Way too late for it to matter, our friend Deb reminded us that Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in Detroit. One of us—but only one of us—would’ve taken the long Uber ride out to 6676 Telegraph Road, where the Red Fox was the last place anyone admits seeing him alive.*
Instead, we bravely took the dangerous walk downtown to breakfast.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t overly dangerous after all. Or maybe we just got lucky. Either way, we weren’t murdered. In fact, the streets we saw actually looked kind of nice.
We also may have been quick to misjudge Detroit’s public art, although the Bible verse on the municipal building comes pretty damn close to violating the Establishment Clause.
Although we’ve likely exceeded our quota of Edmund Fitzgerald references, before leaving Detroit we stopped by the Mariners’ Church.
“The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times, for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.” It was this church. While we’re at it, we also passed the museum on Belle Island where they have the Mighty Fitz’s anchor.
It’s a tad misleading though. This anchor wasn’t recovered from the watery wreckage where those twenty-nine souls were condemned to the icy depths of Lake Superior. Nope. It’s one the ship left in the Detroit River a year before the gales of November came early.
Up at the north end of Belle Island is the now-abandoned William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse, supposedly the only lighthouse in the world built out of marble.
It seems impossible for anyone to know the construction specs of all the planet’s lighthouses, of course, but Livingstone contributed greatly to the big shipping channel we’ve enjoyed so far, so we won’t quibble.
Then out of the river and into Lake St. Clair. As we approached the Safe Harbor Jefferson Beach Marina, the world’s tallest lighthouse led us in. Obviously we don’t actually know that it’s the world’s tallest, but we do know it’s the tallest one we’ve ever seen.
If it looks more like an apartment building than a lighthouse, it’s probably because it is an apartment building. But up there on top is a navigation beacon, marking red and white sectors every five seconds.
They put us at the end of G Road. Not G Dock, G Road. At this joint, they don’t need dock carts, because every slip has a parking spot. Crazy.
Friday was a great day to cross Lake St. Clair and start up the St. Clair River. Sunrises finally have started to occur at a much more reasonable hour, such that we can enjoy them. We got a crazy awesome orange one. It looks fake, but isn’t.
We made it as far as Algonac, which was fine because that’s where we planned to stop anyway. Algonac is about a quarter of the way up the St. Clair River, which connects Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron and looks to be the last river we’ll run this year.
The trip was so tranquil we dang near dozed off, but fortunately didn’t because we’re still on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Which means huge ships zipping downstream and throwing big wakes at us. At least Integrity had the decency to sport a pleasing beachy color scheme.
Algonac is famous as the home of one Christopher Columbus Smith, who in 1874—at the tender age of 13—built his first boat. By 1930, he would sell you an all-mahogany 48’ 30-passenger cruiser for $35,000.
In 1970, Chris-Craft closed the factory, although the Algonac Harbor Club—where we spent the night—still uses some of the old buildings for storage and parking and whatnot.
An RV company currently makes fiberglass Chris-Craft boats in Sarasota, Florida. Yuck. At least the original water tower—more than a hundred years old and now painted with a pleasing beachy color scheme—still stood above Tumbleweed.
The marina is a jumbled angled confusion of narrow fairways, such that a less observant pilot easily might wander into an unforgiving alley that looks kind of like Doug’s Okeechobee ditch, albeit with more tiny boats and fewer stumps and alligators.
But we made it out and back to the St. Clair River, where we passed what might be the last Chris-Craft connection to Algonac. The former president’s house is filled with mahogany fanciness crafted by the factory woodworkers. A South Carolina couple with no interest in boats recently bought it. We forgot to take a picture. Liming, however, took a picture of us as they zoomed by a bit later.
Saturday was just slow going, against current that was someplace on the continuum between acceptable and St. Lawrence-under-the-Jacques Cartier-Bridge. We thought we’d never get by the Cargill Salt Plant, which collects product from local salt wells and ships it around the world. Anyone who enjoys soft water or pretzels should appreciate this place.
Hey, it’s reunion time! Although we’ve only known her for two weeks, Oakglen was a familiar sight. She probably was happy to see us as well.
Our old nemesis Saginaw was next up.
That horrible day with seven hours of fog in 2018 almost ended with Saginaw creaming us just yards from the safety of Muskegon. At least that’s how we remember it now. For anyone who doesn’t want to follow the link, here’s the proof.
Just as the storm clouds gathered—and shortly behind two jackasses in Formulas who blew through to catch the bridges and damaged boats with their wake in the process—we pulled off into Port Huron.
Great stop. Least expensive diesel fuel we’ve seen since last year— which isn’t saying much—plus we got an extra 5¢ off per gallon. Whooooo!
We tied up right there by St. Clair County Community College. Go Skippers!
Sunday brought clouds and drizzle, which sucked. Mostly, however, it sucked for the floaters. For two days we heard periodic notifications from both U.S. and Canadian coast guards about boats being banned from a good chunk of the St. Clair River because of the annual “unsanctioned float down,” which apparently has occurred for the last 45 years.
In 2016, high winds blew some 1,500 drunk, injured, and/or freezing Americans onto Canadian shores “without identification, money, or a means of communication.” Now this is the kind of event we didn’t want to miss, rain or no rain.
Meh. We waited over an hour before a smattering of floaters came by. The drone photo was barely worth the risk of a mid-air collision with the Coast Guard helicopters.
Maybe the weather was to blame, but regardless, we didn’t walk a full half-mile just to see almost as many law enforcement vessels as drunk revelers.
On the way back from what we forever will recall as “The Great Float Down Disappointment of ’22,” we passed another first. Based on the paint job it looks to be some sort of visual emetic. Or possibly a fancy latrine.
A few more things. The Cobras were playing Team Juicy in 14u softball at Pine Grove Park, right next to a huge boulder that the Rotary Club planted in 1929 to commentate the years that a youthful Tom Edison played here.
Just a boulder’s throw away sits the Huron, which was the last lightship the Coast Guard used on the Great Lakes. It’s hard to believe that a ship with an 11-member crew is more economical than just a regular old lighthouse, even one built out of marble. But between 1921 and 1970 Huron’s beacon could be seen for 14 miles.
So yeah, Port Huron has it all going on.
Plus the rain went away just before sunset.
A couple of hours ago we took off after dithering about whether it was foolish given the predictions. With hindsight, it was foolish. We made it under the Blue Water Bridge just fine, although the current slid much closer to the Jacques Cartier Bridge end of the previously-referenced spectrum.
We’re damn glad to be done with rivers for a while. The last one where we weren’t fighting upstream like salmon hoping to spawn was the East River through New York City. It’s literally been all uphill since then. And as we’ve previously noted, the East River isn’t even a river.
From the bridge onward, however, things have been significantly unpleasant. We’re cranking out the post while underway, because (1) we need a distraction from the gruesome waves and (2) if we make it to Lexington we’ll be too spent to do it.
Also, we now have a final destination. Tumbleweed will hibernate in Green Bay, tucked warmly in heated storage.
*Coincidentally, that same only one of us thought Redd Foxx made an excellent Fred G. Sanford.