Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leaving Frankfort, MI at 0700 this morning.

Boat traffic in Grand Haven, MI this afternoon.

George Gershwin's, "Summertime" first verse, began to play in my mind this evening. "Summertime and the livin' is easy, fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high.” This does not apply to many Americans right now but I love the tune of the song. Some Canadian marinas are busy and the east side of Lake Michigan is way too busy at least on this weekend of my journey, and yet the "recovery" for many Americans is not happening. I have so much to be thankful for, not only for family but what this country has provided me. I give thanks along this journey knowing that many people in our world are less fortunate.

Yesterday, from DeTour, MI I traveled through the Mackinac Straights, around Mackinac Island and down Lake Michigan to Frankfort on the eastern shore. Intermittent fog and use of waypoints on the GPS was the rule of the day. Once again my horizons were land on one quadrant of the compass and a horizon of water on the other three. This is a huge lake and the small boater is constantly aware of potential weather changes that can happen quickly. One reason for this trip was to build on past experiences and my interest in weather, navigation and decision making. A constant assessment of current circumstances and the potential for those to change, taking nothing for granted, seems to be a good rule of thumb for most endeavors.

Today the water began with swells into my direction of travel limiting speed to 15 mph. Later, the water calmed and the shoreline with many sandy beaches was my view several miles to port. Accommodations, without reservations are almost nonexistent and the price for average amenities is near $200 - I dislike traveling on weekends. I almost camped on the beach yesterday after calling 7 hotels that were booked, but that would have prevented me from making accommodations for today as there was no phone or internet service unless you were near a town. Sunday nights and weeknights are manageable. The coming week should find me navigating the great Illinois and Mississippi Rivers... the "big waters" left behind, the Great Rivers offering their own challenges, and my own nostalgic version of Summertime playing a river tune.

Including a video this time - it's the stern view showing fog yesterday morning.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Looking north from De Tour Village, Michigan

De Tour Marina

No blog from the Mariner today because he doesn't have wifi where he's staying. He "marinated" (sorry... couldn't resist) 105 miles today from Little Current, Ontario, through the North Channel, turned left (port) before reaching Thessalon and headed back into the United States. Tonight, he's in a charming little town called De Tour Village, Michigan. Tomorrow he'll head across Lake Huron toward Mackinac Island, go under the Mackinac Bridge and enter Lake Michigan. Lyn plans to navigate down the east coast of the lake. Wish I was there. JM

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fog this morning made it necessary to tie up to this buoy for half an hour.

The beautiful Collins Inlet

Killarney lighthouse

Welcome to Killarney

Little Current, Ontario - picture post card perfection.

These little guys were for sale!! Joanne wants both of them...

Town docks in Little Current

It was clear and there was a breeze when I left Britt for Killarney and Little Current, Ontario at 6:30 this morning. After 15 miles on Georgian Bay (part of Lake Huron) I ran into a fog bank and had to tie off to a navigation aid buoy as I couldn't see the next marker - pea soup. I sat there in complete silence for 30 minutes listening to a loon until the fog lifted and I could see the land and next marker. It was too narrow an area to depend on the GPS. It would have worked in open water which I crossed later with quarter-mile visibility but then you have to worry about other traffic. Saw only a few local fishing boats on the water in 85 miles of travel. Both Killarney and Little Current have a lot of 35-45 foot cruisers and sail boats tied up at the docks. Otherwise everyone here is complaining about a heat wave that is also plaguing the eastern U.S. My room does not have AC so you sweat after you take a shower. I’ll walk to the town dock before it gets dark. My phone does not work here and this is about the first place on the trip that Verizon hasn't worked. Only the bar here has WiFi - how convenient!!

The Collins Inlet between Beaverstone Bay and Killarney is probably the most pristine and beautiful place I've seen on this trip and maybe anywhere. The banks are granite rising out of the water and leaning inland covered with pine trees. Not mountains, but higher hills than most of the terrain I've traveled. I was told you can find Georgian Bay or North Channel videos on YouTube so you might give that a try. My pictures and narrative really can't describe the scenery adequately. Water lilies with white blooms lay along the shore, muskrats were playing and an occasional eagle flew reconnaissance. I cannot recall having that lump in the throat for “just terrain” - it is perhaps a magical kingdom.

The bar has turned up the TVs for soccer or whatever and I must leave - it is too incongruous with the day I have just experienced. So much to describe.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Watched a plane taxi from where I ate lunch.

Thanks to Vanessa who has made sure Joanne gets flowers on those special occasions. Vanessa was a highly trained paramedic and then decided to start her own floral business called Vintage Magnolia in Edwards, CO. She and partners do outstanding work and their reputation and success reflects their talent so if you need gifts or floral work stop by her business next to the Bookworm in Edwards or call 970-926-5000.

Today was 100 miles from Honey Harbor at the beginning of Georgian Bay, Ontario to Britt, on the Byng Inlet. A very small town and several marinas, restaurants and post office. If you enlarge my last SPOT location on "terrain" you will see the Trans-Canada Highway crossing over the inlet to the right. This is otherwise remote country except for summer cottages on the numerous small islands. There was a large timber industry here beginning in the 1800s until the early 1900s then the town became a coal receiving point for the locomotives on the emerging Trans Canadian Railway system.

The navigation in this region is nerve wracking as there are rocks just under the surface, even in the big water away from shore. If you do not closely follow the red and green navigation aides and keep your "other two eyes" on the GPS and chart you can run into trouble quickly. When you are on route and look down and see the bottom passing 5 to 10 feet under your boat, it gets your attention. So, not much chance for pictures today. I have traveled over the Canadian Shield most of my trip since entering Trenton, Ontario from the U.S. Here is a description and reasons for the shallow water in many locations, not to mention its unforgiving nature compared to mostly mud bottoms on the east coast waterways.

Since I don’t have to wait for locks to open at 8:30 on the Trent-Severn system (yes, they have unions!) I am now free to leave in the morning anytime I like which is usually between 6 and 7 AM. If there is any secret to such a trip as this, it is getting an early start in order to get some mileage before the winds get too strong and thunderstorms begin to form. It is a safety factor for obvious reasons and a chance to relax in the mid afternoon/evening, update the blog, see a little of the town I'm in, read charts and plan stops and lodging, wash out clothes, watch the weather channel and eat, after what is often a one meal day. From the time I get up at 5:00 I really don't have a lot of free time and still get to bed by 10. Many of the places I view from the water, and what's unseen beyond the shore, warrant a road trip and several lifetimes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This is my cabin for tonight. What a great day!! Following is THE DAY IN PICTURES...

THE DAY IN PICTURES: Approaching Big Chute Marine Railway Lock. The boats on the lift have just come up from the other side. Notice they are not in water.

Loaded onto boat lift - locking down.

Looking back at the water level I am leaving.

Looking ahead to where I'm going. Is this Elitch Gardens??

Looking back at the ROAD we just crossed.

Going down...

The tracks...

Back in the water.

Looking back at Big Chute Marine Railway Lock in the distance.

Approaching the last lock on the Trent Severn Waterway... there are 44 locks on the canal.
The doors on this one are hand cranked.

Welcome to Georgian Bay... YA-HOOOOOOOOO!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Here they are... geese in Orillia Park.

Orillia Park

Bridge Port Marina

Spent two extra days in Orillia, Ontario due to needing a re-weld of a crack in middle pontoon; I have been through some rough water. Ready to go first thing tomorrow to pass through final 4 locks including the famous Big Chute Marine Railway Lock mentioned in previous blog. Take the time to look up this and the Peterborough Lift Lock - YouTube has videos. Then on to Honey Harbor at the beginning of the Georgian Bay.

Orillia is a great place to be for a layover. A large park on the water near the hotel with a terrific bike and walking trail. Many Canadians out on the water in boats and sunning in the park for the close of their Canada Day holiday weekend. Roller blading is very popular around the park trails. Many dogs were also being treated to a day at the lake! The Canada Geese get an honorable mention as well.

Once again I experienced Canadian hospitality and professionalism at the Bridge Port Marina. A well-trained team led by general manager Kyle and his crew of Deirdre and Glenn in addition to dock and parts staff. Kyle was able to locate a welder who could come in on a Sunday. $$$$ but looks like a good job.

Also heard from Steve Schultz today via voice mail as he is in Vail for a short time. Steve is one of the legends at the Eagle County Ambulance District being not only an excellent paramedic, artist and designer of the district logo, but national president of the Edsel Club, not to mention being one of the nicest people you could meet. Steve moved to Arizona some time ago. He borrowed a cell phone to call me during the Vail 4th of July parade. Steve is often not traceable. Hello Steve!