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
It has been a little while since our last blog update, but we just wanted to let folks know everything is fine and things are going well. We are simply in a more remote area that has not allowed us the ability to post much content. We are presently in the North Channel area, Canada’s treasure chest of beautiful islands in the extreme north of Lake Huron. We plan to be back in US waters, in Mackinaw City, Michigan in one week, and we’ll post a new blog update with lots of bandwidth-demanding video by that time, if not sooner. We hope all is well with you and that summer in your area is splendid!
In the meantime, here’s one picture as an example of the beauty we have been experiencing in this area. It is Flowerpot Island, off of Tobermory, Ontario. The soil erodes in such a way that it creates these standalone pinnacles, or what they call flowerpots.
It was a close matchup, with the bugs giving it all they had versus the stalwart crew of Thalia. But in an extended overtime session, Thalia eeked out a hard fought victory, and there was much partying in the streets to celebrate!
We left you last time with Karen’s update on our first day out on Lake Erie, as we worked our way west from Buffalo. That was Day 1 of the bug wars. Day 2 dawned bright, sunny, calm, and with many hopeful wishes for a bug free day on our way from Presque Isle to Fairport, OH. But alas, the bugs came out with an early lead and held strong until the final bell. Then, Day 3 dawned with more hope, hope that was dashed early despite the fact that we pulled out all of our ideas as a ‘highly evolved’ species to overcome those little buggers. At the end of the day, bugs were up 3-0 in this best of 7 matchup. Continue reading “Thalia 4, Bugs 3 (Final)”
We have finished the Erie Canal and we’ve stepped our mast so Thalia can regain her pride as a sailing vessel as she leaves the Erie Canal in her wake and tips her bow into the first of the Great Lakes – Lake Erie!
Erie Canal by the numbers – The Erie Canal is 338 miles long, has 34 locks that lifted for a total of 420 feet of elevation, there are 16 lift bridges that needed to open for us (all from Fairport to Lockport in the western section), and too many quaint upstate New York towns to mention! We will mention our favorite, however, and that is the lovely Pittsford! Continue reading “Erie Canal Complete, Great Lakes Ahead”
The Erie Canal is divided up into three sections – Eastern, Central and Western. Quite a few boaters do the Eastern canal, and then head north at Three Rivers Junction to the Oswego Canal, which takes you into Lake Ontario. There were a number of tricky shallow areas in the Eastern portion and we had considered this Oswego route to get us out of the canal and into the expanse of Lake Ontario, and thus avoid even shallower areas further west in the canal. But we had heard from multiple sources that the Western section was the most beautiful and we didn’t want to miss it. I was able to get ahold of the head of navigation and dredging at the NY State Canal Authority, which by the way is an amazing organization that deserves a whole blog post of it’s own. He quickly talked me into continuing west on the canal, all the way to its terminus at Buffalo. He put me at ease, letting me know that the shallow areas I saw on the charts had just been dredged, and that if we took it slow in sections, we’d have no problem. He re-affirmed that the Western Erie Canal is not to be missed. He added that if we headed to Lake Ontario, we’d have to uplock the Welland Canal (which circumvents Niagara Falls), and in the process have to hire crew to handle the lines, all while jockeying for position in the locks with lots of commercial traffic. Simply put, in his words, we’d be ‘second class citizens’ if we did the Welland. The Welland is actually in Canada, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him we weren’t citizens there, but his point was well taken. I couldn’t help but hear a bit of pride in his voice, implying that the Erie treats their pleasure boater citizens with first class, white glove service. Which they really do! But again that’s a story for another day. Continue reading “Go West, Young Man!”
‘Loops’ Involving One or More of the Great Lakes
I love that you can’t help but learn something new whenever you travel or try different things. I long ago learned about the [boat cruising] route called ‘The Down East Circle Route’ which is the one we are taking two summers to complete (we’re adding in extra exploration of the Great Lakes). I recently learned that there also is the ‘Great Loop’ and the ‘Triangle Loop’ that are popular with boaters and also involve one or more of the Great Lakes. Who knew? Continue reading “Circles, Loops, Triangles – Popular Inland Cruising Routes in North America”
In this video, I explain some of the lessons we have learned after navigating along the Eastern portion of the Erie Canal. I hope you enjoy it!
Above, we transit the Erie Canal as it narrows to pass under a railroad bridge (complete with passing train!) and then right into a lock!
We have been in the Erie canal for five full days now and in the 152 miles we have traveled in the canal, we’ve experienced 22 locks for a total lift of 419 feet and a drop of 51 feet. The first 20 locks were all up-locks … we experienced our first down-locking at locks 21 and 22 to drop us down to the height of Oneida Lake. The highest lift in a single lock was 40 feet and this lock (lock E-17) had so much water flowing into it that the boats were only allowed to secure themselves against the southern wall. The water flow from north to south as the chamber fills is so significant that boats are not able to hold themselves against the north wall. Continue reading “Embracing the Erie Canal”