Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yacht Delivery - Bringing Our New Boat Home!

Part two of the big boat delivery to C A N A D A :-)

 Day one on the water and we have left Mac Ray Harbor in Michigan and are on our way to Sarnia in Ontario. What was expected to be a five hour trip up the St. Clair River turned out to be an eight hour grand tour UP and then partially DOWN, back UP and then part way back DOWN and then finally all the way UP the river to our next port of call at Sarnia. More on that later in this post . . .

 Sunday morning, we cast off our lines (and left the crappy ones behind) from Mac Ray and were off on the first leg of the trip. After a slight delay and talk with (and a ticket from) the local constabulary, we stopped in for some cheap American gas before heading out onto Lake St. Clair. You will be happy to learn that the same gas we were paying $1.23 for at our home port was had for $0.89/litre Canadian with the exchange. As you can imagine, I squeezed as much into the tanks as they would hold!

A parting shot of Mac Ray as we are on our way across Lake St. Clair;
Mac Ray Harbor marina on Lake St. Clair, Michigan
Here's a video review of our excitement with the water cops;

The captain checking the gauges and chartplotter. If you notice the depth finder is showing only 10.4 feet of water below the keel. I was sure to plot a route before heading out onto the lake, as this was pretty much the deepest part of the lake and I wanted to follow the deepest part possible;

 A zoomed in shot looking south west. That is the Windsor/Detroit skyline off in the distance;

This big, permanent marker shows the outer edge of the shipping channel that cuts through Lake St.Clair. This channel has a minimum depth of 28' allowing safe passage for the great lakes ships that pass this way from Lake Huron to the north (via the St. Clair River) and onto (or from) the Detroit River and Lake Erie to the south.. This perspective is looking roughly south east;

Now safely in the channel, I swung the Big Boy hard to port and northbound towards the St. Clair River. Yes, many of these photos look very similar, but I just want to convey the beauty of the aquamarine blue waters. Anchor Girl & I both commented continuously on this part of the trip on how blue the water was!

Some video from this spot;

Coming onto the river proper, we spotted these boats along the sandy shoreline;

Closer up, we could see that most were actually beached on the sand bar;

Continuing along, we came upon a neat row of waterfront houses that looked like they had a southern inspiration;

These places looked like they would be at home in the Florida Keys - and gave an exotic feel to our trip!

This marker looked more like a miniature lighthouse;

More beautiful blue water. The sad part is that the beauty of the water masks all the pollution (heavy metals, etc.) that lie on the bottom from more than 100 years of industrial outflows from both sides of the border;

Boogaboo IV cruising on plane at only 13 MPH - and you can't beat that flybridge view!

When we first passed this large factory type building, I mistakenly surmised it was some sort of smelter, but it is actually a coal fired hydro electric power plant, owned by Detroit Edison;

Closer inspection revealed a large ship offloading coal. We would end up passing this vessel twice - and following it once. . . Stay tuned;

Just north of the electric power plant, we were stopped by this US Coast Guard vessel. No, I wasn't in trouble again with the water cops ;-) Apparently there was a race on the river with go-fast boats and they had part of it closed to traffic :-(
 So, we were informed that the race was supposed to end in about an hour from that point and our options while waiting were to drift, set an anchor or just drive around to pass the time. Considering the flow of the current, my unfamiliarity with the shore conditions (where we would have to anchor close to) and not really wanting to shut down the boat, I decided our best bet would be to simply turn around and head south for about a half hour cruise, then spin back northbound to return in an hour.
 The other option - or so the Coast Guard had in mind at this time - would be to follow a ship that might pass this way. The theory was that they would suspend the boat race to let the BIG boats pass and us little ones could merely follow through. Well, that was what we were told, anyway. . .

Given the fact that we were now just cruising s l o w l y along, we had a chance to study the shoreline better. One neat thing we discovered is that there is a car ferry that crosses to and from Ontario/Michigan, complete with Customs clearing on both sides.
 This runs from the villages of Sombra, Ontario to Marine City, Michigan;

Being the observant person that I am, I noticed the name on the big ship at the electric plant when we passed it on our southbound cruise as 'Indiana Harbor'. I then heard it call a securitie on the radio warning that it was leaving it's berth and moving out into river traffic. So, I spooled the twin 454's up to catch up to him - remembering that he was facing north and hoping he would continue north and provide our 'escort' through the boat race;

The chartplotter shows us roughly 1 mile behind him traveling at just over 23 mph to catch up;

The chase is on!
 Check out the comparative size of the cruisers passing by this behemoth;

Wow! The 'Indian Harbor' is exactly 1000' long, has a beam of105' and is powered by four, 3500 horsepower engines!
 How many times have YOU boated in the company of One Thousand Foot ships??
  Way Cool!

 Video of this encounter;

Catching up with the Big BIG Boy;

Alas, despite our anticipation of moving forward on our trip, the powers that be decided NOT to let the small boats follow the ship through the race course and we were forced to once again turn around for another southbound tour of the St. Clair River.
 At least we got to see some more big ships up close and personal;

One of the times we passed by the power plant,the sun was just in the right spot in the sky to get these two neat shots - the first one looking like a lit candle;

Next one captured the sun right behind the largest stack;

Some more ships passing by each other;

Some video of these same ships passing - three at once;

Fast forward to the next day & we are at Sarnia Bay Marina. What, no photos of the big arrival and acing the very first stern in docking of the Sedan Bridge? Nope. By the time we finally got through the race course, it was getting late & we just wanted to get into the marina. Besides, by the time we got there, it was actually after their closing time, but the staff was good enough to make sure we got in and secured before they left.
 Ultimately, by the time we got into the marina, called into Canada Customs to report back into the country, hoof it over to the border crossing to pay the tax on the boat (remember we were importing the vessel into the country) and back to the boat, it was about 10:30. A quick shower and a cold drink and our event filled day wrapped up around midnight.
 Here is a look at our overnight slip at the marina.

Our stop in Sarnia proved to be a serendipitous encounter. This lovely Sea Ray, 'Plan B', a 40' Sundancer is owned by none other than Anchor Girl's cousin Glen and his wife, Natalie. One of those things you could have never planed for, they were on thier way south to Lake Erie for their holidays and were spending the night at Sarnia Bay Marina. Glen actually helped us into the slip, having no idea we were the owners of the boat he was helping in and we didn't realize what was going on until I jumped on the dock to secure the lines and thank him. What a fun shock that was when the light bulbs finally went off!

Next time, we cross the vast expanse of Lake Huron and visit Kincardine
where we encounter a real, live 'Phantom' . . .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Docked Wages - Carver 355 Aft Cabin Motor Yacht

 So, do you like the new look for the Blog? I figured it was time for a refresh and this design won. Let us all know what you think about it on the Log Book. . .

Speaking of new things, here's a couple of pics of the new 'Docked Wages' on the water - coming over to the gas dock for one of the last pump out's of the 2010 season. And what a magnificent day it was;

 And one with yours truly  taking some video;

 And while we're at it, why don't we take a look at that very same video;

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2 Tickets To Paradise

 Can it be that time already? The end of another great boating season - and one with many changes for this boater!!

 Yes, the Big Boy was hauled out yesterday and parked on land for the off season :-( Now, I know I've told you this before, but I FIRMLY believe that everything happens for a reason and all one need do is to look for the signs - they are as clear as a road sign, or a something written on a piece of paper. Case in point being our acquisition of the new boat. Just meant to be. . .

 I won't bore you with ALL of the signs that pointed to us getting that boat, but I will share this little bit of irony; the first time I drove that boat (on my own) it was windy as hell & I got a ticket. The last time I drove the boat (this season) it was windy as hell & I got a ticket. That's Good Karma, man . . . Ya, nothing like fighting with 25,000 pounds of boat flying sideways down the river in a 25 knot wind, eh Kevin?

 The Big Boy getting up on the trailer;

Out of the water for 2010;

 Video of the Big Boy coming out. And, ahh, the remark from Ross in the background is in reference to the boat's backside, not mine. Right, Rossco?

Firmly parked and going nowhere - until we figure out where our slip will be for the 2011 season. The gas dock was entertaining (except for the run in with the Trojan), but it will be nice to have a place to call home & adequate shore power.
 Ticket #2 was received this day when my truck was parked in a no parking zone (look REALLY close & you'll see the ticket on the truck's windshield). You think that the Town of Georgina ticket police might have clued into the fact that there was precious little space to park with the big truck taking all the boats out . . .

 - - - - - - - - - -  - -  - -  - - -  - - - -  - - - -

Ok, now on to the story of Ticket #1 . . .

 Our story begins on a long stretch of southwestern Ontario known as Highway #402, a highway that takes one through to Sarnia and the Bluewater Bridge and onward to the state of Michigan;

 A timely shot as we crossed the border. Wasn't too hard to do, as the traffic was moving at a snail's pace;

 Here's a montage of two photos taken while waiting on the bridge. The boats driving by are actually one - the same boat driving by taken a few seconds apart. The lighthouse to the left would be the first of many we would pass by on our adventure. The view to the left is the seemingly endless waters of Lake Huron. Note the ships approaching from the north well of in the distance (at the top right hand corner). These would the first of many ships we would pass  on our adventure.
 Note also the difference in the water colours - the darker blue is the shipping channel dredged to a minimum of 28' deep. Some researchers looking into why the levels of Lake Huron/Georgian Bay/St. Clair & Lake Michigan have dropped so dramatically over the past 20 years or so is that this same channel has caused the water to flow through much more quickly than nature had carved, resulting in the 'souring' of the St. Clair River and the subsequent increase of water outflow through it;

 The destination - Mac Ray Harbor in Harrison Township, Michigan. No, we didn't drive 450 km just to get a photo of me in front of this Sea Ray Blvd sign - although that was SO COOL - we actually came to see & buy the boat of my dreams, a 1997 Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge.
 What's the deal with the street sign, you are asking yourself? Well, let me indulge your curiosity. The 'Ray' in MacRay Harbour was none other than the recently deceased Connie Ray ('C' Ray - get it?), the founder of Sea Ray boats.

 Did I mention the term 'adventure'? Yes I did.
 The whole boat searching/buying/delivering experience was nothing short of an adventure of a lifetime! For those uninitiated in the viewing public, I have dreamed about getting this boat for over five years and to have it actually come true was a gift. The way we went about making it all come together was truly an adventure!!!

 Here sits the future 'Boogaboo IV' in it's former owner's slip;

 Another shot of the boat with the the other ones that made the whole thing possible.
The seller of our boat (to the right) bought his buddy's Sea Ray 390 Aft Cabin (the green arrow). Buddy then bought the boat beside him, a Sea Ray 480 Aft Cabin (the purple arrow). That guy was actually the previous owner of our new boat (the yellow arrow).
And to follow along the Karma theme, the fellow who bought our 300 Sundancer also has a Sea Ray. So, it's the story of the FIVE Rays;

 As soon as the boat became ours, it was moved to another slip in the marina. This time it was in a covered slip - but nothing like we've seen in these parts. These are serious covered slips;

  Check it out. These boat houses are all concrete construction complete with electrically operated garage doors.
 Notice how low the water level is - testament to how much things have changed since this marina was built in the mid-80's;

 Looking back to the opposite side of this boathouse, you can see the natural gas fired radiant heating elements mounted to the ceiling. That's right, heated slips. What they do in the winter is close the garage doors, add some winter extensions to them that reach right to the bottom of the canal and crank up the heat. The boats berthed here spend the winter in the water!
 How much, you ask? Try $10,000 USD - just for the winter. Ya Baby!

  Here I am warshing the boat of all the spider poop. Ya, Pefferlaw has birds, this place has spiders. Lots and lots of them.
 I also discovered that this big boat takes a lot longer to wash than the old one. Note the TWO beers on the dock ;-)

  I wanted to share this view (taken on our 2nd road trip to Michigan) to point out the challenge I had when we left the marina. To depart, I would have to take the boat out straight into a channel that wasn't much wider than the boat's length, make a hard 90 degree turn, then another to head onto Lake St. Clair.
 Problem was that the wind was blowing really hard down the main channel and it was the first time for me maneuvering the boat.
 The result was too much over correcting (and throttle) on my part. Oh ya, there was three cops in a sheriff's boat watching this all going down and they weren't impressed.
 THAT was ticket #1 :-(

  Our third and final road trip to Michigan was to take the last truckload of stuff to the boat and actually bring the boat home. Harbor Master Dave was good enough to offer his services as return driver for my truck and became the very first official guest aboard Boogaboo IV! A fun night on the boat complete with take out dinner and lots of cold American beer ;-)

Here's a video of Dave & I firing up the engines and checking out the engine room. Check out the expression on my face when the engines rumble to life. Like a little boy and his new toy;

 The last full day in Michigan and we've got pretty much everything stowed away but there's one final job for me to do before departing - put the new name on the boat.
 The few days we were there it was really hot and humid. That's why this photo looks somewhat fuzzy as the camera had been in the air conditioned cabin and the lens condensated when Anchor Girl brought it out;

Yes, that's much better;

 Saturday evening and the skies cleared and the humidity lifted. A nice time to take a walk around to check the marina out and locate the all important gas dock ;-)

A look back at the boat house (and A. G. running back to get her sun glasses);

One of about 8 channels of boat slips - sorry 'boat wells', as they call them down there;

Yet another look. If you are a fan of Sea Ray's, this is the place to go - the joint is choke full o' Rays;

Looking down the channel that divides MacRay from Belle Maer Harbor;

Video taken from the gas dock showing the scope of the marina;

Another view of both MacRay Harbor & the equally huge marina across the channel - Belle Maer Harbor;

I took this inside the gas bar store. Look close & you'll see ice cold beer and coolers!

I thought this was a pretty shot of Old Glory;

Two photos meshed together to provide a panorama of the slips closest to the lake. The building in the background is the main club house/restaurant and swimming pool;

An overhead look at MacRay Harbor. The blue star represents the slip we were housed in and the point of our departure. The purple line, the route taken out to the lake. The red star is where the sheriff's boat was ideling and I got nailed for throwing off a large wake D'oh!

One last night in the good ol' U.S. of A. and a check of the dash and electronics before we begin our 600+ mile trek home;

Next time - we head off on to Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and onto Sarnia. With lots of Big Ships!!