2014 Great Eastern Loop

  • Day 76 – Boyne City, MI (The End!!)

    The weather forecast for Lake Michigan wasn’t good for the next few days so we decided that we had to go for it.  Got up at 5:30 and left in the dark.  The wind was already blowing which was not a good sign!  The trip from Presque Isle to Mackinac Island was on the west side of Lake Huron and the straights.  That kept the SW wind from getting to us too badly.  However the moment eventually came and we had to round the corner and head down Lake Michigan to Charlevoix.  The wind was blowing 23 kts in the straights.  When we rounded the corner and started SW into it the wind was about 19 kts – not the 5-10 kts the weather forecast promised.  Friends in Boyne City said it was calm – almost breathless there!  The wind reporting buoys were all reporting less than 10 kts – not what we were seeing.  We slowed down to 15 kts and slugged along for about 30 minutes and the wind did start to drop the closer we got to Charlevoix.  Eventually we were able to go back to 27 kts and make the 11 o’clock bridge.

    Once on Lake Charlevoix we roared home to a grand reception with some of our closest friends and champagne!  Marcia got off the boat and immediately kissed the dock.

    IMG_2448

    77 days, 3,910 miles.  The northernmost point was Mont-Louis on the upper St. Lawrence (49 21), the easternmost was at the end of the Straights of Canso in Nova Scotia(60 52), the southernmost was Manhattan Island as we rounded The Battery (40 41) and the westernmost was Charlevoix, MI (85 16).  This describes a rectangle 1.040 miles long by 540 miles high.

    The lasting impression, because we had done this same route 16 years ago in 1998, was that there was less wildlife and most of all, we only saw three towns that were doing economically better than 16 years ago.   Those were Montreal, Quebec City and Newport, RI.  The rest were all doing worse, some a lot worse.  After more than 65 towns you can easily conclude that the middle class and recreational boating has been horribly damaged by the financial crisis both in Canada and the US.  Lots of closed restaurants, gas stations, motels, etc.  Very sad.

    It’s good to be home!

    IMG_1377

     

     

  • Day 75 – Presque Isle, MI

    We again had calm seas for our ride to Presque Isle which was good since it is a 120 mile trip.  We actually saw a couple of boats along the way, but it has been amazing how few pleasure boats we have seen along the way.

    The Presque Isle harbor is one of the nicest on the great lakes. Very protected, great docks, walking trails and sandy beaches.  But very deserted.  Only  a handful of boats at the docks.

    We filled up and two girls were manning the gas dock – something we have seen quite a bit of this year.  I told her that 15 years ago only guys were on the fuel dock, but now it is only girls.  What happened? “We out willed them”, she said.  Pretty cool!

    One of the boats that was docked here has to get the award for the most unattractive boat we have seen on this trip.  What were they thinking ? !

    IMG_1365

    Marcia and I took the mighty Cruiser for a swim at the launch ramp which was blessedly clean – something we haven’t seen much of along the way.  We are already excited to be back in our clear and beautiful home waters.

    IMG_2406

    IMG_2404

    Our plan is to leave very early tomorrow and try to get back to Boyne City!

  • Day 74 – Port Sanilac, MI

    We said farewell to The Old Club mid morning and had a great ride to Port Sanilac.  Lake Huron was calm. Hoo-ray !

    Port Sanilac is a very small town.  Only 650 residents. It seemed like summer had officially ended on Labor Day here.  Restaurants were closed and very quiet.

    IMG_2396

    But it had a great beach for Cruiser to retrieve his dummy.

    IMG_2400

    Howard’s arm was much better but the effects of all the choloratrimiton he took yesterday made it hard for him to keep his eyes open.

    This marina like so many in the USA has a liability greeting.  No “Hi, Welcome”.  Instead it is a set of rules.  What a shame.

    IMG_2399

    We walked into town to be greeted by the same signs we have seen in so many towns on this trip.  Lots of vacant store fronts.

    IMG_2398

    Leaving for Presque Isle in the morning.  We had planned on Port Austin so we could go to the their great restaurant “The Farm”, but since it is after Labor Day they are only open Thursday-Sunday.  Oh, well.

  • Day 73 – Harsens Island, MI

    The day started out cloudy, but it was warm and the sun came out after lunch.  There was  lot going on at the club – it was nice to see everyone enjoying all the club has to offer.  Golf, tennis, skeet shooting, and swimming.

    The boardwalk is iconic at the club.  Here is a picture of the cottage we used to own.  All cottages are over the water with trap doors in the floor to fish.  Toilets used to drop into the river – after all these date to 1872!   We fixed that when I was commodore with a sewage treatment plant for the club.

    IMG_2386

    Unfortunately, Howard was bitten by a spider we think and his upper arm blew up.  He took cloratrimiton to help the  swelling but it made him so sleepy- he couldn’t stay awake most of the day.

    The front harbor was packed with boats as were all harbors.  Still one of the best tie-ups in the country.

    IMG_2391 IMG_2388

    Marcia and Cruiser spent the afternoon swimming. We had a nice dinner at our friends cottage on their deck overlooking the club and the South Channel. We were both glad we could spend time at a spot that has so many wonderful memories for us.  The Miles’ cottage faces both ways as ours used too.  Great fun to be with Dave and Chris again.

    IMG_1362

    IMG_1363

  • Day 72 – Harsens Island, MI

    Originally, we thought we would go to Port Sanilac on Saturday and get a good start towards Boyne City, but again because of Labor Day weekend -there was no dockage.  We called the manager of the Old Club and he amazingly got a spot for us there on the front wall!  So after one of the best lunches of the trip at the GPYC we left and went to The Old Club.   Marcia had a beet fig salad that was incredible with perfectly cooked loin lamb chops.  Worth every calorie!  Howard had a Turkish Salad with a phyllo roll stuffed with feta!

    IMG_1228

    IMG_1227

     

    They have a great swimming program in Grosse Pointe.  Marcia took this picture of one of the non-swimmers.  It’s how we felt after the big lunch!

    IMG_1226

     

    Arrived at The Old Club about 4 PM.  Dinner was with old friends John and Marlene Boll.  The club served a bison prime rib which was excellent.   The weather was pretty nice for a change.

  • Day 71 Grosse Pointe, MI

    The forecast Friday was for lighter winds from the southwest so we left Geneva-on-the-Lake thinking we would hug the south shore of Lake Erie and go to Put-In-Bay.  But we called several marinas in that area to find dockage and everyone was booked because of Labor Day weekend so we decided to to make it a longer day and go to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.  We changed course to go a more direct way and unfortunately it was a wavy ride to the the Detroit River Light with a big following sea.  It felt good to be back in Michigan and we had a great slip at the GPYC.  It was easy to get in because everyone had left for the Labor Day Week-end.  We had been members there years ago.  It is a beautiful facility with its iconic tower.

    IMG_2382

    IMG_2383

    Our friend Ty Totte loaned us a car and Marcia restocked the boat for the trip home.

    We had a nice  Italian dinner  at Trattoria Andiamo with our friend John Filippelli and his girl friend Kathy.

  • Day 70 – Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH

    Then flags were still straight out when we awoke.  When Marcia and Cruiser went out for their first morning walk – there were twenty or so men who  had arrived at 4:30 am to go out charter fishing sitting by the marina building.  But the charter fishing boats were not leaving the dock.  So- we knew we wouldn’t be either.

    We spent the day cleaning and detailing Esprit.  We went to The Lodge for lunch but the food was very disappointing considering what a beautiful facility it was.  Of course, it had rules including this one.  Gosh, I’d hate to get in trouble with the state for moving my chair!

    IMG_2381

    After dinner on the boat – we watched the first movie we had seen since we left home.

  • Day 69 – Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH

    We set off for Cleveland but again the wind deterred us from getting there.  So we diverted to Geneva -on-the-Lake.  An old summer resort town that John D. Rockefeller and friends used to come to in the early 1900’s to go camping.  The state run marina was gorgeous !

    IMG_1355

     

    IMG_1354

    Beautiful docks, beaches and hiking trails.  A couple of good restaurants. We walked into the town which in it’s hey day( the forties and fifties) had lots of amusements. Ferris Wheel, Carousal, Dodge cars, arcades and miniature golf.  Ice cream shops, Hot Dog stands. Unfortunately, most things were in disrepair.

    IMG_2375

    IMG_2374

    IMG_2373

    After all this is Ohio, so we expected some strangeness.

    IMG_2378

    There are some nice homes and condos and a huge resort called The Lodge. It is a beautiful piece of property.

    IMG_1360

    IMG_1359

    The beach was a hit with Cruiser.  Lots of sand, fresh clean water and waves.

    The restaurant we chose for dinner had local meats and produce.  It was very fresh and tasty.  But they only served local wines which were not up to par with our Niagra on the Lake experience.  The homemade lemon blueberry ice cream was delicious.  If you really have “only eyes for you sweetie”, you can sit in the corner of the restaurant.

    IMG_2380

     

    As we walked back to the boat – the wind came up and the flags were straight out.  Not a good sign for a departure tomorrow.

    IMG_1356

     

  • Day 68 – Erie, PA

    After returning the rental car- we headed out for Erie, PA.  The weather was windier than expected so we took a more southernly route and hugged the shore.

    Erie has  a lot of new marinas.  Because of a huge peninsula that comes off the east side of town – there is an immense harbor that is really well protected.  Very friendly people. Again as at many ports that we stopped at- we felt like an oddity because there just aren’t a lot of other boats cruising like we are.  The only other boats we saw from Port Colborne to Erie were fishermen outside the channels of the towns we passed.

    A downside of the marina area was a major highway was right by them, so no place to really walk and it was very noisy.  But the city was pretty and had lots of things going on.  Convention centers,  casinos, race track, sports teams and a huge mall.  The peninsula has a park with hiking trails, many beaches and a bird sanctuary.  A great place to go to with your dinghy.

    We ate on board and watched some TV – something we hadn’t been able to do for awhile.

  • Day 67 – Port Colborne, ON

    Last day in Canada!  Because I had so much fun at the wineries on Saturday I talked Marcia into doing the trip back there with me again so she could see it.

    IMG_1343

    IMG_1347

    IMG_1346

    IMG_1345

    IMG_1344

    It was a beautiful day.  Of course because it was Monday- the wineries were not as crowded.  Marcia was blown away by how Napa like the area was.  The wines very nice and the area just beautiful.  We had lunch in the old city of Niagara-on-the Lake at a cool hotel overlooking Lake Ontario.  Cruiser couldn’t go it, but was nearby in the flowers.

    IMG_1341

     

    We stocked up on more produce at the fruits stands along the way.   We then stopped at Nickel Beach so Cruiser could take a dip.

    IMG_1350

    We had dinner at the Canal Side again. Cruiser said good-bye to the many friends he made at the marina.