Welcome to the USA Ya’all
Well, America didn’t really throw her loving arms open for us….she made it pretty tough to get in.
Lake Huron was in top form, with big ole rolling waves from the South East and gusting wind from the South West, we were bopping around in our little boat on that big lake, we didn’t know if we were coming or going…..
We left early in the morning (5am) to get a good head start on our open water trip to Drummond Island but after a couple of hours had to give up, so we anchored behind a tiny little scoop of land. (Canoe Isle) It didn’t really give much protection against the rollers coming in off Lake Huron or the wind blasting from the opposite direction, but at least we were safe. Gary took one look at me and sent me to bed with 2 Gravols. I lay in bed and counted the rollers hitting us on the beam, then as the wind would push the boat; I would count the seconds in between, until the rollers would hit again. I wasn’t scared but I was nervous. Our good old Rochna anchor held us and after a few hours Gary said it was time to try again. We tacked into the wind (like good sailors) and after an exhausting couple of white-knuckled hours we finally turned our back to the wind and entered De Tour Passage marina.
|De Tour Shoal Lighthouse|
Because I had gone to all the trouble to set us up with a SVRS (Small vessel reporting system), checking into the States with customs, should have just been a matter of a quick phone call. Should have……..
I won’t bore you with the details but apparently they expected us as Mackinaw Island on the 27th of December 2011 (the day I drew up our float plan)…..so we were in violation of some law and the guy on the phone told us we had to go to Drummond Yacht Haven to check in with an actual human being.
I just want to say, the customs people were very, very polite, we were so impressed with the way they handled everything and never gave us a hard time.
So our long day just got a little longer as we headed to Drummond Island Yacht Haven, a few miles further inland.
As we rounded the corner and started to head into our slip at Yacht Haven, we saw MV Wild Goose and our friends, Jim and Ann standing on the dock, with big smiles on their faces. What a lovely way to be greeted after a hard day on the water! We had a quick little interview with the customs guy and we were legal and finally in the States.
We secured the boat and turned on the aircon for the cats and went over to Wild Goose for a well-deserved cocktail. I was lamenting my hard day and Jim kept saying: “Did anyone die? Does the boat still float?? Well, then everything is ok, isn’t it?” He has a wonderful way to make you see that the small stuff isn’t worth sweating over
As we were sitting on the back of the boat sharing stories, I looked across the dock and saw Sandi and Eddie from MV Tarqin walking towards us. They had seen us coming in but we didn’t see them…and here is why…..
Last week Eddie was coming in or going out of an anchorage, I don’t remember which it was, when they ran hard aground and hit a rock. This was in 50 feet of water, an unmarked, uncharted rock just hiding 2 feet under the surface. They hit so hard that they cracked the hull where the keel and the bow of the boat meet. They used t-shirts and clothes to try and stop the leak and used a sump pump to pump the water out, they decided to keep going and head on into Drummond. Unfortunately the sump pump failed after a while and Sandi had to Shop vac the bilge every 15 minutes. They got to Drummond Island Yacht Haven and were immediately hoisted up in a sling and put on the hard, in a big barn on the marina property. (that is why we didn’t know they were there, cause they are on their boat, in the huge barn)
They say that they are so impressed with the service and good work that the guys are doing in getting their boat fixed. They seemed rather nonchalant and take what happened to them in stride where as I am sure I would have freaked out! It did however make my “hard day” seem trivial in comparison. They hope to be back in the water either today or tomorrow and we wish them well.
The rather long day ended with a brilliant rain storm that appeared as if out of nowhere.
We met with Sandi, Eddie, Ann and Jim and walked to the BearTrack restaurant for breakfast. It was soooooo good!!! It is about a mile and a half walk and we saw a little of Drummond Island and the people who live here. (I wonder if they knew how close they were to being Canadians due to the borders being re drawn after the War of 1812) Everybody is so friendly here “up-north”.
In the afternoon Gary and I decided to leave the marina and anchored in Harbour Island bay. Harbour Island is a National Wild Life Refuge. We enjoyed a quiet evening on the hook but we were both nervous for the next day’s crossing to Les Cheneaux Islands.
Our fears were unfounded as we had a very good cruise to Les Cheneaux. We left very early and when we got to the De Tour Reef Lighthouse, which marks the entrance to De Tour Channel, we noticed a fog bank over Lake Huron but besides that the waters and the winds were calm and we thanked the weather gods for giving us a break.
After an hour we were totally engulfed by fog. Thank goodness for our radar, and chart plotters. Gary got to use his foghorn and I personally think he got quite a thrill out of that.
A soon as we entered the Les Cheneaux channel, the sun came out and warmed everything up nicely.
Government Bay is a popular anchorage with jet skis and speedboats pulling skiers, it made for a wake-filled bumpy anchorage. Poor Gary was in the engine room changing the oil on both engines and that is kind of tough when the boat is rocking and rolling around. My dirty looks fell on deaf ears as the skiers kept blasting past our boat at anchor with no regard for the wake that they caused. As soon as the sun went down the day trippers left and we had a calm evening which we spent in the lovely company of friends. A glass of wine, snacks and much laughter to end the day.
|Following Wild Goose through the Les Cheneaux|
|Welcome to Hessel|
|Ann and Jim acting up - Hessel|
We made our way through the Les Cheneaux channel to Heller and anchored in behind Long Island. We took a bumpy dingy ride into Heller to see the Wooden Boat museum and the start of the annual antique wooden boat show held every 1st weekend in August. Except this year, for some reason they moved the show to the 2nd weekend in August, so we were out of luck. The museum we thought we would find here is actually in a little village 5miles away and because the bay was very choppy and a dingy ride would be wet and uncomfortable, we decided to make the best of things and settled for lunch at the local bar.
After lunch we dingied back to the boat and spend a very bumpy afternoon and evening on the hook. This time the rocking wasn’t caused by other boaters but by the wind. A strong wind has been whipping around Nw-Ne and we heard the coast guard caution boaters to take shelter. This boating this is not for the faint of heart!!
|Moon rising over Long Island|
Tomorrow we have another large open crossing to Mackinac Island. We are anxious because there is no protection anywhere and even though it is only a few miles, it can seem like forever when your boat is rocking from side to side. Anyhow, we are keeping our fingers crossed for a good weather day and as soon as we are there I will be able to post this blog. So if you are reading this you know, we made it to Mackinac safely.
Oh by the way, Mackinac is pronounced Mackinaw unless you are from Florida, then it is pronounce Maricnack J