This is a mix of log and boat info. Big group of photos at end of this post. I'd like to intersperse photos and test but am still learning the blog. Wiill try to shorter posts more often.
Day 11 Up the Trent Severn. Slow day of locks. Locking and lolling was
the word. Pretty anchorage in wide marsh. Mosquitos at dark
Day 12 More locking but a nice run across Rice Lake to break up the slogging. Have been navigating by magazine sketch map until Rice Lake, finally had to fire up the lap top for e -charts. Nice exposed anchorage at river mouth. No bugs
Day 13 nice scenic river run out of Rice Lake. Mostly lakes, ended on Lovesick Lake in sweet anchorage amongst litlle ledgey, pine islands. Stereo ospreys surrounded us. Great swim
Day 14 Great swim to start then a mix of lakes and canals. Lakes are pretty but very heavily developed. Cottage country! Broken intertnet at marina 130l of gas for 130 miles. Cleared lift lock at Kirkfield anchored on Canal Lake-great swan sightings .
Day 15 More locks and Lake Simcoe, second only in size to Ontario. The lake was calm and we cruised across at 15 knots. Locked through with a couple aboard the Intrepid, a 21' Ranger Tug they'd trailered from Portland Oregon to launch at Trenton to do the Trent Severn. Rangers are a recreational tug boat style, very well built and appointed and extremely economical to operate, they are full displacement hulls with a top speed of 6 knots or so. We're really enjoying the ability to cruise the big lakes at 15 knots ( we max out at about 25 knots) after the slow runs between locks. The folks on the tug were grateful for the weather conditions report we radioed back to them as they made their much slower crossing
We've set a goal to clear Lake Michigan at Chicago before mid September so we don't have to deal with the fall winds. Its about 1200 miles from our starting point in Troy so we want to average 200 miles a week. We're 2 weeks into the trip and have racked up over 500 miles so we're in good shape. We're anticipating a different pace of travel across Lakes Huron and Michigan, our speed will be limited by weather and desire to explore as opposed to regulations and lock operations.
A real mix of weather on anchor at Sparrow Lake. A stiff breeze made the boat bounce enough to be uncomfortable and we shifted to a more sheltered spot. The breeze died, the sun came out hot and we had a nice swim.
The Boat (quite geeky stuff here)
Laughing Gull is a lobster style 24' Seaway HT Sport. She is 8' 6” abeam and draws 14” motor up, 22” motor down. The cabin and hull are of all composite construction (mostly fiberglass). She was built by Seaway Boats in Milton NH in 2013 for our company Laughing Gull Boat Charters. We worked with the builders to customize the boat for our needs and then did considerable customizing on our own with assistance from a very capable local carpenter, Tom Holzwarth of Windsor Me.
Our modifications at the builder from the stock boat included 2 extra portlights (opening side windows), opening windshields, and shortening the bunks from 9' to 61/2 feet and installing bulkheads to create two “closets”.
We purchased the boat without seating which saved considerable money and allowed me to design and construct two fiberglass covered plywood boxes, a larger one on the port to serve as galley and food storage and a smaller one to starboard to serve as fishing tackle storage. I installed comfortable swivel chairs on top of the boxes for helm and crew with sliders to adjust position to and away from the dash. The seats are too high for comfortable seating so foot rests were designed and installed on the cabin bulkhead.
Our carpenter built oak rod racks and cross slats that the fitted over the sliding roof panel that he built. The roof panel can either ride on top of the wheel house roof, extended half way or all the way over the cock pit to the transom. We designed and Libbey built canvas trimmed clear vinyl windows so the boat can be totally enclosed in a few minutes. For our loop cruise we're so far finding that the half cock position works well-not sure how deploying the inflatable kayak from the roof racks will work(update-works awkward but okay) . We also opted out of the stock cushions which were thin and expensive. Libbey built a great set of 6” thick mattresses for the cuddy which essentially turns the v berth into a very comfortable queen bed.
The boat is wired with 2, 12 volt deep cycle batteries with an isolator switch for starting and house power. Electronics in include 2 Lowrance fishfinder/chartplotter units ((HDS 7 and Elite4), a Standard Horizon VHF with built in GPS and distress signal, a hand held VHF and a personal locator beacon. We each carry a cell phone and a lap top which we charge with an interverter. I also have an Amazon Kindle that my DRA colleagues gave me as a retirement present.
Unfortunately recycling hasn't been reasonable so we're bagging trash and food scraps and finding trash bins at town docks and marinas. We use a porta potti which is actually less convenient than a holding tank which can be pumped out. Porta pottis have to be dumped which so far has meant finding a dock side toilet. We have a 5 gallon capacity which needs to be emptied about every other week. We wash dishes in lake water without soap and strain the gray water through a fine mesh screen and put the scraps in the trash (update-we don't like the looks of the Illinois River water and are using tap water we carry from marinas). Personal sanitation is showers at marinas or with solar shower and swimming (update-lot of people swimming in the Illinois but we're spoiled Mainers).
We carry 2 full sized pairs of binnoculars. One 7X50 pair of Fujinons with compass and one 12x35 image stabilized Fujinons. We also each carry a pair of water proof compacts for hiking and kayaking. We carry 2 waterproof compact cameras and a Canon “bridge” camera with a 50X image stabilized zoom and of course both cell phones have cameras. The big zoom is fun for wildlife shots on the fly from the helm
Day 16 Sparrow Lake to Georgian Bay at Green Island. Last 3 locks until the Illinois River. Marine railway at Big Chute and a huge lock at Swift Rapids
Day 17 Cooked Libbey Birthday breakfeast-ham, potato, onion, egg cheese hash. Strong squalls early, waited for them to pass in sheltered cove. Green Island to Midland. Fight with West Marine over no cartography on FF/CP. Bought paper charts went to Pennetang Harbor, anchored off historic recreation of 1817 British naval base with theatre-$42 to see Foot loose seemed too pricey. Steak and beer for b-day dinner. Scattered showers NW
Day 18 Found chip for CP tucked in instruction manual which works great even shows small craft route. Blustery day with showers and sun. Anchored by Starr Island. Curry with green beans and peanuts
Day 19 To Parry Sound for supplies, gas, ice, anchored north of inlet-more cottage counry. Fresh chicken, corn on the cob and broccoli for dinner, great swimming 50 miles (669)
Day 20 To Meneilly Island 29 miles today 698miles now total. Wind caused us to anchor early, paddled kayak for the first time today and fixed anchor light. Found secluded cove with no cottages in view.
Day 21 Still windbound-wind is at 20knots from SW-we would have 10 miles of low foul shore to leeward with no cover and 3-5' seas on our stern quarter so will wait for good conditions-food, water and fuel in good supply, cleaned cockpit and wheel house, kayaked, swam. Creamy tomato and sausage on pasta for dinner.
Day 22 Windbound again, wind constant at 20 knots-forecast to calm down tomorrow or next day, We have 21 days 'til our 15 September targeted arrival in Chicago We calculate we need 7 days of good running to do it. So far we've been unwilling to travel on 3 ½ of 22 days. minor maintenance projects, books and swimming. Chilli for supper.
Day 23 Wind bound. Forecast for light wind tomorrow. Kayaking reading hanging out on the boat.
Day 24 Calm, up and running before 7:30. Made Killarney mid day for gas, ice, water, charts, groceries and ice cream cones-pricey but friendly tourist town. Up North Channel to Little Current. 100 miles (first time we've hit that mark this trip) Fresh pork chops for dinner.
Day 25 Light SW cloudy, cool, transited north shore of Manitoulin Island-the world's largest freshwater island. Sparsely developed, low wooded shores, had planned to run closer to shore for entertainment but shallow water kept us 100 yards out. Anchored in Robinson Bay on Cockburn Island. Next island to the west is Drummond Island in Michigan. This will be our last night in Canada. Pasta with sausage and red sauce for dinner. 67 miles.
Day 26 Cockburn Island to Detour Harbor MI. Cool, gray SW 10-15. Nice night in state operated marina. Whitefish and Yoopers ale for dinner at the Main Sail restaurant. Good to catch up with family by phone and internet
Day 27 Fog early and late light S winds. Late start due to shopping and internet and fog. 27 miles to Cheneaux Islands.
Day 28 Cheneaux Islands to Lake Charlevois, huh, maybe the French passed through here. Slow going in bumpy 3 footers from Voisgechance Islands otherwise fine
Day 29 To Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake shored, another high miles day. Calm sunny
Day 30 To Whitehall on White Lake, Calm sunny. 128 miles a new record. Gas mileage reduced to 3mpg due to light head wind and higher speed.
Day 31 Whitehall to South Haven. Marina night-no place to anchor. Rough chop/swell at start. Laid over at Muskegon for 3 hours waiting for smoother seas. Jazz concert at marina
Day 32 South Haven to Lockport. 38 mile crossing of Lake Michigan from New Buffalo to Chicago. River in Chicago very busy with tour and pleasure craft. River below Chicago very industrial with heavy barge traffic in narrow canal. Unable to find anchorage so tied up to a wall. We were asked to leave in the middle of the night “because that's not a very safe place to be” Tied up on lock wall for rest of the night.
Day 33 Its now go slow time-we're keeping it to 7mph and getting 7 ½ mpg. We're across the Great Lakes so are unlikely to be caught by winter. Now the strategy is to spend 10 weeks doing a thousand miles as opposed to 1400 miles in five weeks. We don't want to arrive at the Gulf of Mexico before the hurricane season ends around Thanksgiving. Locked through at Lockport with Hobbit Too-live aboard family on older Carver. Spent 4 ½ hours waiting to lock through. Anchored out in slough at creek mouth below Dresden.
Day 34 Dresden to Ottawa. Hot sunny, very heavy pleasure craft traffic (Labor Day weekend). Stopped for gas at Spring Brook Marina in Seneca. They loaned us the marina truck to go for groceries. Good to resupply and have fresh meat and veggies.
Day 35 Ottawa to Hennepin. Hot, gray and humid. Light breeze died mid after noon.
Day 36 Hennepin to Chillichothe Thunder showers most of the day. Asian carp sightings becoming common, jumped when cleaning anchor. Spotted bird nesting colony similar to great blue heron rookery but smaller nests. Dozens of immature bald eagles hanging out but don't think they have anything to do with the nests. Maybe scavenging carcasses? Thousands of white pelicans in shallow sloughs (too shallow for boat) Barge pool across from our anchorage got busy in the middle of the night moving barges around. No safety concern but very noisy which added to train traffic on a nearby bridge cut short our sleep.
Day 37 Kayaked to sloughs to watch pelicans-too shallow but got some photos further down where the channel is dredged through the lake. The lakes and rivers are so heavily dredged and constructed that it is hard to figure out what is natural. Anchored just a few miles downriver from last night but out in the lake. Cool NW light.
Day 38 Marina night in Peoria, our 4th marina night so far. Expensive cab ride to replace Lib's computer and other gear and groceries. 2$ margaritas and brats in the marina bar. Fueled up-12 gallons for 86 miles-better than 7 mpg best of the trip to date.
We're Steve and Libbey from Whitefield, Maine. We're launching this blog as we start our attempted circumnavigation of America's Great Loop in August 2015. We'll be traveling living aboard our 24' Maine lobster style boat the Laughing Gull