May 29, 2014
Quick overnight in Straits State Marina, Mackinaw city. The folks that staff this location are always so pleasant and accommodating. It is adjacent to the older, admittedly quainter City Marina, but always seems to have vacancies, and is very modern. Facilities are supported by a small “farm” of wind generators onsite-very cool. Unfortunately, the state of Michigan has instituted a new fee structure which has not resulted in lower costs to boaters. The other marina in the area, Mackinac Island State Harbor is gorgeous, but reservations are usually necessary during busy summer months. Of course, a little shopping was in order-a stop for a smoked herring, and to Shepler’s marine supply for a boat doodad. Next day, the trip to Presque Isle harbor was uneventful. Flat seas, and 50 degree, sunny weather made the 8 hour trip an absolute pleasure. The past few days have taken us through a massive hatch of the “dammit” bugs. They are the size of mosquitoes, but don’t bite. Instead, they stick all over the boat by the hundreds of thousands, turning the white hull and decks black, and fill the air in dense clouds, making breathing an exercise in protein inhalation. Presque Isle is the only natural harbor on the west shore of Lake Huron. There is a marina there, but too small for the Big Girl. We opted to stay on Alizann rather than dropping the tender in the water for our traditional sippy sippy at cocktail time. Filets off the grill, and fresh Michigan asparagus were washed down with a little red pop. Anchor up at O’dark-thirty, crossing the lake today. Pea souper. Can’t see the water over the bow. Oh well, fire the radar up honey, we’re goin’ across. Twenty minutes out, the AIS chirps. Upbound and downbound freighters will cross our path within minutes of us. A quick chat with both captains assures them that we are not interested in a close quarters situation in reduced visibility either. We’ll hold to the west for 20 minutes while they pass. They’re gone and we didn’t get a glimpse of either-I love this flippin’ technology stuff. Pea soup for the next 10 hours until Otto (our autopilot) puts us on Cove Island light, an Imperial design tower, by prolific lighthouse builder John Brown in 1858. The village of Tobermory provided our next safe harbor, and a beautiful little town it is. Tied to the wall in downtown(?) gave us a constant stream of nice folks to chat with. We met up with 3 guys on a boat that was tied to a wall behind the Coast Guard surf boat. Seems that they had an engine failure last night in the middle of Georgian Bay, which is sometimes referred to as the sixth Great Lake. After several hours, the Coast Guard went out to find them, and eventually tow them here, depositing the boat on the dock. Fortunately, one of the crew on the pleasure boat was a mechanic, and after overnighting a fuel pump, our new crazy Canadian friends were off again. Around 8 AM, we heard the loudspeaker of the Chi-Cheemaun(Big Canoe in Ojibway), a car ferry that makes the 30 mile, 1:45 trip from Tobermory to South Baymouth, 2- 4 times a day! The Big Canoe is the largest car ferry in Ontario. It is 365 ft long and can carry 143 cars and 638 people. Take a peek at the map of the area and you will see why it is busy. LOOONG way around Georgian Bay by car. After a brunch of whitefish(healthy) and poutine(not) at Craigie’s, we decided that we oughta’ take a little hike, so out to the Bruce trail for a couple hour stroll in the woods along the lake. Note: Poutine(poo-teen)- a decidedly Canadian concoction of French fries and gravy, covered with cheese curds-a DELICIOUS, high cal fuel for those hoary Canadian nights. Bruce Trail-the longest trail in southern Ontario, traversing along the Niagara escarpment from the falls to Tobermory. Thursday saw us take a short hop to Wingfield Harbor, on Cabot Head. This all-weather anchorage is the former location of the Meneray family commercial fishery, and a floating sawmill, all long gone. What remains is a great little anchorage, with a trail to the Cabot Head light which has been restored by volunteers, The Friends of Cabot Head. Suzanne and I toured the lighthouse/museum, imagining what it must have been like living here in the late 1800’s. During that period, the house was accessible only by boat or cart path, and sat in the middle of absolute desolation provided by the logging industry’s clear-cutting the entire Bruce peninsula. 64 degree temperatures put us into bathing suits on our trusty little craft. On my hands and knees, scrubbin’ off the carcasses of the #@&!! Bugs (at least I got some sun). A couple of hours of scrubbin’ later, I got my reward-sips on the tender while circumnavigating our solitary anchorage and snappin’ a few shots of the GARGANTUA-a wooden freighter burned and scuttled on shore early in the last century. Long trip tomorrow, so traditional summer dinner on the grill tonight. MDO’s secret burger recipe coupled with corn on the cob and tater tots. I AM a cheap date!
Addendum: If you don’t want preachin’ stop here. Got 2 (NOT GOOD) calls within 12 hours this weekend. First call-a friend was in an auto/motorcycle accident hours before. His wife and daughter were on their way to the hospital that he was airlifted to with the intention of removing his life support. Second call-one of our closest pals was involved in an auto accident the night before. Eight broken ribs, fractured sternum, and a punctured lung. He will live, but won’t be laffin’ for awhile. Further affirmation of the “DO IT NOW” theme. …..tick, tick, tick.
P.S. Hopefully, we'll have the utility to add pictures to the log up and running soon.