Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink*

img_4825Yesterday morning we caught the sunrise on Drummond Island through the sailboat beside us, slipped the lines, crossed our last big stretch of Lake Huron, and returned to mainland U.S.A.  Our next island marina probably will be on Boot Key.

One of us wanted to go straight to Cheboygan, mostly because it’s a fun word to say.  Unfortunately Cheboygan was out of the way.  Cheboygan.  We’ll just have to settle for saying it.  Cheboygan.

Mackinaw (pronounced just as one might expect) City isn’t much fun to say, but it’s on our way to Chicago so that’s where we went.  Great day on Lake Huron, right until we reached the Straits of Mackinac.  (Mackinac is pronounced exactly the same as Mackinaw.  There’s some really goofy etymology up in these strange lands.)  img_4858Wind wasn’t the problem.  Current wasn’t the problem.  Ferries were the problem.  Wake-throwing SOBs were right on our line to the marina and weren’t too worried about it.  At one point one of us wanted to hold a phone to video the troughs that were tossing spray over the pilothouse when we plowed into them, but the other one said something to the effect of “keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the ferries” but with a bit more color and insistence.  The point is that we have no video.  But we got to the City Marina safely, so there’s that.

img_4856If you think the ferries only jack with boaters during the day, you’d be wrong.  Long after bedtime they zipped in and out, rocking us in our slip like Galloping Gertie in the wind.  Even at no-wake speeds in the no-wake zone 50 yards off our beam, they churned up wake.  Does this look like no wake?  Nope.

On dry land, certain things are a given.  No boat will wake you.  You will have passable internet.  And when you take a shower, you will have water.  ED16743C-0AD3-4A18-AB89-46B0DEE82F6ANot so on a boat.  We live off of fresh water tanks that require a pump to generate pressure.  Two days ago in the midst of Dana’s shower, suddenly no water.  Well maybe we misread the sight gauge and the aft tank was empty, so let’s refill it.  Yesterday in the midst of Dana’s shower, suddenly no water.  Hmmm.  The tank is full.  Either Dana needs to stop showering or we have a bigger issue.  What the  heck, let’s figure it out tomorrow.  Which was today.  img_4857So when we woke up to a beautiful sunrise, it was clouded by the need to get fresh water.  Fortunately we have been carrying a new pump, which solved the problem.  Ain’t she a beauty?  It wasn’t Dana after all.

Then off to Mackinac Island.   To get there, we had to patch things up with the ferry.  If you can’t beat em, join em sort of thing.

img_4859Mackinac Island has roads but no cars.  Everybody uses bicycles so we rented a couple.  And a trailer for the boys.  Since we took the pink pillow for them things turned out ok.  And before anyone judges Doug’s biking posture, please understand that his bike was stuck in a high gear while his skills are stuck in a low gear.

The circumference loop took us through areas where the waters of Lake Huron almost looked Carribeanish.  There was an arch to rival Rainbow Bridge, albeit much smaller.  And the Grand Hotel indeed was pretty grand, although a hotel that charges $10 just to walk in the door is way to uppity for us.  Somewhere in Time was a passable movie despite the absurd time-travel element, but looking at a lobby is not worth $10.  Or $20 if we both went in.

Ultimately we concluded that Mackinac Island is sort of a cross between Catalina Island (Avalon in particular) and Coronado, with a dash of Gatlinburg, although instead of Smoky Mountain Salt Water Taffy, here every third store sells fudge.  None of those places have horse poop everywhere, of course, so maybe we are off just a tad.

Dinner with Second Wave and Texas Two Step.  Weather looks good for tomorrow.

 

*Apologies to Samuel Coleridge.

Sault Sioux Sue Soo

Well the plan this morning was to head over to Mackinaw City.  Benny and Oscar needed food and a good nail trim, we needed a prescription filled, and Dana needed a new phone case.  None of that can be done within 30 miles of Drummond Island Yacht Haven.  But the weather sucked.  Cold and windy.  Cold is acceptable, windy not so much.  So no errands in Mackinaw City.

img_4822Through the wonders of good internet service, we found that Sault (rhymes with zoo) Ste. Marie has everything we needed and more.  (The e after St is because Saint inexplicably is spelled Sainte.  Probably French or something.)  Off we went in the marina rental car without a care in the world.

Drummond Island—being an island and all—is accessible in a car only by ferry since there’s no bridge.  That means only one way off the island as well.  img_4823Because (1) a day without boating is like a day without sunshine and (2) a day without dog food would be a really bad day for the boys, we took the ferry.  (For the record, it still was a day without sunshine, at least until we were back home.)  About 60 miles of hay fields later, we approached Sault Ste. Marie.

Wait.  What’s this?  There’s a Sault  Ste. Marie in Ontario as well?  The only PetSmart is in that one?  It’s okay though, because we brought our passports, right?  Nobody but nobody takes passports shopping for dog food and phone cases.  And the good folks at the Arizona DMV don’t issue licenses that serve as federal identification.  Fortunately we had our still-valid CanPass number so they let us slip back into Canada after we crossed the International Bridge.  And yes, Sault Ste. Marie isn’t very attractive on either side of the St. Mary River.

A moment about the name Sault.   It comes from an Indian tribe.  It’s pretty odd that there is a Sault (still rhymes with zoo) Indian tribe and a Sioux (also rhymes with zoo) Indian tribe.  This must greatly confuse the bureaucrats down at the BIA.  The great and famous Johnny Cash wrote a good song about a Boy Named Sue, which only tangentially is relevant to the topic.  The great but not-as-famous Roger Alan Wade—from Doug’s home town of Chattanooga, Tennessee—wrote a better song about a Sioux Named Boy, which is much more relevant to the topic.

img_4819Anyway, after PetSmart we returned to the U.S. for the second time in less than 24 hours.  The dude at the U.S. Border Patrol place wasn’t quite as pleasant about the lack of passports, but ultimately our honest faces made the difference.  The joke was on him since we forgot to declare the two animals sleeping on the back seat.  They were in plain sight and came with us into Canada so we figure we’re ok.

Another interesting tidbit relates to I-75.   Between us we’ve driven stretches of I-75 hundreds of times, mostly between Knoxville and Atlanta but also in south Florida and a bunch of other spots.  Turns out it starts on the north end at the International Bridge.

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(Note that whoever named the locks between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior didn’t fool around with tricky ways to spell Soo.)

Part way on the journey the marina loaner—with its 170,000 miles—started to buck around.  Serious transmissions problems, which caused us some worry since we might have wandered a bit farther than the marina anticipated, although in fairness we honestly stated our intent to “explore the area.”  Fortunately we made it back safely.  The boys enjoyed their supper.

We also enjoyed our supper.  Crossroads—one of our sister Selenes—pulled into the marina this afternoon and joined us and Second Wave at the local Mexican joint.  It was great to catch up with Barry and Robin.

Back where Miller Lite is domestic

After yesterday’s blog post was out the door, the rain stopped and the wind stopped.  In other word, droning weather.  The Canadians are a bit more strict when it comes to drones so for the most part our video has been limited to iPhones.  But here’s a bit of Meldrum Bay at dusk:

While not perfect this morning, it was good enough to exit the North Channel.  Loopers were off in a stream.  “Vroom.  Like rats out of the aqueduct.”

At 9:51 a.m. and roughly a mile east of Drummond Island, we passed back into U.S. waters.  (Verizon, however, waited a while before taking us off the uninspired Canadian coverage.)  Later we returned the Looper burgee to its appropriate spot.

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img_4803Incidentally, we were wrong about Little Current being our farthest point north.  That actually came when we turned the corner at the top of Drummond Island on our way to Drummond Island Yacht Haven, which is functional but not as posh as it might sound.  What the place lacks in style, however, it makes up for with blazing internet.  One of us spent the entire rainy and cold afternoon binge-watching the third season of Last Chance U on Netflix.  Hopefully that Emmit Gooden kid can ease up on the personal fouls.

The other one of us just is happy to have a new phone.

 

 

Au revoir Ontariens

img_4793Yesterday we dropped down into Meldrum Bay, our last stop in what has been a great trip through Ontario.  Except for the lockmaster at TSW Lock 42.  And the flies.  And the spiders.  And the fire.  And the spotty WiFi.  And a very small minority of Canadien boaters.  And the goose poop.  About everything else was fantastic, although a full 50% of us found butter tarts to be disappointingly disgusting.

Meldrum img_4792Bay is about as far west as one can go by car on Manitoulin Island and still be on a road.  If the road here was in Monopoly, it would be Mediterranean Avenue and houses would cost $50.  Mostly it’s a campground.  There’s a store with what supposedly is an LCBO, of course, because there always is an LCBO even if the shelves are empty.  The store in winter, however, basically is Millie’s Haberdashery.

img_4795In fairness, there also is a small inn where we had dinner.   The food was delicious.  To honor the end of our roughly 540 nm trip through Canada, we even dressed up for the occasion.  That meant Dana looked very nice in a skirt she received for her birthday, and Doug wore his same shorts and flip flops, albeit with a polo shirt.  That’s as fancy as we get while living on a boat.

Did we mention spiders?  Much like Job from the Land of Uz, our patience has been tested by the hardships confronting us in the form of zillions of them covering Misty Pearl like a bridal veil.  (See what we did there?)  Spider droppings leave small black dots that resist cleaning.  When you smush a spider, it leaves more black dots that resist cleaning.  Since there wasn’t much else to do in Meldrum Bay, we cleaned off spider crap and guts.

14E9CABD-F15B-4080-B607-6752A66141E0Day 2 saw the small docks fill up with Looper boats.  Misty Pearl.  Cavara. Compass Rose.  Mar-Kat.   Miss Norma.  Corkscrew.  Recess.  Oar Knot.  Second Wave.  The last 4 are Mainship Trawlers.  It was like a Mainship mini-rendezvous.  We all hoped to meet up on the shore, but then the rain hit and everyone lost interest.

The plan is to be in the good old US of A tomorrow.  Drummond Island, Michigan.  If the weather forecast still sucks when we get up, however, we may be forced to enjoy the desolation of Meldrum Bay one more day.  If that happens, the blog post will be exceedingly brief.

Never mess with Dudley Do-Right

By definition, any day that requires us to be underway at sunrise is going to be a bad day.  For two reasons, yesterday was one of those get-going-early days.  First, we had some open water to cross and the predictors of such things told us the wind would increase as the morning unfolded.  Second, we had no reservation in Little Current.  It’s take what you can get at the town docks, so we wanted to arrive early.  Things picked up for us after an iced tea (homemade) and Mountain Dew (store-bought).

003a1732Little Current is on the east end of Manitoulin Island, which forms the southern border of the North Channel.  Our last three stops in Canada will be on the island.  The lighthouse is where you start worrying about the current.  Depending on the wind speed, direction, and duration, boaters can face 6-knot current in either direction.  Our docking confidence moves in inverse proportion to the wind and current.  We balked at the first slip assignment and landed on the face of a t-head.  Whew.

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img_4745The island is pretty big to be connected to the mainland by a single bridge, but that’s the set up.  The bridge swings for boats every hour and stays open for 15 minutes.  That means 25% of the time people in cars curse at boaters like us.  We timed it perfectly so didn’t have to wait.  Or curse at the cars.

Little Current marks the farthest point north on our Loop.  It’s all downhill from here, at least until we hook around Key West in 4 or 5 months.  For anyone who might wonder about these things, Coeyman’s on the Hudson River was our easternmost point on the Loop unless we get blown out further when we next reach the Atlantic Ocean.

img_4747Little Current also is yet another small sleepy town.  The place to eat is Elliot’s.  The food indeed was good, but the best part may have been the chance to quote the great Walter “Gib” Gibson: “You can’t name the kid Elliot.  No.  Elliot’s a fat kid with glasses who eats paste.”  What a classic.

img_4753The chainsaw guys from some HGTV series were doing their thing.  We thought about asking them to make a huge mermaid we could slap on our bow, but nah.

img_4762The highlight of Little Current for us was Barry.  Dude is 72 but was the best of the singers whose paths we have crossed so far.  Lots of good stuff.  Kristofferson, CCR, The Beatles, Cash.  He knew a few of the words to Rocky Top but not enough to play it.  Insert sad face emoji here.

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The sky was a bit ominous this morning, but off we went since the winds were acceptable.

img_4766The person who names waterfalls really should start thinking outside the very small box.  Turns out there are Bridal Veil Falls in California, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and about a dozen other places just in North America alone.  Geez, why not mix it up a little?  He or she probably names all of his or her dogs Spot.  The point of all that is that on our way to Gore Bay, we detoured over to Kagawong to visit yet another Bridal Veil Falls.  This one required a hike from the marina, which we thought the boys would enjoy but they possibly didn’t.  The bad news was that (1) the hike wasn’t difficult or long and (2) there was a parking lot at the top, both of which meant people easily could get there with their children and toys.  Grrr.

NOTICE TO CANADIANS:  We would like to be the only people at your scenic areas so that we can take photos without you in them.  Thank you.

Kagawong also is home to St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.  This church is notable because a tragically-fatal incident involving a local family and their Chris-Craft motor yacht yielded the church pulpit.  The church also is notable because when Doug was taking a close-up photo, he stepped on a snake.  A live, wriggling, crossing-the-sidewalk snake.

img_4776Remember the game wardens in the sneaky fishing boat?  Not the Mounties.  The Mounties don’t play around.  600 horsepower worth of outboard motors pushing a slippery boat that weighs about 10 pounds makes it likely you won’t outrun them.  And since we literally can’t outrun flies, we have been staying on the sunny side of life up here.

img_4783Dinner with Second Wave at Bouy’s.  On the way, we spotted two deer in a yard.  Mares may eat oats, and little lambs may eat ivy (and a kid’ll eat ivy too), but does eat crabapples.