Our Sailing Adventure started on July 13, 2005 at 2:15 PM. The first destination---St. James Harbor at Beaver Island. Had hopes of leaving with winds favorable for sailing but instead the winds were right on the bow! Motored all the way to Beaver Island arriving on July 14 around 10:00 AM (covering 149 nautical miles). Friends, Al Forte on NINE LIVES and Ken and Sharon Wierenga on DOLCE, took us out for a Bon Voyage Dinner. We enjoyed the dinner, the view, their company and their thoughtfulness.
Neither of us have sailed in Lake Huron south of Bois Blanc Island so we were excited to experience new areas after passing by Mackinaw City. Made overnight stops at Hammond Bay Marina, Presque Island Harbor, Harrisville Marina, Harbor Beach, and Lexington Marina--all on the western side of Lake Huron. Anchored in all harbors except Harrisville where we tied up to a dock. The weather was hot, humid with very little rain. Experienced a thunderstorm while at anchor and another one while underway the first two weeks of travel.
Someone told us to expect to motor 1/3 of the time; motorsail 1/3 of the time; and sail 1/3 of the time. We did not raise our sails until Tuesday, July 19 when we sailed for almost 5 hours straight! It was great to only hear the sound of the wind.. With the price of fuel (diesel is $2.69 a gallon), one wishes the ratio would change in the favor of sailing!
Enjoyed the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers. It is fun to be so close to the commercial freighters. Saw a small fishing boat sitting in the middle of the channel with a freighter bearing down on it. Carl commented that this should be interesting! Sure enough the freighter gave the fishing boat the "5 blast danger warning" after which the fishing boat scooted out of the way. Is the fishing better in the main fairway or is this a case of extreme fishing???
Arrived in Put-In-Bay (Lake Erie) on one of their big weekends---Christmas in July! Boats were rafted to each other 4 boats deep at the docks and all the mooring balls were occupied. We anchored in the bay next to the Perry Memorial. By Saturday afternoon, this bay was filled up with about 50 boats. Our afternoon entertainment was watching boats anchor. The majority of the boaters used the toss the anchor out as far as you can and then quickly tie the line to a cleat and head to shore. Close to a dozen boats dragged their anchor while the owner and other occupants were on shore. Once the boat was loose, a towboat would pick it up and tie it to a mooring ball---I can only imagine the sinking feeling the boat owner has when they return to the spot they left their boat and it is gone. At 3:40 AM, I heard a person swimming in the water and someone yelling at that person from the dock. I went up on deck asked the person swimming if he was alright or needed help. That is when I heard a second voice from a swimmer hanging on to our swim platform. Two guys intended to swim to the boat they left anchored close to us before they went to shore to party down. . Problem was---the boat's anchor did not hold and it floated to the opposite side of the bay. Carl came up on deck so the two of us could launch our dinghy---Carl then gave the two guys a ride back to their boat.
Had an interesting time at Fairport Harbor when we were anchored in the river. Carl was at the library while I was on the boat. A bad storm was moving in. I did get everything closed up prior to the storm plus I started the engine just in case my anchor did not hold. We were anchored across from a yacht club where some of the members thought I should not be out in the storm alone so they called the Coast Guard. The storm hit, I used the engine to keep the boat in line with the winds. The Coast Guard drove their pick-up truck across the shore from where I was. They sat in their pick-up truck until the storm moved through then asked if I was ok---of course I was ok. In the meantime, Carl is returning to the boat as fast as he can in the dinghy. He gets on board just as another storm rolls in. We did pull our anchor and then we were guided by a local boater to a marina further up the river to stay for the night. I guess you can say it was exciting day. The members of the yacht club who called the Coast Guard told Carl, "Your wife did an excellent job. She must be really brave!"
Our last stop for this month is Erie, PA. We are anchored at Presque Isle State Park. Yes, Lake Huron has a Presque Isle as does Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It is a big weekend in Presque (more family oriented than Christmas in July!). Activities include a Pancake Breakfast, Civil War re-enactments, Arts and Craft Festival and music at the beach.
Plan to leave for Port Colborne to enter the Welland Canal the first part of August. Friends, Jo and Bruce Johnson, will help us through the Welland and continue on board as we move down the St. Lawrence.