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Thread: Northern Michigan to Sandusky Ohio. 2016

  1. #1
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    Dec 2013
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    Northern Michigan to Sandusky Ohio. 2016

    Last summer I sailed from my home county of Charlevoix in Michigan to Sandusky Ohio where my boat's been stored this last winter. This marks the first time I've been able to truly call myself a long distance sailor. I tried stepping my mast by using my boom as a type of extended lever. Broke off the top part of my boom and had to engineer a fix. Paid the guys at the marina to raise it the next day. My boats previous owner was a tool and die guy who built this fantastic hindge mount for the mast. I think when I make it to buffalo, I'm going to pay a muscular high schooler to help me lower it back down into this configuration. It's really not a one person job.

    I left around the middle of June with the intentions of making it all the way through the Erie Canal and down south before it got cold, which looking back at it, was not only highly unrealistic but caused extra stress imagining my self in full winter gear passing new jersey.

    Petoskey to Beaver Island was one of the best sails the entire trip. I was down in mexico the previous winter, laying in bed trying to physic my self into believing I was actually going to go back home and sail all the way to beaver. It's only around 39 miles but it was a big phycological jump for me, however at no time did I loose sight of land.

    Leaving Little Traverse bay I went through a swarm of no less than 70 sailboats all coralessing west of Harbor Springs. Sailboat's in size from my Ariel to massive kevlar sailed 60 foot sailing boats with full crews, the kind you'd see in those billionaire races, all swarming around one another practicing within a tight area. I went right through the swarm and hugged the coast up Emmett county passing beautiful sand dunes punctuated by pine and maple forests.

    For the most part, the weather was perfect, east wind the whole way north. The biggest occasional wave of five feet my boat could easily take, just turn the stern into the wave and it picks the boat up and gently puts it back down again, not even distrubing the dragonflies clinging to the boat.

    Next I sailed for Mackinaw city thinking I could make it in a day. Almost no wind caused me to motor most of the day using up all my fuel only to make it to Wagasuance point. I don't know why I thought I could sail into the Straights of Mackinaw with a strong east wind blowing in my face, but I suppose I was a little high from the spectacular sail to Beaver and felt I'd be victorious no matter what. I sailed back and forth in the straights for hours trying to make head way only to arrive back at the tip of the point.


    Not only had I not planned on not making it that day but I was sailing back and fourth between four huge lighthouses that rose out of the lake like sky scrapers around me. Each one emitting a low, long, ominous alarm every 20 seconds. They sounded like giant robots dying slowly of loneliness. I made it back to the tip of Wagashuance point just before sunset, set my ancors in a small patch of sand in the middle of a bolder field. Jumped in the water with my mask on and preceded to pile small rocks onto my anchor with the last little bit of light.

    The wind picked up that night but my anchor dragged into a giant bolder where it stayed for the rest of the night. I woke up to a perfect north wind and headed for mackinaw. Sailed for a few hours and began to see the Mackinaw bridge only to have the wind die. I sailed a slow run the rest of the day, under the bridge with the freightors roaring past me, anchoring in front of vacation hotels on the east side of town.

    Next, I sailed from Mackinaw to Hammond Bay harbor of refuge out in the middle of no where. The next day I made it to Rodger city, where they were having their "mariners" festival. I begged a free slip from the kind harbor master and spend a few days there. This town, like nearly all towns on the east coast of Michigan or shall I say, the midwest in general gives the impression that the united states lost the cold war. Burned out little down towns with store fronts turned into parking lots that no one parks in. This pretty much sums up most of the towns on Michigans east coast with the expection of Port Austin, Detroit and maybe Port Huron.

    I tried to make it from Rogder city to Alpena, in a single day. Competely unrealistic! I made it half way even in decent sailing conditions. I felt very defeated as I motored into a small boat launch harbor in a nature recreational area. Feeling sorry for myself and angery I was only half way to where I wanted to be, I cut the engine, realizing I was moving to fast I ran to the front of the boat to put the anchor in when I slipped on some water, went up in the air three stoodges style and came down on my hand. I felt the pain immediately. I looked down and saw my right thump completely dislocated, almost a full 100 degrees from where it should be. The boat running aground seemed trival now. I put the anchor in, closed up the boat, inflated the dingy and roed to shore all with one good hand. I was out in the middle of no where with only a few cars in the area. The first car I came across stopped and took me to the hospital eight miles away. You'd be suprized how quickly you can get a ride hitch-hiking when you stick out a dislocated thumb! The doctor assured me I was not the first sailing injury they've seen at the Alpena hospital.

    I crossed the thumb-pit of michigan to Port Austin entirely under motor without any wind. Right in the middle of that trip I was completely out of sight of land for the first time, only for about 20 minutes but still the experience was exciting but also disorenting. I was navigating with a compass and a backup gps cell phone. Even though I knew exactly where I was going a strange feeling came over me when I realized I had no visual point to aim at. I really wasn't expecting that.

    Passing Port Huron and going down the St.Clair river was as epxected very exciting. Fast currents create sudden chop. The boat always gets pulled down river quickly so when exiting the river to go into the marina for some gas I had to steer hard right of my target to make it. The current is so fast going down that could could easily make it in less than a day if you want. I elected to take my time. I enjoyed the sights, large freighters coming up a thin river with recreaitonal boats everywere, islands of inflitable toys with drunk partyers all floating together.

    I ran aground on the last possible piece of land before entering lake St.Clare. It was thick mud and clay. After talking to the towing people and realizing they wanted more to pull me out than I payed for the boat, I spend three hours in the water slowly nudging the boat back and forth trying to get it oriented back in the direction where the channel gets deeper. A local couple stopped by in a ski toeing boat and offered to pull me out. They spent 20 mintues only making it worse and another 25 minutes corecting the mistakes and finally with great suspense the boat lunged forward and we were free gain. Can't say how greatful I was to these strangers. Sailed accross Lake St.Clare in a euphoric bliss swaring to never put my self in that position again.

    Made it to downtown Detroit just as the sun hit the horizon. Gross isle looked like the garden of eden with some techno concert blaring dub step music. Pulled into a canal outside the downtown Marina and tied up. Within 60 seconds boarder patrol agents showed up and checked me out.

    Some locals came by and started asking very silly questions. They couldn't believe that I came from Northern Michigan. It was as if I told them I came from the Moon. I told them some stories and they shared a mixed drink or two. It was a good welcome to Michigan's biggest city, honestly one of my favorite places I've visited on the trip. Detroits come a long way. The down town is now at a point where if you didn't know the history of the place you might conclude it's just a normal down town of a large city. Bands playing, street vendors selling food, public spaces filled with people having a drink after work.

    I spent labor day at the end of the Detroit river where it meets lake Erie. Met up with some old friends and took them out on the boat for a few hours. The drunken debochory of thousands of motor boaters pulling up on the beachs of these islands along the maritme border was fun to watch from a distance. When it was time to leave I plotted a course for Put-In-Bay Ohio. I crossed Lake Eire on a south east course with sails up and the motor on to compensate for lack of wind. I past a spooky island, the only spot of land visible, dead trees and a few bunkers was all I saw. Very creepy feeling it gave me to see such a unwelcoming place. All the possible contingences of what could go wrong when I'm far off shore slowly run through my mind. I feel the only way to deal with them is have a back up plan to the back up. Cookies, good wine and good music also help.

    I saw the Perry monolith on South Bass Island long before I saw the island it's self. Such a good feeling when crossing such a big body of water to see the first tall building on the horizon. I sailied all the way into the west side of Put-In-Bay looking for a open area to ancor I had marked on google maps only to find illegal makeshift docks filling the space. I then saw a boat very similar to mine tied in the shallows, almost on the beach and figured if hey had bottom space to tie up then I would too. The owner of the boat who lived accross the street came out in his dingy. He said he saw my boat and had to come say hello since his O'Day is another Alberg design. He gave me permission to use his digny dock as long as I liked.

    Sorry if my paragraphs are rambelings. I've learned from this trip that much of sailing long distances is purely psychological stamena, being able to be alone for long periods of time and having a realistic time table.
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  2. #2
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    uploading more images.

    Having trouble uploading all images at once.
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  3. #3
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    Leaving Little Traverse Bay Behind
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    Defeated and heading back to Wagashuance point, west of Mackinaw.
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  4. #4
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    Oct 2016
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    can't wait to do what you did. Hope to sail from port jefferson Long Ishand to martha vineyard mass this summer. Great pictures.

  5. #5
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    The third picture down: Is that the tide that is making the movement or something else?

  6. #6
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    blow by blow

    Great story of a first? voyage!

    Thanks for sharing

    I'll always have the image of a hitch hiker with a broken thumb!!

    Glad you got it fixed -- no later mention of any problems?

    What could you have done without medical help?

    Could you have popped it back, now that you've had it done??

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    joeniver, I'm not sure what movement you're talking about. The third picture from the top is in Put-In-Bay Ohio. There's no tide in the Great Lakes. When the wind blows just right inside a bay we get a few inches drop but that's it.

    ebb, the thumbs fine now. Not as dexterous as the other one but I can open bottles and still thumb wrestle. When I first got the anchor in, I tried to pop in back in place only for a brief moment because the pain was too much, I pulled out my cellphone and with my one good thumb looked up webMD.com. The first thing they said was don't try to pop it back in place.

    The doctor had to have tree tries at getting it back in place, and this was after they put me on drugs to lesson the pain. I'm not a cry baby by any means but this was not your usual dislocation. My saving grace was the fact that within 1 hour of dislocating it I was in a hospital talking to the doctor. The longer you wait the worse it gets.

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