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|
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??
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' . . .