All good things must come to an end. At least that is what Geoffrey Chaucer said in 1374, and for his sake, I sure hope that 1375 brought Geoffrey many more good things. Because Karen and I had an amazing summer of travel onboard Thalia this year and we sure hope more fun is in store for next year.
We brought Thalia to her new winter home at Navy Point Marine, in Sackets Harbor, New York this week. It was a whirlwind of a week, not the least of which was due to a weather pattern that started out in the low 90’s and ended in the mid 40’s. We had been blessed with three weeks of sunshine and warm temperatures in the Thousand Islands, so it was fitting that the cold weather would catch up to us eventually. It took Karen and I four days to unload the boat and winterize it for her long winter nap. She has now been hauled out and is in the fine care of the staff at Navy Point Marine. For our part, we hope the winter is gentle in the North Country so that Thalia can easily rise to the task of another adventure, on the St Lawrence River and beyond.
Karen and I were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity this summer to explore and discover the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. And we had a fine boat that took us wherever we wanted to go in comfort and safety. Thalia weathered hurricane force winds, shallow canal waters, jagged concrete lock walls, skinny bays and coves, lighting and squalls, and even two teenage intruders. But she was also a platform for reunions with friends, old and new, and a waterfront dining extravaganza. As the days get shorter, and the temperatures drop, we will look back fondly on the tremendous uniqueness of the Great Lakes, the generosity and sincerity of it’s people, and the incredible natural beauty.
Thank you for following along on our adventure and for your comments and support. We look forward to sharing the next chapter of our adventure with you. Until then, I’d recommend locating a nice puffy down jacket and at least one thick pair of wool socks!
No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend’s Or of thine own were: Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
While I agree that ‘no man is an island’ but part of a greater whole, poet John Donne could not have know when he wrote these words in 1624 that the Thousand Islands area could capture many a man (and woman) in it’s warm and tender embrace.
We are back on the boat after taking our youngest son to college. As you’ll recall, we left Thalia in Toronto so it was a long drive home and back. Our dog “Journey” is now on board with us. Journey is a ten-year-old cross between a black lab, a blood hound and several other breeds. Journey has become less excited about being on the boat as he has aged. He gets anxious when we heal or if we are slamming through waves. While our son was home working this summer, it was nice to have Journey able to stay home; but with our son going to college, Journey had to come with us! This will be an adjustment for all three of us.
We decided to make our first day out with Journey a shorter one so we stopped at Port Whitby, a 27 mile sail from Toronto. We attempted to anchor inside the breakwater as our cruising guides advised. However, we felt too constrained/endangered by the surrounding shallow areas and the harbor channel passing closely by us. Because of these conditions, we raised the anchor and attempted to anchor outside of the breakwater. This didn’t work either – the wind was kicking up from an unexpected change in direction and if we stayed here we were likely to rock uncomfortably all night. Our third attempt had us tied off at the docks at the Port Whitby marina! Little did we know that we might be in store for additional repeat performances.
I’ll just get it out at the beginning. Leaving Detroit behind and entering Lake Erie, we were both a bit apprehensive. Apart from the tasty mojitos at Put-in-Bay on our way through last time, Lake Erie had not been very kind to us. Bugs, hurricane-force winds, shallows – I would have been perfectly happy finding a portkey of the kind Harry Potter would discover to take us directly to Lake Ontario. But being mere Muggles, we were going to have to do this ourselves.
The action adventure got off to an immediate start as we were pushed down the Detroit River, running with the strong current directly into an opposing wind, what we affectionately call the Buzzards Bay effect, as it is reminiscent of being flushed out the Cape Cod Canal into Buzzards Bay with it’s prevailing SW winds and step square waves.
The waves settled down after we got out of the current effect of the Detroit River and we turned to port to make our easterly progress. The destination for the night was Pelee Island. But before we could enjoy this uniquely Canada island, Mother Nature had some more tricks up her sleeve. We watched as the skies darkened to the west of us and a distant crack of thunder could be heard. Canada Coast Guard came on the radio to warn boaters about strong wind conditions in Western Lake Erie. At the end of the broadcast, they let the word ‘chance of waterspouts’ linger in the air waves as they signed off. Immediately, we started pulling up the NOAA radar page for the region and checked other weather sources. Sure enough, there was a heavy rain system marching across the Michigan/Ohio border, from Toledo and on out into Lake Erie, intersecting directly with our course. NOAA does a great job with these radar images, providing estimates of rain fall starting with light green coloring (light rain), to yellow, and finally to red which indicates very heavy rain. They will also box off areas on the image to show where there’s a risk of severe thunderstorms or waterspouts. Here’s an example of what they look like.
Just a quick note to let you all know that we are working on our next blog post, but in the meantime we have been busy off the boat moving our youngest into college. He will be attending Wentworth Institute of Technology, in downtown Boston.
It’s amazing how much distance you can cover in a car going 70mph! It was a 12 hour drive home from Toronto, and then 14 hours back a week later. We are settled now on the boat and getting ready to tackle Lake Ontario, as we make our way east from Toronto, albeit at a much slower pace. The upside is that we gained a passenger in the process, our dog Journey!
If you subscribe to our blog by email, please be aware that the email you receive does not contain the links to the blog’s videos. It just shows the text and pictures of the blog entry. In order to see the videos, please be sure to click on the top header of the email that contains the title of the blog. This will take you to our blog website, where you can see all the content of the blog entry, including the videos we work so hard to bring to you. We are working with our somewhat unresponsive IT department to get this issue fixed. They seem to be slow at returning our phone calls, and we apology about the inconvenience!
If you simply go directly to our website to read the blog, then you can ignore this message.
I’m not sure if being born in 1963 qualifies me as a child of the 60’s, as I was still in diapers during Woodstock, but the concept of thumbing your way across the country is certainly appealing. In the present context, that means hitching a ride on the winds of the Great Lakes around the coast of Michigan. And what better coast to hitch along than one that Michiganders whimsically portray as the outline of a thumbing hand!
Our last post was from Mackinaw City just before we were to leave Lake Huron to pass under the Big Mac (the suspension bridge that connects upper and lower Michigan and also represents the line between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan). The waters here are called the ‘Mackinaw Straits’ and since this is a relatively small passage between two huge bodies of water the conditions must be considered before navigating through in anything other than a large ship! We passed under with sunny skies and light breezes which was just fine with me. This image shows our ports of call for this episode – our anchorage/dockage locations are marked by the stars and the arrows show our path of transit. Facts on Lake Michigan can be found at the end of the blog.
When an island has everything you need – beautiful clear water, rocky pink shores with deep woods, wild blueberries that grace your pancakes in the morning, and bonfires around which you develop new friendships – it is hard to say goodbye. But that was the Benjamins, and although goodbyes don’t come easy, they are a reality in the cruising world.
Nearby, at Hotham Island, we had been tipped off by a fellow North Channel cruiser that if we played our cards right, we could be invited ashore for happy hour. As it turned out, the invite came easily, as Elaine came kayaking around the anchorage with a friendly welcome and an invite. The rules were easy enough. Bring something to drink, bring a small food item to pass, and take home your own garbage. Sounded good to us!
We have been in Lake Huron since our previous posting of 12 July 2017 and it has been almost 100% wonderful! We couldn’t ask for more than that – we always expect weather or water conditions that are less than fun or perfect; however, if most our time is comfortable then we are over the moon! To follow our progress, visit this site and follow our boat, ‘Thalia’: https://farkwar.com/boats/thalia