Tuesday, August 23, 2016


We arrived in Port Huron at the River Street Marina late Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning we got up and went to church. The First United Methodist Church steeple was visible from our dock space, and only about 200yd away. But first we had to walk to the Seventh St. bridge before we could cross the Black River, and walk NW again to the church. This is one of the nicest marinas we have visited as far as facilities and staff treatment of guests. Only Delaware City in Delaware had a more accommodating staff. We did not use their shower facilities, so we can not speak to them.  Barbara used the free washer and dryer in the back of the Marina office. I walked the 5 blocks to the  main business district and got us subs for lunch. Downtown is kind of dead this day, as there is a major power boat race taking place on the St Clair River.  I worked on updates, mostly AT&T as the air card was denied access again. We were originally going to leave on Monday morning, but the weather forecast for Monday night and Tuesday is not good. We elect to stay two more days.  Heavy rains and thunderstorms are forecast. On Monday morning, Barbara got the marina staff to drive her to the grocery store so she could re-stock. A regular Kroger's only about 1.5 miles from the marina. They returned and picked her up when she called. And drove her with bags to the boat on one of their carts. I worked on trying to tie the upper GPS/chartplotter to the radio for emergency location. It did not work. Both items are supposed to be NEMA 0183 ready/compatible, but they do not speak the same 183. The GPS puts out voltage on its wires, but the radio does not see/understand them. We also experimented with getting the dinghy on and off of the davits. We learned some things, but still can not do it with the motor on the dinghy. The rain started late Monday as forecast. And got heavy during the night. It was nice to wake without having puddles inside like when we first took delivery  of the boat. Brands put new windshield gaskets in over the winter, and that appears to have been the last leak source fixed. Tuesday morning was still raining, and I worked to get the Sterling Alternator to Battery monitor working. I had success in this operation. And Bruce who lives on a boat at the marina, and works there part time, loaned me his digital tachometer. I was able to calibrate the lower tach, which was off since installing the new alternator. And I got a 12v receptacle installed next to the helm. Above the fan I mounted a small fan on the chase for wires and controls to the upper helm. We will have a defroster the next time we have to operate the lower helm in a storm. Wednesday was nice. The weather forecast looked good. We walked the few blocks to downtown to get some hardware items, and look for a full, or Canadian chart of Lake Huron. We got back to the boat, had lunch, and motored to the fuel dock in preparation for departing. Barbara had called Grand Bend, Ontario, and made a docking reservation for 6:30 pm arrival. We got fuel, 87 gal, the first since leaving Port Clinton. And they provided a free pump-out of the holding tank. And we had to wait to depart, as we were  past the bridge opening time. We went out the seventh street bridge at 3pm, headed for Grand Bend, Ontario. We passed under the Bluewater bridge, and headed NE up Lake Huron towards Kettle Point. And listened intently to weather radio as there was a squall line headed across Lake St. Clair to the south of us. And there were dark cloud to the west of us. About 1-1/2hr out, the sprinkles started. We could see breaks in the clouds, and stayed on the flybridge. Too long, as we got soaked before we finally gave up and went below to run the boat. The mounted defroster fan came in good. Barbara did not have to hold it in her hand like on the St Clair River just 5 days earlier. The third time in 11 days we have had to move to the lower helm to navigate due to rain. We are not good at picking the weather.  At one point, I turned Sometime 180deg, and faced the heaviest part of the storm. That was only for about 5 minutes, then the rain started to clear. We turned around, and headed onwards to Grand Bend. Off Kettle Point, where we had to clear outside a reef, before making a heading change, God put a rainbow beyond the Kettle Point Reef for us to steer to while the rain continued lightly. It was a good thing, as either my water bottle falling off the window ledge, or me leaning down to pick it up, it the battery switch and turned off the GPS. The lower compass is not trustworthy. I raced to the flybridge to navigate, as the rain had stopped. The GPS up there was not working either, nor the radio. But the compass is good on the flybridge, and I use it and the rainbow while I try to analyze what caused both GPS to go black at once. Then I remembered a trip we made with Friends on a Saturday in June. Sue, sitting in the lower helm seat, swinging her feet, got the battery switch. I hustle back down the ladder, and sure enough, the one battery switch is off. I flip it to on, and instantly GPS and radios.  Barbara called Grand Bend Municipal Marina to tell them we would be about an hour late arriving. They told her they would be gone, to tie to the N wall after checking in with Customs at the fuel dock phone. We arrived about 7:30, cleared in with Canadian Customs via the fuel dock phone, and found our dock. We settled in for the evening.
SummerTime at dock in Grand Bend


Thursday morning, we made the decision not to continue to Kincardine, Ontario as we had planned. I wanted to go, but it was two days up and back for a visit. We might miss the weather window to cross Lake Huron to Michigan's East Shore. So Thursday, we toured on foot the main reason most people come to Grand Bend: the beach. A large, sandy beach with beautiful public access.
Access to Beach on Lake Huron

MAIN ST to Grand Bend Beach

We enjoyed out day of touring this resort town on Lake Huron. In the evening, we returned to the Sweet Shoppe on Main Street for an ice cream. We sat outside on the street and ate them.
       Friday morning, we got up, and got going by 8:15, early for us. We passed by the fuel docks, and handed them the key to the shower rooms. Some of the least impressive shower rooms we have seen. No place to hang towels, or sit and dress in them. We were off to cross Lake Huron. We headed south the 15mi to Kettle Point to cross. Barbara has told me she did not want to be out of site of land. Crossing from Kettle Point to Port Sanilac, Mi was going to be 26 miles. I was pretty confident we could keep land in site on a crossing of this length. I was not so confident if we had crossed from Grand Bend directly to Port Sanilac. That was a mid 40s mileage, and seeing more than 20 miles even on a clear day is a challenge. We got to Port Sanilac a little before 1pm, and turned north towards Harbor Beach. There was a weather forecast for TS in the evening. I was praying we could get to Harbor Beach, MI before them. We got to Harbor Beach about 4, and the wind was starting to pick up out of the south. And the sky was getting dark. We anchored inside the harbor to spend the night. I slept good, but Barbara was not so comfortable. We never got the rain, but it did get very dark, north and south of us, and the wind gust were very noticeable. We had finally chose correctly in a weather window.


We awoke Saturday morning to calm, and a partially cloudy sky. We were on our way by 8:25, as we knew weather was coming. We wanted to get across Saginaw Bay before the weather arrived. We got stonewalled here in August of 2015 by mother nature. Saginaw Bay has a reputation for being rough when other areas are not. We only had a 5 hr run planned, and crossing Saginaw was in those plans. We got to Austin Point Reef light, a little over half way in the total distance. We had 22 miles to go to get to Tawas bay, our goal. As we turned past the reef light to start the final leg, the winds picked up. And the weather forecast were going downhill.


At the 11mi mark of the 22 to get across the bay, I told Barbara we were at the point where we almost had to continue to Tawas Bay. And today, in the growing haze from atmospheric moisture, I could not see that 11miles. At about 10 miles, I started to see the shore outline. We called and made a request for a slip at the Tawas State Dock. The forecast for wind gusts in excess of 30kt made us decide it was best not to anchor for this night. We arrived at the State Dock at 2pm, a 5-1/2 hr run to cover the 53 nautical mi. The regulars near our dock were friendly, and helped the dock boy to get us tied. We got checked in with customs, went to the fuel dock to register, and at 4pm the sprinkles started. And the rains got heavier, and the winds got to howling. During one of the breaks in the rain, I went  out and repositioned a fender as SummerTime was bumping the dock occasionally.

It was our good weather decision for the week to take a dock instead of anchoring. And we made a major milestone, as we had crossed Saginaw Bay. We were now as far north as we had been in the boat. And we are only about 190mi. from the Straits of Mackinaw, where we will travel west for about 20 miles before heading south.

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