale!

This would be an easy day. Winds 5-10 and waves 1 ft. or less. Or so we thought.

Our course from Charlevoix to Leland took us across the Grand Traverse Bay. The winds were from the south/southeast and that hadn't been a problem until we got to the mouth of the bay. Then...well, we suffered. Rocking and rolling again. It only lasted for about 12 miles...but it was all we cared to have. Fortunately the water leveled out to a smooth-as-glass trip for the rest of the time.

As we were going down, we heard from radio conversations that the docking at Leland was sparse and might very well involve rafting up to another boat. With Lucy aboard, that would not be a good thing. She'd go crazy hearing anyone talk nearby, let alone having people walking across the boat! We had left Charlevoix at the same time as Golden Lily. We had started considering a run of 70 miles to Frankfort instead of Leland at about the time Golden Lily expressed the same thoughts. They have a dog, too. Within 30 minutes we had changed our course and set out to Frankfort with reservations at the Jacobson Marina. We knew it would be a long day, but we were glad to be traveling in calm seas.

Once in Frankfort we all checked the weather forecast and decided to run down to Manistee tomorrow for what would likely be a 3-4 day stay. I took a nice long walk to the local grocery store for a few things (still looking for Lucy's favorite chewies) and passed by the Frankfort Municipal Marina. Nearby, four artists had set up to paint for the evening. Darn! I wasn't ready for that tonight given our travel day. Frankfort is a nice looking little town, though, and would probably be worth a longer visit someday.

When I got back to the boat we made reservations for the next few nights at the Manistee Municipal Marina. That done, we settled into the evening.

Thursday, August 21 - Golden Lily and Segue headed out around 8:30AM and had smooth waters all the way. So smooth, in fact, that we both, independently, considered a run all the way to Ludington, MI., but decided to stick with our plans for Manistee.

The east coast of Lake Michigan is made up of lots of dunes and sandy beaches. We were traveling past the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on this segment of the trip and it was a very different landscape for us. I took a shot of some people on the dunes to give you an idea of the scale...

Manistee Municipal Marina is located right downtown Manistee with a Riverwalk that goes for miles. We're looking forward to having a few days here before we head over to the Wisconsin side.

Funny thing happened with Lucy tonight. You know we haven't had her usual chewies for her evening treat for a while now. I have these rawhide "chips" that I've substituted...until today when I bought a whole different kind of chewy and gave her one. After dinner she started doing her "chewy bark" and I relented and gave her one of the rawhide chips. She took it in her mouth, then dropped it and flipped it with her nose down onto the galley steps. When I offered it up again, she wouldn't take it in her mouth. I gave her another "new" chewy and she ran with it. What a picky dog!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Orillia, ON, to... well, all the way to Charlevoix, MI !!!

Monday, August 4 - The boats were packed in so at Port of Orillia that we had to wait until about 10 AM to leave in order not to rush the boat parked behind us. It was a beautiful day for travel and at around 3:30 PM we got to the Big Chute lock.

We had anticipated a wait here, especially since we were the last to arrive of four boats. We took the vacant spot left at the front of the blue line, then got off and assured everyone else that we weren't trying to "break line." No problem, they said, because the lock master will call the boats up in the order he wants anyway. As we were standing there, ready to take our camera and walk up to see the rail car in operation, a car full of boats came up the lock our way.

At about the same time, the lock master announced the order for the next load: two runabouts in front on either side and Segue in the middle on the back. No picture taking today! We got ready to do the Big Chute!

This is something we've looked forward to since we started planning the trip, it's so unique. We drove the boat up onto the rail car that was by then submerged. Slings are placed under the boat and we were balanced and upright (!!!) the whole trip. The car runs on rails up out of the water and over a road to the other side...where it goes down the rails into the water and the boats float off. It was an amazingly fast trip, considering all that happened!

Segue entering the rail car...

View from the top....

And looking back...

We'd actually planned to stay the night above the Big Chute on the wall, but when we were called in so quickly we decided to just head on down to Port Severn. We had a slip reserved for Tuesday night at the Driftwood Cove Marina and were hoping they could fit us in a day early. As we neared the area we heard marina traffic on the radio channel 68 and realized there were a lot of boats out that evening vying for space. We hailed the marina and they were full for the evening. Our next choice was the Port Severn lock wall.

At first glance the wall looked full. Then we spotted a space...but weren't sure we'd have enough water for our 4.5 ft. draft. The lock attendant saw us looking around and came out to ask if we wanted to spend the night. He assured us there was enough water where we were looking and even went so far as to move a small boat to get us in. Again we found room at the locks!

As we docked we realized we were right next to Janet and Bob on Shoe Box. Turns out they were getting ready to pull their boat from the water the next day and put it in storage for the winter. They'll pick up their fifth wheel and take off for the western states to spend the winter. Next summer they'll pick up Shoe Box and tour around cool waters again. Not a bad life, eh? Janet said they figure they've averaged paying somewhere under $6/night for dock space this season on the boat. That includes the cost of the annual mooring pass, like we have, that allows you to stay on lock walls at no additional charge.

Also at the lock dock was a young couple we'd met that day traveling on a Sea-Doo. They have a small tent and sleeping bags in the vessel and camp at locks each night. I asked what they did for food and they said they just make sure they're staying somewhere close to a restaurant. They'd love to do the Loop someday and Wayne told them it's been done on a Sea-Doo. I could see the young guy's eyes sparkling...

Tuesday, August 5 - We were just getting ready to take a walk around the area of Port Severn when Rick and Sharon from Orillia dropped by. They knew we had planned to spend the night at Big Chute and had come out that morning with camera in hand to take pictures of Segue in the Chute. Well chute! We chatted for a while then they took off. What a nice couple!

We walked across the bridge to the local groceries for a few items and to the post office...then we walked to Driftwood Cove Marina and had a late breakfast at the cafe there. Wayne had eggs and sausage and I (who'd had boiled eggs for breakfast) had a piece of bumbleberry pie. I wanted it a la mode, but they were out of vanilla ice cream!!

Back at the boat I struck up a conversation with a woman docked there with her husband and four dogs. Lucy has had a time with fleas on this trip and we bonded on the subject. I left with a new flea collar and a hearty sampling of flea shampoo. I took her a book and some note cards as a token of appreciation. Fleas, be gone!

Finally ready to be off for Driftwood Cove we untied from the Port Severn lock and stopped by Severn Boat Haven for a top-off on fuel before entering the Georgian Bay. In answer to your unspoken question...you don't want to know what fuel is running these days. You're going through the same thing, right?

We pulled into Driftwood after noon and met Sandra and Paul on the Sandra Ann next to us. They came over later that afternoon and gave us some advice on where to go and anchor in the Georgian Bay.

The weather got stormy and rainy that evening so it was nice to be inside and cozy. Tomorrow...The Georgian Bay!

But...we have so loved the locks of the Rideau and the Trent Severn. So easy to deal with...paid for docking...neat, landscaped areas. And the close encounters with people. On our last day in Port Severn we caught this typical scene on film. First...a dog and his peeps taking a dip.

Then...the morning bath in the 76 degree water.....the lady on the far left is shampooing.

Just love this area!

Wednesday, August 6 - The rains had cleared and we were out of Driftwood by around 9 AM and made our way quickly through the Port Severn Lock. The channel markers change here (red on the right and green on the left) so we watched our charts carefully as we left. We were already on "high alert" entering The Georgian Bay (rocks everywhere!) and the course out of Port Severn Lock was narrow and swift. A great introduction to the area!

Paul (of Sandra Ann) had suggested that we take the "outside route" today instead of the "small craft route" so that we could get on up to the really good parts of the Bay. Anxious to get on with it, we decided that's what we'd do.

Well. The winds picked up after about an hour out and we found ourselves in some of the deepest waves we've had on this trip. The boat was actually hitting once in front (as we dove down into the wave) then once in back (as we came out of the wave.) I was feeling a tad green around the gills. It had been so long since we'd been in "big" waters that I didn't even think about taking a Bonine that morning. We ended up running faster...tweaking the trim tabs...taking a different angle on the course...all to make it back into the small craft channel by around 2 PM.

I was steady enough to take a picture of one of the many lighthouses we've seen up here as we came into the channel...

We were exhausted...and glad to be out of the waves! We wanted to anchor in Echo Bay tonight so that's where we headed. We would dinghy back, then, to Henry's Fish Restaurant on Frying Pan Island for the fresh fish fried dinner (usually pickerel). If only our windlass had cooperated!

Echo Bay already had about six boats anchored, but we found a good spot and started the anchoring process. Wayne and David had worked on the windlass several weeks ago and it was working last we checked. Well...not this day. Nothing. We decided to just go back to Henry's and see if they had a spot available for the night. Once we got settled in at Henry's, Wayne started looking at the windlass problem. (We definitely needed an anchor up here!) It turns out that a wire had come unconnected...probably during the pitching and rolling we'd done that afternoon! Fortunately, it was an easy fix.

We were docked opposite a sailboat owned by Andrew and Christine. They are interested in doing the Loop...possibly next year...and we talked about where we'd been and where they'd been. They showed us a good anchorage for the following night.

Henry's is an official airport for seaplanes and helicopters. This is a picture with Henry's and the docks in the background and one of the many seaplanes we saw that day in the foreground.

As we mellowed that late afternoon out on the back deck we saw a familiar boat headed our way. Carry Forward, with David and Gracie, had been anchored nearby the night before and were coming in for the evening. They'd met that morning a couple (who also owned a Main Ship trawler) who lived nearby and used to run a fishing lodge. David and Gracie had spent the day running around the area waters in their dinghy, following the lead of Liz and Price Taylor. (That's right. We met Liz Taylor on the Great Loop.) Price and Liz were coming over to Henry's that evening for dinner and Gracie and David invited us to join them.

Liz and Price had raised a family in this area and had great stories to tell about their kids learning to ride Ski-Doo's at the age of 4 so they could each have their own transportation to the local school when they started kindergarten the next year. Price flew a seaplane for years up here and recalled one time when his son had taken the little boat out for a ride. Price had a feeling his son was holding down the speed until he got out of sight and then was flying on the water...so he followed him in the air and swooped down on him to give him the message that he was to slow down!

The pan fried pickerel dinner was delicious and the company was wonderful. We wound up the evening with coffee, more conversation, and a decadent chocolate torte (thanks to Gracie) on Carry Forward.

Thursday, August 7 - When I called Nadine this morning to check in on her for the week I found out that my Aunt Lill had died the day before. Lill is Mother's younger sister and had been ill and in assisted living for several months. Mother and Lill had lived next door to each other for years in Johnson City...and Lill had married Daddy's brother, John, years after her first husband had died. Thankfully her illness was short and she was spared a lot of discomfort.

After calls to the family we struck out for our day's travel. We were going about 35 miles to an anchorage (recommended by Andrew and Christine) called Hopewell Bay. The weather forecast was a little threatening that day: thunderstorms coming up that afternoon and winds of 15-20 mph. We had a great day of travel, though...our first real experience with the narrow, rocky channels of the Georgian Bay small craft route.

We were anchored by 2:30 PM and the anchor set in like it was rooted in the bay! Winds were picking up and we saw more pressure on the anchor bridle than ever before. But we felt secure enough to take naps. When we got up to take Lucy into shore for the afternoon "run" we discovered one of the ropes on our anchor bridle had frayed loose. Wayne replaced it and then we got the dinghy down for a dog stop and a tour of the locale.

We motored over to a plot of rocks and landed Lucy for a walk...then took her back to the boat and set out to explore. It looked like it might rain later, but we were interested in checking out some of the cottages on the bay. We had gone out far enough to be almost to the mouth of the bay....when the dinghy motor quit. We hadn't run the dinghy since Lake Champlain in June. And remember the trouble we'd had in Solomons, MD, earlier in the trip? Well...the motor quit again. We started rowing back, but the winds had picked up considerably (of course!) and we were doing good to be holding our position without being blown out into the main channel. Fortunately for us, another boat in the bay had a dinghy out and they came by and towed us back to Segue. Whew! But...now what? Here we were in THE AREA we needed a dinghy and ours was proving to be unreliable. The fellow who towed us in had a Yamaha motor, too, and he commented on how unusual it was to have a Yamaha that didn't work...

Friday, August 8 - The weather forecast for this day was blustery. Our next segment on the trip would take us from Point au Baril Inlet to Byng Inlet...and much of that trip would be in a very open area. It wasn't something to undertake on a blustery day. I got up early and started trying to figure out what we could do that day that would gain us some time or miles. We were thinking that Killarney would be the place to have the dinghy work done...but that was two days away, and we'd have to wait until Monday for a business to take it in, we were sure. I started looking through our travel guides for something closer...

Point au Baril, only about 6 miles from us, I read, had a marine facility with a Yamaha service center. Maybe we could get there today and have the motor repaired. Then we'd be free to anchor as planned tonight and tomorrow night. When Wayne got up we talked about it and decided to pull up anchor and go for Point au Baril.

We put Lucy's morning walk on hold until we got to the marina and towed the dinghy behind the boat. Being among some of the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay as we went, the trip was a smooth one, in spite of the winds.

Payne Marine is about 1.5 miles before the Point au Baril Station docks. We pulled in around 11:30 AM and were greeted with a very friendly, young staff. Having talked to the shop manager about the problem, we left the dinghy and took off for a couple of hours while they worked on the motor.

Point au Baril Station, the town center, is very small, but has a couple of docks for day use and some overnight space.

We docked, with help from the town's staff, and got ready to have lunch in town and pick up a few supplies. Leaving the boat we met the couple already docked there for the night and talked with them about the area. They live on the Georgian Bay and frequent the Point au Baril waters. There is a large community of "cottagers" here and the local cottage association has even published a detailed map of the area showing cottage locations, private channel markers, services, and anchorages. The couple showed us the map and their favorite anchorages. We tucked that information away and bought the map later that day so we could explore some.

Several of the guidebooks touted a fish truck in town that was famous for fresh walleye on Fridays. We had our hearts set on that for lunch. Unfortunately, the truck, though still there, hasn't been open for several years. We dined, instead at the Chip Wagon along with a number of others. Then we hit the convenience store to beat all convenience stores, C. C. Kennedy Co.

C. C. Kennedy Co. is just across from the town docks and has groceries, Home Hardware supplies, books...well just about anything you want! We came out with milk, eggs, bacon, bananas, peppers...and a halogen bulb for our lamp that had burned out in the salon!

Having passed a couple of hours in town, we made our way back to Payne Marine to pick up our dinghy and its now functioning motor. Then we headed for a cove we'd spotted on the way up and set anchor for the night. Three other boats joined us before nightfall...and a party boat with young folks pulled in shortly thereafter and proceeded to have a great time! They finally left after midnight.

There are kids all over the place here driving boats solo. We've heard ads on the Moose Radio station about permits being required for operating boats. And in cottage country like this is, there are no roads to speak of...so the highway is the waterway. When we were in Point au Baril Station this afternoon there were any number of small boats docked to get supplies at Kennedy's. Talk about getting away from it all...this could be the place!

Saturday, August 9 - We woke up to a drenching rain this morning. We'd hoped to pull out early and make our way further up the way...but had to wait until around 11:30 AM.

From the weather reports we'd listened to we felt we had a good chance of "running outside" (yeah, I know...after the last experience on this open water, believe me... we considered it long and hard). We weren't quite as far out as we wanted to go when we started getting large, uncomfortable swells of water. We made our way back into the small craft channel thinking we'd just do that route. But then we looked up at the sky we were heading into. Kinda dark.

You know...we're just not in a hurry here. We had another anchorage in the Point au Baril area that had been recommended by the couple we met in "town" yesterday, so we went back and made ourselves comfortable for another night. This anchorage is way off the beaten path and at 5 PM on this Saturday night we're by ourselves...nice.

BTW, it's been a little chilly here today what with the rain and all. I've had on jeans and socks all day, items that were buried a little deep in the closet. When we were talking to the couple yesterday she said this had been a strange summer for them: cooler and wetter than normal. She said they normally wouldn't dress like "this." ("This" was cotton cropped pants and a 3/4 sleeve blouse.) I told them we hadn't seen a Canadian in the water yet that day, so figured it must be cool, even to them. The guy said, oh, no, they had a swim that morning! 76 degree water. They said, jokingly, that they've been known to throw in ice cubes if it isn't cold enough!

Sunday, August 10 - We woke up again to rain this morning, but decided the forecast looked good for us to do the small craft channel to Byng Inlet and the little town of Britt. The winds were predicted to be from the N or NW which would be blocked, then, by land.

Leaving Point au Baril we saw the site for the original barrel from which Point au Baril got it's name.

According to the Point au Baril Chamber of Commerce website, this is how the story goes:

In the mid 1800's when the first boats navigated the waters of Georgian Bay, very few of the channels were marked with anything more than a pile of stones. It was determined that a barrel be erected with a lantern placed on top to guide the boats into the channel after dark or in the event of a storm. This served as the first lighthouse for Pointe au Baril, hence the name which translates "Point of the Barrel". In 1889 the first lighthouse was erected to replace the barrel light. It stands to this day, over a hundred years old and still in use to guide fishing boats, sportsmen and residents to safe harbour and is open for viewing during the summer months.

The Point au Baril lighthouse...

Speaking of a "pile of stones" to mark a channel. I told you we bought a detailed map of the Point au Baril area done by the local residents. They use piles of rocks, painted white, to mark various channel entries. But we're also seeing a lot of stone creations like the one below.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Inukshuk (singular), meaning "likeness of a person" in Inuktitut (the Inuit language) is a stone figure made by the Inuit. The plural is inuksuit. The Inuit make inuksuit in different forms and for different purposes: to show directions to travellers, to warn of impending danger, to mark a place of respect, or to act as helpers in the hunting of caribou.

Back to the day's travel, though, we had no trouble at all doing the course. About 4 miles into it we heard from Melissa on Sonador (we met her in the Hopewell Bay anchorage). She and her friend Charlie were going the outside route that day to Britt and we told them we'd see them there at Wright's Marina.

We pulled in around noon and were delighted to find a courtesy car available. We needed a few fresh items and some propane. On the way back from the grocery run we got fresh fish and chips from the marina restaurant just north of us. We washed 3 loads of clothes and were set for the rest of our stay in the Georgian Bay!

Sonador came in after noon and we chatted with them for a spell. (We'd both been anchored out a couple of nights ago in Hopewell Bay so our chatting was done from dinghys.) Sonador is a really neat looking boat, unlike any I'd seen before. Turns out it's made in Spain...a fishing boat form. Very pretty. Melissa is doing the Loop solo...but with the help of friends who drop in for visits....and the companionship of her dog, "Chessie."

Monday, August 11 - We had an ambitious day planned for today. We'll leave Britt and take the inside route to around the Bustard Islands, then we'll run outside for the rest of the trip to Killarney. Over 50 miles, and some of it in the twisty, windy, rocky areas so we'd probably go slower than our ideal speed of 9 or 9.5 mph. Here's an example of the tight channels we're seeing up here. Look carefully and you'll see two sets of green and red markers between the rocks...

Fortunately is was a beautiful day for being on the water and we made it all the way.

We cruised the channel through Killarney...

then made our way up to the Covered Portage Cove. We ended up staying in the outer bay that night with about 5 other boats and took the dinghy into the inner cove to take Lucy for a walk.

"Walking" Lucy up here is a bit of a challenge. Forget the fact that she's a finicky dog when it comes to potty sites, and stones don't seem to meet her approval. Then there's the whole BEAR FACTOR. I am in the habit, in out of the way spots like we've been in recently, to let her off the leash and she finds a spot much quicker than she does with me in tow. Up here I've heard so much about black bears being sited that I feel I need to keep her on the lead. Trolling for bears, you ask? No...just trying to hold onto my investment in this pup! For a dog that will never go near the water, though she sure has taken a liking to the Georgian Bay and North Channel swill. It must be just the right temperature (65 degrees...cold!) to make her slurp up a bunch of water every time we get near shore.

We listen to the news channels on XM Radio almost every morning and night (alternating between CNN and Fox to be fair to all sides)...but I kinda like seeing the Olympics coverage and we have none, except for the radio news. We tried at Killarney to get TV. Nothing. We speculate that if one wanted to get totally lost (as in, hide from the law) this would be a good place to come. Better bring a boat, though!

Tuesday, August 12 - We toured the Baie Fine today, a fresh water fiord. We went all the way up to the channel that leads into the Pool. We thought about going on in...but knew we didn't want to anchor there. We came back down through the bay, trying out different anchorages, only to decide to leave the bay and get a few miles in on tomorrow's trip.

Baie Fine is gorgeous!

You don't see many cottages here (typical of the North Channel). Instead, we're looking at white rock cliffs and evergreens.

We're keeping an eye out for blueberries, but have only seen bushes that are void of berries. Bears or people or time of the year, I don't know. We probably need to do some climbing to get to bushes not picked over. We'll see how the rest of the trip plays out.

We anchored tonight at Strawberry Island, a nice, secure anchorage. Only a few boats in there when we arrived so we were able to have plenty of "swing room". (You know we like our "swing room.") The shore on which we landed the dinghy for Lucy's trip had lots of neat rocks...all kinds. I found one for my rock collection.

Storms came in that night, but we were able to hang in there...though we woke up a couple of times to check the location of the boat.

Wednesday, August 13 - Now, today was an interesting day. We left our anchorage at 9:15 AM hoping to make the Little Current Swing Bridge by 10 AM since they only open once an hour for 15 min. About half way into the trip we realized we were going to be really close to missing it...so we speeded up. We were in sight of the bridge, along side a sailboat, by 9:55 AM. Ten o'clock came, and no bridge opening. Then we see a dinghy coming our way. They interact with the sailboat and we hear "closed for the day" in the conversation. Sure enough, the swing bridge was closed for repairs for the entire day. Hmmmm.

Closed, Little Current Swing Bridge measures 18 ft. vertical clearance. Wayne decided that instead of "tredding water" for the day he would take down the dinghy davit and reduce our vertical clearance to 16 ft. 6 in. But wait. The waters are up this year. There are no depth gauges on bridges in Canada as there are in the U.S., so how could we find out the clearance? We hailed a local marina in Little Current and they said in was an increase of 8 inches. We could make it...we thought.

We floated around in the area while Wayne went up and took down the davit. Then he lowered the antennae and we were ready to slowly approach the bridge. I drove and Wayne stood up on the deck roof to see the height. The next highest piece of the boat is the radar dome, at 16' 6". I took the bow to the edge of the bridge and stopped. Then I inched forward to see if we'd clear the radar dome. If not...we'd back out and go somewhere to wait for the next day and hope they opened then. It cleared...and Wayne figured it was by about a foot! Whew! We're off to Kagawong!

Kagawong, a small community at the bottom of Mudge Bay, calls itself "Ontario's Prettiest Village." The word "Kagawong" comes from an Ojibwa word meaning "where mists rise from the falling waters." We were there to see the "falling waters," the Bridal Veil Falls. Oh, yeah, and the Anglican Church at the town dock with it's nautical decor. (I'm thinking of Lin and Ric with their beach house made from boat parts...and Connie and John who are using the transom of their first cruising boat, the Dreamer, in their lake home.)

We got into Kagawong around 12:30 PM and were assisted into a slip for the visit by the friendly dockhands at Northern Marina of Kagawong. We harnessed Lucy and left the boat to see the area. First was the farmers' market going on that afternoon. Ah! Tomatoes! We'll stop back here before we leave.

The trail to the falls was utmost in our mind...well, after lunch. We checked out the eating options (only a few in this small town) and selected a stand near the public beach that was fixing chicken wraps. They were delicious! We sat at a picnic table with Lucy tied up to a post :-) and enjoyed the eats.

Then we took Lucy for a walk to the Bridal Veil Falls, about 1/2 mile away. It really was pretty...and the spray from the falls was refreshing. The day was perfect for this outing: cool and sunny. There's a pool at the bottom of the falls where you can swim. Here's what we saw at the bottom of the falls. There's a droplet of water on the lens...

After walking back into town Wayne took Lucy back to the boat and I went in to see the little church. There were life bouys all around (very appropriate for a church, I guess) and the pulpit was made from the bow of a boat.

After stopping for milk at the little convenience store and getting our tomatoes from the farmers' market, we pulled out of Kagawong and made for tonight's anchorage at Clapperton Harbor.

We knew we'd picked out a good site for the night when we rounded the corner on Clapperton Harbor and saw about 5 sailboats anchored there. We've come to admire the way sailboaters can find the best anchorages!

Good thing this is a protected anchorage! We'd no sooner set the anchor than a strong "blow" came through. We looked for signs of a tornado nearby...but didn't see anything but black clouds. It was over in about 15 minutes and we cooked out on the grill with cloudy skies and occasional showers.

Thursday, August 14 – From Clapperton Harbor we headed for Blind River, a town on the upper side of the North Channel and a jumping off point for our crossing back into the U.S. on Friday. We had originally planned to run mostly in “open water” to get to Blind River, but decided that morning to take the small craft route instead and get more of the rocky terrain for entertainment on the way. We're not in cottage country anymore...

It was an easy day on the water, not much wind. We listened to boaters on the radio talk about where they were going next in the Channel and what luck they’d had fishing or blueberry picking.

We got to Blind River Marine around 4PM and saw several other Looper boats already there. Among them was Sunshine with Bud, Muriel and Shelley, whom we hadn’t seen since Chesapeake City, MD. We visited around a bit then took advantage of our first wifi in days to catch up on email and news.

Friday, August 15 -
The next morning all the Looper boats pulled out (in phases) to head for Drummond Island, MI, and our entry back into the U.S. We left around 8 AM and got into Drummond just after 1PM. Again…a calm day on the water.

Coming back into the U.S. we needed to be checked in by Customs. Drummond Island is the Customs location for this area of entry and the marina is set up to handle all the business that comes their way. We docked the boat, then waited for the Customs agent to come to the boat and clear us before we set foot on the island. It was a very easy procedure…much more so than we had expected.

We were spending the night at Drummond and wanted to pick up a few items at the grocery that afternoon so we rode our bikes 2 miles into “town.” There are a lot of cabin rentals in this area…and lots of pine trees. It was a pretty ride and it felt good to be our and moving on land.

That evening we joined the other Loopers (Southern Comfort, Carry Forward, Golden Lily, Blue Max, Ithaka and Sunshine) for a dinner out.

Our cruise of Canada was over, and we so enjoyed it. All through through the Georgian Bay and North Channel cruise I kept thinking about the Great Seven Canadian artists. I wouldn't have known about them except that I was talking with a man in Orillia who mentioned that I should take a look at their art. The group started out with seven mostly commercial artists who wanted to take these unique areas in Canada and start a new style of painting...a uniquely Canadian style. You can learn more about this movement at http://www.mcmichael.com/collection/seven/index.cfm. Having seen the area and looking at the art I can see how they were inspired. The colors of sky, water, rocks with their orange lichen growth...the rock crevasses, stretching pine trees, bent from the wind...it's all very distinct. As is their art. Take a look.

Saturday, August 16- We were off the next morning for Mackinaw City, MI, for a night. The trip was a little bumpy at times, but not really too rough. Mackinaw City is a bit touristy...but we made good use of the local grocery store to stock up on some items.

Sunday, August 17 - We had almost decided to just stay another day in Mackinaw City. The weather forecast...more specifically the marine forecast...called for winds of 10-15 from the south/southwest and waves of 1-3ft. Then we decided to just go on out and get in close to land if the winds were too bad.

The rough part came the closer we got into our port, Charlevoix, MI. The waves were coming from several different directions and we were rocking and rolling. Nothing spilled out of the cupboard, though, so we've seen worse!

Here's a shot of Segue approaching the Charlevoix bridge after our rocky rolly trip in.

Tuesday, August 19 - Charlevoix has won me over! The marina, city operated, is new and gorgeous. Nice park area right there and town is just beyond the park. The marina laundry is $1 per load and I'm finishing the blog using their free wifi in the boaters' lounge while waiting on a few loads to dry.

We've walked all over town. We searched out the "fairy tale" or "mushroom houses" built in the early 1900s by Earl Young....

This one is my favorite...

This is the other side of the little house shown above...

The weather has been gorgeous, in spite of the occasional rain. Here's Wayne catching up on news in the park between the docks and town.

The water in Lake Michigan is the clearest we've seen yet!

And the public library is gorgeous! 45,000 sq. ft. with a children's area, computer lab, two conference rooms, quiet study rooms and an auditorium that seats up to 150 people. For a county with a population of around 26,000, that's pretty good. I like a community that puts it's money to good use!!

We'll leave here tomorrow after our 3 night stay and head south for Leland, MI. We're watching the marine forecasts several times daily trying to assess the conditions out there. Everyone says Lake Michigan can throw out some of the roughest water of any body of water. We don't want to see that!

Nice to be back in the States. Maybe I'll be able to blog more often. I actually write daily. It's the pictures that take so long to upload. Oh, well. Who's in a hurry?