Saturday, August 17, 2019

Tin Can Tourist

We are underway northbound in Lake Huron, hugging the coast of Michigan's "thumb." We have a long 50-mile day today, headed for the mouth of Saginaw Bay. The plotter is showing anchor down right at beer o'clock.

Moonrise over the lake vies for attention with the Sanilac breakwater light.

Yesterday afternoon we had the hook down in Sanilac Harbor (map) right around 3:15. The entire harbor bottom is covered in weeds, which confounds our depth sounder and also makes anchoring, and, later, weighing anchor, more of a challenge. We dropped where the chart says there was plenty of depth and we were out of the way of the busier-than-expected harbor.

Vector in Sanilac Harbor.

I soon learned the reason for that, after I splashed the tender and headed ashore to explore. It turns out that today is the annual Sanilac Antique Boat and Vintage RV show, and the harbor was filling up with old woodies, and the Tin Can Tourists had already set up shop all over the adjacent park. The street leading to the harbor was closed off, and a couple of food trucks and carts were set up for the weekend.

This 60's Frolic had highly polished side fluting.

Long-time readers will know that, before Vector, we lived in our RV for nearly a decade, and for nearly two years before that, I was fully engaged in the project of converting a Neoplan bus into what would be our home. As such we were well immersed in RV culture, and I even became something of a figure in RV and particularly bus conversion circles as a technical expert on systems. So this was sort of a flashback into a former life for me.

A '36 fifth wheel with its custom '38 International tow vehicle.

You might say I am a bit jaded, as it was plenty for me to just admire these vintage rigs from the outside and enjoy a few glimpses through doorways, without having to venture inside any of them (many were open for tours even yesterday evening, although the show started this morning). Also, it was enough for me to enjoy their beauty without having to drill down into makes, models, and age, although I recognized quite a few marques.

Lovingly restored Vagabond.

On the water side of things, I am not much of a vintage boat fan, and a number of readers were disappointed that we eschewed the antique boat museum in Clayton and any number of maritime museums along the lakes. But these lovingly cared-for boats were certainly things of beauty; unsurprisingly for the region, Chris Craft was well represented. Keeping anything in that kind of show condition is more work than I would be able to muster, and looking at boats (or RVs) is something of a busman's holiday, so the whole show took me less than half an hour to take in.

Most of the smaller boats, like this 39 Chris Craft, arrived on trailers, then were brought around to the docks.

I scoped out the grand total of three restaurants in town as dinner options; the over-priced waterfront joint was already booked solid from 6-7:30. There was also a very nice hardware store in town, and a Family Dollar had we needed any provisions (we did not). I was also nearly mown down crossing the street at the four-way stop by some idiot buried in his cell phone as he made a left turn, and pulling a heavy trailer. I jumped out of the way at the last second, screaming. No harm done, except a bit of a sore throat later.

This once-futuristic trailer has a teardrop back and the entry door in front.

We returned ashore for dinner at the Blue Water Grill, a casual sports bar in town, where the food was decent and a third the price of the waterfront place. Even the nice selection of drafts was well-priced. Afterward we walked to the mini-mart at the Marathon station, as somehow we forgot to replenish the beer supply in Detroit, and we were completely out. They had the local Great Lakes brews in stock and I picked up some Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.

The DNR police were cruising past when we pulled up this ball of weeds. It cracked them up.

This morning we again pulled up a hundred pounds of weeds with the anchor, but Louise has gotten quite good at removing them with the boat pole as the chain comes up. We left the harbor with a giant mustache of them stuck behind the snubber, but that all came off under way after a few miles.


  1. If you anchor at Port Austin, try The Bank for dinner. PA has a nice grocery store for a small town, a well stocked hardware store and excellent English muffin bread at the bakery steps from the marina.

    1. Sadly, the merchants of Port Austin got none of our business, thanks to a mercenary harbormaster who wanted $12 to land a dinghy "for a couple of hours." That would have amounted to a $12 surcharge on dinner, even though it was a beautiful evening and it would have been nice to sit out on the patio, and another $12 if we wanted to stop at the bakery this morning.

      I'm sure we could have found a way to get ashore by beaching the dinghy someplace, but when a town does not want our business, we oblige by not giving them any.

      On top of all that, the (recorded) church bells started playing hymns at full volume at 1 am, for a full 45 minutes. We left first thing this morning, and won't be back.


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