Drummond Island Yacht Haven
25 July 2012 | L. Huron
July 16, 2012
Our boat is our home. Our home moves into a different culture every few days. Last Sunday we were alone, as in the only house on the block, on Isle Royale. It was a true wilderness experience – forests, loons, wolves howling, starry skies and very tranquil. One week later we are in Houghton Mi, the middle of Copper Country and saved from poverty by the presence of a University. We are tied up right on the Waterway so when a hot Sunday comes, think the St Croix. The highlight occurred about 6:00. Two fancy speed boats pulled up behind us. Children were “thrown” up on to the pier, some of the older ones scrambling up on their own. Then came the shoes being flung out of the boat into a pile, shirts were flung into a different pile. And off they went for pizza. 12 kids, infants to 6 or 7 and 3 sets of very young parents. Hysterical.
From Copper Harbor, we backtracked to the Kewanau Waterway and Houghton. We did this instead of bashing against a strong southerly swell and anchoring with a risk of storms. Seemed like a good decision at the time. Probably was a mistake in hindsight as the storms never arrived. However, we waited for 4 days in Houghton for weather. Finally, today, we left at 4:00am (!). Twelve hours later, we arrived in Marquette. 1/3 of the trip was an absolutely great sail on a 15 knt NE, but the other 2/3 was motor sailing. Uhg! Now I have a grib file with shows N and NW for a day at 10knts, perfect for moving on, but in total disagreement with the NWS forecast. If we can get to Munising in the next couple of days we have a week of southerlies and then NW which would take us all the way to the Soo. Anyway, that is our dilemma all day every day it seems.
The morning after leaving the brightness, brashness and chaos of Houghton, the experience was abruptly different. The skies were full of clouds all various shades of gray and a variety of shape. The water was a leaden gray and the trees on the Huron mountains a deep smoky blue. The wind was gentle and as we ghosted along, the sun randomly broke thru the clouds in little slivers making patches of emerald green amidst the smoky blue. We sailed along the shore of these beautiful mountains all day. Eventually the mountains gave way to beaches, wide and windswept. This part of L. Superior is wild, windswept and dramatic.
We plan to use a small light air window tomorrow morning to motor about 35 miles to Grand Island near Munising. If the longer term gribs are right, we should have a few days of more or less favorable winds. As of now our goal of being on the Michigan side of L. Huron by Aug 1 is still good.
While dropping the small jib on the way in to Marquette, I leaned on the starboard life line and it gave way. Fortunately, I was already on my knees and just got a good look at the water rather than a dunking. Life jacket on if you are wondering. I think one of the ring cotters must have developed crevis corrosion and was pulled off by the jib sheet. Then it just sat until……… I have jury rigged a repair for now and will replace all of the other ring cotters. Scared the bejeebers out of E. As it happened, I was in control, but she could not see that from the cockpit. Interesting ly, we had just yesterday reviewed MOB procedures. Good for us.
Anchored out got all ready to go in the am. Woke at 5am, still a persistent NE and forecast for more of same. Went back into the marina. This is the 19th. We will leave tomorrow for Munising with forecast for light following winds. Then ??? E rented a bike and I took a long walk. We have been able to buy fresh Lake Trout and the dinners have been fabulous. Kudos to E.
We did head for Munising, but passed over Grand Isle and went on to Grand Marais, MI., a very long motorsail. Next day we had a good sail to Whitefish Point, all except the last three hours which were complicated by the fact that the wind went straight behind us. Very rolly, and slow. After a short night’s rest, we headed down Whitefish Bay to the Soo locks and Kemp Marina.
Here we decided that we would have to deal with the clattering noise coming from the back of the engine. It started right after we left Bayfield, intermittently worse or not present at all. We had transmission failure PTSD from last year. Today I called Mack Boring and talked directly to Rick who did the re-build on the transmission last July. I actually found him working on a boat near the Statue of Liberty! After a long discussion, he opined that the problem is actually the damper plate. Probably it should have been replaced when the tranny was out of the boat last summer, but we elected not to do it then. I found his analysis compelling, so…
the part has been ordered from Mack Boring and will arrive at the Drummond Island Yacht Haven on Wednesday afternoon. We are about 50 miles up the St. Mary”s River from them, but will go there tomorrow Tuesday assuming the weather holds. I will once again loosen all the bolts holding the tranny to the engine, release the shaft, and turn the rest of the work over to the mechanic on duty. We could be on our way again by Fiiday—fingers crossed.
I have nothing but praise for Mack Boring. They could see that we were just a couple of weeks beyond the one year warranty date, but made not a mention of it. Rick noted that if the recommended damper plate repair did not do the trick and no other source could be found, then we send the tranny back and they will redo whatever needs to be done at their expense.
However, the whole thing was/is a trauma on top of three long sailing days . I (Jim) made boucoup phone calls all morning. We just returned from a stress relieving stroll through Sault St. Marie and the Corps of Engineers park at the locks. Then we are going to walk back to a bar overlooking the locks for happy hour and 99cent tap beer before dinner aboard.