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 . . .

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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!!