Lake Charlevoix, MI

In the foreground is Lake Michigan. The little lake is Round Lake where we are docked. The large lake is Lake Charlevoix with its South Arm.

In the foreground is Lake Michigan. The little lake is Round Lake where we are docked. The large lake is Lake Charlevoix with its South Arm.

Lake Charlevoix (18NM) A short trip to Lake Charlevoix, so fast in fact, that we had to wait for the bascule bridge to open. While we wait several big boats boats do what I really don’t like to see, pass without any VHF announcement in a skinny channel with a wind and current...very rude and very impolite. We clear the bridge with oncoming traffic and hail the marina for our slip assignment. The wind has now built and is gusting to 12 knots as Larry expertly maneuvers us into the slip. We are also very appreciative of Charlevoix City Marina’s tight docking crew. Charlevoix is named for the French explorer, Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix who explored this region in the 1850’s. The Homestead Act of 1862 brought Civil War veterans and land speculators to Northern Michigan. This act made 160-acre tracts of land available for $1.25 an acre. Eventually, with the augmentation of Round Lake (located before Lake Charlevoix) to connect to Lake Michigan combined with rail operations, this area became one of the busiest ports on the Great Lakes shipping out more than 40 million board feet of lumber. Now the area is a summer retreat for many local Michiganians and tourists alike. We jog and bike all about town and then take a tender ride out to the huge body of water that is Lake Charlevoix. We ride down to the South Arm and look at all the pretty houses and then head back to Round Lake as the afternoon winds pick-up.

Welcome to Lake Charlevoix

Welcome to Lake Charlevoix

The evolution of a bascule bridge

The evolution of a bascule bridge

Bridge Street Tap Room is a great place to have a local craft beer

Bridge Street Tap Room is a great place to have a local craft beer

So many choices of local craft beers at the Bridge Street Tap Room

So many choices of local craft beers at the Bridge Street Tap Room

Don’t miss the great fish tacos at the Cantina and a nice selection of tequila & mexican beer

Don’t miss the great fish tacos at the Cantina and a nice selection of tequila & mexican beer

Independence at her slip at the Charlevoix City Marina in Round Lake

Independence at her slip at the Charlevoix City Marina in Round Lake

The famous ‘Thatch House’ built in 1919 by Earl Young and remodeled in 2013 by Michael Seitz.

The famous ‘Thatch House’ built in 1919 by Earl Young and remodeled in 2013 by Michael Seitz.

The Thatch House is now a vacation rental

The Thatch House is now a vacation rental

This is the little cottage next to The Thatch House. This is what Earl Young’s original architectural design looked like for both houses. Over 52 years Young designed and built 31 structures in Charlevoix. He worked with limestone, fieldstone and boulders he found throughout Northern Michigan. His houses are often referred to as ‘mushroom ‘ houses.

This is the little cottage next to The Thatch House. This is what Earl Young’s original architectural design looked like for both houses. Over 52 years Young designed and built 31 structures in Charlevoix. He worked with limestone, fieldstone and boulders he found throughout Northern Michigan. His houses are often referred to as ‘mushroom ‘ houses.

Another Earl Young building is The Weathervane Lodge, a landmark along the channel at the bascule bridge (built in 1958). It was almost lost in 1971 during very high water and winds reaching hurricane force. The original pilings & sections of foundation were washed out from underneath the structure. The Army Corp of Engineers came in and saved the property by placing metal sheet pilings from the bridge all the way to Lake Michigan.

Another Earl Young building is The Weathervane Lodge, a landmark along the channel at the bascule bridge (built in 1958). It was almost lost in 1971 during very high water and winds reaching hurricane force. The original pilings & sections of foundation were washed out from underneath the structure. The Army Corp of Engineers came in and saved the property by placing metal sheet pilings from the bridge all the way to Lake Michigan.

A pretty victorian era house on the bluff above channel

A pretty victorian era house on the bluff above channel

The floating homes of the South Arm. The wet bar ‘Shaken Knot Stern’ is the made out of the stern portion of an old wooden boat.

The floating homes of the South Arm. The wet bar ‘Shaken Knot Stern’ is the made out of the stern portion of an old wooden boat.

A huge home on the South Arm

A huge home on the South Arm

It is always nice to have a boat garage for your sailboat

It is always nice to have a boat garage for your sailboat

Built in 1892 the Charlevoix Train Depot has been renovated and turned into a park called Depot Beach Park

Built in 1892 the Charlevoix Train Depot has been renovated and turned into a park called Depot Beach Park

Fisherman’s Island State Park along Lake Michigan

Fisherman’s Island State Park along Lake Michigan

Larry & I ride the bikes to the beach and go for a swim in Lake Michigan

Larry & I ride the bikes to the beach and go for a swim in Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan - Beaver Island (St. James), Petoskey, Harbor Springs, MI

We have now transited all of the Great Lakes; Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. So perhaps a couple of jaw-dropping quick facts would be appropriate at this point. These 10,000 year old lakes were formed at the end of the last ice age and as the glaciers melted approximately 14,000 years ago they retreated north and left deep depressions in the ground, which over time then filled with water. The Great Lakes contain 6,000,000,000,000,000 (six quadrillion) gallons of water. Enough to cover the contiguous U.S. in almost 10 feet of water. They supply 20 percent of the world’s fresh water and 84 percent of North America’s. The total surface area is almost 95,000 square miles, bigger than the combined area of the U.K. These huge lakes have tides, however small, measuring less than five centimeters twice a day. Alright, I will stop there…

We have a nice cruise with a little rain and chop as we enter Lake Michigan and dock at Beaver Island (40NM) Municipal Marina and have a pleasant time in this little town. Historically, the town was a fishing village that ran out of fish and fast forward to today, their livelihood comes from tourism. If you are looking for a busy port this is not the place to stop but it does have a nice pub called the ‘Shamrock’ with a great bartender ‘Erica’. The town even has a brewery ‘Whiskey Point Brewing Company LLC’ along with a nice bike trail with lovely scenery. We move on to Petoskey (31NM) named after a prominent merchant and landowner, Chief Ignatius Petosgay. What a sweet, tourist friendly town with a great Bayfront Park. The history of this town is similar to those mentioned recently but by 1874 Petoskey had trains arriving three times a week, bringing thousands of people from cities like Indianapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Detroit. Visitors built summer cottages or joined summer resorts. Ernest Hemingway (born in Oak Park, Illinois) began summering in Petoskey in 1900. The trains no longer run but summer tourists still flock here to enjoy the waterfront, restaurants, breweries and gas light district with shops and bars...we do the same. A quick jump across the bay the next day to Harbor Springs (3NM) a very picturesque town with beautiful homes and an amazing harbor. We cruise the town on bikes and foot and enjoy this lovely place.

‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge

‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge

Leaving Mackinac Island heading to Beaver Island. The main towers of the Mackinac Bridge rise more than 550 feet above the Straits of Mackinac. The cables, composed of thousands of strands of wire tightly wrapped together, are anchored in giant concrete blocks, which are 8,614 feet apart.

Leaving Mackinac Island heading to Beaver Island. The main towers of the Mackinac Bridge rise more than 550 feet above the Straits of Mackinac. The cables, composed of thousands of strands of wire tightly wrapped together, are anchored in giant concrete blocks, which are 8,614 feet apart.

Larry finds a friend outside the Shamrock. on Beaver Island. Peaches is in love with Larry…his parents (fellow Loopers - Sean & Natalie of M/V Alegria) are not so sure…

Larry finds a friend outside the Shamrock. on Beaver Island. Peaches is in love with Larry…his parents (fellow Loopers - Sean & Natalie of M/V Alegria) are not so sure…

Our lunch time stop on the bike ride on Beaver Island

Our lunch time stop on the bike ride on Beaver Island

Look closely and you will see the water snake warming himself on the rock. This snake is at least two feet in length and quite fat and happy at the Beaver Island Municipal Marina

Look closely and you will see the water snake warming himself on the rock. This snake is at least two feet in length and quite fat and happy at the Beaver Island Municipal Marina

The first time I have seen Monarch butterfly caterpillars in their natural habitat feeding on milkweed. There are three caterpillars in this image

The first time I have seen Monarch butterfly caterpillars in their natural habitat feeding on milkweed. There are three caterpillars in this image

First stop at Petoskey is the Beards brewery

First stop at Petoskey is the Beards brewery

Beards has a great Cream Ale called Wunderbrau. Nice and light at 4.4% ABV

Beards has a great Cream Ale called Wunderbrau. Nice and light at 4.4% ABV

This place is quite unexpected…

This place is quite unexpected…

Mitchell St. Pub has serious character…and peanuts

Mitchell St. Pub has serious character…and peanuts

and they serve food as well

and they serve food as well

The old railroad (non operational) still runs through this beautiful park in Petoskey

The old railroad (non operational) still runs through this beautiful park in Petoskey

This statue of Ernest Miller Hemingway is based on a 1920 photo near this spot that shows him ready to depart Petoskey for a job in Toronto. Prior to this he summered at a small cottage on Walloon Lake named ‘Windemere”.

This statue of Ernest Miller Hemingway is based on a 1920 photo near this spot that shows him ready to depart Petoskey for a job in Toronto. Prior to this he summered at a small cottage on Walloon Lake named ‘Windemere”.

The City Park Grill is one of Hemingway’s old haunts. So we must go in for a look and a beer

The City Park Grill is one of Hemingway’s old haunts. So we must go in for a look and a beer

The bar at The City Park Grill is classic and our bartender ,Kayla, was fantastic.

The bar at The City Park Grill is classic and our bartender ,Kayla, was fantastic.

Hemingway stayed at Stafford’s Perry Hotel quite often while visiting Petoskey. Built in 1899 the hotel boasted steam heat, electric service, a barber shop, a buffet restaurant and a newsstand. The Perry also advertised as the only fireproof hotel in town. Its brick construction, a novelty at the time, contributed to its survival.

Hemingway stayed at Stafford’s Perry Hotel quite often while visiting Petoskey. Built in 1899 the hotel boasted steam heat, electric service, a barber shop, a buffet restaurant and a newsstand. The Perry also advertised as the only fireproof hotel in town. Its brick construction, a novelty at the time, contributed to its survival.

The Arts Center is quite lovely

The Arts Center is quite lovely

The original library was built with Carnegie funds in 1905 and now is part of the Arts Center. When living in Petoskey in 1919, this library was a favorite place of Hemingway’s.

The original library was built with Carnegie funds in 1905 and now is part of the Arts Center. When living in Petoskey in 1919, this library was a favorite place of Hemingway’s.

The ‘new’ library built in the 1920’s

The ‘new’ library built in the 1920’s

I love these little ‘mini’ libraries, especially this one…

I love these little ‘mini’ libraries, especially this one…

The Catholic Church in Petoskey

The Catholic Church in Petoskey

The older wood buildings in Petoskey burned but the brick remains

The older wood buildings in Petoskey burned but the brick remains

Our end-tie at Harbor Springs Municipal Marina

Our end-tie at Harbor Springs Municipal Marina

The inner harbor is the epitome of the new vs. the old

The inner harbor is the epitome of the new vs. the old

Gorgeous homes with beautiful gardens

Gorgeous homes with beautiful gardens

Right along the harbor…properly themed with anchor motifs

Right along the harbor…properly themed with anchor motifs

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The Harbor Springs Yacht Club was holding a sailing school today

The Harbor Springs Yacht Club was holding a sailing school today

Excuse me for posting more beautiful homes

Excuse me for posting more beautiful homes

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The Independence from the Bluffs. A great view of the town, harbor and Petoskey in the distance

The Independence from the Bluffs. A great view of the town, harbor and Petoskey in the distance

Another gorgeous home on the Bluffs

Another gorgeous home on the Bluffs

Such a lovely plack, I had to include it

Such a lovely plack, I had to include it

Ephraim Shay’s home, steel plates and all

Ephraim Shay’s home, steel plates and all

Mackinac Island, MI

The winds are strong as we head toward Mackinac Island (38NM) blowing 15 to 20 knots with a 4 foot chop but we make the trip in about 5 hours and pull into the East Dock Marina. The marina here is tiny but sufficient and gives us access to this amazing state park. Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) was first used as a summer fishing spot by the Great Lakes American Indians. They called the island Michilimackinac which meant ‘place of the great turtle’ because of the hump-backed shape of the island. Later the name was shortened to Mackinac. Much like Sault Ste. Marie the island was then further established by European settlers creating missions followed by forts, war (site of the first battle of the War of 1812), fur trading, fishing and then tourism. The island was declared a U.S. national park from 1875 to 1895 (the second national park created after Yellowstone). In 1895 the park was then turned over to the State of Michigan, becoming Mackinac Island State Park, the first state park in Michigan. The majority of the buildings and homes on the island date to the mid 1800’s and are kept in near perfect condition with meticulously manicured gardens and flowers everywhere. Cars are not allowed on the island as when they first arrived in 1898 they startled the carriage horses and were banned by the Village Council. So without cars you then have horses doing all the work...and bicycles...thousands of bicycles. The main streets team with bike riders of all shapes and sizes, ages and capabilities. The bikes, combined with horse carriages and drayage, results in an overwhelming effect on the senses...especially your sense of smell! During our first foray into the town we have a beer at the renowned ‘Pink Pony’ bar and on our return to the boat Larry meets the owner of a bike shop (Jim Fisher of Mackinac Wheels) and they arrange to do a ride the next day. On his return Larry is ecstatic to have finally gotten out on the trails for a 13 mile ride. I jog around the island (8 miles), just me and hundreds of bike riders. Later we toured Fort Mackinac and then had a beer on the famous porch of the Grand Hotel. The following day we go for a 16 mile bike ride around and up and over the island to visit Fort Holmes, the airport, and the art museum. Dinner at the Grand Hotel that night was a fabulous end to this great day.

A ‘Looper’ must is to go by the ‘home’ of Mark & Jill VanderMeulen outside of Detour, MI. (on your way to Mackinac Island). The John W. Boardman was built in 1923 & sailed the Great Lakes until 1980. She was used to haul cement to construct the Poe Lock at Sault St.e Marie in 1968.

A ‘Looper’ must is to go by the ‘home’ of Mark & Jill VanderMeulen outside of Detour, MI. (on your way to Mackinac Island). The John W. Boardman was built in 1923 & sailed the Great Lakes until 1980. She was used to haul cement to construct the Poe Lock at Sault St.e Marie in 1968.

Entering Mackinac Island Harbor on a windy day

Entering Mackinac Island Harbor on a windy day

Love these old murals…

Love these old murals…

Horse drawn carriages for hire or you can rent one and drive yourself around the island

Horse drawn carriages for hire or you can rent one and drive yourself around the island

Gorgeous horses work long days here on the island but are treated very well, There are around 20 different breeds of horses on the island, including Percherons, Belgian Draft Horses, Welsh Cobs, and Haflinger Ponies.

Gorgeous horses work long days here on the island but are treated very well, There are around 20 different breeds of horses on the island, including Percherons, Belgian Draft Horses, Welsh Cobs, and Haflinger Ponies.

Getting the lay-of-the-land. Only 8.2 miles around the circumference of the island.

Getting the lay-of-the-land. Only 8.2 miles around the circumference of the island.

Fort Mackinac is at the top of the hill

Fort Mackinac is at the top of the hill

The Pink Pony is evidently quite famous

The Pink Pony is evidently quite famous

The famous mural at the Pink Pony’s inside bar/stage

The famous mural at the Pink Pony’s inside bar/stage

Having one at the Pink Pony’s outside bar

Having one at the Pink Pony’s outside bar

Thousands of bikes and bike riders

Thousands of bikes and bike riders

The public library is beautiful and has a lovely outside readers deck overlooking the lake

The public library is beautiful and has a lovely outside readers deck overlooking the lake

Charming houses along every street

Charming houses along every street

The gardens are spectacular (check out the sign)

The gardens are spectacular (check out the sign)

Another beautiful home in front of the harbor

Another beautiful home in front of the harbor

We popped into the Mackinac Island Yacht Club for a beer….

We popped into the Mackinac Island Yacht Club for a beer….

…only to find out that there is no bar, just lockers where the members keep their alcohol and then serve themselves cocktails

…only to find out that there is no bar, just lockers where the members keep their alcohol and then serve themselves cocktails

Jim Fisher (of Mackinac Wheels) and Larry enjoy an 13 mile mountain bike ride all over the island (photo by Larry)

Jim Fisher (of Mackinac Wheels) and Larry enjoy an 13 mile mountain bike ride all over the island (photo by Larry)

The south view of the harbor from Fort Mackinac

The south view of the harbor from Fort Mackinac

The north view of the town from Fort Mackinac

The north view of the town from Fort Mackinac

At the fort with the Independence behind us in the harbor

At the fort with the Independence behind us in the harbor

A model of the Mackinac sailboat

A model of the Mackinac sailboat

Biking is a way of life on the island and has been for years

Biking is a way of life on the island and has been for years

Horses do all the work from street cleaning…..

Horses do all the work from street cleaning…..

…to hauling lumber (photo by Larry)

…to hauling lumber (photo by Larry)

The Grand Hotel is just that…very grand. Built in 1887 by the Grand Rapids, Indiana, Michigan Central railroads and the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company. The world’s largest summer hotel was built by Charles Caskey and his crew of three hundred carpenters in less than four months. (photo by Larry)

The Grand Hotel is just that…very grand. Built in 1887 by the Grand Rapids, Indiana, Michigan Central railroads and the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company. The world’s largest summer hotel was built by Charles Caskey and his crew of three hundred carpenters in less than four months. (photo by Larry)

In 1976, the owner of The Grand Hotel, Dan Musser, chose Carleton Varney president of the Dorothy Draper & Co. to redesign the hotel. He and his staff have designed all of the main rooms, plus the 397 guest rooms, where no two are alike. This is the main salon as you enter the hotel

In 1976, the owner of The Grand Hotel, Dan Musser, chose Carleton Varney president of the Dorothy Draper & Co. to redesign the hotel. He and his staff have designed all of the main rooms, plus the 397 guest rooms, where no two are alike. This is the main salon as you enter the hotel

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The Geranium Bar

The Geranium Bar

The view from The Gand’s famous wrap-around porch and their horse drawn carriage

The view from The Gand’s famous wrap-around porch and their horse drawn carriage

Larry and I enjoy a ‘Big Porch’ beer on the the big porch of The Grand Hotel. The longest porch in the world at 660 feet long bordered by their signature red geraniums . These flowers are deadheaded every two days and grown in a greenhouse on the hotel property.

Larry and I enjoy a ‘Big Porch’ beer on the the big porch of The Grand Hotel. The longest porch in the world at 660 feet long bordered by their signature red geraniums . These flowers are deadheaded every two days and grown in a greenhouse on the hotel property.

The lower gardens of the hotel were setting up for a celebration

The lower gardens of the hotel were setting up for a celebration

We assisted Dan Musser (the owner of The Grand Hotel) in securing his boat at the East Dock. She is 1953 Chris Craft called Marion Leigh. Tied up in front of the Independence

We assisted Dan Musser (the owner of The Grand Hotel) in securing his boat at the East Dock. She is 1953 Chris Craft called Marion Leigh. Tied up in front of the Independence

First stop on the bike ride around the island is at Arch Rock

First stop on the bike ride around the island is at Arch Rock

Fort Holmes is at the top of the island. This is a restoration. The original was built in 1812

Fort Holmes is at the top of the island. This is a restoration. The original was built in 1812

The Mackinac Island airport

The Mackinac Island airport

Stunning houses and gardens abound, like this one on the East Bluff

Stunning houses and gardens abound, like this one on the East Bluff

We stop to take a picture of ‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge. Built in 1957 it is the longest single-unit suspension bridge in the western hemisphere

We stop to take a picture of ‘Mighty Mac’ the Mackinac Bridge. Built in 1957 it is the longest single-unit suspension bridge in the western hemisphere

These grand houses on the West Bluff have water views of the Mackinac Bridge. The yellow home is called the Cairngrom. It is a Victorian Cottage built in 1888 up for sale for $6 Million

These grand houses on the West Bluff have water views of the Mackinac Bridge. The yellow home is called the Cairngrom. It is a Victorian Cottage built in 1888 up for sale for $6 Million

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Another West Bluff beautiful home

Another West Bluff beautiful home

Date night (photo by Owen)

Date night (photo by Owen)

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The dining room at The Grand Hotel can seat 1,000 for dinner. Men are required to wear a jacket and tie and women are required to wear a dress.

The dining room at The Grand Hotel can seat 1,000 for dinner. Men are required to wear a jacket and tie and women are required to wear a dress.

Larry looking sharp

Larry looking sharp

We round-out our island experience with a 18 hole putting course at MIssion Point. Owen won…sorry Larry!

We round-out our island experience with a 18 hole putting course at MIssion Point. Owen won…sorry Larry!

North Channel - Gore Bay, Croker Island (The Benjamins), Moffat Bay, Hilton Beach, ON to Sault Ste. Marie and Lake Superior, MI

Moving through the North Channel, which technically started at the Killarney lighthouse (photographed in the last post) toward Gore Bay we definitely notice the difference in landscape. There is a great deal of exposed quartz in some areas and the islands are much larger with fewer cottages. We depart LIttle Current without issue, as we have a nice end-tie and Larry is a pro now at getting off the dock sideways, even with a current pinning us in. We stop at a marina in Gore Bay (26NM) for the night and poke around the town. We find ‘Split Rail’ Brewery and have a nice frosty lager by the water and then a pizza dinner down the street that has a local guy playing the guitar. Cute town with a nice harbor. We move on toward The Benjamin Islands the next day. There are four islands that make up this group and most of them offer pretty scenery with pink granite, green pines and gorgeous sunsets. We pick a little pocket bay at Croker Island (14NM) and are the second to anchor in this area. Throughout the day more and more boats show up as it is the weekend and soon the little bay is packed. One sailing vessel arrives late in the day and basically anchors over our chain...we will use an anchor ball in the future. A pretty night with winds less than predicted is always nice. Up early the next morning we make a long run (8.5 hours) up the North Channel to an anchorage at St. Joseph Island in Moffat Bay (67NM). A perfect night at anchor without wind or anchor alarms. A quick hop around the corner to Hilton Beach (4NM) the following day to tie up in a marina as the winds are forecasted to pick up tonight. We wash down the boat which has been covered with bugs for weeks and when we are almost done I proceed to crush my fingers in the engine room door. A bit of a nervous moment but I quickly figured it was a flesh wound and with ice, ibuprofen and many band-aid and glove changes it will heal. We move up St. Joseph Channel to St. Mary’s River and reenter the US at Gore Kemp Marina in Sault Ste. Marie, MI (27NM) which means ‘the Rapids of St. Mary’s’ in French. Sault Ste. Marie is a city on the northeastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the Canada - U.S. border and separated from its twin city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, by the St. Mary’s River. The two cities are connected by the International Bridge. The area was first inhabited by Native American Ojibwe or Chippewa people who gathered in this area to fish for ‘white fish’ which were found in the rapids. Later the French Jesuits settled the city in 1668 making ‘The Soo’ the third oldest continuously inhabited city in the U.S. west of the Appalachian Mountains (the first is St. Augustine, FL followed by Jamestown, VA). Fur trapping and trading was the base of the economy then later a tannery, Fort Brady and shipping. The St. Mary's River was the only water connection between Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. However, there was a section of the river known as the St. Mary's Rapids where the water falls about 21' from the level of Lake Superior to the level of the lower lakes. This natural barrier made it necessary for the construction of the Sault Locks, a project known as the St. Mary's Falls Canal. The first lock was built in 1797, on the Canadian side, but was destroyed in the War of 1812. The United States built its first lock in 1855. Today there are 4 locks in use, continuously being visited by ships and tourists. Tourism is now the main source of income in ‘The Soo’. So we spread some tourist dollars at the local watering holes and meet some fabulous local people. This is a great town and we hate to leave but after provisioning and getting the Doherty’s back on board we head to the locks of Lake Superior. We can’t come this far to not ‘dip our toe’ (as Larry puts it) into all of the Great Lakes. We ‘up lock’ on the Canadian side where pleasure vessels can transit (the U.S. side is for commercial traffic). It is a slow, smooth fill and we tour Lake Superior for an hour then return to ‘down lock’ and head to an anchorage at Whiskey Bay, St. Joseph Island (52NM).

The big chair at Gore Bay, Ontario

The big chair at Gore Bay, Ontario

Split Rail brewing was started by Andrea and Eleanor in a garage on Manitoulin Island in 2010. Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island in the world. The brewery opened in Gore Bay in 2015. We enjoy a frosty Copper Lager by the water.

Split Rail brewing was started by Andrea and Eleanor in a garage on Manitoulin Island in 2010. Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island in the world. The brewery opened in Gore Bay in 2015. We enjoy a frosty Copper Lager by the water.

A nice dinner of salmon, corn and salad while anchored at Croker Island (The Benjamins). The sailboat in the background is almost over our anchor chain.

A nice dinner of salmon, corn and salad while anchored at Croker Island (The Benjamins). The sailboat in the background is almost over our anchor chain.

Sunset over The Benjamins, ON

Sunset over The Benjamins, ON

Note to self - make sure the engine room door is secure at all times…

Note to self - make sure the engine room door is secure at all times…

Sunset at Hilton Harbor Marina, Hilton Beach, ON

Sunset at Hilton Harbor Marina, Hilton Beach, ON

Sweet lighthouse along The St. Joseph Channel

Sweet lighthouse along The St. Joseph Channel

Larry replaced our Canadian courtesy flag with our Nordhavn 2,500 nautical mile pennant flag after re-entering the U.S. at Sault Ste. Marie, MI in the George Kemp marina.

Larry replaced our Canadian courtesy flag with our Nordhavn 2,500 nautical mile pennant flag after re-entering the U.S. at Sault Ste. Marie, MI in the George Kemp marina.

The Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa County Courthouse built in 1877

The Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa County Courthouse built in 1877

Excavation of the hydropower plant’s canal began in September 1898 and was completed in 1902.

Excavation of the hydropower plant’s canal began in September 1898 and was completed in 1902.

Concurrently, construction of the Edison Sault Electric Hydroelectric Plant began in March 1900 and was completed in 1902. Official opening of the facility was held on October 25, 1902. At the time of completion, the plant was second only to Niagara Falls in terms of hydro development

Concurrently, construction of the Edison Sault Electric Hydroelectric Plant began in March 1900 and was completed in 1902. Official opening of the facility was held on October 25, 1902. At the time of completion, the plant was second only to Niagara Falls in terms of hydro development

The canal and one of the bridges as it looks now

The canal and one of the bridges as it looks now

This crystal-clear blue water is moving toward the hydro electric power plant at about 8 knots or more

This crystal-clear blue water is moving toward the hydro electric power plant at about 8 knots or more

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald memorialized in this mural on ‘The Merch’ bars side wall. The manager at the bar relayed his memory of the day it sank back on November 10th, 1975

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald memorialized in this mural on ‘The Merch’ bars side wall. The manager at the bar relayed his memory of the day it sank back on November 10th, 1975

Love the old brick buildings of Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Love the old brick buildings of Sault Ste. Marie, MI

We enjoy a beer (or two) with our friend John at the ‘Downtowner’ bar. Thank you for your great hospitality John. We really enjoyed meeting you and the gang at the DT!

We enjoy a beer (or two) with our friend John at the ‘Downtowner’ bar. Thank you for your great hospitality John. We really enjoyed meeting you and the gang at the DT!

Up-locking on the Canadian side of Sault Ste. Marie, ON to Lake Superior

Up-locking on the Canadian side of Sault Ste. Marie, ON to Lake Superior

At the top of the lock…21 feet up

At the top of the lock…21 feet up

Going under the International Bridge to Lake Superior

Going under the International Bridge to Lake Superior

A short tour on the Greatest of Lakes…Lake Superior

A short tour on the Greatest of Lakes…Lake Superior

The largest steel plant in Canada sits near Sault Ste. Marie, ON

The largest steel plant in Canada sits near Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Beautiful old stone buildings sit beside the lock

Beautiful old stone buildings sit beside the lock

The gates shut as we ‘down lock’ on return from Lake Superior

The gates shut as we ‘down lock’ on return from Lake Superior

Exiting the lock as we head back down St. Mary’s River

Exiting the lock as we head back down St. Mary’s River

Long Bay to Maskinonge Island, Mill Lake, Killarney, Frazer Bay and Little Current, ON

We depart Parry Sound on a clear morning and continue to move north up Georgian Bay a short distance to Long Bay right above Narrows Island (18NM). The bay is rather narrow itself but the cottage we are anchored in front of and near to, is not occupied and after an hour with no one telling us to move we decide to stay. It is a sunny afternoon and we take the tender out for a drive. We explore some of the granite outcroppings and are surprised by a water snake bringing a large fish he caught up on to shore. We watch as the snake struggles to get the fish into position to devour it when Larry makes mention of a stealthy black mink running up right behind us (literally less than a foot away) and toward the snake. The snake is gone in a flash, the mink dashes into the brush and the fish swims away, happy not be eaten for dinner. Too bad I didn’t have my camera-phone to document this moment of nature that took place in less than 60 seconds. Back on board the boat that evening the water in the little bay is like glass and we are entertained by a water skier slaloming in and out of the skinny bay right in front of the boat. The next day is looking a little overcast and by the time we pull anchor it is getting a bit windy. As we head toward Shawanaga Inlet the rain starts up and then the wind is soon to follow. We duck into a cove and lay the anchor next to Maskinonge Island (10NM). A nice anchorage that is protected from the wind. We dry off and spend the night there. An uneventful evening with exception of another ‘friendly local’ buzzing our boat in his skiff at 2:15AM yelling “Have a good sleep!”. With the sun shining the next day we prepare ourselves for the narrow exit by Pointe au Baril and out to Lake Huron. Larry waxes the boat and I watch the helm while we make the four hour cruise. We enter Beaverstone Bay and place a securite call as we start north up the Collins Inlet. This inlet is another very narrow and very shallow cut with a major blind turn. After you make the turn you can breath again and enjoy the gorgeous views. Smooth granite rocks plunge into a channel that is lined with dark green pines and birch trees. It smells like the forest. We think how lucky we are to be able to do this passage, if it was not for this years high water (3 extra feet) we would not have had the clearance. We anchor in Mill Lake off Collins Inlet (50NM) and stay for two nights as there is foul weather predicted for the next day. Well, I am thankful we stayed. The wind was up most of the day and at 3:00PM a squall came through with winds up to 40 knots. You could feel our 90,000 pound boat heal over in the wind and strain against the chain. By the time I gathered our foul weather gear to prep for the worst the winds passed and the water was flat. I am so relieved that our anchor held...that was a little scary. The following day is gorgeous and we continue up Collins Inlet through a few narrow passages to Killarney (12NM). A very busy port/channel town with marinas on both sides and boats criss-crossing the channel at all angles. We figure out we are across the channel from the main marina on the St. George Island side and squeeze into our spot. Sportsman’s Inn Marina is huge and owns most of the land and resorts in this town. They have two full marinas and a huge lodge with bars, restaurants, a swimming pool and a new $18 million event center lodge. That evening we make friends with Willy who runs a little oyster/seafood shack in front of the marina and it turns out he is involved with a company that makes Tequila...what are the chances!!! Nice guy and he makes great jambalaya with fresh shrimp. We continue our tour of this little town and finish up our culinary ‘musts’ with a stop at Herbert Fisheries for some of their famous fish and chips. I could leave the chips but the fish was amazing. Barely battered and cooked quickly and lightly. Definitely the best I have ever had. We enter the North Channel toward Frazer Bay the next day (38NM). It is a very pretty and narrow bay with few anchorages. We duck into a couple that are either too deep or already filled and then finally choose one we think will work. We put the tender in the water and explore the end of the bay where you park and walk up a little path to Topaz Lake. Very pretty...just too many people. We tour around a bit more and when the wind kicks up we run back to the boat and quickly stow the tender. We end up pulling the anchor and backtracking out of Frazer Bay to a shallow spot across from the mouth. Good idea, as it was nice and calm all night. A quick transit the next day in gorgeous weather brings us through a swing bridge to Little Current (11NM). We do a bit of provisioning and check out the town which is small and quaint and enjoy the comforts of a ‘marina’ night as we have a few more anchor nights ahead.

Independence anchored at Long Bay

Independence anchored at Long Bay

A perfect night to water ski on Long Bay

A perfect night to water ski on Long Bay

Sweet summer sunset at 9:00PM

Sweet summer sunset at 9:00PM

Leaving the shallows at Pointe au Baril for a transit on Lake Huron

Leaving the shallows at Pointe au Baril for a transit on Lake Huron

Pointe au Baril, french for ‘Barrel on the point’ was given this name back in the 1870’s when a lost whiskey barrel was found and subsequently ‘drained’ by thirsty fisherman at this point. To give thanks they later placed a lantern in the barrel to act as a beacon providing safe entry into this narrow inlet.

Pointe au Baril, french for ‘Barrel on the point’ was given this name back in the 1870’s when a lost whiskey barrel was found and subsequently ‘drained’ by thirsty fisherman at this point. To give thanks they later placed a lantern in the barrel to act as a beacon providing safe entry into this narrow inlet.

Just a casual anchor-out dinner at Mill Lake of barbeque lamb chops, green salad and baked potato

Just a casual anchor-out dinner at Mill Lake of barbeque lamb chops, green salad and baked potato

The Mill Lake sunset

The Mill Lake sunset

This was quite an afternoon squall while anchored at MIll Lake. We looked up the wind speed and it was reported to be 40 knots. Picture by Larry McCullough (some of us were too busy running around prepping the foul weather gear to think about taking a photo!!!)

This was quite an afternoon squall while anchored at MIll Lake. We looked up the wind speed and it was reported to be 40 knots. Picture by Larry McCullough (some of us were too busy running around prepping the foul weather gear to think about taking a photo!!!)

The squall only lasted 20 minutes but it sure felt longer. Picture by Larry McCullough

The squall only lasted 20 minutes but it sure felt longer. Picture by Larry McCullough

Day two of Collins Inlet…a gorgeous day

Day two of Collins Inlet…a gorgeous day

Pink granite walls

Pink granite walls

Pine trees and birch trees cling to the granite

Pine trees and birch trees cling to the granite

A pretty passage on Collins Inlet

A pretty passage on Collins Inlet

Killarney harbor

Killarney harbor

One of the Sportsman’s Inn Marinas

One of the Sportsman’s Inn Marinas

Independence squeezed into her birth across the channel at St. George Island

Independence squeezed into her birth across the channel at St. George Island

One of the Sportsman’s Inn Lodges

One of the Sportsman’s Inn Lodges

The main Sportsman’s Lodge with the seaplane and full resort amenities

The main Sportsman’s Lodge with the seaplane and full resort amenities

The view from the Sportsman’s Inn Lodge Resort

The view from the Sportsman’s Inn Lodge Resort

This is the entry to Killarney

This is the entry to Killarney

The $18 million event center lodge at Sportsman’s - love the ‘prop’ fan

The $18 million event center lodge at Sportsman’s - love the ‘prop’ fan

The view from the deck at the event center

The view from the deck at the event center

The Oyster Shack owner’s tequila…quite good

The Oyster Shack owner’s tequila…quite good

The famous Herbert Fisheries fish and chip shop

The famous Herbert Fisheries fish and chip shop

Order up! We shared an Adult Fish and Chip Meal

Order up! We shared an Adult Fish and Chip Meal

Great fish and chips and a nice local pilsner

Great fish and chips and a nice local pilsner

Independence anchored in Frazer Bay…temporarily

Independence anchored in Frazer Bay…temporarily

The hike up to Topaz Lake

The hike up to Topaz Lake

The swing bridge opens on the hour and is right in front of Little Current

The swing bridge opens on the hour and is right in front of Little Current

I am stealing this name for my next boat…(it reads Pub Trawler). We saw her in Killarney and again at LIttle Current. Perhaps we will meet the owner some day…in a pub!

I am stealing this name for my next boat…(it reads Pub Trawler). We saw her in Killarney and again at LIttle Current. Perhaps we will meet the owner some day…in a pub!

Georgian Bay anchorages to Parry Sound, ON

I am so happy to be back on the Independence. Larry was so sweet to pick me up at the Toronto airport and sit in a total of four hours worth of traffic. Midland Bay is beautiful and hot! They are experiencing a heat wave and it is easily 30 degrees warmer here than when I left San Francisco, spiking today in Midland at 87 F. We spend the next day at Bay Port Marina provisioning and doing odd jobs to get ready for a few days at anchor in Georgian Bay ‘land of 30,000 islands’ (Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada). Larry is fortunate to get some time with Ken McDonald the harbor master and former owner of the marina. Ken is a great wealth of local knowledge and that is very important in these parts, as well as having detailed electronic navigational charts and paper charts. The next day we depart from Midland Bay and get our first taste of some of these super-narrow channels/cuts that head up to the pretty island-filled pockets. The channel is maybe twenty-five feet wide and maybe that deep. We are about to enter this cut after waiting patiently for an opposing sailboat to clear. As we enter, we are flat-out shocked to see a group of five boats quickly rounding the sharp elbow of the cut in the opposite direction. We are certain they will back down on their speed as we have already entered the one-way channel but no, they just barrel right on toward us making us back out of the channel. Wow, not the best boating etiquette or safety performed by these ‘locals’ but a true testimony to Larry’s incredible boat handling skills. After collecting ourselves we proceed on toward a bay that we have been told is great for anchoring. We arrive at Browns Bay (14NM) and anchor more than 200 yards from shore. As we anchor we hear a child scream “Go away!”. We don’t. The anchorage is lovely and we are not surprised when we are joined by another boat. They are ready to put down their anchor when a woman from a cottage on shore screams “No!” and her husband races out in their aluminum skiff to chase the boat out of the cove. He comes to our boat and tells us that we can’t anchor here that it is a navigable channel. Well, we know this is not true from our charts and stand our ‘ground’ and have a lovely night in the gorgeous little cove. The next day we navigate a few more cuts, this time without incident. We anchor near the top of 12 Mile Bay (21NM) and are greeted, this time, by a friendly ‘cottager’ on his seadoo welcoming us to the area. How nice after the previous night! Our transit to the top of Spider Bay is a shorter day in mostly deeper water with a few skinny spots and some chart watching (16NM). After anchoring we hop into the tender for a dinner cruise to Henry’s. A must if you are in the vicinity as it said to have great fish - and it does. The real skinny stuff comes into play the next day as we head toward Parry Sound. Larry squeaks us through several cuts that are no more than 22 feet wide and 13 feet deep as they twist and turn through glacier carved granite. We play it safe and announce ‘securite’ calls on the VHF radio so that opposing boat traffic will know we are in these channels. We are very happy when we make it to the swing bridge at Parry Sound (13NM). We dock at the Big Sound Marina and walk into town. The history here at Parry Sound is all about logging and the future is all about tourism. The marinas are full, cruise boats are packed and the Georgian Bay Airways seaplane charter and tour company is doing a brisk business as their planes lift off all afternoon. We walk over to the new Trestle Brewery and enjoy some cold ones and then have a final, final at the Wellington, which is worth a visit just to take a peek at their old photos - a great glimpse into old Parry Sound’s past.

Little Cottages like this are on almost every one of the 30,000 islands in Georgian Bay

Little Cottages like this are on almost every one of the 30,000 islands in Georgian Bay

If you don’t follow the channel markers in these cuts you will run your boat aground onto granite rocks

If you don’t follow the channel markers in these cuts you will run your boat aground onto granite rocks

Exiting one of the cuts

Exiting one of the cuts

The granite shallows

The granite shallows

Anchored toward the top of 12 Mile Bay

Anchored toward the top of 12 Mile Bay

Seeing the sites in the tender

Seeing the sites in the tender

This is how you get to the grocery store

This is how you get to the grocery store

Heading back up 12 Mile Bay

Heading back up 12 Mile Bay

Anchored at the top of Spider Bay

Anchored at the top of Spider Bay

Just a joke on our little cruise to dinner

Just a joke on our little cruise to dinner

Henry’s fish house…on an island all its own called Frying Pan Island

Henry’s fish house…on an island all its own called Frying Pan Island

Pickerel with basmati rice and Steam Whistle Beer…we visited the brewery in Toronto

Pickerel with basmati rice and Steam Whistle Beer…we visited the brewery in Toronto

Some folks take the plane to dinner…

Some folks take the plane to dinner…

Nice day to get into some skinny water

Nice day to get into some skinny water

Cute little cottages everywhere

Cute little cottages everywhere

Entering the skinny cuts

Entering the skinny cuts

Looking aft at the channel markers…we came through that small cut in the distance

Looking aft at the channel markers…we came through that small cut in the distance

Perhaps you get the idea of how narrow it is now…

Perhaps you get the idea of how narrow it is now…

Don’t forget…red, right, returning

Don’t forget…red, right, returning

There were quite a few slim channels today followed by blind turns like the one ahead

There were quite a few slim channels today followed by blind turns like the one ahead

Finally the swing bridge the leads to Parry Sound

Finally the swing bridge the leads to Parry Sound

Parry Sound Georgian Bay Airways

Parry Sound Georgian Bay Airways

A Trestle Beer in front of the trestle while you await your seaplane tour

A Trestle Beer in front of the trestle while you await your seaplane tour

Parry Sound was all about logging back in the day

Parry Sound was all about logging back in the day

Had to check out the new Trestle Brewing Company

Had to check out the new Trestle Brewing Company

Great beer and my sushi salad was really tasty too…Larry’s ‘Dirty Bird’ sando was a bit spicy for him.

Great beer and my sushi salad was really tasty too…Larry’s ‘Dirty Bird’ sando was a bit spicy for him.

Trestle Brewery has a nice beer garden.  This was a three-point toss - no kidding!

Trestle Brewery has a nice beer garden. This was a three-point toss - no kidding!

The old court house had a second floor courtroom and main floor jail.

The old court house had a second floor courtroom and main floor jail.

Check out the old photos in the Wellington Pub

Check out the old photos in the Wellington Pub

This is our itinerary!  Not sure about that ‘Venice of America’ part …

This is our itinerary! Not sure about that ‘Venice of America’ part …

Pretty sunset over Georgian Bay

Pretty sunset over Georgian Bay

Port Huron, MI, Goderich, ON Canada, Elgin Harbor, Tobermory, Lion's Head, Beckwith Island to Midland Bay

Larry and the crew left Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, MI and headed North up Lake St. Clair to enter the St. Clair River. The west side of the river is Michigan and the east side is Ontario, Canada. He fought a current of 4 knots the entire way to Port Huron, MI (41NM). The next day Independence entered Lake Huron and docked at Goderich, Ontario Canada (49NM). From Goderich to Elgin Harbor was 51NM and from Elgin Harbor to Tobermory was 52NM in 3 to 4 foot seas with a 7 knot wind. Luckily Larry had fixed a glitch with the stabilizers the prior day and they performed perfectly for this rough transit. The following day brought them to Lion’s Head (33NM) where they spent an extra day due to wind but that allowed Larry to get in a 22 mile mountain bike ride. After transiting from Lion’s Head to Beckwith Island (48NM) they anchored for the evening. Finally, arriving at Midland Bay (18NM), outside Toronto (2 hours plus drive in traffic - both ways for poor Larry). As ships pass in the night, the Doherty’s left the boat to check on their home in Virginia and I returned to the boat. I missed 292 nautical miles and am sorry not to be more descriptive in this post...but what can I do....make up for it in the next post!

How to deal with rude boaters and high water along the St. Clair River. Photo by Larry McCullough

How to deal with rude boaters and high water along the St. Clair River. Photo by Larry McCullough

Farm land along the St. Clair Fiver. Photo by Larry McCullough

Farm land along the St. Clair Fiver. Photo by Larry McCullough

U.S. Border Patrol along the St. Clair River. Photo by Larry McCullough

U.S. Border Patrol along the St. Clair River. Photo by Larry McCullough

Tobermory docks. Photo by Larry McCullough

Tobermory docks. Photo by Larry McCullough

Independence at Tobermory. Photo by Larry McCullough

Independence at Tobermory. Photo by Larry McCullough

The Car & Passenger Ferry at Tobermory. Photo by Larry McCullough

The Car & Passenger Ferry at Tobermory. Photo by Larry McCullough

Tobermory. Photo by Larry McCullough

Tobermory. Photo by Larry McCullough

Cabot Head Point leaving Tobermory for Lion’s Head. Photo by Larry McCullough

Cabot Head Point leaving Tobermory for Lion’s Head. Photo by Larry McCullough

Independence docked at Lion’s Head. Photo by Larry McCullough

Independence docked at Lion’s Head. Photo by Larry McCullough

Sunset at Lion’s Head. Photo by Larry McCullough

Sunset at Lion’s Head. Photo by Larry McCullough

Sandusky, OH, (via Detroit, MI) Grosse Ile, MI to Grosse Pointe, MI

It was a nice cruise on Lake Erie from Cleveland to Sandusky, OH (46 NM). The Yacht club was a pleasant place to stay for a couple days and allowed us to get a few chores done and bike around town. The best part of Sandusky was getting a visit from my Sister JIll and her hubby, Bill. So fun to bar-hop about town and have them aboard for the night. We were actually able to take Jill on a cruise to Grosse Ile (45 NM) while Bill drove to meet us. We cruised by the pretty Put-In-Bay and regretted the bad weather day that kept us from spending time there. The Ford Yacht Club at Grosse Ile (French for ‘Large Island’) was dealing with very high water due to the previous days wind but a nice place to spend an evening. We say goodbye to my family and push on the next day to the Grosse Pointe, MI (29 NM). A nice uneventful cruise up the Detroit River in 2 to 4 knot currents as we pass by the Detroit waterfront and into Lake St. Clair. We now understand that if fate delivers us a lovely cruise day, we are typically met with some bizarre issues or challenges in our final minutes of approach to our slip (or well). On this occasion, right as we are preparing to pull into the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (in a shallow channel) we are buzzed by a coast guard helicopter three times and then approached by the ‘Michigan Conservation Officers’. Three officers in a 14-boat aluminum skiff in bullet proof vests and side arms. After retreating to deeper water to deal with our new friends (who are really game wardens certainly not Coast Guard as their job is to enforce environmental laws and not boat registration) we are released and resume our approach to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. The club is beautiful and the town is filled with gorgeous, stately, old brick homes. Larry and I cruise (in our rental car) over to St. Clair Shores and visit a few of the local boat-up bars. Our favorite was Mike’s on The Water a multi-level bar and restaurant right on Lake St. Clair. It’s a shame I have to fly back home tomorrow, as I would have loved to spend a little more time in this charming area. I will be off the boat for eight days. I am sorry to miss any part of our trip but duty calls. I only hope the Captain takes good notes and photos for his next web post on the Independence Chronicles.

Post Card Mural of Sandusky

Post Card Mural of Sandusky

Somebody really gets out every day and changes the date!!! Larry with Jill and Bill Gilmore

Somebody really gets out every day and changes the date!!! Larry with Jill and Bill Gilmore

The ‘Boy with the Leaky Boot’ Fountain…no idea what the significance is…

The ‘Boy with the Leaky Boot’ Fountain…no idea what the significance is…

The museum was closed….photo courtesy of Bill Gilmore

The museum was closed….photo courtesy of Bill Gilmore

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Sisters…Jamie and Jill (Williams)

Sisters…Jamie and Jill (Williams)

Horsing-around at the Merry-Go-Round Museum…

Horsing-around at the Merry-Go-Round Museum…

Pretty sunset over Lake Erie

Pretty sunset over Lake Erie

Leaving Sandusky

Leaving Sandusky

Bill Gilmore wading out to guide us into our flooded ‘well’ (that’s what they call slips here) at the Ford Yacht Club in Grosse Ile.

Bill Gilmore wading out to guide us into our flooded ‘well’ (that’s what they call slips here) at the Ford Yacht Club in Grosse Ile.

No we did not use shore power that day. Photo by Larry McCullough

No we did not use shore power that day. Photo by Larry McCullough

Larry gets creative in dealing with the high-water levels. Photo by Larry McCullough

Larry gets creative in dealing with the high-water levels. Photo by Larry McCullough

International Bridge greats us as we enter the Detroit Harbor

International Bridge greats us as we enter the Detroit Harbor

Detroit waterfront

Detroit waterfront

Grosse Pointe Yacht Club

Grosse Pointe Yacht Club

GPYC sculpture

GPYC sculpture

GPYC Grand Dining Room

GPYC Grand Dining Room

GPYC even has a bowling alley (not to mention a pool too!)

GPYC even has a bowling alley (not to mention a pool too!)

The menu at Mikes on the Water in St. Clair Shores

The menu at Mikes on the Water in St. Clair Shores

Mike…and friends

Mike…and friends

The rooftop bar at Mike’s on the Water

The rooftop bar at Mike’s on the Water

Cleveland, OH (via Dunkirk, NY, Erie, PA and Mentor, OH)

After three days transit (23NM to Dunkirk, 50NM to Erie and 67NM to Mentor) we land in Cleveland, OH (20NM). This is a great city and our three nights here just scratch the surface. We are docked at the North Coast Harbor Marina right in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Hall is an amazing collection of historical memorabilia, vidoes, educational information and a garage band performance space which any ticket holder can use…guitars, drums, amps all set-up and ready to go. The Hall’s building was designed by architect I.M. Pei in 1988, who also designed the Louvre pyramid. We were sad to hear he just passed away on May 17th, 2019. Pei was 102! A walking tour of the city takes us along the preparations for the Major League Baseball All Star Game, which is next week. The downtown is buzzing with activity and road closures but we find our way to the architectural gems, the Warehouse District, the sweet bars and the friendly people of this city. The following day is the fourth of July and when the rain breaks we jump in the tender and head to The Flats. A collection of brew pubs, bars and restaurants where we are obligated to have a few beers and then do a slow cruise along the back waters of the Cuyahoga River. We return to the safety of the Independence, as all sane boaters know how crazy this holiday can be. We barbeque and watch the fireworks and are thankful for this great country we live in.

The entry to North Coast Harbor Marina…what a nice view.

The entry to North Coast Harbor Marina…what a nice view.

The Independence crew and captain in front of the Cleveland syk line

The Independence crew and captain in front of the Cleveland syk line

Just a little history

Just a little history

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…I have the sign all to myself!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…I have the sign all to myself!

We spent about four hours in the RRHoF…amazing amount of information and memorabilia

We spent about four hours in the RRHoF…amazing amount of information and memorabilia

Alas, sweet Prince. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Alas, sweet Prince. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Fountain of Eternal Life, also known as the War Memeorial Fountain.

Fountain of Eternal Life, also known as the War Memeorial Fountain.

Terminal Tower is a 52-stories and built in 1930.

Terminal Tower is a 52-stories and built in 1930.

The Sailors and Soldiers Monument is absolutely amazing. Each of the four edges depict battle scenes from the Navy, Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry. The column is topped with a statue of the Goddess of Freedom, defended by the Shield of Liberty. Built in 1894

The Sailors and Soldiers Monument is absolutely amazing. Each of the four edges depict battle scenes from the Navy, Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry. The column is topped with a statue of the Goddess of Freedom, defended by the Shield of Liberty. Built in 1894

Surprise…we had a beer at the ‘Nauti Mermaid’

Surprise…we had a beer at the ‘Nauti Mermaid’

Enjoying the architecture of the Cleveland Warehouse District

Enjoying the architecture of the Cleveland Warehouse District

The Warehouse District leads downhill to The Flats with some great architecture

The Warehouse District leads downhill to The Flats with some great architecture

A Fourth of July tender ride to The Flats in between rain squalls. Photo courtesy Owen Doherty

A Fourth of July tender ride to The Flats in between rain squalls. Photo courtesy Owen Doherty

The Flats on the Cuyahoga River…a great place to go for jog and later to grab a cold one

The Flats on the Cuyahoga River…a great place to go for jog and later to grab a cold one

A tender ride along the Cuyahoga River. In the land of bridges..two Railroad elevator bridges

A tender ride along the Cuyahoga River. In the land of bridges..two Railroad elevator bridges

They may have a few years on them but these tugs are still in service

They may have a few years on them but these tugs are still in service

The old railroad elevator bridge, fire boat and fire house along the river

The old railroad elevator bridge, fire boat and fire house along the river

Back at the North Coast Harbor Marina on the night of the fourth of July with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dressed in Red and the Terminal Tower in Red White and Blue

Back at the North Coast Harbor Marina on the night of the fourth of July with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dressed in Red and the Terminal Tower in Red White and Blue

Wow, a front row seat for the fireworks. Happy 4th of July!

Wow, a front row seat for the fireworks. Happy 4th of July!

The Welland! St. Catharines, ON, Port Colborne, ON

After a beautiful crossing on Lake Ontario we arrive at St. Catharines, ON Canada (26NM). We now kibitz amongst ourselves about the Welland Canal. It is absolutely ridiculous how little information is available. We have paid our $200 transit fee and run through every on-line site for additional information on how to proceed through this series of locks which lift you from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. These locks are a bit more intimidating as they convey freighters. The commercial traffic has priority and so you never know when you will be able to enter a lock. There are eight locks and generally all are 40 foot up-locks. A little area familiarization is called for so we check out Lock 1 after dinner and see a few sailboats passing through but still have so many questions. We put the questions on hold for an afternoon and rent a car to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and the beautiful little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Their flower budget must be astronomical as I have never seen such a manicured town in my life. After a nice lunch we are back to solving the Welland Canal Conundrum and we drop by the Lock 3 Museum and Visitors Center. We are directed at this time to the St. Lawrence Seaway Administrative Building which of course will not allow you in the building with out an appointment. Larry finally kicks it old school by using the boats VHF radio to hail Lock one and ask them for a phone number to get further information. This gets us the info we need, however it may not be info we want. We are told we have to enter the Welland Canal and tie up to the port wall where there is a phone booth…YES…I just wrote the words ‘phone booth’, You use this phone to contact the lock masters which will let you know what time you can expect your opening. We depart bright and early the next morning and after making the call we get an opening in 20 minutes (could have been hours!). We hop to it and set our fenders and lines, don our life vests and gloves. Lock one does not present huge issues but is a bit bouncy at times. We are just happy to be on our way. It is not a fast trip by any means but considering we were thinking this might take hours if not days, we are thrilled to be allowed into each of the eight locks with out much delay. The summer interns are delightful and the lock masters are very efficient. You must consider the immense size of these locks that fill with 20 million gallons of water with in 20 minutes. They are meant for huge cargo vessels and we are the little boat in a very large bath tub. We really have to prove ourselves in the ‘stair-case’ locks. Locks 5, 6 and 7 that lead one into another. No break, grab your lines that are thrown down 40 plus feet and hang on for the ride. Lock 7 is the craziest, as it fools us with a slow fill and then turns into a tempests boil, driving us from wall and almost wrenching the lines from our hands. The adrenaline subsides as we get a rest before the last lock and before you know it (ok…eight hours later) we are done with the locks and at the mouth of Lake Erie (26NM). It has been another epic day. I can’t aptly describe how such a slow motion journey can turn into such a thrill ride at a moments notice but I am just happy to be writing about it on the flip side, healthy, everything in one piece with a cold beer in my hand. Please check out Larry’s video of Lock 2 and 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kLCofipudk&feature=youtu.be

Entering the very shallow, little marina at St. Catharine, ON

Entering the very shallow, little marina at St. Catharine, ON

Checking out Lock One on the Welland Canal…trying to get a feel for the process. Notice the ship in the distance that just exited the lock.

Checking out Lock One on the Welland Canal…trying to get a feel for the process. Notice the ship in the distance that just exited the lock.

The lock one bridge goes up to let the boats pass after up-locking

The lock one bridge goes up to let the boats pass after up-locking

This sailboat is just starting her journey of eight locks

This sailboat is just starting her journey of eight locks

The U.S. side of Niagara Falls…American Falls

The U.S. side of Niagara Falls…American Falls

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls are magnificent but the sound is really what gets you

Horseshoe Falls are magnificent but the sound is really what gets you

The pretty little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

The pretty little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

The Prince of Whales Hotel built in 1864

The Prince of Whales Hotel built in 1864

The Niagara Apothecary dates to 1866

The Niagara Apothecary dates to 1866

Yes…that jar says Leeches

Yes…that jar says Leeches

The Lock Three Visitors Center

The Lock Three Visitors Center

Entering the Welland Canal

Entering the Welland Canal

Lock One

Lock One

Maggie and Owen take a break before Lock Two

Maggie and Owen take a break before Lock Two

Preparing to enter the Stair-Case Locks of 5, 6 and 7

Preparing to enter the Stair-Case Locks of 5, 6 and 7

The massive hydraulic suction cups used to keep the freighters stationary while up or down locking

The massive hydraulic suction cups used to keep the freighters stationary while up or down locking

Inside Lock Six preparing to grab the lines the lock masters through down to you

Inside Lock Six preparing to grab the lines the lock masters through down to you

The water boils up from massive valves below the hull of the boat

The water boils up from massive valves below the hull of the boat

Lock Seven, the calm before the storm

Lock Seven, the calm before the storm

After the crazy experience of Lock Seven is contained (FYI - that line should not be that tight or that far from the wall) I get a chance to get a photo of the nice interns that helped us during Locks Two through Seven.

After the crazy experience of Lock Seven is contained (FYI - that line should not be that tight or that far from the wall) I get a chance to get a photo of the nice interns that helped us during Locks Two through Seven.

This is the normal size of traffic on the Welland Canal

This is the normal size of traffic on the Welland Canal

The end of the Welland Canal…the last elevator bridge and the marina is in site…and so is my beer.

The end of the Welland Canal…the last elevator bridge and the marina is in site…and so is my beer.

The Welland Canal and its locks

The Welland Canal and its locks

Toronto, ON

Ok…I was thinking that the New York Harbor was busy. Well let me make note that the Toronto harbor is definitely a runner-up for winning the award for busiest harbor. We pull into the harbor after a nice cruise on Lake Ontario (56NM) to find tall ship cruises, water taxi’s, ferry’s, and small pleasure crafts all out for a summers’ jaunt, along with planes landing at the local airport…talk about sensory overload. We are thankful to dock at a waterfront marina without incident (right in front of a local brewery!) and head out to explore this amazing city. Larry and I tour the CN Tower on this gorgeous day, so high above the city it is breath taking. We even spot our next place to have a cold one…at the Roundhouse historic railroad outdoor museum. The Canadian Pacific Railway originally built these stations in 1897 to clean, inspect and repair steam rail cars and engines, then turn them back to rotation for their next run. Now it is an outdoor museum, restaurant and brewery. Toronto is one of the most diverse cities I have experienced. To hear 10 different languages as you transit from one spot to another is nothing…they are truly multicultural. The Pride celebration was in full swing as we walked around town and culminated with a multitude of choral performances held right at the waterfront. What an amazing day. The following day we make it past the waterfront and Roundhouse Park to the Distillery Historic District, back tracking through Old Town and the Financial District to the trendy North York and back to the waterfront. A most successful, but too brief visit, we head toward our next adventure…The Welland Canal.

Hello Toronto

Hello Toronto

How did I manage to get a picture with out a boat or ferry or plane?…impossible!

How did I manage to get a picture with out a boat or ferry or plane?…impossible!

Water front docking right in front of the Amsterdam Brewery

Water front docking right in front of the Amsterdam Brewery

Thanks to dock master Maurice Landry, who took this great image of the Independence at her posh spot in front of the Toronto city skyline.

Thanks to dock master Maurice Landry, who took this great image of the Independence at her posh spot in front of the Toronto city skyline.

The CN Tower

The CN Tower

Views from the tower

Views from the tower

Buildings forever….

Buildings forever….

The local airport and the channel we will use to exit Toronto

The local airport and the channel we will use to exit Toronto

The Roundhouse from above and the Independence in front of the second tower to the right

The Roundhouse from above and the Independence in front of the second tower to the right

The channel we transited coming in from Lake Ontario to the city front

The channel we transited coming in from Lake Ontario to the city front

Pride and diversity in the CN Tower

Pride and diversity in the CN Tower

The Roundhouse Railroad Museum

The Roundhouse Railroad Museum

Larry checks on the Plymouth Cordage Compressed Air Locomotive, built in 1906

Larry checks on the Plymouth Cordage Compressed Air Locomotive, built in 1906

The Roundhouse stations and historic trains and cranes

The Roundhouse stations and historic trains and cranes

Had to have a beer at the Steam Whistle Biergarten

Had to have a beer at the Steam Whistle Biergarten

A choral concert at the waterfront at twilight

A choral concert at the waterfront at twilight

The Italian Chorus was my favorite

The Italian Chorus was my favorite

The Hockey Hall of Fame in the Financial District

The Hockey Hall of Fame in the Financial District

The backside of the flat-iron building

The backside of the flat-iron building

The older buildings in the Historic Distillery District

The older buildings in the Historic Distillery District

The front of the Gooderham Flatiron Building built back in 1892

The front of the Gooderham Flatiron Building built back in 1892

Toronto City Hall as seen from the Financial District

Toronto City Hall as seen from the Financial District

The Toronto City Hall

The Toronto City Hall

These sandstone carvings look so similar to the carvings in the Albany NY City Hall

These sandstone carvings look so similar to the carvings in the Albany NY City Hall

The Raptors won for sure…

The Raptors won for sure…

Fell in love with this mural

Fell in love with this mural

Bye, bye Toronto…hope to be back some day.

Bye, bye Toronto…hope to be back some day.

Canada! Kingston, ON, Cobourg, ON

We depart Thousand Islands, Clayton, NY on a the first day of summer, met by a mix of cloud and sun. Larry takes us on a horseshoe-shaped cruise past the many beautiful islands, lighthouses, bridges, the old Boldt Castle and through skinny channels leading to the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands. We are able to register via mobile phone with Canadian immigration (thank you Owen) and get a virtual stamp in our pass ports. Our first port of call in Canada is Kingston, Ontario (38NM). We are unable to stay at the municipal marina as they are also dealing with high water issues so we anchor in a gorgeous little bay and get the tender in the water to see Kingston. What a vibrant city filled with university students and plenty of others enjoying this gorgeous first day of summer. The next day we make a smooth trip on Lake Ontario to Cobourg (56NM). Great weather and a pretty place to stop for the evening. Cobourg was founded in 1817 and was a successful port town which expanded to build an ill-fated railroad. As one historical placard read, ‘…the 1852-1898 Cobourg and Peterborough Railway like many others of this period suffered from excessive optimism, land speculation and faulty engineering…’ and contributed to the financial hardships of Cobourg during the late 1800’s. Climbing out of this financial hole by way of industry during the early 1900’s, Cobourg was especially known for building electric railway cars for Toronto and Montreal. We depart Cobourg for Toronto in the morning and are excited to spend some time in the big city.

Boldt Castle in the St. Lawrence River built in the 1900’s. Originally owned by George Boldt. Built for his wife who died before the castles completion in 1904 the property stood unfinished until purchased for $1.00 in 1977 by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority who renovated it for $15 million.

Boldt Castle in the St. Lawrence River built in the 1900’s. Originally owned by George Boldt. Built for his wife who died before the castles completion in 1904 the property stood unfinished until purchased for $1.00 in 1977 by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority who renovated it for $15 million.

Entering International waters as we pass under the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands Bridge

Entering International waters as we pass under the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands Bridge

Clear waters and fly fishing

Clear waters and fly fishing

Skinny channels and strong currents

Skinny channels and strong currents

Hoisting our International Canadian Courtesy flag. Photo Owen Doherty

Hoisting our International Canadian Courtesy flag. Photo Owen Doherty

Anchored at Kingston, ON. Maggie and Owen on the tender heading to the city.

Anchored at Kingston, ON. Maggie and Owen on the tender heading to the city.

The Prince George Hotel in Kingston

The Prince George Hotel in Kingston

Kingston City Hall built in 1843

Kingston City Hall built in 1843

A busy first day of summer on a roof-top restaurant over looking the Kingston City Hall

A busy first day of summer on a roof-top restaurant over looking the Kingston City Hall

Beautiful stone churches

Beautiful stone churches

Interesting architecture everywhere in Kingston

Interesting architecture everywhere in Kingston

Celebrating Summer Solstice with a swim. Photo Larry McCullough

Celebrating Summer Solstice with a swim. Photo Larry McCullough

Cheers! Here’s to Summer!!!

Cheers! Here’s to Summer!!!

The first summer sunset at anchor in Kingston, ON

The first summer sunset at anchor in Kingston, ON

Cobourg, Ontario city marina

Cobourg, Ontario city marina

Cobourg city personality and flowers

Cobourg city personality and flowers

The Cobourg Victoria Hall built in 1860 took 75 years to payoff the debt incurred from its construction.

The Cobourg Victoria Hall built in 1860 took 75 years to payoff the debt incurred from its construction.

Beautiful homes of Cobourg

Beautiful homes of Cobourg

Canada flags fly everywhere in every city and town…big or small. So nice to see such pride of country.

Canada flags fly everywhere in every city and town…big or small. So nice to see such pride of country.

Thousand Islands, Clayton, NY

The crew of the Independence departs Oswego, NY on Lake Ontario bound for Thousand Islands, Clayton, NY. We are so fortunate to have this Great Lake actually acting like a lake. Just a couple of days prior to our crossing the waves were reported to be nine to thirteen feet. We cross the lake dodging large logs and debris but other than that it is as smooth as silk. At the three hour mark we reach the St. Lawrence Seaway at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, where the Great Lakes waters commence their 1,000-mile journey to the Atlantic Ocean. The first 60 miles of this waterway is Thousand Islands (actually a collection of 1,864 islands). Half of the islands are on the American side and half on the Canadian side. We pull into the marina at Clayton Harbor (54NM) and our good friends Sharron and Rob Grant from Jupiter, FL and Clayton, NY come down to the boat to welcome us. We spend the next couple of days visiting with them and enjoying this sweet town and their beautiful home here along the banks of the French Creek Bay. It all ends too soon as there are thousands of islands to visit and so after three nights we shove-off in hopes of seeing a few more.

Departing Oswego, NY looking across Lake Ontario

Departing Oswego, NY looking across Lake Ontario

Thank you Rob and Sharron for a great visit to Thousand Islands, Clayton, NY (photo courtesy of Owen Doherty)

Thank you Rob and Sharron for a great visit to Thousand Islands, Clayton, NY (photo courtesy of Owen Doherty)

The Independence at the Clayton Municipal Marina (photo courtesy of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce via Sharron Grant (Facebook page)

The Independence at the Clayton Municipal Marina (photo courtesy of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce via Sharron Grant (Facebook page)

The busy St. Lawrence river

The busy St. Lawrence river

A great bar for a cold beer

A great bar for a cold beer

Gorgeous Victorian homes

Gorgeous Victorian homes

Playground common sense

Playground common sense

Pride of ownership

Pride of ownership

A sense of humor

A sense of humor

Sunset over the St. Lawrence River

Sunset over the St. Lawrence River

A stroll over the Thousand Islands Bridge

A stroll over the Thousand Islands Bridge

A view of the swollen St. Lawrence River from atop the Thousand Islands Bridge

A view of the swollen St. Lawrence River from atop the Thousand Islands Bridge

New Your visitors center

New Your visitors center

Rob and Sharron Grants gorgeous home along French Creek Bay


Rob and Sharron Grants gorgeous home along French Creek Bay

The Grants boat dock is under water but that doesn’t stop Bailey from enjoying an evening swim

The Grants boat dock is under water but that doesn’t stop Bailey from enjoying an evening swim

Larry takes a chance with John the barber at this step-back-in-time barber shop

Larry takes a chance with John the barber at this step-back-in-time barber shop

The Antique Boat Museum is definitely worth a visit for beautiful fast boats…

The Antique Boat Museum is definitely worth a visit for beautiful fast boats…

….vintage engines…

….vintage engines…

…vintage racing trophies and souvenirs…

…vintage racing trophies and souvenirs…

An amazing collection of vintage wooden boats

An amazing collection of vintage wooden boats

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Oswego, NY

We spend an additional day at the Oswego Marina to detail the boat, as we have not cleaned her thoroughly since Norfolk, VA. The weather is fantastic so once we are done we walk around Oswego. This is a charming city that has seen a tough winter and its citizens are ready for summer. The high water is still a problem but appears to be slowly receding and life is returning to normal. We enjoy the sites of Oswego and tomorrows weather is expected to be similar so crossing Lake Ontario to Clayton, NY should hopefully be uneventful…

The Oswego City clock

The Oswego City clock

The Oswego Court House built in 1853

The Oswego Court House built in 1853

Looking down on the last lock 8 from the old railroad bridge that was converted to a pedestrian bridge

Looking down on the last lock 8 from the old railroad bridge that was converted to a pedestrian bridge

Oswego City Hall built in 1870

Oswego City Hall built in 1870

The grand staircase just inside the City Hall building

The grand staircase just inside the City Hall building

The site of the Historic Fort Oswego

The site of the Historic Fort Oswego

A little history on Fort George and the strategic importance of Oswego, NY

A little history on Fort George and the strategic importance of Oswego, NY

Had to have a cold one at Gibby O’Conner’s Irish Pub

Had to have a cold one at Gibby O’Conner’s Irish Pub

Sad that The Gaslight was closed.  I think this winters high waters got inside

Sad that The Gaslight was closed. I think this winters high waters got inside

The Old City Hall appears to be another victim of the tough winter

The Old City Hall appears to be another victim of the tough winter

High water is still evident at the Oswego International Marina.  Lake Ontario beyond looks nice and flat…we hope for similar conditions for our crossing tomorrow.

High water is still evident at the Oswego International Marina. Lake Ontario beyond looks nice and flat…we hope for similar conditions for our crossing tomorrow.

Brewerton, NY to Oswego, NY - Erie/Oswego COMPLETED!!!

With the rain pelting down in Brewerton and the gray skies above us, it was a little dark in the cabin of the Independence. So close to the finish line of the Erie Canal (just one lock away) and the start of the Oswego Canal - only to be told we may have to wait one, two maybe three days to continue. You can only imagine the mood. But, good news prevailed via a Notice to Mariners web alert provided by the fabulous New York Canal System. Larry was notified via e-mail push that the high-water emergency repairs at Phoenix dam had been completed and the Oswego locks had reopened. Away we go bright and early in the drizzly rain the following morning. Nothing can keep us from accomplishing this next goal in our Loop. We complete the last lock…lock 23…of the Erie Canal and eagerly ply the waters of the Oswego Canal through its 8 locks. All down-water locks, smooth as silk and the lock masters are as nice as can be. The Oswego River is powerful and its waters crash over spillways with epic force. As we exit our last lock and the last lock on the Oswego Canal…lock 8…we can see the river banks are still swollen as sand bags line side walks and the high water is evident. We are so thankful to the New York Canal System for providing this once in a lifetime experience. It is a slice of American history and an engineering marvel that most Americans may never see. But, if you get the chance go for it…you will not be disappointed.

Entering the last lock of the Erie Canal…lock 23

Entering the last lock of the Erie Canal…lock 23

Departing lock 23. We were trailed today by this boat named ‘Comet’

Departing lock 23. We were trailed today by this boat named ‘Comet’

The first lock (lock 1) on the Oswego Canal

The first lock (lock 1) on the Oswego Canal

Directly after exiting lock 1 you must pass under the Bascule Bridge…Larry is color coordinated for his fashion shoot today

Directly after exiting lock 1 you must pass under the Bascule Bridge…Larry is color coordinated for his fashion shoot today

Exiting lock 6 of the Oswego Canal shadowed by the Comet

Exiting lock 6 of the Oswego Canal shadowed by the Comet

The exit of lock 6 with the spill way next door

The exit of lock 6 with the spill way next door

Maggie and Owen in front of the final lock…lock 8

Maggie and Owen in front of the final lock…lock 8

The New York Canal System at its finest…lock 8

The New York Canal System at its finest…lock 8

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Exiting our last lock…lock 8…with our shadow boat Comet behind us

Exiting our last lock…lock 8…with our shadow boat Comet behind us

The waters of the Oswego Canal are high but that does not stop the Sunday fisherman

The waters of the Oswego Canal are high but that does not stop the Sunday fisherman

At the Oswego Marina we celebrate our accomplishment

At the Oswego Marina we celebrate our accomplishment

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The Independence is restored to her former grace as we replace her bimini and arch

The Independence is restored to her former grace as we replace her bimini and arch

Sunset falls on this great day and I thank our friends Owen and Maggie and Captain Larry for another great adventure

Sunset falls on this great day and I thank our friends Owen and Maggie and Captain Larry for another great adventure

Utica, NY, (Little Falls, NY), Sylvan Beach, NY to Brewerton, NY - Erie ON HOLD!!!

From St. Johnsville, NY we transit locks 16, 17, 18 and 19 on a warm, gorgeous day. We have all been wondering what lock 17 will be like with it’s 40 foot rise. It turns out to be no big deal as the lock-master gives us a nice ‘slow fill’ and away we go. Larry was very clever and used his new GoPro to do a fast forward video…please click on the following link to view Erie Canal Lock 17 Time Lapse Video

I am happy we took the time for a quick stop at Little Falls to experience this cute town. We walk around and do some provisioning and return to the boat all in an hour and half. Back on the canal we continue through two more locks and tie-up for the evening at a marina in Utica, NY (25NM). This busy place is either in the process of growing or shrinking, as it definitely feels like it is in flux. After grabbing a beer we head back to the boat to have dinner with new friends, Rev and Sam, at the Aqua Vino Marina Restaurant. Rev and Sam are doing the Great Loop on their Carver boat dubbed ‘Here’s to Us’. We have a great meal with them and look forward to seeing them in the future. The next morning brings quite a bit of rain so we let that slide by and then head out toward lock 20 followed by our first ‘down-water’ locks…lock 21 and 22. The down water lock is just as you would think, instead of the water rising while you are in the lock it falls. This to me, is a nicer and calmer experience for reasons I am not sure. The end of this chilly wet day brings us to Sylvan Beach, NY ((23NM). This little town sits along side Lake Oneida and has a sweet 1950’s feel to it. There is a little amusement park with a tiny roller-coaster and crazy, spinney looking rides. The beach is very pretty and we just wish we were here during nicer weather. The rain continues the next day and the winds are heavy so we end up spending two nights at Sylvan Beach. Today we crossed Oneida Lake and are now at Winter Harbor in Brewerton, NY (19NM). The bad news is that we can’t continue on from here as the Oswego Canal is closed due to an emergency at the Phoenix Dam. This has caused the closure of locks 0-1 and 0-2. So we are stuck here for now…hoping it will only be two or three days…hopefully…

Lock 17…the 40 footer!

Lock 17…the 40 footer!

The Guillotine Door closing on lock 17

The Guillotine Door closing on lock 17

Owen handles the port, mid-ship line

Owen handles the port, mid-ship line

Almost to the top of lock 17

Almost to the top of lock 17

A mini afternoon stop in Little Falls, NY to check out the town and provision

A mini afternoon stop in Little Falls, NY to check out the town and provision

Nice Victorian Era home

Nice Victorian Era home

Little Falls City Hall

Little Falls City Hall

Entering the beautiful lock 19

Entering the beautiful lock 19

The Erie Canal was very busy today…barge one

The Erie Canal was very busy today…barge one

…barge two.

…barge two.

I like these city clocks

I like these city clocks

Utica, NY train station

Utica, NY train station

These charming and efficient little tugs push big loads

These charming and efficient little tugs push big loads

Just an average day on the Erie for the tug Erie, pushing his load upstream (Here’s to Us in the back ground)

Just an average day on the Erie for the tug Erie, pushing his load upstream (Here’s to Us in the back ground)

Entering Lock 21, our first ‘down-water’ lock

Entering Lock 21, our first ‘down-water’ lock

Our friend’s Rev and Sam on their Carver ‘Here’s to Us’ sharing lock 21

Our friend’s Rev and Sam on their Carver ‘Here’s to Us’ sharing lock 21

Rev and Sam leaving lock 21…so odd to be on the low side exiting instead of the high-side

Rev and Sam leaving lock 21…so odd to be on the low side exiting instead of the high-side

Sylvan Beach, NY a sweet place to stop

Sylvan Beach, NY a sweet place to stop

Harpoon Eddie’s in Sylvan Beach is a great place to have a beer and listen to live music

Harpoon Eddie’s in Sylvan Beach is a great place to have a beer and listen to live music

The wind was blowing at least 18 knots - gusting to 30 so we spent an additional day at Sylvan Beach

The wind was blowing at least 18 knots - gusting to 30 so we spent an additional day at Sylvan Beach

Amsterdam, NY to St. Johnsville, NY - Continuing the Erie Canal

The damage to Lock 11 (above Amsterdam) by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Photo courtesy of Google

The damage to Lock 11 (above Amsterdam) by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Photo courtesy of Google

The crew departs Schenectady, NY and has a short, pretty day passing through three locks - 8, 9, and 10 - to Amsterdam, NY (14NM). We spend the rest of the day and overnight along the Canal wall/marina. Amsterdam is a sweet little town still trying to recover from the devastating effects of hurricane Irene in 2011. If you visit, be sure to use the newer pedestrian bridge leading to the South Side as this is the part of town to spend time. In addition, if you arrive by boat, you may want to check with your fellow boaters for reports of people untying boats in the middle of the night (as we had been warned when we were in town). We say goodbye to Jim and Julia Lennon the next morning and return to our core crew of four. We transit locks 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 smoothly and tie-up at St. Johnsville Marina (26NM). We may have to spend two nights here as the winds are picking up and the tallest of the locks is just two up. Lock 17 has a forty foot rise….so stay tuned!!!

A gorgeous day on the Erie Canal

A gorgeous day on the Erie Canal

Looking back at Lock 8 as the doors close

Looking back at Lock 8 as the doors close

There is so much debris along the Erie Canal from the huge run-off and high water upstream

There is so much debris along the Erie Canal from the huge run-off and high water upstream

A map of our path toward the Oswego Canal

A map of our path toward the Oswego Canal

Maggie and Owen await the next lock

Maggie and Owen await the next lock

Lock 9

Lock 9

Jim takes his union mandated break between locks

Jim takes his union mandated break between locks

There are many abandoned mills and factories along the Erie Canal from days long past

There are many abandoned mills and factories along the Erie Canal from days long past

Couldn’t resist posting a picture of the creative advertising used by this Optometrist in Amsterdam, NY

Couldn’t resist posting a picture of the creative advertising used by this Optometrist in Amsterdam, NY

Actually had to lock up the boat tonight. We used the anchor chain from the tender and a pad lock…good grief!

Actually had to lock up the boat tonight. We used the anchor chain from the tender and a pad lock…good grief!

More large debris along the way

More large debris along the way

Lucky lock thirteen

Lucky lock thirteen

There is a different map of the Erie Canal at each little town you stop at

There is a different map of the Erie Canal at each little town you stop at

Where we began…

Where we began…

…where we are currently…

…where we are currently…

…where we are going…

…where we are going…

Waterford, NY to Schenectady, NY - Entering the Erie Canal

We now have a full crew of six on board the Independence. Jim and Julia Lennon have flown in from Oakland, CA to join us in Albany, NY for part of the Erie Canal experience. We are so happy to have them with us not only for their great company but for the security of the extra hands on deck. We depart Albany on a beautiful morning and have a nice and very short transit up to Waterford (8NM). We only had one low railroad bridge and one lock - The Troy Lock.

Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal was the brain-child of then New York Governor Dewitt Clinton. According to the ‘Cruising Guide to the New York Canal System - 2006’ the citizens of the day called the idea ‘Clinton’s Folly’ and later ‘Clinton’s Ditch’. Clinton convinced the State Legislature to authorize $7 million for the construction of a 363 miles long canal. He envisioned a way to transit the timber, minerals, grains and goods from the Northwest Territories on this canal system saving transit time and money and making New York the busiest port in America. The Canal did exactly that. Opening in 1825 it caused an explosion of trade moving tonnages of goods greater than Boston, Baltimore and New Orleans combined. The Canal tolls recouped the cost of construction with in nine years. The Canal system has been enlarged and updated many times to allow for progressively larger ships and increased traffic. By 1929 commercial traffic on The Canal System had declined due to competition from highways and railroads. Now the waterway is renamed the New York Canal System and in 2001 designated as the nation’s 23rd National Heritage Corridor. Tourism and recreation are the primary uses of the Canal System now. It is currently free of charge to transit and is an engineering marvel when you consider there were no schools of engineering when the system was originally conceived and built. Thank you Governor DeWitt Clinton!

Day two of the Erie Canal brings us through Locks 2,3,4,5,6 & 7 to Schenectady (17NM). It is a busy two hours for the crew as we handle lines and ropes, shift fenders and push off of the lock walls trying to keep the Independence from harm. Larry has the intense job of jockeying the boat into position on the wall, avoiding other boats and then holding her in-line against the wall while the massive doors of the lock close and water rushes in causing swirling eddies of confused currents. We are rewarded at the Mohawk Harbor Marina with the great news that the Albany Symphony will be playing a free concert in the park directly in front of our slip. To top off the evening they even threw in some fire works!

The Railroad Bridge exiting Albany, NY toward Waterford, NY

The Railroad Bridge exiting Albany, NY toward Waterford, NY