We Dodged A Huge Bullet
03 September 2011 | Jefferson Beach Marina, Lake St. Clair, MI
Hot... Super Hot
We just learned that the Erie Canal is now closed indefinetly due to severe damage. Boats planning to go south via the canal are now having to shift to the Mississippi River, wow we just made it. Our passage through Governor Clinton's Ditch, A.K.A. The Erie Canal was uneventful and we used only 40 gallons of fuel from Catskill on the Hudson River to Lake Erie, some 360 miles, not bad if I do say so.
In around 1816, the then governor of New York had a vision to transform New York City into a center of commerce for the US and the world. His plan was to build a canal across his state creating a passageway for western commodities to reach the east coast markets from the Great Lakes to the Hudson River faster and less costly. He was laughed at until it was completed and became such a success. Additional canals were planned and built connecting the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. Quite and ambitious undertaking almost 200 years ago.
The canal has been modernized three times since its opening and today is operated by the State of New York. When you travel I90, the New York Thruway, you pass adjacent to and cross over the canal many times from Buffalo to Troy. It's really quite an experience with several towns along the way providing free dockage, showers, ah yes those showers, electricity, laundry and water. We took advantage of their generosity, planning our daily travels to terminate around 4:30 at one of those towns; then we would mingle with the locals, have a nice dinner, catch up on emails and say good night starting again the next morning. We met numerous bikers/campers along the canal, traveling the bike paths pitching their tents close to the boat docking area. They would bike along at over seven to eight miles per hour while we were powering long at 6.8 knots, so they would start out before us, stop for breakfast where we would catch and pass them and then down the way they would pass us, good fun, good exercise, nice people.
Once out of the canal it was time to re-step the mast and put our home back in sailing shape. We visited with my brother Perry, Joette and one of their sons Peter, then it was out onto the lake for some sailing except Mother Nature had different plans. We started out with 10 - 12 knots from the south, very nice sailing, then slowly the wind shifted to southwest to west and increased to over 15. So now it's right on our nose and getting pretty bumpy, so being cruisers we bailed out, found a harbor and dropped the hook, hoping for better luck the next day. Nope not to be. Now there was no wind. So off we charged under power.
True to form, Lake Erie once again tried our patience. About mid-night we started seeing lightening ahead of us. Within a hour it hit us with down pours and a lighten show worth talking about. I mean we have all experienced very close lightening strikes where the light and sound are coincident, but these strikes were brilliant, blindingly bright. So bright that when we closed our eyes, the images where there just as if we had looked directly at the sun. It was more than a little un-nerving thinking we were in the middle of the lake with a 60 foot piece of metal sticking up into the air. All ended well except the storms sucked up all the air and we had to continue powering arriving a Pelee Island around noon. We dropped the hook behind a small breakwater and called it done.
So after the trip past Detroit we anchored near Gross Point Yacht and today we've taken a slip in the Jefferson Beach Marina. We were offered the use of a car so we: refilled both propane tanks, went grocery shopping, bought filters for our Yanmar and just finished changing the engine and transmission oils, the fuel and oil filters. It also sounds mundane and it is, but so necessary. I replace the oil and filters every one hundred engine hours. My thinking being, this engine is now part of the family and we treat it appropriately.
Tomorrow we head for Lake Huron hoping the forecasted northerly winds will be sailable. I just looked at the GRIB files and it looks as thought the tropical depression down in the Gulf will contribute to shifting our winds around to the north and northeast....argg!! again right on our nose. This time we'll be a little more patient and wait and see. NE winds on Lake Huron are not good. so 'till then,
BTW, it looks as though hurricane Katia may be headed for the east coast. The GRIB files shows a slight shift to the north which will hopefully head it out to sea. Chow!!