Cruise through Canada's Southernmost Territory, July 4 – 11
Cruise through Canada's Southernmost Territory, July 4 – 11Report Abuse
Cruise through Canada's Southernmost Territory, July 4 – 11
Jack VanArsdale, Bob Zimmerman, and Keith Otto joined Kelly IV as crew for our cruise planned for this holiday week. The crew met at the boat for Sunday night so we could stow our provisions, relax and get an early start for the 50nm sail from Sandusky to Amherstburg, Ontario on the Detroit River.
Monday morning everyone was up at 6am so getting underway by 7am was an easy process. We had breakfast underway as the seas were calm and the only cooking involved boiling the water for the instant oatmeal. We set sail as we left the bay and headed WNW through the South Passage below Kelleys and South Bass Islands. With only 8kt air out of the S/SSW we made about 4knots through the water until the breeze softened even more, so by the time we were sailing past Green Island, we started up the new Yanmar and motor sailed the rest of the trip. There were two freighters in the South Passage, one anchored south of Kelleys Island, the other at the gravel pier on Marblehead. As we turned NW towards Middle Sister Island and the Detroit River Light, we turned our binoculars to the west side of South Bass Island so Bob could see the Ship-turned-House on the northwest shore. Unfortunately, the haze was so thick that the landmark house was just not visible from our position. As the afternoon wore on, the number of boats in sight dropped to an occasional one or two, frequently well off into the hazy distance. We were always in sight of some land, but mostly just a long, low, slightly darker smudge on the horizon. Middle Sister island was a welcome sight as our course took us within a couple miles so the trees were clearly visible from Kelly IV. North of Middle Sister we came alongside the entrance channel to the Detroit River and were soon followed by the two freighters we spied in the South Passage. While riding the bow waves, we also were dodging rather large clumps of floating weeds, one of which actually almost stopped the propeller, but a quick shift to neutral let the folding prop close and the weeds slid off and all was well. Once the freighters were past us, we focused on finding our way along the upbound Amherstburg Channel to our destination for the night. After motoring for almost an hour, it finally dawned on me that even though our speed through the water was 5 – 6 knots, Kelly IV wasn't going anywhere near that fast over the ground. Of course, we were motoring into a 3 knot current, so our true speed up the river was closer to 2 – 3 knots. Soon the BobLo Ferry motored its way across our path. This was our sign to hang a right into Duffy's Marina, our home in Canada for the next two nights.
Tuesday we played tourist and explored the Fort and town, learning the British and Canadian perspective on the War of 1812. The gardens in the Navy Yard were beautiful, the townspeople very friendly, the displays impressive, and the speakers very knowledgeable. The heat was intense, but the AC power in the marina kept the air conditioners on Kelly IV pushing the cool air throughout the boat.
Wednesday was our day to move on to Leamington. You'll recall from our earlier report a month ago, that Leamington was hit by tornadoes. They severely damaged two of the four major piers so half the floating docks at the Leamington Marina cannot support their boats. All the seasonal slips were moved to the remaining piers and the number of transient slips is now only 10. We called ahead on Tuesday afternoon and confirmed that the marina did in fact have a slip for us. It was a beautiful, clear morning as we motored down the river, this time enjoying the 2-3 knot boost from the current as were we going with the flow. We steered out of the channel as we cleared the shoals off Bar Point and turned southeast towards Colchester Reef. With the light breeze out of the west, we set all three sails! We had the genny on the whisker pole to starboard and the drifter and main off the port side. With all three sails pulling we were making about 4 knots in 6-8 knots of air! When we approached the Colchester Reef, we turned northeast, furled the genoa and sailed under drifter and main in the now 10 knot breeze air until we finally fired up the motor only 20 minutes out from our slip. It was terrific sailing, making good time in calm seas and lighter breezes. Fellow sailors are almost always terrific people. Leamington sailors are no exception. Randy, owner of “One Aye”, asked us if we'd like a ride into town, so we hopped aboard his SUV. As a realtor, Randy knew Leamington very well and was especially knowledgeable about the houses and the recent tornado damage. He offered and we accepted his suggestion to take a “tornado tour” and he showed us what houses and property were damaged, including some homes with huge trees still crushing roofs down to the ground level. Mostly the damage was very much cleared up, but the few exceptions were noteworthy. The cleared areas with all their huge piles of logs and vast areas of open ground covered with sawed off tree stumps made it obvious that the tornadoes had been absolutely devastating. Unlike Toledo where several deaths were reported, we understand that no one was seriously hurt in Leamington, although there were many very close calls.
Thursday's weather called for thunderstorms in the evening with the stronger winds coming from the north. After some discussion, we finally set our course for South Bay, Pelee Island. We've all had an interest in visiting Pelee Island, but except for my brief solo visit recently, our current crew had not yet set foot on Pelee Island. Winds were light and from the SSW so Kelly IV was trimmed close hauled, but made little progress in the light air. After a few hours we decided to motor sail and made the turn into the anchorage about 1730 hours. Only an hour or so later a line of dark, threatening clouds made their way in our direction from the northwest. Following the typical “calm before the storm”, a stiff breeze and rain blew through the anchorage, but the trusty 35 pound CQR anchor held us firmly to the bottom.
Friday morning dawned gray and ugly as the forecast of rainy weather came true. Given the forecast, another day at anchor, letting the weather blow through, seemed a good idea. Soon after awakening, we were blasted with about 30 minutes of serious downpour. The rain was so heavy that it burst right through the nylon tarp we had rigged to better enclose the cockpit and keep the drops from blowing down the companionway. While the rain came down in huge drops, it came through the tarp in a heavy mist as the threads of the nylon material split the drops into a heavy vapor. By 1000 hours the rain was gone and the sky to the west was clear, even sunny. We assembled the Port-a-Bote dinghy and rowed into the abandoned marina marked on the charts as “Dick's”. We estimated that the walk into “town” at West Dock was about 3 miles, so when we saw signs of life in one of the cottages, we found a friendly local who called a cab for us. OK, they called The Cab, the only one on the island! Moe, the owner and driver let us know about a few things concerning the island, like the Heritage Museum occupying the former Town Hall, but said we'd need to sign up for his 3:30pm bus tour to learn more. Moe was very friendly, but being a good entrepreneur, was creating a curiosity in us hoping we'd buy into his tour. As it turned out, we were more focused on enjoying the museum, a late lunch, and gathering a few provisions and ice. so we were late for his tour. Unfortunately for Moe, but good for us, no one from the ferry decided to take his tour, so he agreed to take us back to the dinghy and we collected our provisions and he gave us a mini tour as we rode back to the old marina. The weather was now clear and sunny, even quite warm, so after we stowed the supplies and restocked the coolers with ice, all four of us jumped into the lake for a lazy evening of swimming, splashing and lazing about in the water.
Saturday morning burst upon us bright and clear with light winds forecast out of the southwest. We had lost the anchor float sometime Thursday night and confirmed it while we were swimming. Jack swam down the rode and there was no float to be found. When we raised anchor Friday morning, the float line was still attached, but no float. It must have come undone from the line after the anchor rode passed over it as Kelly sailed back and forth on her anchor. We motored SSW out of the anchorage following a course I plotted that included a waypoint I had plotted a couple years ago using the chart. As we continued on the course line on the GPS, we could see Fish Point looming awfully close to us, only a couple hundred yards away. It dawned on me that we were going to run smack into Fish Point, so I reset the location of the waypoint and we changed our course to SSE until we cleared the peninsula covered with seagulls and their brilliant white-capped low limestone rocks. Our course towards Put-in-Bay, the closest point for checking back into the US, took us almost due west, so we just motor sailed into the gap between Middle Bass Island and Ballast Island before turning south into Put-in-Bay. Given the short distance we had traveled from South Bay, Pelee Island, we decided to try to do a little sailing, so we continued under way to a point just southwest of Rattlesnake Island and raised Kelly's sails. Unfortunately, the breeze was so light that we merely drifted slowly south, then tacked to sail north and finally back SSE into Put-in-Bay. It did give us time to enjoy another leisurely lunch on the water before dropping anchor immediately below the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial standing 352 feet overhead. We assembled the dinghy, rowed into shore and checked into the US using the Video Phone at the public washroom in Put-in-Bay. While the clearing-in took about 20 minutes, it was not difficult and there was no problem. As all of us had visited the Monument and museum before, we decided to take a walk further south into the residential area just a couple blocks south of the “downtown” area of PIB. It was a quiet, relaxing area with homes, B&B's and one larger hotel on the shore facing east towards Kelleys Island and Marblehead. We rowed back to Kelly IV, just relaxing on board for the balance of the evening. Just as we were preparing to hit our bunks for the night, we were commenting that the breeze had picked up a bit and was now blowing out of the SE. As we looked around it became clear that all of the boats in the anchorage were shifting towards the SE in unison! In fact, even South Bass Island was moving towards the SE! Well, it finally crossed my mind that maybe WE were dragging our anchor as the rest of the world sat calmly around us. After pulling up the Danforth and trying to reset it unsuccessfully, we switched to the faithful CQR and Kelly stayed put. We finally got to our bunks for a well-earned sleep.
Sunday morning was another beautiful day! We realized that we had been blessed with nearly perfect weather, having to sit through only one storm and a brief bit of rain during the entire week. The breeze was light and from the west through the morning, so we sailed under jib & main back NE keeping Middle Bass Island to port and Ballast Island to starboard. We dodged a huge fleet of fishing boats by gibing to head SE and continued sailing until we were almost past Kelleys Island and Marblehead. The light breeze finally gave up so we motored into Sandusky Bay, topped off the fuel and returned to Sandusky Harbor Marina.
We had sailed about 140 nm over our week long cruise with stops in 3 ports at the southernmost point of all Canada. The nearly perfect weather and great companions made for an excellent cruise, good sailing, a nice test of the new motor as well as providing us with a little touring and relaxing.