Summer 2007 Log
Page 2 - July

SUNDAY, JULY 1st

The wind blew like fury all day yesterday (Saturday) and into the night.  Joe and Karen (from the 53’ Tolly) had to go back home this morning for a day or two so Joe could conduct business, so after looking at the lake (not bad), they headed out to Cheboygan where they keep their boat.  They were going to pick up their car there and drive back to Columbus, Ohio, where they live…a seven hour trip.  They will rejoin everyone as soon as they can.

Both Joe & Karen and Wally & Brenda were docked at the end of our dock, close to the entrance to the marina…we were further down.  When the wind blew up so hard yesterday, they were bouncing badly because of being so close to the entrance -  we were also moving, but we had it easier than the rest of them.

This morning, after Joe & Karen left, Wally & Brenda decided to make a run for “Detour”, which isn’t far from here….they were afraid they might spend another day and night bouncing & we certainly understood!!

As this day wore on, more and more people left in their boats, as the lake was getting a lot nicer.  So, here we sit….we are one of less than six transient boats still here.  Most of the boats here now are owned by local people, so you could almost shoot a canon through the marina, and not hit a boat!!  By now, even the locals have left to go home, so it has become very, very quiet!!!

I spent the afternoon doing laundry aboard the Nauti Gal, and also practicing my keyboard for two or three hours between loads, so not all was lost!

Right now, the wind has pretty much died and we just have a light breeze….and Lake Huron has been smooth most of the afternoon!!  Soooo, if the wind doesn’t come up again - overnight or in the morning - we hope to take off, heading for Detour to meet Wally and Brenda.  This, of course, all depends on what our mechanic from Sheplers says about our Starboard engine.  We sure hope it is just a small problem that we have and he can fix it quickly so we can be on our way!!

We heard from Bruce & family today…..they got home (St. Joe) this afternoon and had good water the whole way home!  After they left us, they made stops in Pentwater, Grand Haven & home.  When the lake is nice, you can really make good time!!  We’re glad they had a safe and good trip back!!  They are staying in our “slip” at the West Basin while we are gone, rather than try going back up the very shallow river!

Since we arrived in St. Ignace on Friday, we haven’t been able to get our log or pictures out to you, so bare with us!!  I hope the next stop we make, we will be able to do this!!


MONDAY, JULY 2nd

We have a sunny, “warmer” day with no wind, would you believe??  I can’t believe how cool and how windy it has been since we got further up north…I told Jim I thought we were going the wrong direction.  We should be heading south, I think!!!

Our mechanic arrived around 10:00 a.m., after servicing one of the ferries here in St. Ignace.  This is what he found:  He said the radiator caps that were on the heat exchangers were the wrong kind, which would prevent the coolant recovery system, that was put on this year, from operating properly.  He replaced them.    The oil that was already in there might have been just a residue that had been there a long time.  If oil continues to show up, it’s probably a pin hole in the oil cooler, which means we would need to have that fixed & would need to turn around and go into Mackinaw City.  The GOOD THING:  This problem is not endangering the engines because the oil pressure is higher than the water pressure, and any oil leaks will go to the water, rather than the water going to the oil!!

We left St. Ignace at 11:40.….while all the mechanical things were going on, I baked chicken in the oven, baked cookies, and practiced my keyboard, so I still had a productive morning!!  :o)

Lake Huron is flat this morning!  We’ll have a smooth two hour run to Detour.  Jim just talked to Wally who said he reserved a “slip” for us so we can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the smooth water.  In fact, I think I’ll cut up some of that chicken I baked this morning for sandwiches right now for our lunch!

Later:  We went through the “Detour Passage” at 1:34 and arrived at Detour Marina at 1:48 where we fueled once again.  We didn’t know if we would find any diesel fuel up around the Soo, and sure didn’t want to take a chance of running out of fuel!!

We are settled in our slip and plan on staying here through the 4th of July…tomorrow there is a craft show uptown, which might be fun to see, plus a parade is planned one of the two days.  On the 4th we will be able to watch fireworks from our boat.

Our son, Bruce, has informed us by phone that their second twin is now crawling too, and the two of them are into everything!!!!!  This is new to Bruce and Leann because when Nikki was that age, she did not get into anything!!  Double-Trouble with these two!!!   :o)

We will try to get our log and pictures out to you; however, I’m not sure how strong the signal is here in Detour….I was able to get my email through Verizon, so that’s something.  The last place we could get out was when we were in Harbor Springs….so cross your fingers!!!


WEDNESDAY, JULY 4th

We hope all of you are having a great day!!  Let’s celebrate the fact that we live in the greatest country in the world….the good ‘ol USA!!!!  Enjoy the fireworks tonight and stay safe!!

We haven’t done a whole lot since we arrived in Detour….just taking a good break!!  We have been expecting rain ever since we arrived….so far none has materialized except for a few sprinkles soon after we arrived.  This afternoon the wind has come up so we will wait and see if anything comes from that!  A few people are beginning to set off their own fireworks, as always happens every 4th of July.  Today we saw Detour’s  4th of July parade (a lot like the parade in Pentwater each August)….so far none can come close to our Blossom Parade at home, but it’s still fun.  I understand there will be fireworks tonight.

A little information about Detour Village, which is in Michigan’s eastern upper peninsula.  Detour marks the southern entrance to Detour Passage and the St.  Mary’s River, the connecting route between Lake Huron and Lake Superior.  From where we sit, in the harbor, we can watch the Great Lakes Freighters passing by.  Most of the ships come through carrying grain, coal or iron ore.  Occasionally you may even get a glimpse of an ocean going freighter!  Near the marina, divers can find the remains of old freighters, dock ruins, and a variety of small artifacts left from fueling operations.

Fishing is one of the main reasons many people come to this area.  The perch run in the early spring, smelt around the middle of April, and Pike and Walleye season opens May 15th.  Ice fishing is also very popular.

I would love to visit Detour in the summer, as they have a Botanical Gardens here.  Summer gardens are filled with annuals and perennials with the rose gardens holding some 30 different varieties.

The route to Detour from the Mackinaw Bridge is north on I-75 to east M-134 Scenic Highway.  Situated at the Straits of Detour Passage where St. Mary’s River joins Lake Huron,  Detour was named hundreds of years ago by the French voyagers as the “turning point” to Mackinaw.  Detour was, as I mentioned earlier, a fishing community and also a firewood fueling station known to the Indians and early settlers long before Detroit or Chicago existed….interesting, eh?  Today it is known as the “Gateway to the North Channel”…. a neat place to come if you fish, boat, take photos, hunt, snowmobile, cross country ski, or just relax in a peaceful rustic setting.  Here is a “new” place for our son, Keith, and family to explore in their beautiful motor home!!!

We just got some sprinkles of rain on our windshield, and already the sun is shining!!!  Our plan is to leave here tomorrow morning!!

THURSDAY, JULY 5th

We left Detour at 9:00 a.m., and are on the St. Mary’s River….from this point on, all is new to us.  Soon after leaving the marina, there is a cut-off to the right if you are headed for the North Channel.  We have continued going straight towards Sault Ste Marie.

It looks like we will have a pretty day to run.  It is hazy right now (earlier it was foggy) and the water is smooth and a pretty green.

We passed St. Joseph Island off to the distant right of us, and could see some ruins of Old Fort St. Joe.  That would interest our son, Keith, who is a Civil War buff!!  If he were with us, he would want to go investigate!   :o)

This should be a run of only two hours; however, the “men in charge” (meaning our spouses) have decided to run slow today (9 knots), so it will take four hours instead.  I’m fine with that right now, as it is very pretty through here; however, in about three hours, they may find a mutiny on their hands!!  :o)

Off to our left is “Round Island” with the prettiest white lighthouse, surrounded by beautiful landscaping.  Up ahead must be everyone’s “favorite fishing hole” as it is loaded with fishing boats.

St. Mary’s River is a truly beautiful body of water…I would venture to say, there must be a lot of boating fun in this big river.

Up ahead, the river divides - the freighters go up the northbound leg and come down the southbound leg, which is the narrower of the two…that way no two freighters are trying to pass one another…..we have chosen to go the same way.

Although all of this water is part of St. Mary’s River, in some of the widest parts it is called a lake, but right now we are going into a narrower area of the river….on each side of us are houses and woods.  Very pretty!

We are now on the “International Line”….Canada is on our right - the U.S. on our left, with the line of division right down the middle of the channel.  Up ahead is the juncture dividing the northbound and southbound ships…we can see one ship heading southbound right now.  The current right through here is pretty  swift.

Up ahead a few miles is the marina where we will stay tonight…the “Kemp Marina” which is located just outside the “Soo” locks, which we will go through tomorrow.

We are now coming into Sault Ste Marie….we can begin to see some of the tall buildings.  On the left is a pretty park and, at one end, is a park for travel trailers (I even see one motor home).  A car ferry crosses here and runs between the American side and the Canadian side of the river.

We have arrived!  It is 1:40 and no mutiny occurred - the pretty scenery kept me serene!!  Our marina is just outside the Soo Locks.  Although our marina is on the American side of the river, we will probably go through the lock (tomorrow morning) on the Canadian side….the reason being, the big freighters go through the locks on the American side.  This will be Wally and Brenda’s first time through a lock…it’s only a rise of around 21’, so it should be a piece of cake!!!

Later:  Jim and I decided to walk from the marina to the locks, but we didn’t realize what a long walk it was going to be.  By the time we got back to the boat, we were dragging (at least I was), but we got to see what a very busy town Sault Ste Marie is….there were lots of people, shops and restaurants!  We decided to just order pizza (delivered to the boat) so we wouldn’t have to get out and walk anymore!

The weather this evening:  sunny, cool and quite breezy….Jim checked mid lake buoys that measure wind speed and wave heights (on the computer) and, although the wind is blowing pretty good where we are, it shows a smooth Lake Superior.  I think he will check again in the morning because, once we are through the locks, we will be on the big lake and, unlike Lake Michigan, there are no close ports in case the water should get rough - at least not in this area of Lake Superior, so we want to be sure it’s going to be all okay.

More tomorrow…..


FRIDAY, JULY 6th

Another sunny, cool morning…we left our dock at 8:50 and entered the Soo Lock (Canadian side) at 9:00, were raised 21’, and came out at 9:20.…a piece of cake!

We are now in the Whitefish Bay….reports are, the big lake should be good for us.  We hope so because we have a run of approximately six hours today with nothing inbetween.
Note:  The Canadian Lock we just went through is a new, smaller lock….in 1998 they built this lock inside of the old lock - this lock is 254’ long and 50’ wide.  Up on top of some of the high hills I see a lot of wind mills…interesting!

At this point we are wondering if we should keep going or turn back….the reason being, there are already a lot of “white caps” on the bay, and we wonder if it is any indication of what is ahead of us when we get out on the big lake, and six hours to go!!   Jim wants to go out a little further to see if it might flatten out …..later:  it has flattened out so we will go on!  Jim once again checked the wind & weather buoys out in the middle of Lake Superior, which shows light winds, so we should be “good to go”.

Wally’s in the lead, then us, and there is a third boat coming behind us.  We are going 19 knots…one very fast boat - a new Tiara, has left us all behind.

We are coming up to Whitefish Point Light House (11:25) which we will go around and then we will be out on the big lake.  This particular light house is of special interest to us, since we have a replica of it sitting in the salon of our boat which Jim made into a lamp.  Another lamp in our salon was made from a replica of the Sanibal Light House in Florida, where I’m sure it’s probably in the 80’s or 90’s today, unlike where we are right now…..brrrrr it’s cold out here!!!

The Lake Superior shoreline is pretty with its trees and sand beaches, but very rugged and desolate looking.  We feel like we are the only ones out here because we have seen no other boats.  A million miles away from civilization is how it feels!!  We have had both smooth water and choppy water today, along with patchy fog.  Even with all the sophisticated equipment we have onboard, when you are in waters unknown to you, it can make you somewhat tense at times.

Where we are going to stay tonight - the town of Munising (The Bay Shore Marina) goes way back in off of Lake Superior and we can now see boats running back and forth, along with “tour” boats.

It has been an extremely long run today.  We docked at 3:40 p.m., had a cocktail, and went uptown for dinner.  Tomorrow we will have a much shorter run to Marquette, weather permitting.


SATURDAY, JULY 7th
We just left our dock in Munising…it is 9:00 a.m.  It is a beautiful, clear, warmer morning than some we have had.  What wind we have is from the southwest, so it will be offshore.  Yesterday we went 120 nautical miles.  Today will be shorter…our destination is Marquette - about two hours from here, or I should say, two hours from the open water.  We are still in what is called the south bay.

It is 9:25 and we are on Lake Superior again and it looks good

Not a lot to report today….the water between Munising and Marquette, just up ahead, has been absolutely beautiful and we don’t feel we are all alone anymore.  There are lots of boats around us.

We arrived at Marquette at 11:00 and are presently fueling…we have noticed, although it is a fair-sized marina, they mainly have smaller boats in here.  The only slip we can fit into is already taken, so we and Wally & Brenda will go down a little ways from the marina and dock on a long wall, which is fine as we still will have electricity and water there.

It appears Marquette is an interesting scenic old city.  Right next to where we are is a very pretty park and it is really being used….they have a nice playground area for small children and there are people everywhere.  We grilled out tonight so, after dinner, we walked a little ways across the grounds here & bought ice cream cones for our dessert…the concession stand is also right on the park premises.

We talked to Frank and Pam tonight and told them our plans are to go on to Houghton tomorrow which is only around 250 miles from Superior, Wisconsin, where they live.  It has been uncertain just where we would “get together”; however, we didn’t want them to have to drive so terribly far to get to where we were.  They are going to call us in the morning to let us know if they might meet us in Houghton tomorrow.  It will take us about four hours to get there by boat, and the weather looks good  - we have a feeling we will see them tomorrow.

Until next time…..


SUNDAY, JULY 8th

We woke up to a thunderstorm early this morning with wind that was riling the water where we lay on the cement wall.  We thought perhaps we might have to spend another night in Marquette, although we didn’t want to.  Jim checked his computer once again to see what the wind buoy would tell him out in Lake Superior.  There were no waves.  Then Wally and Joe (who had been up in Houghton for a few days) talked on the phone.  Joe said he and several boats were leaving this morning to continue the journey….he also said the water at Houghton was smooth.  That made up our minds for us to try to reach Houghton.  We certainly didn’t want to continue “rockin’ and rollin’”on that cement wall in Marquette.

We started out at 9:50 - by that time the storm was completely over and the sun was shining…we had some waves when we started out from Marquette, but not too bad.  As we continued on, the lake got smoother and smoother…..it was cloudy and warm.  Actually, the temperature kept changing back & forth between warm and cool, with the sun peeking out every once in a while.

Once I thought I saw a big ship on the horizon, but Jim, looking at the chart in front of him said, no, it was actually “Granite Rock” that I was looking at….oh, they grow big rocks here!!  :o)

Jim and I can now say “we’ve been on Lake Superior”; however, we have agreed that we won’t  come back by boat again.  It is a great distance to travel between marinas, and there are not that many of them to begin with.  If a storm struck while you were out on the big lake, you would just be “stuck”!

We are very disappointed in the marinas we have seen thus far on the southern shore of Lake Superior…as I stated before, there are very few of them, and the ones they have, leave a lot to be desired!!!  I understand the northern shore has even less.

We thought for a while we might get into a storm, as the sky ahead got very dark….Jim got on the computer once again and looked at weather.  There was a lot of rain that showed up but, luckily, it all went east of us.  It looked like Sault Ste. Marie was really going to get it!! 

Later:  We are only 17 nautical miles from the Keweenaw Waterway.  A little information about this waterway:  the Portage Canal bisects the peninsula between Houghton and Hancock.  Partially man-made, this canal was used in the 1800’s by ore carriers from Superior and Duluth to save the time and treachery of rounding the point.  However, with the introduction of 500-footers, it became very difficult to navigate the narrow winding canal, so strandings and collisions became common around 1900.

By 1920, almost all the lakers were choosing to go around Keweenaw Point as they were less vulnerable to weather and could stay well offshore to avoid the reefs.  Today, large vessels only come into the canal to shelter from very bad storms, to repair mechanical problems, or to bring coal to the power-company dock. 

The canal is still maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, but since the 1970’s you can count on one hand the number of lakers that use it each year.  Subsequently, it is quite an event when a laker does come through.  The cruiser wise enough to tarry in this Keweenaw Land will be endlessly intrigued not only by its history, but also by its people.

Houghton and Hancock are twin cities located at about the mid-point of the Keweenaw Waterway.  Hancock is on the north shore and Houghton on the south shore.  Houghton is the home of the internationally known “Michigan Technological University”.

We arrived at the Hancock-Houghton County Marina at 2:25.…there are still several boats here that will be going to the Great Lakes Cruising Club Rendezvous, so we are all going out to eat together tonight.

I don’t know how long we will stay here…we may not leave until Tuesday as Wally has problems with his generator, which he hopes to have fixed sometime tomorrow.

Pam called today….they are not sure, but they may head our way yet today.  If they do, they will not arrive until later this evening.  It is a five or six hour drive for them, or they may wait until tomorrow morning.

You may not hear from me for a couple days (or you may) but don’t give up….I will get back to you!!


THURSDAY, JULY 12th

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARB!!!!!!

Our friends, Pam and Frank, arrived on Monday…..it is so good to see them!!

We’ve been in Houghton since Sunday, and we are more than ready to leave, even though this is one of the nicer places we have stayed.  The weather has been cold and very windy since we arrived.

We tried to leave here yesterday, the 11th….we and the Exporter went out on the lake at 10:40 a.m. and found it was pretty “sloppy”.  The Nauti Gal actually did very well in the waves; however, we knew it was going to be a long trip, and of course no one knew if it would get better or worse up ahead, so we turned both boats around at 12:05 and got back to the docks at 1:20.

We had a terrible wind storm earlier this week…..sustained winds of 30 + knots with gusts between 55-57 knots.  We probably had one to two foot waves behind our boats here at the marina.  I think a lot of the boats headed to the rendezvous have been held up, or at least slowed down.  The rendezvous starts on Sunday.

We will wait until tomorrow morning.  If we still can’t get out, we may drive to Superior, Wisconsin, to the rendezvous.  This has been a different kind of cruise for us….we are so used to having marinas close together.  We had planned on going to the Apostle Island when we left here, and then on to Superior.  Now, because of being weathered in so long, we may have to go directly to Superior, a trip of around 148 nautical miles…..a very long day!!!  We did 120 nautical miles one day and that was very tiring!!!

We’ll keep you informed…..until then, bye for now.


FRIDAY, JULY 13th

We finally left Houghton today after being weathered in for five days…we left the dock at 8:05.  We didn’t know if we would make it on the second try or not.  There were whitecaps for a while and then it began to smooth out as we moved along.  We had clouds most of the time with the sun peeking out for a while.  Once again, it was really cold out on the water!!  The Nauti Gal once again did well in the water.  She really takes the waves very well, as she was built like a tank!!  We were moving along at 19-20 knots, which is very good.  Pam and I thought a couple times that we saw something clear out in the lake, but it was just a mirage (a temperature inversion).  I guess that is fairly common on Lake Superior.

We decided we would come directly to Superior and visit the Apostle Islands after the festivities were over on Wednesday.  There are many islands that make up the “Apostle Islands”….some are inhabited and some are not.  Pam and Frank know which are the best ones to visit.

We wondered about traveling on Friday, the 13th, but when a “white” cat crossed our path the day before, rather than a “black cat”, Pam thought it was safe to travel!  :o)  As we moved along, we noticed on the screen in  front of us …. It read ETA  (estimated time of arrival) as “NEVER” !!  We thought maybe someone was playing a dirty trick on us.  We had a chuckle over that!!!

I believe everyone experienced the bad weather and wind no matter where they were coming from…most everyone is now here, except a few sailboats continue to come in.

We came through the Lake Superior Pierhead at 3:34 (Wisconsin time…they are one hour behind Mich. Time).  We arrived at the Barker Island Marina at 4:00 and got an excellent slip.  We had an excellent “Welcome” committee (as did everyone) and help with our lines, etc.  It is so good to finally be here.  For a while we thought we might have to rent a car and drive up here.  We have now gone the whole length of Lake Superior.  In fact, Lake Superior begins right here….what a huge lake!!!  We actually went 154 nautical miles today and, have gone 799 nautical miles since leaving St. Joe.  Pam and Frank are so familiar with this whole area since they live in Superior (we can see their home from the marina), and have been a big help to us on our way here.

A few facts:  Superior, Wisconsin (where we are) and Duluth, Minnesota are twin cities - just across the bridge from one another.  Duluth-Superior’s enclosed harbor area is among the very largest on the Great Lakes.  Ocean freighters from most ports of the world are here…as many as five or more at any time.  The cruiser will find this harbor to be one of the busiest commercial ports on the Great Lakes.  The tonnage through this harbor averages 40 million tons a year.  Major cargoes are iron ore, grain, general cargo, and coal. 

Tomorrow, the 14th, there will be a reception and barbeque put on by the Power Squadron.