Sunday, August 25, 2019

Outrunning the weather

We are underway in the northern reaches of Lake Huron, westbound for Mackinac Island. I can see the island, and beyond it the Mackinac Bridge, ahead of us, even though we are still two hours away. We are back in the "pack" of loopers after seven weeks off the beaten path, with two ahead of us and one behind as I type.

Passing a laker close aboard on the St. Marys.

Shortly after my last post, we splashed the tender and bashed our way through the chop to Pickles restaurant in Brimley. We tied up in their little basin and had a casual dinner with a couple of drafts. My burger was fine but Louise's fish tacos were disappointing. We decked the tender immediately after bashing our way back; ironically, it was flat calm when we awoke in the morning.

Vector in Waiska Bay as seen from our table at Pickles.

With a potentially long day, including maybe waiting on locks, we got an early start, and had a nice push back downriver to the locks. Having uplocked on the Canadian side, we called the American side for the ride back down, planning to divert to Canada if the wait was too long. As it happened they were just locking up a tour boat as we approached, so perfect timing.

Tour leaving MacArthur lock. We were part of the scenery.

On our way into the MacArthur lock we passed the enormous tug Victory with her gargantuan attached notch barge, waiting on the Poe lock. In the lock was Indiana Harbor, one of the big thousand-footers. These dozen or so largest Great Lakes freighters are forever restricted to the four uppermost lakes, as they are all too long for the Welland Canal. They were built here, they operate here, and they'll be scrapped here when that time comes.

The visitor gallery. I had to be perfect in the lock. Looks like I bored them: excellent.

After exiting the lock we had just a few hundred feet before turning back into the George Kemp marina again to pick up our package. We were rigged to tie up to the fuel dock, but after I called on the radio they actually brought it out to us, and I only needed to get Louise within handshake distance of the dock. We were back out in the river in no time, following the Indiana Harbor downriver.

Preparing to exit the MacArthur lock chamber.

We spent the whole day sandwiched between her and the Victory. At one point the Indiana Harbor slowed down for a couple of turns and we caught up to her; when I got within a half mile I had to slow down for the wake turbulence. In short order she was opening the gap again, and by the time we got to our anchorage at Sweets Point, the Victory had also caught up to us and was overtaking us to port.

Catching up to Indiana Harbor.

After passing the Sweets Point Light to starboard we exited the ship channel, cleared out with Soo Traffic, and dropped the hook in the bight of the point (map). Our view included the beautiful wooded islands of the St. Marys as well as the DeTour Village area of the mainland peninsula, where we could see the forlorn lake freighter John Sherwin laid up in storage. Other than the occasional roll of a ship wake, it was a calm and pleasant anchorage.

Passing the laid-up John Sherwin this morning.

This morning we got a very early start, as the winds will be increasing all day and by cocktail hour will be strong enough to make docking or even anchoring a challenge in Mackinac's tight harbor. We have our fingers crossed that there will be a slip available, as the reservable ones are sold out; another good reason to arrive as early as possible.

The bow and pilothouse of the John W. Boardman, now a cottage in Detour.

The weather on the lakes will have us pinned down here for a few days. Whenever a window opens, we will continue west through the Straits of Mackinac and under the Mackinac Bridge. My next post will likely be under way in Lake Michigan.

Another spectacular UP sunset.

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