The Canadian adventure begins – July 2014

It is Friday, July 11, 2014 and we are headed to the higher latitudes in our motor yacht Changing Latitudes. It is a picture perfect day to start our three week trip to the North Channel of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. This will be a good shake down cruise for our 6,500 mile America’s Great Loop adventure. For those of you that want to track our progress you can download a free app call Marine Traffic. This app tracks our AIS signal from our boat when our GPS is turned on during the day. You can look for a little triangle on the chart where you know we are near and tap it. You will see our boat name and other boat information will appear. You can save us as a favorite and easily find us the next day.

Onboard for this trip is Dale and Andy Arnold and John and Priscilla Simons. We have made this trip to the North Channel three times previously on my 39′ sailboat Blue Heaven. This will be a more comfortable ride and somewhat easier to navigate because the motor yacht only draws 3.5′ of water compared to the sailboat which draws 7′.
The day started out flat calm with winds South at 0 – 1 kts. We are cruising at 9 kts which is fuel efficient. We think we will get 2 miles per gallon at 9 kts Vs .6 miles per gallon at 25 kts. Our destination today is Port Washington, Wisconsin. That is a 60 mile trip from our home port of Waukegan, Illinois. There is Jeaneau sailboat owners rally in Port Washington starting today so several of our sailing friends will be there. I will call the marina soon to find out if we can get a slip. These rally’s take up a lot of space. If there is no room at the Port Washington marina we will continue on another 30 miles to Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Our plan is continue north on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan for two days before we cross over east to the Michigan side. The Lake Huron to Mac race is this weekend so it will be a mob scene around St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. We want to time our arrival to miss most of the fleet departing. We want to buy fuel in St Ignace before we cross over into Canada where the fuel will be more expensive. The boat well suited for this trip. We have 500 gallons of diesel and 150 gallons of water. All systems are in good running order and the rum keg is topped off. We have one minor first world challenge. Our galley/kitchen is all electric. The refrigeration runs off 12 volt batteries but the stove, microwave and outlets are 110 volts. This is no problem when we are docked because we just plug into city power. On our cruise when we want to boil water we have to run a separate diesel generator. This is no big deal but having cruised on a sailboat for 12 years we have become minimalists. Since we already have 980 horse power diesel engines running it is against our nature to have to run a third engine just to boil a cup of water. Of course we could add an inverter to convert 12 volt power to 110 power without running the generator. Adding an inverter is a major project and somewhat expensive. These three weeks will give us time to learn and manage our energy needs onboard. As I said, it a minor first world challenge.

This photo shows the wake of Changing Latitudes as we departed Waukegan harbor at 7:00 am. It will be 23 days until we cross our wake again.


Day 2 – The party crashers

We are on our way to Manitowoc from Port Washington. This is a 45 mile trip. It is another day of glassy seas. Not a sail in sight. We are cruising at 9 kts again today. The water temperature is 58*f and the air temperature is 68*f. The fog is quite thick so we turned on the radar. We could see several fishing boats around us and some other small dots. The dots turned out to be fish net buoys. The radar is working well.

Port Washington has a good marina. We met up with our Jeaneau friends at the local saloon and shared a beer and a few tales. One couple is Rick (not the singer from the 1960’s) and Nancy Nelson on Tres Bien and Bob and Joi Dick on Intuition.  Bob and Joi are thinking about following in our wake on the Great Loop trip. Prior to meeting up with them we went to the Duluth Trading store. This store specializes  in work clothes. They are most famous for extra long t-shirts to combat plumbers crack and work pants that are the opposite of a cheap hotel with no ballroom.

We did crash the Jeaneau owners party in the marina pavilion near our boat. We arrived fashionably late so we would not be first in the buffett line. We knew the host, Jim Malick from Larsen Marine and he invited us to join the party. We spoke to an ex Navy captain that had retired many years ago and took his sailboat on the Caribbean 1500 delivery from the Chesapeake to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. About 400 miles from his destination his wooden mast failed. He had to beg for fuel from other cruisers and from a passing freighter to be able to motor all with the way to the BVI. He had three crew onboard. When they reached the BVI the crew checked into a hotel and never went back to the boat. It took the captain 11 months to get a new aluminum mast for his boat and continue his Caribbean cruise. His current boat is named Respite.

With the lake being so flat we are thinking about crossing to the Michigan side soon. We will check the weather and charts tonight and perhaps cross to Frankfurt, Michigan tomorrow.

I bought some teriyaki beef jerky at the butcher shop for $20.00 per pound. We shall see how it compares to the “worlds best” beef jerky that I bought in Rogers City last October during the boat delivery from Lake Ontario.

The boat continues to operate perfectly. No new first world problems to discuss.

This photo shows the flat seas and the Waukegan Yacht Club and Great Lakes Cruising Club burgees. We need a knob for the top of our flag staff.


Day 3 – a random act of kindness

It was 5:30 pm and two dock hands walk down the pier and get our attention. We have started our first round of sundowners and wonder what they want. They explain that a Viking 57 has called in and they need our end tie to fit them in. Would we be so kind as to move our boat to a nearby slip to accommodate this late arrival. We had been tied up on the pier with this same boat in Port Washington so we knew who they were. They were an older couple (80’s ish). They are from Lake Forest, Illinois which is the town next to where we live in Lake Bluff. The boat name is “Final Fling.” Appropriately named. We did not get to ask them the details of where they lived in Lake Forest. The well to do live in east Lake Forest east of Geenbay Road and west of Sheridan Road. The super rich live in east, east Lake Forest which is east of Sheridan Road and on Lake Michigan. I would place them east, east. This was our random act of kindness for today.

It rained on an off all evening. We went to a local supper club for dinner. Great prime rib and almond chicken on the menu. We watched a movie in our salon, a movie about a battle between magicians in the 1800’s called “The Prestige.” You have to pay close attention to follow this twisted story line.

We are currently underway from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Leland, Michigan today which is Sunday July 13, 2014. We are on a heading of 59*t. The distance is 90 miles. We are traveling at 21.5 kts and should arrive in Leland around 2:00 pm. Gentle reader, if you have been following our exploits you are asking why after traveling at 9 kts for two days are you finally letting the horses run? The rationale is that our assumption regarding fuel burn was off by 50%. We had read that we should get 2 miles per gallon if we cruise at 9 kts. After cruising 125 miles from Waukegan to Manitowoc we fueled up and took on 118 gallons fuel. That is approximately one mile per gallon. From our boat delivery in October we know we get . 6 miles per gallon at 21.5 kts. The savings is not worth the extra time. We will travel almost as far in 4.5 hours as we did over last two days. Once we get to the North Channel we will test a slower speed to determine a more cost effective speed of perhaps 6 or 7 kts. In the mean time, hold on tight.

Leland is a port of refuge that was built by the Michigan DNR. The trip from Charlevoix to Frankfurt is 60 miles and there was no place to get off the lake in a storm. So they created a harbor half way in between. As a port of refuge no boat can be denied dockage. Harbor Master Sarah has rafted up boats 3 – 4 deep on the face piers to fit every boat into the harbor.

So far we have traveled 236 miles from Waukegan to Leland and burned $1,019.00 in diesel.
Tomorrow we will go to Beaver Island.

In this photo Changing Latitudes is nicely making way with Manitowoc behind and Leland, Michigan 90 miles ahead.