August, 2009

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Soon Turning East (And South)!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

(45⁰18.997′ N by 085⁰15.412 W -  Mile 454.5 - Charlevoix, Michigan)

On Wednesday, August 26th we took a short 19 mile run out from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix, Michigan through Little Traverse Bay.  Although the winds were light, the waves were a bit sloppy with the remnants of the rain and stormy weather we had on the 25th.  Before we talk about Charlevoix, here is a bit of information about Harbor Springs. 

Harbor Springs Municipal Marina

Harbor Springs Municipal Marina

The Town of Harbor Springs sits just inside of a point of land protecting it from the westerlies that are prevalent in the Great Lakes Basin.   It is a “picture perfect” resort community with plenty of stores geared to the summer residents that visit each year.  Ice cream, antique, interior design, lady’s and men’s fashion stores are on the main street.

While we were here, we visited two of the larger boat dealers in Northern Michigan - Irish Marine and Walstoms.  Both are first class operations and are dealers for some of the finest boat brands available in North America.  Walking the docks, we could see that both of these dealerships have a very strong base.  Vikings, Hatteras, Tiara, HInkley’s all were represented at the dock with some as big as 75 feet.  Parked with these vessels, Prime Time V didn’t look so big any more.

The town bases its existance on the summer residents who come from Southern Michigan, Illinios and Ohio. Originally, the owners would travel from these destinations by train or in some cases by ferry.  In fact, the long pier in the municipal marina was originally built to extend far into the water to reach deeper water in the middle of the sheltered sandy bay. 

The homes that line the streets are old with picture perfect gardens overflowing with colorful flowers.  You can tell though that the recession in the United States is taking its toll as many of these wonderful homes had “For Sale” signs on their from lawns. 

A Summer Home In Harbor Springs

A Summer Home In Harbor Springs

Reading the real estate ads in the local paper only confirmed that many of the homes for sale were attractively priced compared to the prices we are used to seeing in the Muskoka’s or on Georgian Bay.  $700,000 does not sound like a bargain but, when you consider a 3000 square foot home with 150′ of frontage of sand beach on Little Traverse Bay that was an architectural jewel could be purchased, one could consider it to be a real estate bargain of sorts.

I should tell you that Harbor Springs shares Little Traverse Bay with two other towns of note.  Petoskey, which is known for its many architecturally inspired homes and Bay Harbor and newer community that has many single homes as well as condos.  This community is built around a 90 acre, flooded quarry that was converted to a resort destination.  The marina has 400 slips, handles boats to 250 feet and has a lake depth of 75 feet.  An ingenious conversion of an idle quarry!

Little Traverse Bay by the way is not so little.  My guess is that this bay is over 10 miles long and most likely four miles wide or wider.  Water depths are over 200 feet and the bay is ringed with beautiful sand beaches and high sand dunes.  It reminded Nancy and I of Sand Banks Provincial Park on the western shore of Prince Edward County.

Since we were in Harbor Springs for three days and weather was not cooperating anyway, I took the opportunity to call in the local Cummins dealer to service the 20 Kwh Westerbeke generator we have on board.  A check of the service records indicated it was well over due for an adjustment to the valves and an inspection of the diesel injectors.  While the valves were within tolerance, a re-build of the injectors and the injector pump was recommended so, they were sent out for repairs and will be back by the end of the week to be re-installed.

As I said, we moved on from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix on Wedensday, August 26th.  We’ll stay here until at least until Saturday morning since Friday is the day the injectors and the injector pump is supposed to be back.  Here is hoping it arrives on time so we do not have to wait until Monday.

Round Lake From Charlevoix Main Street BridgeThe entrance into Charlevoix is almost hidden from view as you approach it from Lake Michigan making the chart plotter invaluable.  Once you find the entrance, you travel three quarters of a mile on the Pine River to the main street bridge into Round Lake where the Town of Charlevoix is located.  Round Lake is only about 1500 feet in diameter but is nearly 60 feet deep so, anchoring is extremely limited.  Besides, you will want to park on the town’s new docks next to the main street.  There are numerous quaint shops and good restaurants close to the marina as well as an excellent farmers market on the marina property on Thursdays.

When we docked, the dock staff told me that we were pronouncing Charlevoix incorrectly.  Being Canadian and having some high school French language training we pronounced it as “Shar-le-vwa”.  The locals apparently lost their knowledge of French some time ago pronouncing the name “Shar-la-voy”.   So, there really is a cultural divide between Canadians and American!  We all had a good laugh over this!

Into Lake Michigan

Monday, August 24th, 2009

(45⁰25.651′ N by 084⁰59.262 W -  Mile 435.1 - Harbor Springs, Michigan)

img_0612 This was a fourth trip to Mackinac Island and we enjoy the island each time we go.  The absence of automobiles, horse drawn carriages, fudge shops, the 19th century architecture, the history, bike riding and the people you meet all add to the charm being there.  Of course, like many American “destinations” the island markets it features like the Grand Hotel’s porch, Arch Rock or the historic fort to the max.

As a result, the island is visited by mainland tourists who arrive daily on one of the many ferries crossing the Straits of Mackinac at high speeds.  These mono-hull or catamaran boats run across the two to three miles of the strait propelled by water jet drives that send plumes of water a hundred feet behind and travel in excess of 30 mph.  Each and every load arrives with tourists commonly known as “fudgies” (those in search of Mackinac fudge).

img_0603We stayed on Mackinac Island for four nights, one night longer than we originally planned.  Other than the afternoon we arrived the days were filled with clouds, occaisional rain and for three days, high winds which whipped up the waves on Lake Michigan and through the Straits to four to six feet.  We decided to stay put based on the forecast and prevailing conditions since our schedule remains flexible plus it allowed us some valuable shore time for bike riding (both of us) and walking time for Nancy.

On the day tornados were reported in Southern Ontario, Mackinac Island received its effects from the storms as well.  The winds were out of the south east, the only direction open to the Straits and during the night we awoke to feel the boat moving more than usual in the slip.  We went out to the back deck to find that waves coming on to our stern had snapped one of our dock lines.  The dock lines are 5/8″ Dacron so you can imagine the force of the waves.  And - we had some protection from boats behind us!  I am not sure how any of these people slept on board.

img_0606The sun rose on the morning of August 23rd with sunnier skies and calm waters so we decided it was a good time to leave and travel to Harbor Springs in Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan.  Sixty plus miles of smooth running at 9 kts then into the municipal harbor where we met our friends on “Izzy R” again.  We had a great dinner on board with them to what may be our last contact until possibly next winter when both boats are in Florida and Bahamas.  We look forward to seeing them again.

About The Name?

For the record, you will see two spellings for the island, the strait and Mackinaw City which is located on the mainland.  Originally , the name Michilmackinac tied tonges for spellers for decades.  Native Americans called the hump-backed island in the waters joining lakes Michigan and Huron Michilimackinac, meaning “place of the great turtle”  French settlers who came to the area in the 17th century gave at least 55 spellings to the name but eventually Michilmackinac (with the silent “c” at the end) emerged as the favoured form.
Though first applied to the island, the name Michilmackinac was eventually given to the entire Straits of Mackinac region.  In time it was shortened to Mackinac.  The founders of Mackinaw City opted for the phonetic “aw” spelling, probably as a way to distinguish their town for Mackinac Island for the confused postal carriers.  So today, Mackinaw City retains the spelling “aw” while the bridge, straits and island steadfastly cling to the traditional  “ac” spelling.  No matter how it is spelled however, it is always pronounced Mackinaw!  (I was always confused with this so, I hope this clarifies the issue.  The source of this information is from the Mackinac Island Visitors Guide.)
 
 
 

 

 

Moving On To The USA

Friday, August 21st, 2009

 (45⁰50.988′ N by 084⁰50.940 W -  Mile 369.1 - Mackinaw Island, Michigan)

Since the last web post a few  days ago in Oak Bay, Prime Time V has put another 140 miles of water under its keel.  On Monday morning we left Oak Bay traveling 48 miles to Meldrum Bay, a small village of just 48 residents on the North West corner of Manitoulin Island.  The North Channel was nearly calm so it was a good day to press forward.

Meldrum Bay is a sleepy little village with some major progress by its standards.  With only 48 permanent residents we were pleased to see that the restaurant/hotel is now under new management as well as the general store being open as well.  Most of the residents work in the tourist industry or to the west in the quarrie.  A new shore wall has been installed in the marina to reduce swell off the North Channel and a new dock and dock masters office is planned.  Anywhere else - no big deal but in Meldrum Bay, this is progress!

The only other residents of Meldrum Bay are the bears, rabbits and foxes.  Although Nancy was determined to go for a walk while we were on shore she limited her trecks to the main roads.  Meeting a bear was the last thing that she wanted to do although I assured her the bear would not want to meet her either!

On Tuesday, we moved westward to our first stop in the United States -Drummond Island.  Another 44 miles under our belt.  Fortunately, Customs and Border Protection Services have an office in Drummond Island Yacht Haven which made clearing us and the boat very easy.  Both officers who came to the boat were extremely pleasant and the paper work was finished in about five minutes.

It was great to get on the dock at Drummond Yacht Haven since the wind and wave conditions built as the day went on.  The morning forecast predicted light winds and calm seas but as the day progressed we encountered 20 Kt winds with up to two foot seas.  In a 56 foot boat it is not that it is so uncomfortable but rather annoying that we were getting this kind of weather.  We slipped into the dock at Yacht Haven and were happy to know we would get a good night’s sleep.

We initally met the crew of “Izzy R” a 49 foot Defever Trawler in Meldrum Bay with a home port of Irvine, California.   Jeff and Izzy, the owners bought the boat specifically to take the Great Circle Route.   We got to know them and their friend Dennis better in Drummond Island.Their trip started in Florida when they bought the boat on East Coast of the USA last year.  After wintering in Florida they cruised up the Eastern Seaboard, up Hudson to Lake Champlain, up the St. Lawrence to Montreal, turned right onto the Ottawa River and then through the Rideau and Trent-Severn Canals.  Their goal is to Chicago down the Mississippi and the Tenn-Tom Waterways and back to Florida.  More and more cruisers are doing this.

We found a common interest and new friends when Jeff came to the boat after noticing our America’s Great Loop Cruising Association burgee on the bow.img_0589  They are members too and it is quite common to exchange cards and compare notes of our travels.  You can visit AGLCA’s website by going to http://www.greatloop.org/?pid=1

The following day, with calm winds, we pushed on for another 46 miles from Drummond Island to Mackinaw Island.  Mackinaw is a great island.  No motorized vehicles are allowed with only bicycles, horses or your feet being the modes of transportation available.  We have been here before but decided to stay for three days to take a break from travel and enjoy the sites of this historic island.

We’re now on our third day here and other than the afternoon we arrived winds and rain have been the order of each day.  On our first night, the winds came directly out of the south east which is the only open access the waves had to the harbour.  With stong wave action in our slip, neither of us got much sleep.   We woke at 4:00 AM to find that the stern starbord line had snapped under the wave action.  No small feat since these are 5/8″ lines. 

We’ll be waiting out the weather for the next few days.   The weather is predicted to be windy with high waves for the next few days.  For you boaters - here is a new weather website you will find interesting.   Try www.passageweather.com

We will be telling you more about Mackinaw Island in a following web post.

Continuing Westward In The North Channel

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

 (46⁰08.271′ N by 082⁰15.539 W -  Mile 229.5 - Oak Bay) 

On Friday, August 14th we entered the North Channel when we passed through the narrows at Town of Little Current.  Little Current is located on the north shore of Manitoulin Island and is the northern highway access route to the island.  Called Baiwejewung “where the waters flow” by the natives, the current through this passage can at times be up to 4 knots under the bridge created by wind tide known on the Great Lakes as sèche.   For provisioning, Little Current offers the best choice of shops and services on the island.

If you stop (we did not need to preferring to motor on to the Bell Cover anchorage) you might share dock space with other pleasure boaters or an occasional cruise ship.  During the first week of August we heard that there was a 300 foot ship registered in Malta there for the night.

The only other way to get a motorized vehicle to Manitoulin is to take the ferry named the Chi Cheemaun (Big Canoe) from Tobermory to South Bay Mouth.

Manitoulin Island is quite large stretching seventy miles east to west and nearly thirty miles north to south at its widest points.  It is reputed to be the largest fresh water island in the world and also to have the greatest number of lakes contained within a fresh water island as well.  If you drive across the island the topography reminds you of the Niagara Escarpment since the island has many areas of sedimentary shale with expose rock bluffs.  Other parts of the island have vast flat stretches. 

The North Channel is roughly 70 miles east to west and while technically it is part of Lake Huron it is isolated from the main lake by Manitoulin, Cockburn and Drummond Islands, the later being in US waters.  Its western half is as much as 20 miles wide and since the prevailing winds are from the west, wave heights can sometimes create unpleasant cruises.  I can personally attest to riding the backs of 2 meter waves a few years ago and it was not that pleasant.

While the area surrounding the North Channel may appear to be virgin territory, native Canadians have occupied it for thousands of years while European settlers came to the area to trade, farm, fish and log.  Many of the small towns surrounding this body of water have museums documenting the past.

As this is being written (August 16th) the water is now warm, the mosquitoes are apparently diminishing although you would not know that by looking at our screens at night and the supplies will be diminishing in the local stores.  We met some locals in Bell Cove who commented that many of the American boats were now heading west and that traffic would be diminishing.  I guess these are the times of the year when local cruisers get to enjoy their favorite anchorages after the summer rush.  I can relate to this after cruising in Southern Georgian Bay for so many years.

We left Bell Cove this morning moving westward through the McBean Channel to stay in Oak Bay for at least one night.  This is an area we had been told to visit and we plan to drop the dinghy to explore this afternoon.

On The Move Again

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

(46⁰02.744′ N by 081⁰55.363 W -  Mile 208.2 - Bell Cove on North Western Shore of Great Le Cloche Island)

After taking a week of  in the Killarney, Covered Portage Cove and Baie Fine area we’re once more underway. 

Our good friends, George & Jane Laing arrived on Wednesday, August 12th just in time to take us to dinner at the Sportsmans Inn in Killarney and to celebrate Nancy’s birthday.  Of course it was a great party with Frank playing in the dining room. 

The following day we took a cruise to Baie Fine and stayed overnight on anchor close to the entrance of the pool.  For those of you who have never seen Baie Fine it is a unique part of Canada claiming to be the worlds longest fresh water fiord.  The bay is roughly 11 miles long with high quartzite rock hills on both sides rising steeply on both sides.  The charts indicate some of the hills are close to 500 feet higher than the surface of the water.  This is truly natural beauty at its best and regardless of where we go will have to be considered one of the most phenominal areas to cruise through.

After dropping off George & Jane this morning we traveled west through the Lansdowne Channel to Little Current then on to Bell Harbour on the North West side of Grand Le Cloche Island.  Bell Cove is providing us perfect protection for the South to South West winds that are forecast for tonight.  There are very few cottages and by now, a lot of the vacation boat traffic is starting to diminish. 

The good news is what everyone is talking about (probably including you) - summer has finally arrived.  Let’s enjoy it while it is here.

Prime Time V’s Journey Begins

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

(45⁰59.955′ N by 081⁰32.258 W - Coverd Portage Cove, Killarney, Ontario)

That’s right!  After three months of preparation Prime Time V’s journey is beginning. 

Ready to leave from Bone Island!

Ready to leave from Bone Island!

Just like any trip, the last few weeks have been quite hectic getting everything in order both on the boat and on dry land.  But, from now on, you will receive reports about life on-board, the experiences we have traveling and some information about the areas we travel through.

We cut the lines on Thursday, August 6th from the Bone Island docks and traveled north on the Small Craft Channel to Regatta Bay.  We have made this same trip dozens of times before but, this time we are not sure when we will get back to the same area again with Prime Time V.  Somehow, it just felt a little different as we traveled on the channel not knowing what is in store for us in the future.

For those of you who do not cruise the area, the Small Craft Channel on the Eastern Shore of Georgian Bay has quite a history.  The first white man to travel this route was Etienne Brule in 1610 who had been sent there by Samuel de Champlain, the Governor of New France.  Champlain himself canoed down the eastern shore in 1615 on his way to Huron territory and he was so fascinated by it he named it La Mer Douce. “the Freshwater Sea.”

It wasn’t until 200 years later Captain Henry Bayfield of the British Admiralty charted the Great Lakes and gave Georgian Bay its present name in honour of King George IV, who was in 1820 the newly crowned King of England.  What is amazing today is that so much of Georgian Bay remains the same as it was when Brule, Champlain and Bayfield traveled this body of water.

On Friday, August 7th we were up early knowing the weather would be favourable for our trip to Killarney.  We started the engines at 7:00 AM, pulled the anchor and went north and on into the open bay at Point-au-Baril.  Just as we suspected from the forecast the water conditions were ideal with a foot of chop when we started.  As our trip progressed the waves settled down to near calm for an ideal slow cruise of 10 kts. 

Seven hours on calm water at slow cruise allows you to relax.  Just set the autopilot and occaisionally monitor the instruments.  In the past on a voyage like this, Nancy would read her book and I busy myself reading a boating magazine or just playing with the electronics.  Knowing we would be facing some long hours on the bridge we added a television.  Decadent, I know but, it is a great diversion for both of us. 

We arrived at the Sportsman’s Inn at 2:15 PM to find that the rumors are correct, the business is open once more.   The main fuel dock is new with a new pump-out and gas/diesel pumps and the main building which is a hotel is being completely renovated.  While it is not yet complete it will be back to its original condition or better when it is completed.  The new owners are sparing no expense.  For pictures and contact information visit http://www.sportsmansinn.ca/

Frank at the piano at the Sortmans Inn - Killarney

Frank at the piano at the Sortmans Inn - Killarney

Our best surprise is that Frank The Piano Player is back.  Frank knows almost every boater on the Bay and after not hearing him for five seasons it was great to hear the tunes, sing the songs and remember all of the good times we have had with Frank and our friends around the piano.  Frank, if you are reading this make sure you send me an e-mail with your contact information.

Saturday, August 8th we decided that due to the wind conditions (20 kts from the east) we would sit back and spend another day at Sportman’s Inn.  This allowed us to walk to the lighthouse and return to Mr. Pearch for lunch.  Mr. Pearch is a bus that has been set up on the docks in Killarney.  Best perch on the Bay.