Monday, July 24, 2006

If nothing further, BRAZO clear of channel 16, back to the “real world”

Sunday – After reviewing the Lake Michigan open waters forecast below:


We decided it would be best to make the direct crossing from Charlevoix, MI to Washington Island, WI today. The Lake Michigan open waters forecast for today calls for 1-2ft waves from the North turning to the South by late afternoon. We left our anchorage in Lake Charlevoix at 4:00AM. The nice part of leaving early is we didn’t have to wait for the draw-bridge to open – just a long horn blow followed by a short horn blow and up the bridge went – no more waiting for the ½ hour opening.

We spent about 6 hours with rollers out of the North right on our beam – which caused a bit of a roll here and there. The good news is that our boat does not roll much so it was a comfortable ride – I believe it is because of our hulls “hard chimes” – kind of a flat bottom. As we approached Washington Island – still off-shore about 20 miles, we decided to turn South and have the waves push us all the way to Sturgeon Bay. That meant another 4 hours onto the trip for the day, but that would allow us a nice week at the Cottage before heading back to Madison (for a couple of days and then back to the Cottage).

We arrived in Sturgeon Bay around 6:00PM and found that our new slips in the Purves Lagoon Marina were all done with water and electricity at the slip. Very nice feeling pulling into a slip that we actually own – plus having the Purves Lagoon Marina being completely brand new makes it even better. Purves Lagoon has about 30 slips with over half the slips being empty because the lot/slip owners do not own boats. This makes it very nice seeing that we like the quiet empty Marina’s.

We had a great trip and enjoyed every place that we visited. We asked the question to ourselves, what are we missing on the boat that would have made the trip better – the only thing that we could come up with is a larger horse power dinghy motor, but even that would just be a “nicety” not required. Other than that, the boat was perfect – that big old diesel just purred along without any problems. All other systems onboard worked without problems and in fact along the way I actually fixed the hours meter on the tach and set the hours correctly.

Also, part of boating is dealing with the unexpected weather, mistake made, problems with the boat, bad docking experience, etc – but I will say that this trip had very little of that. Outside of the generator shutting down and the “hitting” of the rock, we had no other issues. You just don’t want to hit a point that the unexpected greatly effects your trip. We continued to increase our boating knowledge/learning and took advantage of the relaxation that came with the learning that we had done in the other 3 summers of boating (much more stressful the first few years – yet enjoyable to learn so much during that time).

The boys are already “Salty” and hopefully take our boating adventures to another level when they are older (of course, with Dad aboard). I will have to also mention that Gaye has become very “Salty” with this boating stuff – I now find her talking “boating” all over the marina’s with the other Trawlers and Sailboats.

So, until next year’s summer boat trip (haven’t told the rest of the family yet) – enjoy the rest of your summer. As they say on the boat VHF radios, if nothing further, BRAZO clear of channel 16, back to the “real world”.
Robert, Gaye, Alex, and Aaron Meyer (

Here are the final numbers:

Miles traveled à 907 miles

Cummins engine hours à 144 hours

Northern Lights generator hours à 51 hours

Fuel used per hour à 1.78

Fuel used total (both Cummins and Northern Lights) à 283 gallons

Days on the water à 47 days (June 8th thru July 23rd)

Days spent in Marina’s à 16 days (Mackinac Island, Meldrum Bay, Gore Bay, Little Current, Blind River, St Ignace, Mackinaw City, Beaver Island)

Number of different anchorages/docks à 31

Number of memories made à infinite


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Venetian Festival -- Charlevoix, MI

Saturday – today we’ll make our way to Charlevoix, MI where they are celebrating their Venetian Festival. It was only a 2 hour ride down from Harbor Springs and the seas were less than 1 ft.

Charlevoix is a great place to visit via boat – this will be our 3rd trip via boat. The city is right off of Lake Michigan on a lake named Round Lake. Round Lake is just a small lake surrounded by very nice high end homes with most of the homes having huge boat houses right on the water that they drive their large yachts into. There are also a number of “mushroom homes” that have just amazing craftsmanship.

As we made our way under the draw-bridge (opens on the ½ hour), we could certainly tell that their Venetian Festival was going on. There were hundreds of boats all over the place. We made our way through Round Lake and anchored on the West shore of Lake Charlevoix – which is a large internal lake. There were many many small ski boats, sailboats, jet ski’s, etc all over the place. The good news is that Lake Charlevoix is fairly large and we anchored out of the way, but still got rocked and rolled all day from the boat wake.

As we entered Lake Charlevoix, we noticed that Noble House from Sturgeon Bay was sitting on anchor. Noble House is a 48ft Ocean Alexander that is owned by a gentleman that used to own the marina that we were at (Sturgeon Bay Yacht Harbor). We used to dock our boat next to his and have visited with them many times when we have been at anchor (in fact, we visited with them on our first day out on this trip). Later that day we made our way over and went aboard for a visit – very impressive boat and very nice people. He has been involved in the yacht building/yacht brokerage/marina business pretty much his whole life (he is in his late 70’s) and has many stories to tell.

We made our way into the dinghy dock in Charlevoix and enjoyed sitting in the park listening to some great music. In the evening (right after dark) they had probably 20 boats that they put lights all over and paraded them around Round Lake and then ended the evening with a huge fireworks show in the middle of Round Lake.

The kids enjoyed some swimming and we enjoyed a nice run through the very classic homes in the area.

Internet Update: Verizon Aircard and Cell phone service without the need for the booster/antenna.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Harbor Springs, MI

Friday -- today we made our way from Beaver Island to Harbor Springs, MI. The weather forecast was for 2-3ft waves out of the North with the wind 10-15kts subsiding to 10kts.

We left Beaver Island around 5:30AM for the 5 hour trip. The way that we had been in our slip -- kindof a wall slip (private -- no other boaters on the wall) -- forced us to use the "Stern off" approach to get out of the slip and on our way. We have been practicing the "Stern off" when leaving a wall for the last few years. The idea behind it is to put a spring line on the bow (a line running from the starboard bow to a mid-ship post on the dock), and then put the wheel over hard into the dock and put the boat in forward gear. This will bring the bow into the dock and force the stern off of the dock via the "prop wash" on the rudder (which is the force of the water from the prop hitting the rudder). Normally, once you have the stern off the dock at a 45 degree angle, then you can just go forward and be on your way. But today we needed to go in the opposite direction because the dock ended foward of us. So, we continued in forward gear with the bow spring line until the boat was perpendicular to the dock with the bow closer to the dock. Then we used the "back & fill" method to turn the boat around so we could drive out. Probably not that hard for the experienced "single screw - no bow thruster" boat, but we are still learning. We would not have taken the slip in the first place in our first couple years of owning the boat -- it would have been too hard to get back out. It worked perfect for us today -- looked like we knew what we were doing.

The ride over was a bit "rolly" with 2-3ft waves right on our beam pretty much the entire trip. But the good part is our boat doesn't roll too much in the waves and it was a easy nice ride. As we approached Harbor Springs, we saw another Sundowner leaving. We tried to hail them on the radio without luck. It looked to be a 30ft Sundowner and probably a boat named "Little Toot" that is kept in Sturgeon Bay. The only other Sundowner that we know of on the Great Lakes is a boat down in the Chicago area which is also a 30 footer (we have the 32ft version).

Harbor Springs is kindof an upscale town with some very large boats in the marina. We dropped anchor in from of the Yacht Club and headed into town. A large yacht named Maximus II (105 ft) came into the fuel dock and sat there getting fuel for probably 3 hours. We looked the boat up on the Internet ( and found that it was a charter boat that could be chartered for $35,000.00 per week. Seeing that we thought the pizza for dinner was a bit pricy, I think the boat may be out of our league.

Also in the marina is a 100ft Burger named Go Fourth -- very unique older boat. Other than that, just a bunch of 70ft, 60ft, etc boats.

Internet update: We do have Verizon Aircard service and high speed wi-fi is available via the marina's for a fee.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Birthday Girl on Beaver Island

Wednesday -- today was Gaye's 39th birthday. Before the boy's went to bed last night, they turned up their tv so Gaye would not hear them, and they put up birthday decorations through-out the boat. So, when Gaye awoke, Alex quickly woke Aaron so they could both wish her a Happy Birthday. Gaye noticed that they both were very tired looking and hugged them and told them they could go back to sleep for a bit.

To celebrate Gaye's birthday, we rented a "piece of junk" from the other marina on the island and explored the whole island via car. In Mackinaw City we again met up with our neighbors from Purves Lagoon in Sturgeon Bay, WI. They told us a story about renting a car on Beaver Island and as they went along on the gravel/bumpy roads -- the door of the car actually fell off due to the rust. Outside of a couple spots on the island, most of the roads are gravel and dirt. So, we took off the soft top off the 1930 Geo Junker ..errr..1988 Geo Tracker ($30.00 per 4 hours - Hertz would be proud) and took off through the dusty roads. We went past the many island summer cottages, walked some nice coves, watched the beavers work, and visited the restored light house on the South end of Beaver Island. I will note that the doors did not fall off, but the brakes made a squel noise the whole time and we questioned if it would re-start every time we stopped -- now that is the business I want -- renting junk cars to not so smart tourists.

For Gaye's birthday dinner, we went to one of our most favorite restuarants anyplace -- Stoney Acres. Stoney Acres is about 3/4 mile out of town in an old barn like structure. They have a great chef and a great menu. We eat there at least once each time we are here, so this was a treat for Gaye to have dinner at our favorite place on her birthday.

We had a great day for Gaye's birthday and she certainly deserves to have a Great birthday. She is definitely the best mom, wife, bestfriend, person anyone could aspire to be.

So today was our 41st day on the boat since we left Sturgeon Bay on June 9th. I didn't know if I would be tired of the boat as we got closer to the end or not -- but I will say that I'm certainly not tired of the boat and could do this for at least a few more months if not longer. The transient lifestyle is certainly for me. The boat has been just great -- no problems and works perfect for us -- not too big and not too small.

The weather forecast calls for some wind and rain on Thursday, so we'll be staying one more night in Beaver Island. Hopefully, on Friday we'll cross over to Harbor Springs -- but we'll see how the weather looks.

Home away from home -- at least on the boat

Tuesday - today we made our way from Mackinaw City to Beaver Island for a few days. On the trip over we encountered 2-3 ft waves on the bow and the water got calmer as we went.

The Port Huron to Mackinac Island race completed on Sunday and we saw a couple sailboats making their way down to Chicago for next weekends Chicago to Mackinac Island race. The sailboats where quite big and to our total disgust, they were much faster than we were with no sails (only their engine). The only boats that we can go faster than is the sailboats (without sails), well now we couldn't even keep up with the sailboats. They passed us and took off around 10kts compared to our 7kts.

We made it into Beaver Island and pulled into a "private" slip at the Beaver Island Town Dock. We are not big marina fans, so having a slip on the side of the marina all to ourselves was great. We enjoyed a nice meal at the Shamrock Grill and a nice ride around the "downtown" on the bikes. We have come to Beaver Island every year that we have had the boat and enjoy every trip. The Island is very slow with not much going on -- just a few restuarants and stores.

Tomorrow is Gaye's birthday -- so the boy's are getting ready for their surprise to Gaye.

Internet Access -- Nothing from the boat, but if I take the laptop up by the Harbor Master Office -- then I pickup somebody's wireless. No Verizon Cell phone service -- even with the booster and antenna.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mackinaw City, MI -- just in time

Sunday - today after a nice breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa we said good bye as they make their way back to Madison.

The weather forecast for the next few days does not look good. So instead of being stuck in St. Ignace, MI for another two days before the winds/waves were to break, we decided to quickly move the boat to Mackinaw City, MI. Mackinaw City is only across the Straits and about 40 minutes for us. The wind had been high the day before, but this morning it was somewhat light. So we made it over to the Marina and tied up in our dock - again the width of the dock space was very small.

We very much enjoyed Mackinaw City -- a tourist trap for sure, but everything is right across from the marina and we played the tourist for the day. Plenty of places to eat and relax. The Boy's enjoyed playing games at the arcade and the Laser show that they have in the evening. Great place to get "stuck" with the winds picking up. During the day it was in the 90's and the winds were gusting to 30kts -- very windy. Part of the fun in being in the Marina is watching the other boats trying to dock with the major winds pushing them around. We sat for many hours just watching -- thankful that we already had docked.

Internet Update: Aircard did not work, but we had free high speed Internet via wi-fi.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Soo Locks

Saturday -- today with Grandma and Grandpa staying on the boat, we took a car ride up to the Soo Locks in Sault. Ste Marie. When we got there there was a 1000 foot ship going through the locks coming out of Lake Superior. It was a very nice trip up there and it was fun to see the ships coming through the locks.

In the evening, we celebrated Gaye's 39th birthday with Grandma and Grandpa on the boat and then crossed the Mackinaw Bridge to Mackinaw City for a birthday meal. I've been noticing that Gaye is starting to slow down in her "older" age -- we now run together and we had once been running 5, 6, 7, or 8 mile runs and now she will only do a 4 or 5 miler. Pretty soon we'll be doing the "power walking".

Again, it was great to have Grandma and Grandpa on the boat for a couple of days and very very nice of them to take time out of their retirement to taxi Gaye and Aaron to the boat. This is the 2nd time this trip and it helped out greatly with extending how much cruising we could do.

Madison Tax Service

Friday -- today we left Mackinac Island after having a nice breakfast in town and finishing a few IT projects for one of my clients. We made the 40 minute trip from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace.

We fueled up at St. Ignace and took on 100 gallons. So for 3 weeks of cruising we used 100 gallons of diesel fuel @ 3.19/gallon or $320.00 for 3 weeks. Compare that to the $500.00 we average for 3 weeks of driving the F150 truck around our house/cottage/etc. Not bad.

Here are some current stats from our trip:

Hours run on Cummins Engine --> 116 hours

Hours run on the Generator --> 47 hours

Total diesel gallons used --> 221 gallons (5 weeks)

Average per hour gallons used (Cummins only) --> 1.69

Average per hour gallons used - North Channel --> 1.23 (1200 rpm)

Total Nautical Miles --> 612 nautical miles

Number of dollars Aaron has swindeled from us --> $29.00

That evening Gaye, Aaron, Grandma, and Grandpa arrived from their 9 hour drive from Madison, WI. It was very nice to see them all and especially nice for Grandma and Grandpa to drive them all the way to St. Ignace. This will now allow us to have 2 weeks to bring the boat back to Sturgeon Bay. We'll just be taking our time going down the West coast of Michigan.

Internet: Internet via the AirCard and cell phone access -- both required the Booster/Antenna.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tight squeeze and playing games with the rich and the famous

Thursday -- today we cruised across the northern part of Lake Huron to reach Mackinac Island. Again, the water was completely calm and we had a nice ride over. The ride did get a little exciting as we approached Mackinac Island. As we approached the channel leading into the Marina, we heard a boat that was on anchor near the entrance radio another boat that a large ship was coming right at them. Well, knowing where the boats on anchor where -- right in front of me -- that meant that the large ship was right behind me. Sure enough, I look out my starboard side and there is the large ship coming up on me very fast. I immediately turned to my port to get out of the way and he passed without issue -- he would not have hit us (of course) but he would have been very close if I had not heard the other boats and moved out of the way.

We radioed the Marina and they gave us a slip assignment of slip #75. Sounds fine to me. So I make my way around the west side of the Marina and I see the dock hands waving me over. Our boat is 12ft wide and I'm looking at a slip opening that may or may not be 12ft wide. So, I just assume that these 18 year old college students with their summer job at the Marina that may or may not have taken college math yet which may or may not really care how I bumper boat into the slip, know that our boat is 12ft wide (much wider than a normal 32 "go fast"). I turned into the slip and made it in without too much trouble (kindof like a wedge -- center the bow and push the boat in). Turned out that I had abour 8 inches on each side of the boat -- not enough for my liking but 4 years of experience with this boat helped make it possible. We might need a tug to un-wedge us when we leave tomorrow.

Alex and myself walked over to the Grand Hotel to take a quick tour. The Grand Hotel charges $12 per person to walk through their hotel, but I just told Alex to pretend that we "belonged" there and follow me (if you saw how I normally dress -- shorts and t-shirt (holes in the socks, shirt, etc) -- you'd understand why Alex didn't think this would work - Alex thought we had a better chance pretending to be grounds keepers). We just walked past the "checkers" and proceeded to the "exclusive" grounds of the Grand Hotel ("exclusive" is not a term that I would use -- but the "stuffizes" staying at the hotel probably think so). As we walked, we noticed that they had a cricket field and a croquet field setup with all the equipment to play. So, at the dis-pleasure of Alex (a bit nervous at this time) -- we proceeded to play a nice game of cricket and croquet right in front of the great Grand Hotel. Now we can always say that we played cricket and croquet with the rich and famous at the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel.

I enjoyed a run around the island (8 miles) -- after not running for the last week.

Internet update -- Internet via the Aircard and cell phone service without the Booster/Antenna.

Les Cheneaux Islands

Wednesday -- today we made our way from Harbor Island to the Les Cheneaux Islands "The Snows". The Snows are located in the UP of Michigan and our a number of channels that create many bays to anchor. We ended up anchoring in Government Bay which is probably the most protected of the anchorages. The cruise over was about 4 hours on completely calm waters. Once we set anchor, we drove the dinghy into Cedarville (about 45 minute dinghy ride) for some lunch. Cedarville is nothing to write about, but it is always nice to get off the boat and enjoy some "greasy spoon" cooking.

The night was completely calm with a sky full of stars and completely quiet.

Internet Update -- We had both Internet via the AirCard and cell phone service -- without the need of the booster antenna.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

United States again

Tuesday – today Gaye and Aaron will head back to Madison with the truck. Aaron will be able to get his Grandma and Grandpa fix in for the week and Gaye will be able to put in her three days of work to trade for another two weeks off. Alex and myself will take the boat across the North Channel from Blind River and clear customs at Drummond Island. Our cruise across the North Channel was great with completely calm conditions. We played Kings Corners on the way across and relaxed with Alex’s IPOD playing the music.

We cleared customs at the Drummond Island Yacht Haven without problems. It is funny how with all the 9-11 stuff, that it was much harder to clear through Canadian Customs then it was to clear US Customs.

We then proceed out to Harbor Island to anchor for the evening. A couple on a trawler stopped by to say that they were from Green Bay and had owned their trawler for the last 18 years (Georgian Bay was the name of the trawler). They mentioned that they had seen us out on the water before and admired our boat. They are going on a 6 week cruise through some of the areas on the North Channel that they haven’t been in the past.

That evening, with just me and Alex aboard, we did the “at home” stuff – checking e-mail, doing some IT work, playing Runscape on the Internet, and then finishing the night off watching some good old US tv. Nice day.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Victory Tug and the President

Monday -- today we made our way to Blind River Marina after a sleepless stormy night. The trip over was un-eventful with pretty calm waters and just a bit of wind. Two weeks ago, we picked up Gaye at the Blind River Marina and the place was empty -- very few boats. So, that is what we expected when we got on the radio with the Marina and they told us to pick our spot. Well, we turn the corner into the marina (past the breakwater) and sure enough it was pretty full this time around. The marina staff waved us into a slip.

Next to us was a 1988 37' Lord Nelson Victory Tug. Very fun looking boat. The couple on the boat invited us for a cocktail on their boat (of course, we don't drink -- so we tend to put a bit of a kink in the plans for Happy hour). We accepted their invitation and had a great time talking about their boat and their travels. They both retired in 2003 and that year started cruising the Pacific coast out of San Diego -- where they own a house. They took the boat up to Alaska and spent two summers (5 months each) cruising through the area. They then had the boat transported over land to the North Channel area where they will spend the next couple of years cruising the Great lakes. Their boat was very nice and filled with unique items that they have purchased along their way -- very nice couple. In a few years, they plan on having the boat shipped to spain and then spend a few years cruising the canals in spain.

Also, we walked past a boat on our dock that had just pulled in that was from Sherwood, WI. So, we talked with them for a while and told them that we kept our boat in Purves Lagoon in a slip that we own. Well, the small world that it is, they happen to be cruising with the President of the Purves Lagoon home owners assocation (which we are members of through the ownership of one of the lots/slips in Purves Lagoon). So, we ended up meeting one of our "neighbors" way up in the North Channel (we just purchased the lot/slip a few months ago). We spent an hour or so talking with them and giving them some thoughts on where to go in the North Channel -- we also had our truck at the Marina which we lent to them to do some re-provisioning (mainly liquor for the trip -- Canada only allows so much to be imported from the US). It was great to meet them and we enjoyed the conversation. Nice people.

Internet update -- Blind River Marina has free high speed Internet -- the only thing free in Canada. If you think the US has high taxes, go to Canada -- you have GST/PST and on and on.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Perfect Storm

Monday – Well, on Sunday we had talked about being a bit dis-appointed that we did not have at least a small storm to weather while on anchor – just to get some experience in that arena. Watch out what you ask for. Early in the afternoon on Sunday we had a storm blow through that caused one of the nine boats on anchor to break from their anchor and float into a boat behind them. Once that storm had cleared, all turned calm (completely calm) for the rest of the afternoon. At 9:30 we hit the bed for a good nights sleep – at least that was the plan.

Around 11:00 the lighting and thunder started in the distance. Gaye was on anchor watch and could not fall asleep as the winds started to pickup. Around 1:00am, Gaye woke me to tell me that the sailboat in front of us had broken anchor and was coming our way. When I looked out our front windows the wind was very very strong and you could see the four sailors from the sailboat out on the deck with flashlights trying to figure out what to do. The lightening was all over and the small cove at Long Point Cove actually had wind pushed waves. Our anchor stayed tight. The sailboat was coming our way, so I hurried out the back of our boat and put out the fenders in case they made it back to us. Thankfully, they un-hooked their anchor and drove the boat over and reset the anchor.

While this was going on, three Trawlers that had rafted (tied together) started to drag anchor into a sailboat next to them. From what we could see (heavy heavy rain), the sailboat was heeled to the side with the trawlers pushing the sailboat toward the rocks. They had their dinghy’s out trying to figure out how to deal with the problem. When you raft multiple boats together, you can only use the anchor from the middle boat. So, now they had 3 trawlers and 1 sailboat on one anchor with very high winds. One of the trawlers started their engine and helped stay on anchor. All the while, we are just watching with our boat doing fine on the anchor.

After that storm past, then another storm came up and brought with it heavy rain (someone at the dock the next day stated 5 inches had come down – don’t know if this is true or not – but it rained like mad). The winds from this storm came out of the East instead of the West like the last storm. The change in wind direction can cause problems for the anchors because they now need to reset in the other direction – which many times causes the anchor to break loose. Sure enough, another one of the sailboats that had broken loose in the afternoon – broke loose again and now floated into the rocks on-shore. At first there were no lights on in the sailboat, so I was about ready to put down the dinghy and go help out (not looking forward to that). But their lights turned on and out came the crew. They tried to move the boat in front of us (not what we had hoped for), but the anchor didn’t hold – so off they went. They ended up traveling to the Blind River Marina – just gave up on the anchor.

Now the other sailboat in front of us was again dragging anchor. They tried multiple times to reset the anchor and finally got a bow anchor and stern anchor set. Now it is 4:30 in the morning and it is light – time to go to bed.

When we got to Blind River Marina, the boats in the marina from the night before had their own stories. A sailboat said the wind was so strong that it heeled their boat over while in their slip. Others said it was very windy and huge amount of rain.

With the nine boats at anchor six of the boats had problems, the good news is that we had one of the boats without problems. The key is preparation – before we went to bed, we had put everything away, the dinghy up on the davits, 10 to 1 chain anchor rode out, etc. Once the storm hits – it is too late.

So anyway, now we have a storm while on anchor story to tell – chalk up another boating experience.

Skipper Alex

Sunday – today we decided to try one of our favorite anchorages (there are many and just about all that we anchored in) – Long Point Cove. We figured that the anchorage might be a bit busy with it still being the weekend and July, but to our surprise, only 4 boats were at anchor and 3 of those boats (trawlers) were rafted together.

Today, Alex drove the boat from start to (almost) finish. He started the boat, pulled up anchor, navigated out of the anchorage (tight in areas) and navigated via the laptop to our next anchorage – he did a great job and has most of the boat stuff down pat. I’ve started to teach him how to turn the boat in the boats own length – using the back and fill method. Once he gets that down then we’ll have him practice bringing the boat into a slip or wall. I’m sure by next year he’ll be able to completely operate the boat including docking. He’ll be a master at the single screw docking before he has his drivers license.

After we set anchor we headed out for a quick dinghy exploring around the anchorage. After a bit, we decided to head back to the boat to batten down the hatches for a storm quickly approaching from the West. Even though we are in a completely protected anchorage (rocks/hills on all sides), we still need to maximize the anchor chain rode and close up the boat. The storm came through with some moderate winds and heavy rain. We stayed on the end of our anchor without problems, but a sailboat in the anchorage began to drag. They continued to drag until they were about to hit the sailboat behind them. At that time, they finally decided they would need to do something about it and threw out fenders before they came up to the other sailboat. Thankfully, they were not in front of us – so we could stay dry and out of the lightening. Our first storm on anchor was not a problem.

Fish, fish, and more fish

Saturday – today we decided to re-visit Moiles Harbor to re-visit the fishing hole that Alex and Gaye found the last time. When we woke up at the Oak Bay anchorage, Gaye and myself decided to jump in the cold water and get some exercise swimming around the boat – Alex joined us after he heard the splash.

We made our way through Little Detroit for the 4th time on our trip. Little Detroit is a small channel that is maybe 50ft across and very small passage. After we made our way through, we passed a 112ft yacht that was on its way through that small curvy passage. Not sure how they made it through, but based on the reckless driving that that skipper was doing on the way to Little Detroit (throwing up huge wake for some passing sailboats along with huge wakes going ashore) – I’m sure he just bumper boated his way through. Sometimes they have more money than brains.

We made our way back to our fishing hole and again pulled in +10 good sized small mouth bass. We had the anchorage to ourselves and enjoyed swimming off the boat. A night of poker and some blackjack finished off another great day in the North Channel.

Fuel Burn -- or lack of...

Friday – today we will make our way to Oak Bay. We had met the retired couple on the sailboat “Old Sam Peabody” that recommended Oak Bay to us. The anchorage is tucked into a small inlet and then back through some channels. We again stern tied the boat and took the dinghy up and down the channel exploring the smooth “whaleback” rocks.

A note on our fuel mileage. Once we got into the North Channel area, most anchorages are an hour or two away from each other (at the most) – so in order to enjoy the area better I slowed the boat to run at 1200 RPM’s and about 6.8 knots. Since I did that we have burned an average of .94 gallons per hour – yes, less than 1 gallon per hour. So, we filled the fuel tanks about two weeks ago and have been all over the North Channel and have burnt less than 50 gallons of fuel (150 gallons left). The generator burns around .40 gallons per hour and we use the generator approx. 3 hours each day to recharge the batteries.

Here are some comparison:

1600 rpm’s 8.0 knots 3.25 gallons per hour fuel burn

1400 rpm’s 7.2 knots 2.00 gallons per hour fuel burn

1200 rpm’s 6.8 knots .94 gallons per hour fuel burn

Benjamin Island's

Thursday – today we left Little Current for the last time on our trip. Little Current is just a small community, but we had grown to enjoy the sleepy little town. The Government Dock was a bit expensive, but the dock hands were very helpful and created a relaxed environment. We made our way to the Benjamin Islands. The weather forecast had predicted 10kt winds from the West increasing to 15kt winds in the afternoon. The closer we got to the Benjamin’s the higher the waves became – still within the pretty easy range but we started to hit 3 footers as we turned into The Bay of the Benjamin’s.

The Bay of the Benjamin’s is one of the gem anchorages of the North Channel. The rock formations (smooth rocks) are just amazing. There are many places to explore the rocks and hike the woods. That being said, the anchorage can get very crowded. When we got into the anchorage, there were probably 10-15 boats already there. Most of the anchorage area is 20ft deep which makes it hard to set the anchor. The wind was blowing through the anchorage pretty good and the recommendation of chain anchor rode for a 20ft depth would be +100ft. With the number of boats in the anchorage, we were only able to let out 40ft of chain rode – not enough in normal situations, but if we let out more – we would swing into the other boats. As we left to explore the islands another 8 sailboats showed up at the anchorage trying to get out of the pounding waves. After some exploring, we noticed that our boat was dragging anchor – just not enough chain rode out. We hurried back to the boat and tried to re-set the anchor without luck – so we moved across the bay to Croker Island and stern tied to the shore and enjoyed a quiet night completely out of the wind and securely tied to the shore.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Eating fish at the Bus

Tuesday – Today we’ll stay in Covered Portage for another night. After having breakfast, we headed out for Killarny to check out the town and enjoy some of their famous white fish from the “Bus”. The dinghy ride was a bit long with the distance being around 3 miles – using our 15 year old Evinrude 4hp outboard and an Avon 3.10 Rib (time to buy Gaye a bigger outboard for her birthday – I’m sure she’ll be excited about that present).

Killarny was not very exciting with mainly marinas along the channel. We walked the town and then stopped at the “Bus” for some white fish. We ended up eating with an older couple that is anchored on a motor-sailer next to us in Covered Portage. They spend their summers on the boat that he built from steel a number of years back. They just slowly move from anchorage to anchorage through-out the North Channel. We tend to be the only non-sailboat when we are anchored so we usually have many of the sailers dinghying over to our boat to compliment us on the looks of our boat. The saying is that trawler owners are just sailors in retirement.

We did see the “Ford” boat leaving the Killarny channel – apparently the boat is around 130ft long and has a Ford Blue hull. Another sailor in our anchorage told us that they were looking for fuel but the Killarny marinas did not have enough – so off they went. Pretty impressive boat.

Pretty windy today with 20kts winds for most of the day.

Internet Access: No Internet. The Verizon cell phone service works if the boat is pointing to the West – otherwise, no server.

Covered Portage

Monday – Today we’ll leave the “Pool” and head out to Covered Portage. We began the trip by traveling down the “Narrows” – funny how big the channel feels on the way out (now that we know the depths). No problems leaving the “Pool”, except for the generator (Northern Lights M643 – 5kw). About a ½ hour into the cruise, I heard a loud noise and looked down to see that the generator shut-down. I was in the middle of trying to get through the “Narrows” and worrying about the depths, so the generator would have to wait.

I determined that the generator had overheated and thought that all the weeds that we had in the “Pool” might have sucked into the fresh water intake. So once we got to deeper and wider waters, I dove under the boat to see if that was the problem (this time the water was much warmer). No weeds, so we continued on out of Baie Fine. After some diagnosis, I found that the V-belt was very loose and needed to be tightened. Once I tightened the V-belt – all was good again – another problem fixed – onto the next problem. Like they say, if you don’t like working on boats, don’t own one. The only boats that don’t have problems, never leave the docks. A boater along the way told me that Carver has a boat model that has no engines – I guess that leaves more room for the beer.

I will say though that our boat has been unbelievably good. We have had very few problems and everything works great. We have spent the last 4 years slowly “rehabbing” all the systems and fixing anything that didn’t work – which was very little. So now we have an engine that is clean enough to eat off of with fresh new paint, cleaned and freshly painted engine bilge areas, white clean cloths under the main engine to show any oil drips, and on and on. We spend some of our time at anchorage painting areas of the bilge areas or putting another Bristol Finish on the wood work or fixing a small problem with something on the boat. The goal has always been that if it is on the boat, then it must work – if not, replace it or fix it. Also, everything is either cleaned or re-painted on every inch of the boat – still working on that project.

We made our way to Covered Portage, which is just North West of Killarny, Ontario. The anchorage is just incredible – a small harbor totally protected from all winds/waves with 300 feet white granite\quartz walls of rock on the North side and trees surrounding the rest of the anchorage. We slowly made our way back to the anchorage to find many many boats at anchor. So, we weaved in and out of the boats to find a spot. About 2 hours later all the “go fast” boats left and it was us and about 5 sailboats left for the evening. We climbed the rocks to the top of the mountain to view the boats from afar.

Internet Access: No Internet. The Verizon cell phone service works if the boat is pointing to the West – otherwise, no server.

Baie Fine

Saturday – Today we decided to cruise to Baie Fine. Baie Fine is about 20 miles North East of Little Current. The weather forecast showed clouds and storms with an increasing wind to the West at 20 knots. We left the government wall and preceded though the swing bridge going East out of Little Current. The radio was filled with chatter from the sailboats regarding the weather, but we did not see any problems with in the next few hours when we would be in our anchorage.

Baie Fine is a narrow channel that runs between two mountain ranges. The entrance to Baie Fine is marked with a couple of red/green buoys, but it still presents a challenge to stay off the rocks. Once we cleared the entrance then we had a 10 mile cruise in a channel about a quarter mile across. At the end of this channel is a channel named “The Narrows” – which describes the size of the channel. Our charts did not show that there was enough depth to enter the channel, but our Great Lakes Cruising Club manuals showed there was enough depth and there were two sailboats leaving the channel as we entered. So, I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Most of the entrance was 20 ft deep with only one spot going down to 6 ft. You then continue up the channel – about 100 ft across with 20 ft depths in the middle – for a mile and a half. At the end of the channel you turn to your starboard and enter the “Pool”. The Pool is a small anchorage area at the end of the channels.

We set the anchor and took the dinghy to shore to climb up to the interior lake. You hike up a rugged trail to a location close to the top of the mountain and you come to Topaz Lake. The lake is amazing – the water is a topaz color with huge walls of a “white” granite\quartz. There is a good chance that this lake was created from a meteorite many many years ago. It is just a large “bowl” in the middle of the mountain. We jumped off the rocks into the water and enjoyed some swimming in the crystal clear waters – amazing place. We then climbed up the rest of the mountain and looked down over the “Pool” in which our boat was anchored.

As you turn into the “Pool” there is a cottage on a small rock island. The Cottage is or was owned by the founder of Evinrude and his wife (some famous actress of her time) (both may have past away by now). Until recently, they had their 110 foot yacht docked right next to their cottage. The length of the rock island is probably 150 ft, so the yacht would have taken up much of the island. It is a shame that the yacht is no longer there, that would have been fun to see.

We met two couples (one from Minnesota) that spend their entire summers on the North Channel. They don’t rent slips during the summers, but instead just have the boat dropped in the water and off they go. When they come back at the end of August, they just have the boat pulled out of the water and stored for the winter – then back next year. They all seem to know each other and there is much chatter on the radio between the sailboats. We asked them how much they sail compared to motoring between anchorages – one couple said that they mainly motor between anchorages and the other couple laughed and said that they were scared to see the conditions of their sails that they haven’t used in years.

Spending every summer on a boat in the North Channel (or anywhere outside of a marina) – now that is for me! All ready planning next years summer cruise – probably out to the East Coast (start the Great Loop) where we’ll leave the boat for the winter and fly home – but we’ll see…

Internet Access: No Internet. We do have Verizon cell phone service with the Booster/Antenna.

Island time

Friday – Today we stayed in Little Current and enjoyed the port.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Little Current, Ontario,-97.15369&sspn=30.012899,81.738281&q=little+current+ont&ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&ll=45.92823,-81.870117&spn=0.504348,1.277161

Thursday -- today we left our protected anchorage and headed toward Little Current. We tied to the wall (Government Dock) around 11:00. The Government Dock wall spans the whole downtown area and makes it nice to walk to the restaurants and shops. We walked up the hill to some of the grocery stores and re-supplied the provisions for the next week or so out of port.

On the way to have pizza in the evening, a customs agent stopped by the boat to see if we had checked into Canada -- it was the same agent that searched the boat in Meldrum. She stayed and talked with us for about an hour sharing stories of things/people that she has found through her 22 years of service. She stated that they are really only concerned with finding drugs and guns. She said that last year a gentleman in Meldrum Bay did not declare that he had multiple guns on the boat (even though they gave him multiple chances to declare) and he was taken off to jail for the weekend. She ended up giving us a ride up to the pizza place.

Multiple storms came through during the day - nothing major.

Internet Update: We paid $22 for a week of high-speed wireless Internet through a local company MSD. Works right at the dock and will allow me to process month-end for one of my IT clients. Verizon cell phone service works from the dock with Booster/Antenna.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Snug Anchor at Croker Island

Wednesday – today we cruised from Long Point Harbour to Croker Island. We passed through the Whalebacks and through Little Detroit. As we approached the anchorage, we could not be certain of the depths so we had planned to take down the dinghy and check the entrance with our dinghy. At that time a small (18’ Hobie Sports Cat) sailed past and told us to follow him. So, hoping that he didn’t have a previous run in with some other Trawler and wanted revenge by running us over some rocks – we followed. He took us around the other side of the island that had maybe 5 ft of water. After we anchored he came over and showed us some great anchorages through-out the North Channel. He cruises all over the country on this 18’ Hobie Cat – the platform turns into a tent while at anchorage. Very nice gentlemen and he got us into an anchorage that we would never have tried and we were all by ourselves for the day.

We stern tied the boat to a rock on shore and the boys enjoyed jumping of the pink granite rocks. Gaye and myself did our ‘mini-run’ around/up/down the rocks and enjoyed a swim/snorkel with the boys. In the evening we played our nightly game – tonight being Mexican Train – Aaron came away with the victory.

3 harbors in one day

Tuesday – today we decided to head back towards the Whalesback area. It took us about 4 hours and 3 anchorages before we were at the spot that we wanted for the night. We stopped at Johns Harbour, BearDrop Harbour, and Long Point Harbour. We stayed in Long Point Harbor with 6 sailboats in the snug harbor. We have only seen 3 other trawlers on the North Channel so far. One of those being Katie-dee-anna (Nordic Tug 37) that we met in previous years.

In the evening we played some draw poker, texas hold-em, and 7 card stud. Alex went from bankruptcy to victory.

Internet Update: No Internet Access.

Found the rock or at least the keel did

Monday – today we moved from Fox Island to South Benjamin. On the way out of Fox Harbour we had the nice opportunity of locating a rock shoal approx. 3 ft below the water surface. Our boat has a draft of 3.5 ft, so we hit the rock (going pretty slow) and rode right over it to the other side. We were a bit confused (and a bit shaken -- are we sinking, is the prop still there, so on and so on...) because the day before we had come through the same channel to get to the anchorage and had no problems. But today we went a bit on the North side instead of the South side and we found the rock. We slowed and checked the bilge areas for leaks and all was good. When we got to the next anchorage at South Benjamin, I dove under the boat (in very cold water) and the keel was fine. No damage, just a few splinters in the wood shoe on the bottom of the keel. Mark up another experience in our boating life.

South Benjamin was a great anchorage. We were able to stern tie the boat to one of the many pink granite rocks so the kids could just walk over to shore. The boys had a blast throwing water on the smooth rocks and sliding down the rock into the water. In the evening we took a dinghy ride around the area and noticed what looked to be a large log floating through the water. We decided to get closer and sure enough, it was a large black bear. We stayed behind him in order to not scare him (or us). He had swam at least 2 miles from a distant island. We sat in the dinghy in the water off shore and watched as he ate and climbed the 100 ft bluff. That evening we had a camp fire on shore and enjoyed the completely dark night – no moon and clouds.

A few days ago I taught Alex and Aaron how to play Chess and they have gotten very good. Tonight for our game, we had a Chess tournament. Alex let Mom beat him by helping her out and then it was Aaron’s turn. About 3 moves into the game, Aaron had Mom check-mated. Dad then barely beat Aaron – after losing to Aaron a couple times in the last few days.

Internet Update: No Internet Access -- just Verizon Cell phone coverage with Booster/Antenna.

Fox Harbour swimming bears

Sunday – Today we made our way through the Whalesback area and through Little Detroit to Fox Harbour. To get into the anchorage at Fox Harbour you need to make your way through many pink granite rocks throughout the entrance. You just hope that you miss all the rocks – which we did.

To get our run in today, Gaye and myself ran across the many rocks that formed the harbour. It was an up and down run with many times jumping over the water between rocks to get to the other side. Good workout. When we got back to the boat we all jumped in the water and enjoyed a very nice cold swim in the crystal clear waters of Fox Harbour.

Aaron in his “money making” ways today decided to give foot massages for 25 cents per foot. He used dish soap and a variety of rules/pencils/etc to rub the feet. The only problem with the foot massages was that his “solution” caused Alex to attract bees to his feet. He again probably collected $3 from us today – the next Bill Gates in the making.

We spent the day exploring all the little “lazy rivers” that have been formed by the water over the years. We caught many fish (bass) in one of those “lazy river” areas and the boys enjoyed snorkeling through the rock islands. In the evening on the boat we saw a family of 6 otters go for a quick swim right in front of the boat. Just after we saw the otters, we noticed right up the inlet something swimming across to another island – it turned out to be a Black Bear. To date we have seen the following animals:

Eagles – 3
Deer – many
Swimming deer
Family of 6 Otters
A Loons nest with 2 green eggs lying on top
Black Bear – swimming

Internet Update: No Internet access via AirCard but we still have Verizon cell phone service with the Booster/Antenna.

Mom's back

Saturday – Today is the day that we get to pick up Gaye from Blind River. Great day with no winds or waves. We made it into Blind River around 9:30 and get diesel, water, and a pump-out.

Fuel was 3.50 per gallon and we took on 50 gallons. Over the last week, we have used just 1.80 gallons per hour or about 4.1 miles per gallon which is great for a boat. Many boats that we call “go-fast boats” that are the same size as our boat burn 18 to 30 gallons per hour or about 1 mile per gallon.

We made our way to our anchorage at Moiles Harbour which is with-in the Whaleback area of the North Channel. It is named Whaleback because of the many many rocks that come out the water and look like the backs of a whale. We enjoyed the exploring of the rocks/islands. Alex and Gaye went fishing in the evening and caught many good sized bass.
Internet Update: No Verizon service. Had free high-speed Internet access when fueling at Blind River Marina.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Long Point

Long Point Cove – Today we had a short trip West in order to get closer to Blind River for our pickup of Gaye tomorrow. We slowly made our way through the Islands and the “skinny” water depths to Long Point Cove. The Cove is completely sheltered from all winds / waves. Soon after we set anchor, we noticed a bird fishing off to our starboard side – it was an Eagle fishing for some “lunch”. We watched him fish for a while and then he flew to a tree at the end of a point probably 30ft from the boat. We watched him for quite a while – just sitting on the branch. Tomorrow we’ll make our way to Blind River.

Internet Update – No Internet access her. We do have Verizon cell phone access with the Booster / Antenna.

Beardrop Harbour

Beardrop Harbour – Today we decided to move a little closer to Blind River (where we will pick up Gaye on Saturday). We crossed the North Channel directly North from Gore Bay and passed through Little Detroit. Little Detroit is a small channel that is probably 60 ft wide with a channel just wide enough to maybe get two boats through – even though we were pleased to have no other boats at the time. We made our way through Whalesback Channel to our anchorage for the night at Beardrop Harbour. Whalesback Channel is very nice – kindof like cruising the rivers of Eagle River Wisconsin (which is only accessable via small boats). We met up again with Katie-Dee-Anna – a 37’ Nordic Tug that we had met in Macinack Island in 2004. We spent the day exploring the many many islands with the dinghy and watching the Eagle fly around the shore.

Internet Update – No Internet access her. We do have Verizon cell phone access with the Booster / Antenna.

Gore Bay -- one more day

Gore Bay – this morning we woke to some windy conditions and the forecast was for increasing South winds to 20kts later in the day. We decided to take the boat to the Gore Bay Marina for the evening. The day was a bit windy, so we spent much of the day in the boat taking small walks into the town. We played hand-ball on the tennis courts and enjoyed ice cream cones from the local store.

Internet Update: We had very fast Internet access thanks to the good folks at Canada Yacht Charters until around 4:00 then CYC locked everyone out. We also had Verizon cell phone access with and without the booster/antenna.

Gore Bay

Gore Bay – we awoke this morning to some windy conditions but with the forecast for the waves and winds to subside late morning. I completed the installation of the washdown pump – so we can turn it on-off from the pilothouse. We left around 10:30 to make our way East to Gore Bay. We had a nice easy trip – 5 hours total. Entering Gore Bay we noticed that our wireless card indicated a wi-fi network onshore. We anchored out in the nice harbor and enjoyed high-speed Internet. We took the dinghy to shore and walked downtown to the local grocery to pickup some supplies – namely a pizza and a cake.

Internet Update: We had very fast Internet access thanks to the good folks at Canada Yacht Charters. We also had Verizon cell phone access with and without the booster/antenna.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stanley Cup Finals Party with the whole town

Monday à We woke this morning to some nice calm conditions. I quickly got the boat ready to go and made my way to the narrow outlet back into the North Channel out of Pilots Cove. I stayed very close to the point and away from the shore and had no problems. We made our way down to Meldrum Bay were we could check into Canada Customs and spend the night. We were the only boat at the marina until later when one other trawler showed up for the night. Canada Customs showed up at the boat and did a complete check of the boat from bow to stern. We had lunch at the Meldrum Bay Inn which is just a short walk up the hill. The kids enjoyed jumping off the marina wall and we played games in the shack on the pier. In the evening we went back to the Meldrum Bay Inn and enjoyed a great desert and stayed to watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals with the Inn owner and another 6 guests. We had a great time talking Canada hockey.

Internet Update -- no Internet Access. The Meldrum Inn does have a computer setup for dailout access that we used to check the weather. No Verizon Cell phone service.

The challenge of Pilots Cove

Sunday June 18 à Gaye, Grandma, and Grandpa left for home today, so the boy’s and myself decided to push off from the dock and head out to Pilots Cove. Pilots Cove is a small snail shaped anchorage area on the North East side of Drummond Island. We had read in the Great Lakes Cruising Clubs books that the enterance to the anchorage was a bit of a challenge. It was a 2 hour easy cruise down to Pilots Cove. You need to come in from the Northwest in order to miss a shoal that comes off shore. The inlet into the anchorage is right on shore and measures probably 20 feet across. We hugged the ‘point’ and slowly brought the boat into Pilots Cove. As we went through I was watching out the side of the pilothouse and noticed that there were huge rocks just off the starboard side of the boat and on the port side I could only see the shore. We just stayed calm and hoped that we would not hit any rocks. We made it back into this very small cove that allowed a great protected anchorage (chance of severe storms). It was a rainy day, so we took a small hike on the shore and the boy’s caught crawfish off the shore. It was a great anchorage and a great fathers day with my boys – even though we greatly missed having mom (Gaye) enjoy it with us.

Internet Update -- no Internet Access in Pilots Cove -- but we did have Verizon Cell phone coverage using the booster/antenna.

Drummond Island w/ Grandma & Grandpa

Saturday June 17 à Today we moved over to the docks of Drummond Island Yacht Haven. The temperatures outside were in the 90’s with the local bank clock showing 94. The boys swam and enjoyed playing with the Resort dogs that came to fetch sticks. Aaron enjoyed having the dogs follow him where ever he went.

We ate at a couple of restaurants on Drummond Island which we were able to reach thanks to Grandma and Grandpa’s car. We re-provisioned the boat in anticipation of Gaye leaving to go back to work for a week. She will now meet the boy’s and myself at Blind River in Canada.

Internet Update: No Internet access or Verizon cell phone access -- even with booster/antenna.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fun in Harbor Island

We went to Harbor Island on Thursday and woke up to yet another peaceful day. We were suppose to pick up our grandparents later in the day. My mom and dad decided to go to Burnt Island to check out if it was good enough to anchor with our grandparents. We looked over at the island and saw our grandparents car at the marina, so we went and picked them up. We then went to Burnt Island for a bit to anchor out for fun and do some fishing. After a while we decided that we could head back to Harbor. We were there for about one hour then it started to storm and rain. Once it was over with we ate lunch and fished somemore. My brother and myself went to the shore to do some more swimming. Finally we ended the day to a dingy trip around the bay.

Internet update: There was no internet service in Burnt Island, But in Harbor with a booster antenna we get 2-3 bars and good internet.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Harbor Island

We are now sitting on anchor in Harbor Island. Harbor Island is approx 3 miles North of Drummond Island. We had a great completely calm crossing of Lake Huron with no wind or waves.

On the way in we stopped at Drummond Island Yacht Haven for fuel and pump-out. So far, we have burned an average of 2.15 gallons per hour. The boat has again ran great without problems. Drummond Island Yacht Haven has gas, diesel, pump-out, a small store, and slips for both seasonal and transient. This is the location of the US Customs for returning to US waters.

Harbor Island is a great fully protected island. There is a small inlet that leads back to the anchorage area -- approx. 10 feet deep. Your protected from all sides. Last time we were here we had great fishing right from the boat and today is no different. Alex/Aaron/Gaye have caught nice sized bass, sunfish, blue gills, and perch right from the boat. We are the only boat anchored in this nice sized lagoon. Attached is a Google Earth picture of Harbor Island.

Internet Update: We had Internet access the whole way from Mackinac Island to Harbor Island with the use of the Wilson Booster and Wilson antenna. Right now we have 3 bars with the antenna on both the Verizon cell phone and the Verizon AirCard. Without the booster/antenna --- no service.

Surprise Visit

Wednesday morning we spent riding our bikes on the many paved bike trails through out Mackinac Island. We stopped many times to enjoy the tower views and to climb some of the rock formations.

Around noon, we got a surprise visit from Grandma and Grandpa. They were coming up to Drummond Island to pickup Gaye and take her home for work next week -- so we expected to see them on Friday. It was great to have them come up and enjoy the day with us. We had lunch and Alex/Aaron got to go shopping with Grandma and Grandpa. They left via ferry boat at 6:00 -- very enjoyable day.

Gaye and myself enjoyed (or at least I enjoyed it) a complete circle run around Mackinac Island -- 8 miles.

Today (Thursday) we are on the way to Harbor Island which is just North of Drummond Island -- via Lake Huron. We have been here before and have enjoyed incredible fishing. The seas are completely calm with no clouds in the sky.

Internet Update: We are approx. 6 miles east of Mackinac Island and we still have internet access (5 bars with booster/antenna).

Next stop Harbor Island.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

No Cars!!!

We are now on Mackinac Island. The trip over was un-eventful and enjoyable. We saw one ship along the way, which we normally see many more. We arrived at Mackinac Island around 12:30 to a marina that is at the most 1/2 full. As I stated in an earlier e-mail, the surge from the ferry boats causes issues while docking. You certainly need to make sure you have your spring lines set right away as you come into the dock.

We took out the "foldable" bikes and made our way around the Island. They have a paved trail that circles the entire island along the shores -- 8 miles around. Tonight we sat on the boat and listened to some singer up the hill.

The boy's went shopping for toys/clothes with many places to choose from.
Tomorrow will be a day of relaxing on the island -- along with a 8 mile run and plenty of bike riding.

Internet Update -- Mackinac Island has ATT wi-fi service which they charge for -- I did not look at the cost (but they require a credit card). We are using our Verizon AirCard with the booster antenna. I believe we would still have access without the antenna, but it might be weak.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Next stop -- Mackinac Island

Well, we are now under way to Mackinac Island. We awoke this morning around 6:00 and left our anchorage at Beaver Island. We'll spend the next two days at Mackinac Island. Even though we enjoy the peaceful/non-commercialized spot of Beaver Island -- we also very much enjoy Mackinac Island. We have been to Mackinac Island twice before via our boat -- both times in 2004. Mackinac offers a lot of history, great biking trails, great restaruants, and of course TOY STORES!! There are no cars on Mackinac Island -- only horses. Everything is transported via boat to the Island and then loaded onto wagons pulled by horses.

The only concern with Mackinac Island is the surge that you get in the marina from the many many ferry boats carrying vistors from the mainland. Be sure to quickly tie off to the dock as you come in or be prepared to pound into the dock a bit.

The weather is great -- sunny and 1 footers. Even though we are fairly close to Mackinac Island, this is still considered Lake Michigan Open Waters which generally is rougher. Here is a link to the wave forecast for the Open Waters of Lake Michigan:

We use this as our guide to determine the wave heights and winds.

Internet Update: Last night in Beaver Island we did not have Verizon cell phone access or Verizon AirCard access (even though the booster/antenna did pull the signal in to 3 bars). We did have someones open wi-fi connection. About 5 miles East of Beaver Island we picked up the Verizon AirCard service with the booster/antenna.

Next stop -- Mackinac Island...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Day on Beaver Island

Today was a rest day on Beaver Island. We spent the morning cleaning up the boat and relaxing. Another trip to the toy store and another couple of smoked white fish purchased. Gaye and myself enjoyed a 5 mile run through the trails on Beaver Island.

As far as Internet access -- my Verizon AirCard with the booster antenna does not work in the harbor. I was able to get Internet access via a open wi-fi box someplace on shore. I'm guessing that it is the public marina, but have no idea.

Calm day today with tomorrow bringing us to Mackinac Island for a couple of days. The weather forecast is calling for light and variable winds with calm waters -- so we are looking forward to the 6 hour ride.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sleepy Beaver Island

We are now sitting on anchor in St. James harbor at Beaver Island. We made it to the island at 1:30 today after a fairly nice calm trip from Rock Island.

As soon we got set on anchor, Aaron was ready to go to the Toy Store. Beaver Island has a small little toy store that is in an old house on the shores of St. James Harbor. We took the dinghy to the toy store and Aaron bought about $10 worth of 25 cent toys.

We have been to Beaver Island the last 4 years and have many favorite spots. Besides the toy store, they have a fresh fish "store" (in a tiny shack) that has the best smoked fish. They run the commercial fishing boat and smoke the fish fresh every day. We also enjoy the Shamrock (small bar/restaurant 100+ years old), Stoney Acres, and the ice cream shop. If you make it to Beaver Island, be sure to try Stoney Acres -- excellent food -- worth the mile walk/bike ride up the road.

Very nice sleepy town that is certainly worth the trip. Tomorrow will be our day to sleep-in and relax around Beaver Island. On Wednesday we will cruise up to Mackinac Island where we have slip reservations for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Aaron still plans to do his blog -- just a bit busy with the toys.

Next...Beaver Island

Enjoyed the night at Rock Island with a full moon and fairly calm conditions. It was nice to be in the harbor after a bit bumpy ride into Rock Island. As we were coming through some major waves (for us --> 5-6 ft short chop), a 20 ft fishing boat was going out to their fishing spot. So we are getting bounced around as they stop to throw in the lines. Well, after they also noticed the 6 footers they had enough and actually beat us to the Rock Island harbor.

Rock Island is a great place to stop over. There is a "L" breakwall that probably holds 4-5 boats max. Most of the time there are very few boats in the breakwall and most of those leave at night. Rock Island has no cars and everyone is transported to the Island via the ferry. Rock Island is a State park with probably 20 or so backpacking campsites. Very nice place to visit.

We woke at 4:30 this morning and the bay was only producing light rollers -- carryover from yesterday. We decided we would push onto Mantisique, MI (just to anchor for the night) -- but once we got within a hour of Manitique and the waters were calm -- we decided to head for Beaver Island. So we are now on the way to Beaver Island.

So far the Internet has worked without problems. The Wilson Booster and antenna takes the "Bars" from No bars to 3-4 bars each time.

Next time Aaron will be blogging - he'll have some good stories on the waves yesterday. As we were a bit frazeled, Aaron was having a blast -- wondering if we could get the boat to turn all the way on it's side -- or would the boat be able to completely go under water -- and on and on. He has a great time.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bumpy Ride To Rock Island

We stopped at Horseshoe Island thinking we were going to stay there the night. We ate at the island, snorkled, and fished. My dad checked the weather and said that the coast was clear enough to take a trip up to Rock Island. So we headed off to the island thinking it will be a nice trip up there, first the waves were medium in size and my brother and I thought it was fun until we got near deaths door then it got really rough with an ocasional 6 footer. My brother decided to go to the bow (v-birth) where it was really wavy and I decided to follow. It was fun for about 20 minutes then I started to get sick. Finally after what seemed hours we got to Rock Island.

Internet Update: We had Internet access all along the coast of Door County. We needed the Booster/antenna in order to pull in the Internet at Rock Island. Verizon cell phone access also was active the whole trip from Sturgeon Bay to Rock Island.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The weather watch is on...

Now that we are with-in a few days of our planned departure, it is time to monitor the predicted wave heights and winds for this weekends Lake Michigan crossing. We have two choices for the Lake Michigan crossing -- one way is to cross-over directly from Sturgeon Bay to South Manitou Island (6-7 hour trip). The other way is to go to Rock Island the first day (6 hours) and then cross to Beaver Island the next day (8 hours).

This is were the wave heights and winds come into play. A calm Lake Michigan and we'll cross right over on Saturday -- waves above 2 ft, then we'll take the other path.

I spend about a week or so watching the trend for the Saturday wave heights and winds. This gives me a good feeling for what to expect come Saturday.

Getting the boat ready for the trip

Well, we are just about ready to go. We decided to make a short 5 hour cruise with the boat last weekend to make sure all systems are a go for our Lake Michigan crossing. All seems to be good and the boat has been provisioned for the trip.

Here are some of the projects that we completed this spring:

--> Added a washdown pump (PAR-Max 8 Washdown Pump - 80 psi). This will allow us to do a freshwater washdown of the boat while we are on anchor in the North Channel.

--> Replaced the TV antenna. We added new TV antenna (Shakespeare SeaWatch 2025) to replace the non-working Shakespeare SeaWatch 2030). We went from receiving 2 channels (kindof) to receiving 9 channels in Sturgeon Bay.

--> Added a Wilson Truck Antenna and booster to help amplify the signal for our Verizon AirCard and our Verizon cell phone. Last year we where able to contect to the Internet approx. 10 miles off the shores of Lake Michigan -- we are hoping that the new antenna and booster will greatly increase this (maybe all the way across). We tested it last week by Green Island and our AirCard went from zero bars to 5 (full) bars.

--> We also added our own slip in Sturgeon Bay. In December of last year we purchased a lot in Sturgeon Bay that also came with a 38 ft slip on the channel. The Home Association that we bought into, was removing the old slips, dredging, and adding new 38' slips with electricity/water/cable. A few weeks ago, I brought the boat over from the mooring ball into our new slip. This is very very nice -- no more marina cost for us!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

THE PLAN: Spend the summer in the wonderful cruising world of the North Channel.

THE BOAT: 1990 32' Sundowner Pilothouse "BRAZO"

THE STARTING POINT: Sturgeon Bay, WI - Purves Lagoon Marina

THE STARTING DATE: June 10, 2006

THE PARTICIPANTS: Alex, Aaron, Gaye, & Bob

Check back again...