OUR PLAN

We are writing this blog for one reason and one reason only. To provide a vehicle to make it easier to remain in touch with our family and friends back home.

Our plan is simple. Depart our home port of Goderich Ontario in the Summer of 2011. Cruise Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron while visiting some of the ports and anchorages we have missed over the years. As well as revisiting some of our favourite haunts hopefully with some of our very good friends with whom we have cruised with many times before. All the while adding up the miles and gaining experience with our new trawler. Our first and only self imposed deadline is to be in the Chicago area around Labour Day. South of Chicago, weather and circumstances will guide us!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

8/30 GRAND HAVEN MI.

Sleep in we did as we knew there were no plans to move today. I was up at a civilized time and prepared coffee. Terri, well she did take advantage of this opportunity. But when she did finally emerge she seemed full of energy and started recounting the things that must be accomplished today. First on the list is to review the Chicago area Marinas and to decide upon one and then make reservations. She stayed up last night and did her due diligence on the Chicago area and the places we would like to visit in Chicago. Terri and her family used to live about an hour or so from Chicago and she has been looking forward to this part of our journey for a long time. I have heard so much from her that I have made my own mental list of must visit places. Along with internet research we have a number of publications and personal recommendations from others that we have met to consider. But it all comes back to the original choice. Burnham Marina it will be and we have made reservations for Tuesday September 6. Not too bad as we had expected them to busy and sold out this long weekend. We will take it and be happy but ask to be added to a cancelation list, and my fingers are crossed. The long range forecast is for a major drop in daytime high temperatures coming this weekend. This can only mean one thing and that is North Winds. That is sure to initiate a few second thoughts and cancellations. We will see!
Terri has taken Smudge for a walk while I wash the boat. Funny thing though. Miracle upon miracle, she has returned she with wonderful news. Say what honey, you found a hair dresser and she can take you in 45 minutes, we have to hurry up and eat? You don’t want to be late! You might bath Smudge upon your return. Go ahead babe you deserve it. A bunch of us loopers are going out to dinner tonight and you will look smashing. By the way we have all decided that tonight the cocktails will be just that and no snacks. After that we will head out to restaurant that Jenny has picked. Big responsibility I know but we all have faith in Jenny and her tastes.
While Terri is gone Smudge and I head out to take some pictures of a very old Train Depot that was moth balled many years ago except for some pigeons. This Train Depot which is a grain loading facility makes me homesick as I look at the similarities between this and what we have built at our company. It seems the previous owners of this depot had long ago figured out the magic and efficiencies of gravity. This has been a corporate must in our company for a long time. If gravity will do it don’t interfere. Just make sure you move the product up high enough on the initial lift and gravity will take care of the rest. Sorry I am preaching but I get excited about this stuff.
OLD STEAM LOCOMOTIVE KUDOS TO THE VOLUNTEERS THAT KEEP IT PRISTENE




GRAIN LOADING STATION WAY AHEAD OF ITS  TIME

HUGE FOR ITS DAY

ALL CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION FROM 100 YEARS AGO WOW!



THIS CABOOSE ORIGINATED IN CANADA

Terri has just returned from the Hair Dresser and feeling civilized again. Hot is another word for it. Check out the pic.
TERRI HAS RETURNED FROM THE HAIR DRESSER HOT HOT HOT!

Burnham Marina has just called back and they have had a cancellation and we are now reserved for Saturday. I feel good!
More to come.
Mark

8/29 Pentwater Mi. to Grand Haven Mi.

We are a little slow to get going today and are the last of the loopers to depart at 0640. But the lake is calm and we are glad of it. This is the calmest we have ever seen this lake. We have about 50 miles to go and the living is easy. I back off on the throttle to conserve fuel and still manage to average 9 knots. There are fewer fishermen out this morning, not like last Saturday. There are a lot of fishing nets though and they are sometimes confusing to read and we must dodge them more and more.
ENTERING GRAND HAVEN MI.

When we get close to Grand Haven Sonata being the lead boat tries to hail the marina on the VHF. Channel 16 or 9 makes no difference. Then a kind sole has offered information over the radio that the marina staff vanished for lunch. Makes no sense to any of us but what can you do. Later that day when I went to the office to register and pay my dockage I see a sign on the door informing the boaters that the office hours today would be from 1 to 6. I guess no one boats in the morning around here. City Marina = Union =  ????


UNIQUE BIRD HOUSE

BEAUTIFUL SAILING SCHOONER THAT OFFERED SAILING EXCURSIONS TWICE DAILY

NAVY MAN AND HIS SOUTHERN BELLE

Terri and I and Smudge are off on our walk to scope out the waterfront. We had spotted a Coast Guard Station a little way back and I wanted to get some pictures. This is supposed to be a major center for the US Coast Guard and they do have we some cool looking vessels. Too bad that it was completely fence in. Understandably but still too bad.
US COAST GUARD STATION

Of course 1730 comes around and right on Queue there us a mass of Loopers gathering on the grass in front of the docks, cocktails and platters at the ready. Only this time Jenny and Jerry from Sweet Grass have prepared and offer a Salmon Fillet that they have prepared on the BBQ. It is delicious by all counts and kudos go to my favorite couple from South Carolina.
Another light dinner is on the menu tonight because again all of the snacks on offer had to be tasted and appetites are slight. Terri has convinced me to stay up and watch the nightly water show that the town puts on every night across the river. This show is a mixture of water jets and coloured lights choreographed to popular music. It is a show that is a nightly summer occurrence that has been going on since 1962. And it is supported entirely by generous donations from the public. Now I can stroke it off of my bucket list for I am sure there won’t be a second time.
WATER LIGHT SHOW TO CAP OFF A BEAUTIFUL DAY


MORE LIGHTS AND WATER

THE MUSIC TO THIS SELECTION WAS A GORDON LIGHTFOOT SONG (A CANADIAN OF COURSE)

We can sleep in tomorrow as we decide that we will stay here one more day.
Mark

Monday, August 29, 2011

8/28 Pentwater Mi.

Today would be a day for small boat chores and more shopping but all this would come later. Terri and I have been invited to attend Church Service with Charlie and Bonnie from Sonata. We would go to the Pentwater 1st Baptist service at 0900. This would be our first experience at a Baptist Church and we looked forward to it. We were not disappointed as the Pastor was a very good speaker and the music was uplifting. The people we friendly and welcoming and the seats were padded. So as not to disappoint another looper I have promised that sometime in the future we will balance things out and attend an Episcopalian Service. Let’s hope they have padded seats. Lol.
Upon our arrival back at the boat we get started on the chores. Today would, be the day that I defrost the refrigerator as it desperately needed it. While the ice is thawing Terri and I are off for lunch and a grocery run. The grocery store was very close and therefore a convenient place to restock. As Terri finishes her scrubbing and cleaning she is pooped and has enough time for a short nap. Or does she? Just about the time that she is ready to doze off. A sparrow flies into the boat through the aft door and appears to dive bomb her head. She is quick to react and is on the floor taking cover in a flash. The very scared bird misses the mark but the couch suffers collateral damage as it takes a direct hit of sparrow poop. The feathered kamikaze flutters up to the Pilot House and is trapped by all of the windows. The two doors were both open but the poor bird just can’t figure it out. It takes some gentle persuasion on my part to direct it to the open door. Terri will go without a nap today for there is poop to clean.
DIVE BOMBING SPARROW

OLD BOAT TURNED INTO FLOWER BED

MANY SAILORS HAVE PERISHED ON THIS LAKE


Before you know it is 1730 again and we loopers assemble at the picnic tables for cocktails. We all agree that tomorrow should be a good day for travel and we expect to be up early and off to Grand Haven Mi.
Good Night!

8/27 Arcadia Mi. to Pentwater Mi.

We were up and gone by 0600. All the loopers have left about this time and bound for Pentwater Mi. The trip was a bit of a bumpy ride with waves from two to three feet and the odd four foot thrown in just for fun. Not really that bad but we were glad we would be in harbour by noon. We arrived at the fuel dock first as we needed fuel and a pump-out. After we were safe in our assigned slip Terri was off with Smudge to get some exercise and scope out the town. She returned with a mental note of all of the shops she wanted to visit. So after a quick lunch on board we are off and again Smudge and I assume the bench to bench tour of the town as Terri goes from one shop to the other. Smudge and I both enjoy the weather and the conversation with the pedestrians. I am the only one to get any bargains though as Terri spots a t-shirt that she says I will like. Ok!
As we get back to the boat we are met by the other loopers and we all agree to dock tails at 1730. This is turning into a pleasant addiction as most of the loopers attend and the jokes and information flow freely. The munchies are delicious and plentiful and absolutely spoil my dinner. I must remember that I am not obliged to sample all that is offered. We will sleep well tonight.
THE LOOPER GANG AT 1730 HRS.

DOWNTOWN PENTWATER

Mark

Friday, August 26, 2011

8/26 Leyland Mi. to Arcadia Mi.

Up and gone by 0630. The getting out of Leland felt good as we had been there 4 nights. This was not a bad place to be for 4 nights but we need to put some miles under our keel. There were 4 other Looper boats that left about the same time.  Salty Paws, Sonata, Ookpik, and last but not least Sweet Grass. As it turns out they all showed up in Arcadia as well. The Dock Master here is a man by the name of Mark. He is very nice chap that represents his town and marina very well. He has gone out of his way to see to it that we were all comfortable.
Terri and I took a short walk up town with an eye to contributing to the economy of little town. The dockage here is so reasonable that we almost feel guilty if we don’t contribute in some other way. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to be generous other than the award winning Museum. We did our tour and left a donation and then retired to the boat. Me, to the couch and Terri to her computer to do some banking.
NOT SURE WHAT AWARD THEY WON BUT THEY DID

IT SEEMS THAT THEY ARE FIGHTING THE SAME FIGHT HERE AS MANY IN CANADA

TERRI SAYS HER MOM USED TO USE ONE LIKE THIS

FIRE HALL WITH INTERESTING MASCOTS ON THE ROOF
As it turns out all us Loopers had docktail hour on the picnic tables at the Marina. That is until we were interrupted by people from the great state of South Carolina After a very brief shower we all went under the public shelter and continued with the fun and idol chatter. It looks like tomorrow we are headed for Pentwater Mi. Which is about 50 miles from here with the wind forecast any where from 5 to 15 knots depending which forecast you have faith in. As Charlie said "They are all liars" We have a bail out point, stay tuned for tomorrows blog as we shall see how this plays out! These people are a lot of fun and we are enjoying their company.

Mark

Thursday, August 25, 2011

8/22 to 8/25 Leyland Mi.

Okay, I have just returned from paying for our fourth night here. This is a great town and marina but enough is enough. There has been lots of excitement and fun but everyone is starting to get restless to move on. The last few days we have spent doing boat chores and touring the town. I have washed the boat from stem to stern and fixed little nagging things. We have gone out to lunch twice at The Cove Restaurant because the food is so good. This is very unusual for Terri and me to do as we both enjoy the different fare that local restaurants offer. Terri has had her fill of the shops and although she didn’t buy much I think she did enjoy the shopping. Smudge and I dutifully followed and saw the town from the perspective of the benches situated outside the store.
THE BAR IN THE COVE RESTAURANT


VIEW FROM THE RESTAURANT


VIEW OF THE MARINA FROM THE ROAD. CAN YOU SPOT TERRMAR?


As in Charlevoix the Salmon are running here and there is a great number of fishing boats both commercial and sport. They come in all sizes and conditions as the following pictures will give you an idea.

THIS IS A WORKING FISHING TUG

BARE BONES NAVIGATION
 
TUGS RAFTED OFF

THE FISH DONT HAVE A CHANCE

GOLD LOOPER BOAT SONATA & BIGASS C&C BRASSY

There are four other looper boats here that got together for a potluck dinner in the marina lounge last night. We had a lot of fun as we all shared stories and have become more familiar with each other.
LOOPERS SHOOTING THE BREEZE

MORE LOOPERS

BONNIE & KATHY

BONNIE AND CHARLIE OUR GOLD LOOPERS OFF OF SONATA

JERRY AND JENNY FROM SWEET GRASS

There have been a total of three boats running aground in and around the marina since we have arrived. A sailboat arrived last night just before dark and sort of sailed onto the marina with only his main up after his engine failed. He had one shot of making it to the fuel dock under sail but it didn’t work. Three of us jumped in our dinghies and managed to push, pull and tug him off of a soft grounding in the silt and over to the fuel dock. That was enough excitement for a while.


LOOKING SOUTH AT MARINA ENTRANCE


Let’s hope tomorrow is a good day for travel but we are not holding our breath.
Mark

8/22 Charlevoix Mi. to Leland Mi.

We wake up in the morning a little late perhaps. Darn, I hate those bridges that are sticklers for a schedule. We would have to wait until the 0730 bridge in order to get to the lake. This means that we will be the last looper to depart, no problem though as we take our time getting prepared. It might be a little rock and rolly so let’s make sure everything is stored in its place. Note to self, to get a pump out as soon as we arrive at Leland. That head tank must be getting full regardless of what the idiot lights indicate. As we traverse the river we see that there are no early rising fishermen at hand to donate their lures to the river bed today. We scrutinize the lake and from our vantage point we see sort of Christmas trees on the horizon. This usually means confused rough seas. Oh well, we aren’t going to far today, and we can handle this.
As it turned out this trip would be more comfortable than first thought. We have arrived in Leland around midday and after a pump out we settled into a slip. The wind soon picked up and I spent a few extra minutes getting the boat extra secure in the slip. Somebody was thinking in the planning stages of this marina and drove a telephone sized post into the seabed at about the beam of the boats. This post is what kept us off of the docks and countered the wind in fine fashion.
It appears as though we will be here for a few days as the weather seems to be building and the forecast is not good for sailing on down the lake. No problem, as this looks to be a great place to be storm stayed.
Mark
TERRI LOVED THIS SOUP ANSD TOOK SOME BACK TO THE BOAT FOR TOMORROW

PRETTY WOMAN

LELAND MARINA OFFICE

SUNSET OVER LAKE MICHIGAN

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

8/21 Charlevoix Mi.

8/21 Charlevoix Mi.
Charlevoix is a very pretty city and any other city that is thinking of rejuvenating their waterfront should take a road trip here. They did this right with a very boat friendly marina with excellent docks and marina facilities. We were situated close enough to the public walkway that the public became our entertainment for a change. We went out for dinner that evening at Whitney’s Oyster Bar. It was a small almost too dark restaurant that offered a great mixed fare menu and of course Oysters. I have never tried real Oysters in the shell and this seemed like the perfect time. The waitress said they come in servings of from 2 to 40. I will take two please. I am not a real seafood person but I really did enjoy them. The next time they are offered I will of course dig in. On the way back to the boat Terri took us on a side trip in search of sweets. Remember she used wonderful self-control at Mackinaw but she was now in desperate need of a Chocolate fix. She did find a box that appealed to her and I knew all would be right with the world again.
There was a small splash pad where Terri enjoyed watching he children play. She misses Lauren of course. At night the splash pad lights up and the water dances a choreographed dance to music. Terri really enjoyed this. It did keep me awake for a short while but then I listened to the radio and President Obama was discussing the happenings in Libya. I don’t know but something about that man’s voice makes me sleepy. Soon it was the next day.
CLOUDS TEASED US ALL DAY


150 FT. BOAT COMING IN AND OUR BIG CANADIAN FLAG

VIEW OF THE MARINA FROM OUR FLYBRIDGE




Mark

8/20/11 Mackinac City Marina Mi. to Charlevoix Mi.

Happy Birthday Candice!!!!
Last night the weather gods have offered a window to head down the lake. We had two choices, Beaver Island Mi. (30 miles) or Charlevoix Mi. (50 miles). We did not want to be caught on an Island where strong winds in any direction would hamper future progress. Charlevoix it would be. The promised Northerlies would be an issue for only the first 15 miles. After that the balance of our journey would have the wind on our Stb. quarter or stern and of course it would be a much more comfortable ride. Head South young man, Charlevoix it would be. The first 15 miles or so were indeed a little rough as we were heading into the waves a bit. But when we turned south for the last 35 miles things smoothed out and it actually got better and better as the day wore on.
We had been trying to time the last few hours so as to make the Charlevoix Draw Bridge that opens only on a 30 minute schedule. However the Salmon were now running and the local fisherman were out on the lake in force and they don’t move for anyone. You must of course read their minds and assume that they know what they are doing. Their underprivileged cousins that must fish off of the channel wall appeared to be taking lessons from the power boaters. They also move there lines for no one. Picture this, big boat coming out of the channel and we were going into the channel and neither one of us could leave a lot of room for anything or anyone else. I collected two fishing lures and a little bit of fishing line on our prop that after noon. Fear not as I had installed a Shark Cutter on my prop shaft this spring and I have donated my new found lures to the assortment that is buried in the silt of the Charlevoix Channel.
APPROACHING THE BRIDGE IN CHARLEVOIX CHANNEL

TIGHT QUARTERS IN THE CHANNEL SORRY MR. FISHERMAN

We made our bridge on time and are quickly safe in our slip. The dock master was chatting with Terri even before the boat had stopped. It seems in his opinion our Canadian Flag was too big in size in relation to the American Flag that we were flying in proper station on the Stb. Halyard. Terri was fast on her feet though cheerfully enlightening the harbour master that we have taken our cue from the American boaters in the North Channel back in Canada. Should we get a smaller sized Canadian flag? No way, but I might consider purchasing a slightly larger American Flag if I happen to see one. Obviously, fun banter all the way around.
Good night.
Mark

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Aug. 19 Mackinac Island Mi.

Mackinac Island Marina while nicely situated for the tourist trade on the Island offered nothing else for boaters. Sort of if you don’t like fudge and we can’t convince you to like fudge don’t bother. At least after our return trip on the ferry tomorrow we could return to something other than fudge and heavy tourism and crowds. Terri and I and the girls have toured this beautiful island 17 years ago and not much has changed. The whole island seems to be geared to extracting as much from your wallet as possible regardless of the after burn. We took a carriage tour of the island and although it was very enjoyable and informative it too came with its own trappings. The first driver drove us around in a two horse cart and made it seem somehow that the tour was over and now would be a great time to add to his college fund if you saw fit. Which we did and my wallet was sufficiently depleted. Then before you know it holy 3 cart horse batman the tour is not over and they want more money. They had apparently just stopped at the first of the horsey rest stops where they have an old barn turned into the first of two greenback extraction zones. Hay wait I already tipped the first driver and you want more? Not to worry the process was a quick one only giving you about 15 minutes before the next lot of schmucks had arrived to take their turn. Now we board a different carriage that was driven by a new driver and pulled by three beautiful horses. But wait again! This college student was even better than the first one. He took us through the National Park which of course is protected from future development. Except for the two cemeteries, one for the Catholics and of course one for the Protestant’s which are still in use today. It seems that the original site of the cemeteries which was downtown did little for tourism and tourism wins big here. There are only two ways in which you can be buried here. One, if you are born here and two if you are a land own owner on this island. One exception to the rule was a former Governor of Michigan. It seems that he like this place so much and spent his summers here that an exception was made for him. This kind of tidbit was just an example of the kind of stories that this Carriage Driver/History buff spent an hour reciting to his cart load of very intent listeners. Again but wait, wait, I have already tipped the first driver for this excursion. For fend my wallet is extracted again and out comes a healthy tip. After the tour is over Ter, Smudge and I make a beeline for the Ferry Dock. We are back at Mackinac City and I light the Bar B for another onboard meal and we make plans for tomorrow. Mackinac City/Island is now behind us. Lake Michigan and its 300 miles beckon.
P.S. Terri hasn’t even purchased any fudge yet!
Mark
FALL SKIES

SUN RISING OVER THE TREES

FIRST GLIMPSE OF MACKINAC ISLAND



THESE FERRY BOATS WERE EVERYWHERE

MACKINAC CITY MARINA

CAN YOU SPOT TERRMAR


OUR HORSES FOR THE BUGGY TOUR

CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THE STREETS WOULD BE LIKE IF THIS GUY WENT ON STRIKE

TERRI WOULD KILL FOR THIS GARDEN

 ARCH ROCK

LAKE HURON

MORE LAKE HURON