Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II.
Click on the Travel Map above or this link to see the day-by-day travel log.
The crew started through the waters of the North Channel late last week. This leg of the journey is 138 miles long. The small craft route takes the cruiser through some very remote areas. For example, in the village of Killarney, the first road was finally built in 1962. The shore is not lined with summer cottages, just some of the oldest rocks known to exist on earth. The crew completed the North Channel and decided to stick their nose into Lake Superior to visit the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point.
Monday, August 22, 2016
The wind howled all day yesterday and continued through the night. As morning dawned, the wind was finally subsiding to a mild 11 mph. Since the skipper figured the swells would still be out in the big part of the bay, he decided that the crew would take the more scenic long way through the islands. This provided some break from the wind and waves and gave the crew something to look at instead of just wide open water.
They motored past Islands named the Benjamin’s, with rock formations named the sow and piglets. Many a Captain have stubbed their pinky’s on these rocks.
After passing through a narrow channel named Little Detroit, the crew passed a rock formation known as Turtle Rock.
After coming around the last island of the day, the crew had about an hour of 3-5 foot seas to contend with. The good news was that these waves were coming directly out of the west and Still Waters II was cutting through them with ease. However, as I have witnessed in the past, the boat can take much rougher seas than the crew. They were glad to finally arrive near the marina where they could get behind the breakwater and out of the waves.
After arriving at the marina, the skipper checked his Geocaching app and noticed that someone had hidden a new cache in the marina on Saturday, and no one had found the cache yet. With the cache only 385 feet from the boat and a chance for a First-to-Find (FTF) the skipper and Admiral were off the boat in a flash and in full search mode. After a short walk and a quick find, the Tex Snoop Dogs found their 277 cache. Best of all they were the FTF the cache.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Well as soon as the crew left the protected waters of the marina they realized that this would be another rough day on the water. The wind had been predicted to be from the north-east which should have provided protection as the crew cruised just south of the mainland. Unfortunately for the crew the wind was just about due west. To make matters worse, there were swells of 3-5 feet that were coming directly against the beam. This always makes for a rough ride as the boat rocks between the swells.
After about an hour and a half, the swells began to dissipate and the crew only had to be concerned about the windblown waves dead ahead. As the day wore on the crew began to see St Joseph Island in the distance. As the crew began to close in on the island, the waves began to get smaller and smaller.
The last hour of the cruise was actually nice as the skipper could enjoy the pretty water and surroundings rather than just stay focused on the wheel and trying to stay on course.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The crew left about 0900 and headed north to their last stop in Canada, Sault Ste. Marie. This little community has an interesting history. There is actually two Sault Ste. Marie’s, one in Ontario and one in Michigan. Prior to the war of 1812 there was only one town. As part of the Treaty to end the war, the St Mary’s River was used as the boundary between the US and Canada, which essentially split the town.
The name is also a little odd. Sault is French for rapids or falls. The Sault is pronounced ‘su’.
The name was based on the rapids that fall 20 feet from Lake Superior to the head waters of the St Mary’s River. In the old days, merchandise would be shipped from Lake Superior to Sault Ste. Marie. Then the goods would be portaged around the rapids and reloaded in a ship below.
The US side of Sault Ste. Marie had the lock, so the US controlled the shipping. In 1870, the US refused to allow a Canadian steamer, Chicora, carrying Colonel Garnet Wolseley to pass through the lock. The Colonel was on a mission to stop a rebellion of the western providences and prevent US expansion into Canadian territory.
The Colonel portaged his goods on the Canadian side of the river and continued his successful campaign. However, the Canadians decided it was time they built a lock. The lock was completed and opened in 1895.
Today, all commercial traffic goes through the US lock and all the recreational traffic goes through the Canadian Lock.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
The crew took a shore excursion day and rode a train 114 miles into the Ontario back country. The train was a rolling museum as the history of the area was broadcast on TV sets about every 20 minutes. The train rolled past the shores of Lake Superior and many other smaller lakes and streams. The train had a dining car where breakfast and lunch was served. After a four hour ride through some gorgeous back country, the train arrived at the Agawa Canyon Park. The train conductor provided an hour and a half site seeing break for the train riders.
Our crew set out for the three waterfalls in the park.
After the falls the crew headed back up the canyon to the Lookout station which was 300 feet up the canyon. The lookout provided a great view up and down the canyon. The crew arrived back at the train with 10 minutes to spare before the engineer headed back to the train station in Sault Ste Marie.
After arriving back at the boat the crew went to a nearby Walmart to stock up on a few items. On the way to the store the crew stopped at a statue honoring the first Canadian female astronaut. The marina and surrounding park are named for her.
Upon return to the boat they noticed that a boat had arrived with a hailing port of Dallas, Texas. The crew spoke with the owners of the boat and learned that they had just bought the boat and this was their very first day of ownership. The skipper quizzed the new owners about the old owner and learned that the owner was none other than Marty Turco, an ex-goalie for the Dallas Stars.
Turns out Marty Turco was born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and still maintains a home here. He also has a home in Highland Park, Texas. He spends his summers here in Ontario. The best line of the conversation was when the new owner mentioned that they had gotten Marty Turco’s autograph, most expensive autograph ever.
Friday, August 26, 2016
After spending nearly 10 weeks in Canada, today was the day that the crew would return to the states. The skipper called border patrol and was told that he needed to check-in before heading into Lake Superior. The skipper cruised across the river to Sault Ste Marie, Mi. and called border patrol. While waiting for the agent to arrive, the skipper took on fuel.
The customs agent arrived, asked his many questions, reviewed passports, gave the crew a thumbs up, and welcomed them home. This border crossing was much easier than the last.
With the check-in complete the crew headed for the lock to cross into Lake Superior. Not many loopers take the time to head this direction, but the crew has heard many good things about the Ship Wreck Museum at Whitefish Point and believe the side trip will be worth the effort.
The ride across the bay started out relatively calm but as the crew continued northwest across the Bay, the waves continued to build. The waves were mostly 3 footers with an occasional 5 footer to keep the skipper on his toes. After an hour of hammering through the waves, the point began to come into view. As the crew continued to approach the point the waves became less of a problem as the land began to block the wind.
As they arrived in the marina, the skipper noticed that their friends onboard Avocet were docked here. The crew of Avocet came out and caught the crew’s lines and helped them get the boat secured. The Admiral and skipper spent some time talking with Dick and Phyllis before heading down the road to the Lighthouse Museum.
Fun Fact: This will mark the furthest north that the crew will venture in 2016.
N 46* 45’.652
W 84* 57’.819
Time to start heading south.
Saturday, August 26, 2016
The crew made the run to Whitefish Point so they could visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The museum complex was well worth the effort. The complex included the Whitefish Point Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters, USCG Lifeboat Station, Shipwreck Museum, Video Theater, and several scenic overlooks.
The crew went to the Theater first to watch the film about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Big Fitz sank just 17 miles from Whitefish Point. The winds had gotten up to 75 mph with gusts to 100. The wind had churned up 30 foot waves that were actually coming over the deck of the vessel. At one point the ship suffered a crack that began allowing water into the ship. The bilge pumps were turned on and the pumps were keeping up with the flooding so that water level was not rising in the ship.
A second ship was following the Edmund Fitzgerald and was staying in radio contact. A series of large waves in excess of 35 feet crashed over the top of the second vessel. The second vessel radioed forward to warn the Big Fitz about the series of large waves. The Captain of the Big Fitz last words over the radio were “We are holding our own.” Sometime after this transmission, on the night of November 10, 1975 the ship and her crew were lost in 530 feet of water along the Shipwreck Coast of Lake Superior.
The crew’s tribute to the Edmund Fitzgerald:
In 1994 the ship was found and in 1995 the ship’s bell was raised. The original bell was replaced with a new bell. The new bell was engraved with the names of the crew. A memorial with the original bell was held to commemorate the lives of the lost crew. The bell was rung 29 times as the name of each crew member was announced. Then the bell was rung one last time for all the other mariners who have lost their lives while on the Great Lakes.
One story told in the film was about two brothers who had lost their father when the older brother was 13. The older brother went to work to support his other four siblings and mother. When the younger brother got drafted to go to Vietnam, the older brother told the younger not to worry, if anything goes wrong, I will go over there and bring you home. The younger brother was telling the story while they raised the bell from the ship. You could see the anguish in the younger brother’s eyes and the tears down his face when he was apologizing to his older brother for never bringing him home. The younger said that the raising of the bell would be as close as he would ever come to bringing his older brother home.
Tune in next week to see the progress of the crew as they return from Lake Superior and continue thru Lake Michigan on their way to Chicago.
The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.
Eric the Red