Vermilion Yacht Club, Vermilion OH to Pine River Club, St Clair, MI — August 15, 2014

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Well the wind was blowing this morning but not as strong as the last 2 days.  The Harbor Master, Gene, asked us if we wanted to become residents of Vermilion and we politely declined.  We did tell him that we were headed out but depending on what the actual conditions were we could be back in an hour or less.

We headed out and the wind was out of the Northwest and the waves were approximately 2′ to 4′.  We were running about 14 mph with the bow down to minimize the wave action.  At about 5 miles out we decided to continue even though Lenore expressed some reservations.  We headed toward Sandusky Bay/ Cedar Point.  As we got vloser we turned to the north to head to the East side of Peele Island.  It was a good choice because once we were behind the island the waves were down to less than a foot and we picked up the speed.

When we exited the island protection the waves were not as bad and we were able to keep the speed up.  We were about 10 miles south of Leamington and headed toward the North shore.  We followed the shore to the Detroit River.

We had originally planned on stopping in Detroit either at the Milliken Marina or the Detroit Yacht Club.  The forecast was for rain on Saturday so we thought we would stick our heads out into Lake St Clair and if the water was good we would head home.

Downtown Detroit looked really nice from the river. The buildings appeared to shine in the sun and the river was reasonably quite. When we started out into Lake St Clair the waves were less than 1′ so we kept going.  We followed the shipping channel. The roughest water was the boat wake from the cruisers headed south toward the Detroit River.

It was good to see Lake St Clair and the St Clair River.  Nothing has really changed in the 2 years since we cruised these waters.  We ended up arriving in time for the St Clair Bridge opening at 4:30.

Well this is the last post because we have completed our 2nd Loop. It really seemed strange knowing we were back and the long term cruising is over.  We enjoyed the cruising and all the people we have met in the last 2 years. There was a lot of incredible scenery and great docktails with the other Loopers along the way.  Just flying the Looper Burgee was a natural introduction to other Loopers. It was like you had a common friend and they would share their stories and ask about yours.

The weather the last month or so has not been great and we waited in many marinas for the weather to improve before moving on.  I am not going to miss that and maybe that makes it a little easier to end the cruising.  I remember Ken Watton telling me that he enjoyed the cruising because when you cast the lines off, that day was a new adventure. I whole heartedly agree with that and from that perspective I will miss the cruising but it is time to move one.

One of the highlights was at Liberty Landing in New York this year when we helped Humbug, Carol Anne and Off Leash celebrate their completion of the Loop.  They all finished on the same day at the place they started.  Probably a record for Loopers.  We had traveled on and off with all three during their Loops and really enjoyed their company and friendship.

Advanced Marine Solutions, Muskegon, MI To South Haven Municipal Marina, South Haven, MI — September 14, 2013

This morning was a bright crisp cold September morning with temperatures in the low 40’s, you could see your breath.  Lots of steam coming off the water so we waited for the sun to warm it up a little.

We arrived back at the boat on Wednesday with anticipation of leaving Thursday but the wind predictions on Lake Michigan were not good as there were several cold fronts coming thru the area.  We decided to wait until Saturday because it was supposed to be sunny, cool and not a great deal of wind.

Muskegon Lake was quite busy his morning with the fishermen that were out but nothing like the inlet river at the mouth of Muskegon Lake.  There must have been 50 boats there and as we approached a ferry was coming in from Lake Michigan and the fisherman spread just enough to let the ferry thru and then closed ranks again.  I slowed but we went thru and I blew the horn a couple of times but as long as I wasn’t going to hit their boat they stayed where they were.  There were only a few fishermen on Lake Michigan so that was not a real issue.

Lake Michigan was pretty flat with no real wind so we headed directly for Hammond Indiana where I wanted to fill up before going the last 12 miles to Chicago.  The winds were predicted to be out of the southeast for the morning and turning to the southwest in the afternoon.  Well about 2 hours out the wind was from the southwest and getting stronger.  We had 3+ footers with whitecaps so we tried several different headings to avoid the pounding and finally settled on going to South Haven with the waves on our stern.  We spent a lot of time on the water for the actual distance we traveled down the Michigan shoreline.

South Haven was busy with fishermen and sail boaters although the traffic was not as bad as we had leaving Muskegon Lake.  The inlet river into South Haven is the Black River. The South Haven Municipal Marina has slips on both sides of the river and we were put on the long dock on the south side.

The City of South Haven has a very nice downtown. approx. a 5 block area with lots of restaurants and various shops.  The Town was pretty busy for the 2nd full weekend of September but the weather was great and that had a lot to do with it.  There is a nice river walk on the south side that Candy and I used to walk back to the Lake where there is a huge beach.  It seems to be common practice for some of the fishermen to troll the river between the lake and the marina.

As I write this it is raining.  We had decided to stay today because there is a lot of rain on the radar and the wind is still out of the southwest. Tomorrow is predicted to be sunny and winds out of the northeast.

Snug Harbor Marina, Pentwater, MI to Advanced Marine Solutions, Muskegon, MI — August 12, 2013

Weather was strange this morning.  The radar showed all the storms south of Grand Rapids and  the NOAA forecasts on VHF called for winds out of the west turning to the north about 15 knots.  What we were seeing was no wind and the sky in Pentwater was generally clear with some clouds to the south.

After some discussion with and by the other captains, there was a general exodus of boats from the harbor.  We were traveling south to Muskegon the leave the boat and have some work done while we go home for 4 weeks or so.

The lake was relatively flat with some swells out of the southwest but no wind.  We travelled behind Humbug for about the first hour or so and we had just passed Off Leash when I decided to pick up the pace in case the weatherman was at least partially correct.  We traveled south to Muskegon and the clouds did get heavier and their was almost like a thick mist or fog along the shoreline that limited the visibility.  We did get to Muskegon without the wind increasing and there was no rain.

Pentwater was an interesting town with a nice business district with lots of restaurants and souvenir shops.  These shops were more up scale than the normal Tee Shirt shop and they were open on Sunday evening.  They did have a Farmer’s Market on Monday morning that Hiromi, from Off Leash, went to and was able to get some very nice fresh vegetables.  Lenore did not go so we would not have the fresh vegetables to deal with when we pack to go home.

The trip south on the lake was interesting with the large sand dunes along the shore with some people running vehicles over the dunes.  You might be able to see that if you magnify the photo some.

The entrance to Muskegon Lake has a Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory right near the lake.  There were several Coast Guard boats with a Coast Guard station on the back side.  A little further in on the river was a Submarine Museum with the USS Silversides moored out front.  I had not heard of the Silversides but it was a submarine with extensive service in World War II.  It was in Chicago for a number of years before coming to the Muskegon Museum.

We will be off line for the next 4+ weeks while we are at home.  Check back around the mid part of September for the continuation of the 2nd Loop.

 

Ludingtom Municipal Marina, Ludington, MI to Snug Harbor, Pentwater, MI — August 11, 2014

Another cool morning with partly cloudy skies.  We did not have far to go so we got a real late morning start.  We were on the water at 10:30 headed for Pentwater which is approximately 12 miles from Ludington.

Pentwater was one of the stops we wanted to make last year but because of the Lake Michigan weather we did not.  Last September we left Ludington and crossed the lake to Racine Wisconsin,

The winds today were fairly light out of the southwest.  There seemed to be some wave action also out of the north that gave the water surface a confused appearance.  We just took our time and had a nice ride.  There were a lot of fishing boats on the water.  We also passed an area of sand dunes along the shore.  The dunes rose up maybe 100′ from the water.  Quite an impressive site.

Our friend Joe had gone fishing with his friends last night and they caught 1 – 25 lbs. salmon. Joe was disappointed in that last year a bad day was probably 6 or so of the salmon.  He said they were fishing in about 160′ of water but talked to some fishermen that were catching fish in 60 to 80′ of water.

Pentwater is a nice resort community that thrives on tourism.  They had a big weekend for the tourists and with it winding down the marina was still full for the night.  We had the pleasure of having Off-Leash in Ludington for a couple of nights and they left a little earlier than us but are also in Snug Harbor in Pentwater.  We also ran into Pete and Carolyn from Humbug at Snug Harbor.  It is always good to see fellow Loopers.

Weather forecast is for scattered showers and thunderstorms for the 1st half of Monday.  The radar right now shows everything just south of Grand Rapids and I hope it stays there.  Our plan is to go to Muskegon today where we will leave the boat for approximately a month.  We will get some work done on the boat and We will go home to see family and doctors.

 

Manistee Municipal Marina, Manistee, MI to Ludington Municipal Marina, Ludington, MI — August 8, 2013

Cold Morning this morning with the temp at 49 degrees at 6:30.  Sky was clear and the winds were light.  We got a late start today with our cruise to Ludington about 27 miles.  One of our shorter cruises and the best (flat) water we have had in our travels on Lake Michigan.

A lot of Charter Fishing Boats went out early today and they still put up a little wake that slaps the side of the hull.  Some of them were coming back in by 9:30 but they were all over out on the lake.

The entrance to the Manistee River had an active dredge working this morning.  They were broadcasting that 1000 feet from the dredge is a no wake zone.  Some boaters just do not think that applies to them or they do not have their radio turned on.

The water was really flat.  You can see in the photos how nice it was.  The only waves were the boat wakes that seemed to go on forever.  I could see the boats pass us at least a mile away and then about 10 to 15 minutes later the wake came to us.

Many, many boats traveling up and down the lake today taking advantage of the good conditions.  We were stopping in Ludington to visit with our friend Joe Buhagiar.  We first met Joe when we were at Sassy Marina in Algonac, circa 1993 to 1995.  Joe and Jane had their boat there also.  They ended up buying a new carver aft cabin and put it in a marina in Bay City and for the last maybe 10 years they have been in Ludington. We have even visited Joe and Jane at their place near Naples Florida.

The Ludington Marina is interesting in that it has almost everything except floating docks.  The fixed docks are way up in the air but for us that is not a problem but for smaller boats it presents a challenge.  It should be about time that the DNR do their magic and renovate the marina to update the docks and electrical.

We will visit with Joe for a couple of days.  Jane is home preparing to go to visit family in Arizona on Saturday.  We missed both of them last September on our way to Chicago but we ended up in Ludington that time due to the weather.

 

Leland Harbor, Leland, MI to Manistee Municipal Harbor, Manistee, MI — August 6, 2013

The Walstrom rendezvous set of some fireworks last night.  Fortunately for Candy it was a very short display.  We did not get an early start today but the sky was reasonably clear and the weather called for waves 1 foot or less.

The harbor was busy this morning.  Turns out it was good that we stopped at Leland yesterday because Humbug called them today and were told that there was no room for the next 4 days.  Not sure what all these people/boaters will do for the next 4 days???

Well the waves were about 1′ when we got out into Manatou Channel.  They stayed about that way until we turned south at Sleeping Bear Dunes Point.  We contemplated going into Frankfort because the southern sky looked dark.  As we got close to Frankfort the sky seemed to brighten so we decided to go on to Manistee. There was a 10 to 12 mile section that the waves increased to about 3’+ and it was a little lumpy.  It did calm down about 4 miles out of Manistee to probably 1/2′ and the ride was fine.

Manistee has a nice riverwalk and the Municipal Marina is right in the middle of the walk. the river is not real wide as you can see in the photos.  A lot of Charter Fishing Boats along the docks.  A lot of revitalization going on along the riverwalk area.  There was a free concert tonight at the band shell near the west end of the riverwalk but Lenore and I decided to go to dinner instead.

I had an opportunity to talk to some fellow Loopers, Ken and Karen on the trawler Meandering from Britt Ontario.  They are just a little over a month into the Loop and enjoying it. They had a lot of questions and we talked for probably 1/2 hour.

Big thunderstorm rolled thru in the middle of the night.  Lots of lightening and thunder along with some heavy rain.  Candy had some issues and decided to join us in bed looking for some safe haven.  It lasted probably about 1/2 hour.  Sky was general clear by the time Candy took here first walk.

Petoskey Municipal Marina, Petoskey, MI to Leland Harbor, Leland, MI — August 5, 2013

Sunrise was quite unusual this morning.  First because Candy and I were out to see it but also with the red sky in the morning and the fog that shrouded the hills east of Little Traverse Bay.  I have a few pictures of this sunrise.

The wind was light and the NOAA Forecasts were encouraging so we departed for Leland. After we left we listened to the weather on the VHF and it was predicting the winds stronger than what NOAA had and we experienced some of that as we crossed Grand Travers Bay.  Once behind the cover of the Leelanau Peninsula The waves were much more manageable and it was a good cruise to Leland.

We saw a lot of boats headed in our direction.  We were traveling about 10 mph so they were passing us.  Well it turns out Walstrom Marine  is having a rendezvous as Leland.  There must be 20 large Tiara yachts here and the harbor is close to full.  I am glad we got in when we did.

About 1/2 hour after we docked in Leland it started to rain.  Initially the rain was relatively light but the radar showed some heavier rain out in Lake Michigan headed this was.

Leland is a nice harbor with a small fishing village type town nestled right around the harbor.  The fishing village is called “Old Fish Town” and most of the buildings are now souvenir shops, ice cream or a sandwich shop.  The main Town is only about 3 blocks long by 2 blocks wide and it really exists for the tourists.  Must be lonely here in the winter.

Straights State Harbor, Mackinaw City to Petoskey Municipal Marina, Petoskey, MI — August 2, 2013

We planned on moving today but the sky did not look great when Candy and I came out for our walk.  The wind seemed light.  When the walk was over I checked the forecast and it did not sound terrible but then I looked at the radar and there was a line of showers crossing Lake Michigan from the Upper Peninsula down to the middle of the mitten.

It was an easy call to say we would sit this out.  The rain started within the hour and it rained pretty good for about 2 1/2 hours.  The sky started to clear about 11:00, the radar looked good and the winds still seemed light.  We decided to move to Petoskey if the water was as good as we thought once we got into the Straits.

The chop was about 1+ foot for the first 15 miles or so and then the winds picked up a little and there were a few whitecaps.  The wind was out of the west northwest and on our starboard bow.  I wanted to make the turn at Grays Reef so we would be headed south and the wind would really be a non-issue for us. The sky was sunny and that made the day better.

There were quite a few boats out considering how the day started.  We passed several sailboats headed south and several headed north.  They must have left early and decided to travel in the rain.  Pretty gutsy considering there was some thunder and lightning.

The wind was pretty unpredictable because it lightened up after we turned south and that was fine but the last 15 miles or so into Petoskey it got stronger out of the west.  It was good we left when we did and did not have to travel into the wind.  Lake Michigan has not been good to us and it is not on our list of favorite Great Lakes.

Petoskey harbor is a nice harbor that is built out into Little Traverse Bay.  The breakwall extends out quite a distance and the harbor is nestled in behind it. The marina is part of an overall development that the City has done along the waterfront.  There is a large park adjacent to the marina and a ball field with lights and a concession stand.  The park also has a museum and the Bear River drains thru the park with a rapids as the river falls approximately 15′ into Little Traverse Bay in the last several hundred feet.  The residents and visitors do make good use of the park and there are a lot of trailer boaters that launch their boats here.

One of the neat features is that the City put in a tunnel so you do not have to cross traffic on the main highway to get to downtown. Candy and I took our last walk of the day thru downtown last night and there were quite a few people in the downtown area.

The marina is all fixed docks and with the low water level, the docks are quite high off the water.  We don’t have a particular problem but I would prefer the floating docks with the easy step off the swim platform.

The winds today are probably 15 knots out of the northwest and it is supposed to continue tomorrow so we may stay a 3rd night.  The winds for mid-week are supposed to be light and variable which would be really nice.

Detour State Harbour, Detour, MI to Straits State Harbor, Mackinaw City, MI — July 31, 2013

Today is a big day for us.  We are headed to Straits State Harbor in Mackinaw City and we were there last September. This means that we have completed the Loop when we get to Mackinaw City because we will cross our wake.

It is hard to believe that we have traveled over 5600 miles and we have finished the Loop.  We have met so many great people along the way and that is really a great portion of the Loop experience.  This also was a completely unique way to see America that just cannot be duplicated in a car.

As some of you know, we are going to do the Loop again.  When we leave Straits State Harbor we are heading into Lake Michigan and we will end up in Muskegon around the middle of August.  We are going to leave the boat for a month to get some work done.  We will drive home and visit with all of our doctors before returning to the boat in the middle of September.  We will then head for Florida again.

We have family and friends to see in the 4 weeks at home and I am sure the time will fly by.  It will probably be restful to get back to the boat and head south.

Today the sky was cloudy but the wind was light out of the southwest.  As we departed Detour there was a freighter heading south in the channel.  We got to Lake Huron and headed west toward Mackinaw and so did the freighter. I had never given it a lot of thought but just thought all the freighters from Lake Superior went south to Detroit, Cleveland or along the St Lawrence Seaway.

The light wind had a chop of about 1′ on the water and that eventually went down to almost nothing.  The ferry traffic was busy around Mackinaw Island as we went by and the wakes we crossed again reminded me why we do not stop at the Island.

We were in Straits Harbor around 1:00 and the sun came out for us.  Straits Harbor was pretty empty with hardly any boats here.  I think I counted 15 boats in the harbor.  There were more in Detour Harbor this morning when we left.

The dock attendant at the fuel dock remembered us from last September and that was kind of neat.  I think she remembered Candy more than Lenore and I.

We will be here for 2 nights and then move to Petoskey if the weather is good.  The cool days with the threat of rain and thunderstorms could pose a problem but we will wait and see.

Gore Bay Town Docks, Gore Bay, Ontario To Detour Harbour, Detour, Michigan – July 29, 2013

We went to bed last night thinking today would be a weather day in Gore Bay with the winds a little to strong to consider moving.  Well after Candy’s morning walk I checked the weather services and the winds looked good for today and a little iffy for the rest of the week in the North Channel.  I woke Lenore up and said we needed to move.

The plan was to go to Meldrum Bay and then the next day we would go to Detour.  The water was good and we ran at about 15 mph so we decided to keep on moving.  We knew we would have to stop at Drummond Island Yacht Haven to check back in with US Customs.  I had an email from Humbug that Customs had taken the herb plants, citrus and some vegetables from the boat. Lenore wanted me to pitch some of the herbs but I said let’s wait and see what Customs does.  We would probably have a different Officer that Humbug did.  Might not mean anything but they could throw them out if they took them.

Well we did get to Drummond Island early afternoon and soon after we tied up another boat Time & Tides came in to check in.  We had radio contact with them at the Britt Inlet and saw them motor thru Killarney later that same day.  They are Canadians from Trenton doing the Loop.  We were chatting as the 2 Customs Officers approached.  One of them told me to go back to my boat.  The female officer came to Champ III and we had all the paperwork in order for her to fill out her paperwork.  She looked at the
herbs and asked where we got them and we said in Florida during the winter.  She was a little dubious but said she was supposed to take them but she would not.  She asked about citrus and we had a couple of oranges and clementines so she wanted those bagged up for her to take.  She came down into the cabin and pretty much asked about each compartment and had us open most of them for verification.  She really did like Candy and we gave her a cookie to give Candy. Candy was worth her weight in gold.

After we finished with Customs we left for Detour and Customs was still working with Time & Tides.  Detour is only 7 miles from the Customs stop so it was no big deal.  We like Detour Harbor because you can watch the freighters go by on the St Mary’s River headed for Lake Huron or Superior.

When we got to Detour just as the sun was coming out. We had
help tying Champ III up from Pete from Humbug.
Off Leash was also there and we had cocktails with Paul and Betsy Loock
from the Birmingham Power Squadron.  Paul
and Betsy had kept their 34’ Mainship in St Clair but 2 winters ago they lost
it in a fire at a storage building in Canada.
They had their new boat there and they were on a trip with Betsy’s
sister and husband.  We had dinner with
Pete and Carolyn from Humbug so it was a pretty active evening with cocktail
and dinner with friends.