2003 - Into the St. Lawrence Estuary & Back


 Ocean Explorer News - May 22, 2003 Port Huron, Michigan

 Our trip has, with the exception of the cold weather, been pretty uneventful since leaving Mackinaw City.  We have made it to Port Huron in three long days of travel.  The first leg was from Mackinaw City to Presque Isle, MI, and the second was from Presque Isle to East Tawas, MI.  The third was the final jump to Port Huron.

 Having visited Presque Isle in years past, we did not spend any time there except to get some sleep.  We had not previously been to East Tawas, and bad weather was forecasted, so we did spend a day there.  It is a small town with a good harbor.  We asked some of the locals about its history, but didn't learn much.  Later, after it had closed, we found out that there was a historical museum that we would have liked to visit.  We asked one lady as to whether she had any recommendations as to restaurants in the town.  Her response was, "Well, what kind of pizza do you like?"  You never know what you are going to find in some of these places.  It is always a new adventure.

 Knowing that a cold front was forecasted to pass through, we moved the boat to the East Tawas fuel dock to fill up with diesel and get a pump-out of our head prior to the front striking.  It was our hope to beat the front, but the blamed thing hit us just as we were leaving the fuel dock.  The young fellows working there did some scrambling and, with their assistance, we were able to avoid any damage to OE as we moved away from the dock with the sudden NW wind howling in the rigging and trying to blow us back against the pier.

 The cold weather is getting a bit old.  You'd think that all we needed was a cold front on top of everything else.  Actually it was helpful.  Prior to the front, the winds had been easterly off Lake Huron, which currently has a temperature in the low forties.  The air temperature was about the same.  With the shift of the wind to a NW quadrant, off the land, our temperature actually picked up.  So, a cold front for some may not be a cold front for all.  We do manage to keep the interior of the boat warm with our diesel heater.  We have even run it while underway a couple of times.

 After a great, all-day sail from East Tawas, we arrived in Port Huron at about 0130 this morning.  As you might guess, not having seen but a couple of freighters all day, we encountered five of them leaving the St. Clair River to enter Lake Huron as we were leaving Lake Huron to enter the St. Clair River.  It was a challenge trying to distinguish ship lights and buoy lights from those of the city behind.  We shot through the fast water under the Blue Water Bridge (which goes from Port Huron to Sarnia, ONT) and entered the Black River.  Not being able to attract the attention of the bridge tender, we tied up to a wall near the mouth of the Black River, got some sleep, and then, with daylight, moved upriver, through two bridges, to a marina.  We are presently tied securely, it is sunny, it is warm, and life is good.

 Rich & Donna


In Black River Looking Toward St. Clair River - Port Huron Yacht Club to Port


 Ocean Explorer News - Leamington, Ontario - May 25, 2003

 We arrived in Leamington at about 1730 yesterday afternoon.  Since our primary incoming cargo was laundry, we spent this morning at the Laundromat (I just looked up the spelling and learned that Laundromat is a registered trademark) about a 3/4-mile walk from here.  We were able to get a cart from the marina and that helped a lot.  We could have done the wash at the marina, but without multiple machines it would have been an all day job.  I swear that the load was about ten pounds lighter coming back, but maybe going downhill exaggerated the sensation a bit.

 Insects are a part of sailing.  They are everywhere in one form or another.  We refer to the "bug du jour" and "hatch of the day" with some frequency.  Here in Leamington, we have experienced the "mother of all hatches."  There is a local insect, which we have experienced in the past, which polite Canadians call a Sturgeon Fly and almost-as-polite Ohioans call a Canadian Soldier.  The rest of us call them things that are not printable in a family newsletter.  They come out in clusters of thousands and there are thousands of the clusters.  They excrete (another polite term) a green material that stains everything.  We had the misfortune to roll several million of these insects into our roller-furling jib three years ago, and it has taken two professional cleanings by sailmakers and lots of bleaching sunlight for them to finally fade to something less conspicuous.

 A friend commented by e-mail that I am not writing as often as I have in the past.  Well, much of our trip is old territory to us, and to many of you, so I thought I would go a little easy on everyone for now.  Actually, it has been a pretty uneventful trip.  The two most exciting events have been encountering all the law enforcement in the Detroit/Windsor area and the day I took Donna's medication by accident.  We each take a total of four over-the-counter and prescription medications.  In an effort to be efficient we put our morning medications out the night before.  In the gray light of early morning they look much the same.  The inevitable happened and I ended up swallowing Donna's before I realized my error.  I had the best day that I have had in forty years, but we don't set them out in that way anymore.

 Detroit/Windsor was interesting.  There are only two bridges crossing the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers.  The Bluewater Bridge is at Port Huron/Sarnia and the Ambassador Bridge is at Detroit/Windsor.  Law enforcement in the form of Canadian Police, Coast Guard (both countries), Border Patrol, and American police was all over the place, as the bridges are considered a prime target for our terrorist friends.  All trucks crossing them are being searched.  A Canadian patrol boat followed us into the marina where we stayed in Windsor, but we were not boarded.  We did casually converse with police as we registered and called Canadian Customs, however.  I gave customs our documentation number, and they had all our information from our previous visits.  We were given a cruising permit and permission to winter the boat in Nova Scotia without a visit from the authorities.  The guy in a powerboat who came in right after us said he had been boarded and the boat had been thoroughly searched.  I don't know how he made out with Customs.

 We depart for the Port Colbourn and the Welland Canal tomorrow morning.  We are not sure where we will stop along the way.  We have even considered just going the whole 175 nautical miles in one shot.  We will see how the weather looks.

 Rich and Donna


Scenes Along Detroit & St. Clair Rivers


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