Riding the Waves with Piper

The best first mate, to date, is our beloved former Belmont Shore neighbor, Piper Jackson. 

Born and raised in Long Beach, CA, Piper has been on the water most of her life.

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Thanks, Piper, for making Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Frankfort

The quaint little town of Frankfort was full of delightful surprises, well worth the stop!

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Frankfort Mineral Spring Water.
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Historic Frankfort
Monarch photo by Bill from Oregon
Photo by Bill, from Ohio.

We reunited with Gypsy for a delicious impromptu barbeque.  The best kind.

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Decadent potluck, fresh Michigan corn and caramel s’mores.

Another delightful surprise, a nice small world moment – Hello Carrie!

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At the local grocery store, Rick realized he knew the lovely woman in front of him. Carrie Hessler-Radelet and her husband (Rick and Carrie met in California, of course), live in small town Frankfort during the summer.  Carrie’s father and two wonderful Michigan friends joined us on board Exhale for a relaxing glass of wine.

Manistee

The public docks are under renovation, after an aggressive storm surge. The marina building was spectacular, and the staff was delightful.

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Downtown Manistee.

Crew Change – Introducing Matt & Piper

Matt and Piper Jackson joined us on Exhale in Manistee. By the way, we definitely missed you, Michele.

PiperInManistee

Piper and Maddie grew up together in California, and are very similar in age (Piper is 10).  Piper swims competitively, sails (solo) better than most men, and is a trained youth lifeguard.

Ludington

Matt, Piper, Capt. Rick and Maddie ran the boat from Manistee to Ludington (roughly 3.5 hours) while I got to drive Matt’s rental car along the country roads of Michigan.  Matt and Piper did a GREAT job without me on board 🙂

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Ludington is home to S.S. Badger, the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States.  If you want to learn more click here. 

Ludington

LudingtonBadger

It’s also home to Brenda’s Harbor Cafe. Adnerb, is this part of your retirement plan?

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This is for Brenda Marlow.

Pentwater

Well versed in nautical lingo, from Ludington to Pentwater (roughly 2 hours) Piper adeptly set the lines, handled the fenders, and kept the captain well informed as we were docking.

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Fenders

Pentwater Yacht Club

Piper made herself very comfortable, hanging out at the yacht club.

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YachtClub

Piper was the first to spot the familiar Long Beach Yacht Club burgee (Jacksons and grandparents Barry and Kathy May are longtime members).

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Exhale crew, Matt and Piper Jackson.

And it was our first Burgee Exchange (Southwest Florida Yacht Club and PYC).  We miss you, Commodore Ron Austin!

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Burgee Exchange

Thanks for visiting, Matt and Piper

It was sad to see Matt and Piper drive away.  We heard she played the ukulele – pretty much nonstop – on their 4-hour drive to Chicago :-).  It turns out Piper is a VERY talented actress and musician, with an uncanny ability to recite LONG excerpts from Hamilton. It was very impressive.  We hope you come back again soon. Next time, bring mom and the grandparents!  

Pentwater to Grandhaven

After closely monitoring the weather for days, it appeared there was a break in the storm. Only after Peter and Rick rode out into the swells in a dinghy to check on the sea conditions, we agreed to leave the dock with Peter and Jeannie on Tortuga, with an expectation that the water could be a little rough, but knowing it would be worse the following day.

calm waters

Departing Pentwater at 12:30 pm, unusually late for us, once we got away from the shore we had 42 miles of 2-3 foot following seas (think of it as a gentle push).  What a pleasant surprise.  Inspired by our discovery of calm waters, Gypsy and Miss Hattie braved the journey as well.  We arrived in Grand Haven around 7 pm, enough time to enjoy the sunset and a delightful evening cocktail with Lenore and Bob from Miss Hattie.

Grand Haven to Holland – No Photos, Please.

Let’s just get it out there, I wasn’t mad, I was just plain scared.  For me, the run from Grand Haven to Holland was my all-time worst 2 and a half hours on the water this yearRick said the waters might be a little rough, but we also knew it was a relatively short trip (only 12 miles). And, based on the previous day, I thought the waters would calm down, more or less. I was wrong. 

When the beam seas (water aggressively slamming you from the side of the boat) kicked in, the boat rocked enough that I put on a life jacket.  My mind was racing with fear, imagining how we might capsize.  When Rick realized the dog was shaking, and saw that tears were rolling down my face, he offered to go back.  Fear is irrational and hard to shake, but I trust Rick, and I knew the best answer was to proceed.  Of course, we all made it safe and sound, albeit a little rattled.

Holland

It was really exciting to visit De Zwaan – Dutch for the swan. The last windmill to leave the Netherlands, it’s still an active grain mill, grinding roughly 12,000 pounds of locally grown corn and wheat every year.  To learn more click here.  The miller is Ms. Alisa Crawford.

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De Zwaan, Holland, MI

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Amsterdam street organ, a thank you gift after World War II.

We enjoyed walking the grounds of Windmill Island Gardens, Holland MI.

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Holland4

Saugatuck

We left Exhale docked in Holland and took a short vespa ride (~ 8 miles) to reunite with Bruce and Beverly Peck, Sea Trek (they said hi, Craig!)

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B and B enjoying a lemon drop martini.

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Vespa Ride

We don’t use the Vespa often enough.  Even in a light rain, what a great way to visit nearby communities, especially when there is no Uber or Lyft nearby!

VespaPower

Happy Birthday Alisha, Happy Anniversary Danielle and Sandra

Flowers

Next Stops: Southeast Lake Michigan

Following the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, we are slowly headed to the Illinois River. So far, in Michigan, we have stopped in DeTour Village, Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Leland, Frankfort, Manistee, Ludington, Pentwater, Grand Haven, and Holland (with a side trip to Saugatuck on the Vespa).  Next up: South Haven, or thereabouts.

LakeMichigan

Next Guests – Not sure 🙂

Where Have We Been So Far? Thanks for asking 🙂

Total Locks completed = 126, includes:

  • Florida – Lake Okeechobee area: 7
  • Virginia – Great Dismal Swamp: 2
  • New York – Troy & Champlain Canal: 12
  • CANADA – Chambly Canal/Quebec: 9
  • CANADA – Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway: 5
  • CANADA – Rideau Canal/Ontario: 47
  • CANADA – Trent-Severn Waterway: 44

States and Provinces traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

U.S (March 1- June 10). Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont. (August 10 – tbd): Michigan

Canada Provinces (June 10 – August 9): Quebec, Ontario.

Side trips (via auto or plane):

Los Angeles (MS [2 – April and May], Rick [3 – May, June and July] & Maddie [May], Cleveland (RMG, MS & Maddie [2- April and July], Craig [April])

Michigan Blue – celebrating with super heroes.

The magnificent splendor of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island makes you feel as if you have stepped back, somewhere in time

Blue Waters of Michigan

You asked – “how blue are the waters, really?”  Well, Susie Q – the waters are sooo blue you can see the marina boulders, more than 15 feet down!

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Crystal clear marina water.
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Blue sky and blue waters.

St. Ignace

Mike & Sue Gillespie drove from Cleveland to northern Michigan, joining us in Upper Peninsula (called Yooper). On their first night aboard, the sunset at St. Ignace was breathtaking.

StIgnace

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Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

One of my favorite childhood stories was the tall tale of Paul Bunyan a giant lumberjack with superhuman strength. Big as a mountain and strong as a grizzly bear… his trusty companion was a legendary blue ox. His likeness is displayed in several statues across North America, including this one in Michigan.[7][8]

BabeTheBlueOx

There are multiple Paul Bunyan statues in Michigan, for more info click here.

Mackinac Island

You can only get to Mackinac (pronounced Mac-in-aw) by water or air.  When you arrive you feel like you stepped back in time.

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Thanks for the private cruise from St. Ignace to Mackinaw aboard Gypsy!

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No cars are allowed on the island. Horse-drawn carriages are a common form of transit.
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A little giraffe hello for Alisha.

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LadyLiberty

Grand Hotel

If you are looking for a decadent wedding destination: Grand Hotel (click here)

GrandHotel

We will never forget the spectacular views from a rocking chair overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, from the world’s longest porch.

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Pure elegance.

Somewhere in Time

Grand Hotel is rich in history, a place where time moves slowly.  The perfect setting for a favorite romantic classic starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, “Somewhere in Time”. 

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Oh, Superman …

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SomewhereInTime

SomewhereInTime3

Happy Anniversary Mike & Sue – 33 and still counting.

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Brunch at the Grand Hotel.

To celebrate – we watched Somewhere in Time (of course you can buy the movie in the gift shop!!).  Actually, Sue and I watched the movie, Rick and Mike went to bed early.

Mackinac Straits Bridge

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Mackinac Straits by boat. Another bucket list item checked.
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The bridge is really, really green.
UnderTheBridge
Yep, we are under the bridge.
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It’s the Mackinac Straits Bridge in the rearview camera!

Petoskey

It was a privilege to spend time with Tom & Nancy Rea (captains of Meanders), who live in Petoskey. Thanks again for introducing us to Charlevoix, where we joined Don & Barb Cavin (Cavara) for dinner, celebrating Barb’s birthday.

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Petoskey Lighthouse. A very popular swimming spot.

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Petoskey4

Charlevoix

Although mushroom house architecture didn’t really “catch on”, it is a fun vacation concept. If you are looking for a unique rental opportunity, click here. Over the course of his fifty-year career, Architect Earl Young designed twenty-six residential houses and four commercial properties. His works are made mostly of stone, using limestone, fieldstone, and boulders that he found throughout Northern Michigan

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Mushroom House ~1911. Architect Earl Young. Photo by Sue Gillespie.

Leland

Leland, MI is a quaint little town reknowned for it’s smoked fish.

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Gypsy docked in FishTown.
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What was that?? A motor car in the marina?
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It felt like a moment from an Austin Powers movie.
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Mike G, taking a nap. Maddie keeping a close watch.

Next Stops: More of Lake Michigan

Exhale will continue to traverse south, following the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, heading to the Illinois River. So far we have stopped in Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, Petoskey, Charlevoix and Leland.  Next up: Frankfort and Manistee. After that, only Mother Nature really knows.

LakeMichigan

Next Guests – Matt & Piper Jackson 🙂

Where Have We Been So Far? Thanks for asking 🙂

Total Locks completed = 126, includes:

  • Florida – Lake Okeechobee area: 7
  • Virginia – Great Dismal Swamp: 2
  • New York – Troy & Champlain Canal: 12
  • CANADA – Chambly Canal/Quebec: 9
  • CANADA – Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway: 5
  • CANADA – Rideau Canal/Ontario: 47
  • CANADA – Trent-Severn Waterway: 44

States and Provinces traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

U.S (March 1- June 10). Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont. (August 10 – tbd): Michigan

Canada Provinces (June 10 – August 9): Quebec, Ontario.

Side trips (via land or air):

Los Angeles (MS [2 – April and May], Rick [3 – May, June and July] & Maddie [May], Cleveland (RMG, MS & Maddie [2- April and July], Craig [April])

Au revoir Canada, until we meet again!

Anchoring out with Gypsy one last time in sweet, splendiferous Canada.

We finished the North Channel this week with our buddy boat, Gypsy.  Still following the itinerary from Robin (Queen’s Cove Marina), together we found a secluded anchorage in the Benjamins.

Anchored in the Benjamins – Crocker Island

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Anchoring and Rafting Off

Once we agreed on a gunk hole (anchoring spot) Exhale dropped her anchor. With fenders in place, Gypsy scooted in close, and tied off.

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Dropped Anchor. Fenders Set. Ready for Gypsy to Raft Off.
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Nice and snug. Tied off to the trees. We got this!
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Another Sweet Cove. Exhale and Gypsy at Crocker Island.

It seems like we are a little close to the rocks, right?!?  But the Captain was confident in water deeper than 10 feet and no wave action.

OnTheRocks

The Merritts suggested we leave the Mother Ship (Exhale) to “hold our place” at the rocks, and took the Super Shuttle (Gypsy) to tour the Benjamins, anchor out, and eat a little picnic lunch.  What a treat!

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Maddie said, “thanks for the warm blanket!”

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Weathered in – or not?

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Red equals Rain.

The rain came and went.  Just another free boat wash.

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Gore Bay

This sleepy little town is in Lake Huron’s north channel. Quick Facts from Wikipedia: Population 816.  Average age, 56. 

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We joined up with Houlegan, again in Gore Bay, home of the Split Rail Brewery. The marine forecast was thunder, lightning, and choppy waters. The captains agreed it was likely we would be in Gore Bay for two or more days, until the weather cleared.

We heard the rain and thunder in the darkest hours of the evening. Awoken to a quiet calm around 6 am, Captain Rick checked the forecast again.  Waves of three to four – inches.  What?!?  Rise and shine everyone, Gypsy and Exhale are going, going, going!

Mother Nature cut us some slack as we enjoyed 9 solid hours of smooth waters. Unsure how long the weather would hold, we skipped Meldrum (the “planned” final stop in Canada), opting to clear US Customs a day early.

Smooth Waters

The water was soooo smooth the Captain and his dog took a little snooze.

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Life is Good. A boy and his dog.

What a view!  Perfect weather, perfect water.

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SmoothWaters

Crossing the Invisible Line – did you see that?

For all the football fans out there, we thought you might appreciate a super-imposed 10-yard line, I mean border crossing line, as Gypsy and Exhale said goodbye to Canada and hello to USA.

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Gypsy crosses the border\
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Exhale approaches the border (Nebo app)
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Exhale crosses the Border

Exhale was in Canada for sixty days.  The time seemed to pass very quickly. In many ways it reminds me of the summers in Alaska, where you can spend the season in pristine country, with a new adventure everyday, knowing there is sooooo much more to explore. Captain and crew (including short-term swabbies) agreed, the journey was splendiferous – definitely worth repeating.  Au revoir beautiful Canada, until we meet again!

Clearing Customs – Embracing Technology

Thanks to the new Reporting Off-shore Arrival Mobile app, clearing customs was fast, and smooth. Launched in 2018, the ROAM app allows small boaters the flexibility of reporting their arrival into the U.S. from any location! Apple and Android friendly, enter your passport and travel data in the app, submit, and then “video-chat” via your smart phone or iPad with a friendly customs agent.  It was super easy.  To learn more click here. 

De Tour Village, Michigan

We officially re-entered the US with Gypsy at this gorgeous new marina.  For those of you still looping on the water, we strongly recommend this port of entry.  It’s a friendly town, with good local food (hooray for US Beef) within easy walking distance.

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DeTour2

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Maddie was happy to be back on US soil. Soft new grass on her tummy, hooray!

You were right, Gonzo, the waters of Michigan are really blue! Now I know why the University of Michigan chant is “Go, Blue!” If you want to learn more about the winning Wolverines, click here.  Go Blue!

 

Next Stop:

Lake Michigan – Grandpa Says, “Go Blue!”

Mike & Sue Gillespie – see you in Mackinac Island.  Next Guests – Matt & Piper Jackson 🙂

Where Have We Been So Far? Thanks for asking 🙂

Total Locks completed = 126, includes:

  • Florida – Lake Okeechobee area: 7
  • Virginia – Great Dismal Swamp: 2
  • New York – Troy & Champlain Canal: 12
  • CANADA – Chambly Canal/Quebec: 9
  • CANADA – Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway: 5
  • CANADA – Rideau Canal/Ontario: 47
  • CANADA – Trent-Severn Waterway: 44

States and Provinces traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

U.S (March 1- June 10). Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont. (August 10 – tbd): Michigan

Canada Provinces (June 10 – August 9): Quebec, Ontario.

Side trips (via land or air):

Los Angeles (MS [2 – April and May], Rick [3 – May, June and July] & Maddie [May], Cleveland (RMG, MS & Maddie [2- April and July], Craig [April])

Georgian Bay & the North Channel

Windswept trees, with branches permanently pointing south, stand as a reminder that weather conditions can be harsh. A stark contrast to the calm, blue waters.

Wright’s Marina

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Wright’s Marina took great pride in their landscaping.

ParrySoundBridge

Dinghy Ride
A little dinghy ride from Wright’s Marina

Parry Sound Fire

The fires in Ontario covered 11,000 hectares (a metric unit of square measure, equal to 100 ares (2.471 acres or 10,000 square meters).  We planned our route carefully to avoid the fires, omitting stops in the Bustards, among others.

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Parry Fire Smoke on the Horizon

Beaverstone Bay – Collins Inlet

Along with Gypsy, we found a perfect anchorage in Collins inlet, which included another delicious meal prepared by Rick and Jim on the boat.  Yummy Fresh Fish!

FreshFish

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Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight

The rest of the saying goes, “red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

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The distant fires caused a spectacular sunset

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Our careful planning was foiled by Mother Nature, again. The winds shifted while we were sleeping, and we awoke to the smell of heavy smoke.  Don’t be fooled by this photo, the boat was NOT surrounded by fog.  Photo by Gypsy

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The wind shifted, Exhale surrounded by smoke.

Killarney

Killarney was a popular refuge from the fires, including a rendezvous of boaters from Gross Point Yacht Club, that made Exhale look like a toy boat.

What a magical little place to watch float planes come and go.  We loved the strategically placed red chairs at the end of every finger pier – a great little place to enjoy a nice glass of wine on the dock

KillarneyWineDeck

KillarneyFloatPlanes

Dinner with Friends

Possibly one of the best meals we have eaten on this journey was at the Mountain Lodge in Killarney.  Thanks, Gypsy captains Susan and Jim Merritt, for an amazing evening.

GypsyGoodTimes

Shelter in a a Storm

RefugeFromFireworks

While we were out and about, there was yet another flash thunder storm.  It turns out, Maddie is very resourceful when it comes to seeking shelter. She successfully moved her little bed from the side cabin into the hallway – logically the most protected area of the boat!

A fabulous dinghy ride

Exhale spent a second night in Killarney, a three-mile dinghy ride from Covered Portage, where Gypsy was anchored out.

Otters, ooooh so cute …

We watched a pair of happy-go-lucky otters playing in the water nearby, wishing they would get close enough for a clear photo.  An ominous growling noise meant not one, but, two otters were climbing onto our dingy.  When one of them slid onto Gypsy’s swim platform, bearing snarling teeth, my thought was “danger, danger, Will Robinson.”  Well, at least the fat critter brought his own dinner.

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Happy otters.
OtterInvasion
Rick said, “Watcha doin’ there, Willis?”
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Jim said, “Hey, who invited you on my boat?”
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The Otter said,  “Well, it’s 5:00, I heard it was BYO crawfish”

Baie Fine (Gaelic translation “a fine bay”) 

Traveling with Gyspy, we anchored out at Baie Fine, then hiked back to Topaz Lake. Thanks for pushing us Jim and Susan, it was well worth the climb.

TopazLakeWorthTheHike

Rick finally tried out the homemade bobber action, to neatly mark the location of our anchor.

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Homemade Bobber action – thanks Dale!

Anchoring Challenges

Anchoring in Florida is predictable – sand and more sand.  In Canada, sometimes it’s mud, sometimes it’s rocks, and sometimes, well, it’s something else.  As we pulled up the anchor, look what came with it!

DeepLagoon
Rick fights off the Monster from the Deep Lagoon

Little Current

Our visit to the marina at Little Current coincided with the annual Haw-eater Festival, highlights included antique cars (this GTO is for my Bear-Bear) and a parade that lasted roughly 12 minutes, well, maybe slightly longer.  My favorite was the excuse to sample yet another delicious craft beer. Loved this Split Rail Hawberry Ale (yep, another red).

Hello, again, Hawaiian Shirts

Shirts

Reunited with Houlegan, again, we watched the fireworks on Civics Day.

Found: One Elusive Unicorn.  This is for Rick.

UnicornFound

ANOTHER MESSAGE TO OUR FAITHFUL READERS: Thanks to those of you who reached out this week (especially Craig). You are right, the blog postings have been rather irregular.  As we journeyed the north channel of Georgian Bay we were completely out of range, for multiple days. Ah, yes, it is good to Exhale 🙂

Next Stop:

Finishing up the North Channel, Clearing Customs, then on to Michigan – Go Blue!

See you real soon, Mike & Susie 🙂

Where Have We Been So Far? Thanks for asking 🙂

Total Locks completed = 126, includes:

  • Florida – Lake Okeechobee area: 7
  • Virginia – Great Dismal Swamp: 2
  • New York – Troy & Champlain Canal: 12
  • CANADA – Chambly Canal/Quebec: 9
  • CANADA – Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway: 5
  • CANADA – Rideau Canal/Ontario: 47
  • CANADA – Trent-Severn Waterway: 44

States and Provinces traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

U.S. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont.  Canada: Quebec, Ontario.

Side trips (via land or air):

Los Angeles (MS [2 – April and May], Rick [3 – May, June and July] & Maddie [May], Cleveland (RMG, MS & Maddie [2- April and July], Craig [April])