In Kincardine, with crew on board: Gerry K, Kenny K, and my eldest son John. We provisioned, fueled up and made ready our escape into Lake Huron, the water was as flat a glass, and not a breath of wind. You guessed it we were motoring from Kincardine towards Sarnia. This leg of the trip well. Okay well most of it did.
As we left Kincardine, I worried, as it turns out needlessly, about the motor repair. However, we motored or way across the lake and down to Sarnia. We tried to time our arrival so that we would be in the river by day. We bumped up the RPM to about 2200, and the diesel just purred along as we did between 5 and 6 knots. The passage to Sarnia was uneventful, as we, each took our watches and following the sun on our heading of West by South West.
The sea state was, as I said relatively non-existent; we go a beautiful sunset out in the middle of Lake Huron, as the diesel ticked away sure and steady. However, we did notice a propane smell. I found the issue; it appears that a previous repair to the Propane system using epoxy to seal a connection for the galley propane supply. We shut down the tank now almost empty, and used it sparingly and
Morning came,and we started to see more and more Lakers coming our way. Eventually in the distance, we could see the blue water bridge identifying Sarnia as close by. We stopped off at a marina to fuel up. At this point, I was unsure how much diesel the engine would use, and the fuel gauges were not dependable. Here John called his friend Colin, to help us with the propane, and we fueled up. In the meantime, Kenny K went and sought out someone to give him a lift to fill the propane tank. Colin showed up ready to help, but since we had propane and diesel, we had a nice visit with Colin and showed him the boat. Thanks Colin for your help!
We then continued on our trek down the St Clair river, then into Lake St Clair, and then finally into the Detroit river. Passing landmarks like the casino and riverfront on the Canadian side, and of course Joe Lewis Arena and a couple of the Detroit 3 auto manufacturer’s head offices on the American side. We continued on our way having a different view, of the landmarks and waterfront that none of us had seen before. It was interesting.
As night began to fall, we were heading towards Lake Erie. I had a couple of concerns about the wind, as I knew it was coming from the East. Lake Erie being a shallow lake would create seiche and large waves if the winds were strong. Still motoring down the Detroit River, passing Amherstburg Mizz Fitz started to get a little rocky, and as we cleared the protection of the river, we were got battered around with some force by the waves and stronger then expected winds. The boat was bouncing around and down below I could hear things breaking free, falling and flying around the cabin. John was in his berth being bounced and thrown around like a basketball at a Harlem Globetrotter’s game; the only thing was missing was the music, “Sweet Georgia Brown”.
I will say here, I did not ever feel unsafe what so ever riding out the waves. I know that the boat is a well-built Canadian boat that is ocean going and could handle Lake Erie. However, that said, both Gerry and Kenny presented a great argument for turning around. I have to admit that I was struggling, as I know that Gerry and Kenny would not be able to complete the trip with us due to time constraints. This weighed on me considerably. Nonetheless, there was no sense in taking chances. We turned around and started motoring up the Detroit River. We were looking for some place to anchor to tie up. Here was the problem. It was shallow, and it was about 2 am and dark. We were motoring slowly and looking at potential places to tie up. In the dark, we found, what turned out to be a City Park, and tied up to the fence. Thanks Kenny and Gerry for getting us to a safe harbour! Great helmsman-ship and line handling! Here we grabbed a bit of kip for the rest of the night. I slept in the cockpit, just in case we had a nighttime visitor. However, the night was uneventful. A city employee came over and started to give me a hard time, I just repeated what Kenny told me to say if there was a problem. “We were looking for safe harbour from the storm”, that is why we tied up here. I am not sure if there is some legal benefit to using those words or not, but the city person backed off and just said untie as soon as you can. At that point, I got on the phone and found a marina close by BobLo Marina.
I called and they had a spot for us so we motored over to them, coincidentally was on the other side of the island that we were facing. We entered the marina, again being very careful of the shallows, and found our slip. Here John helped Kenny and Gerry disembarked for a trip back to Waterdown and Burlington.
Then it was just my son and I. Here is where I came to understand for the first time, that the cruising (okay I am not a cruiser yet, but still) community really comes together. A friendly woman come over and was talking with us, shared some information and we had idle chat. She said her husband would like to see our boat and she would tell him about our boat, and that she was going to head home to make supper, and if we needed anything to let her know. Closer to early evening this man approached John and I. He said, his wife was down earlier, I said oh yes. He looked over the boat and offered some suggestions, and asked if we wanted to go home with him for supper. We declined, but the offer did warm our hearts due to the shear kindness of fellow cruiser’s and their generosity . He gave me his business card with the same offer she did and said if we need anything to let him know.
I will stop here and leave the near tragedy, and utter dejection for next week’s blog