Thursday, July 28, 2016

Underway Once Again

     The weather settled down again as we headed out into the North Channel. This is another really beautiful area. Lots of islands and some really challenging navigation in the inland channels. Lots of rocks again but beautiful. We pulled into our first anchorage at McTavish Island and dropped the anchor. It didn't set the first time so we pulled it back up to try again and the bolt between the two swivel shackles broke and the anchor dropped back into the water. We lost our Rockna anchor. I just couldn't believe it, I was really upset but nothing much I could do about it. I had a spare, a Fortress anchor which I attached to my chain and managed to get it to set for the night. Only a couple more days at anchor and we were in US waters at Drummond Island. We cleared customs and the next day headed for Mackinaw City Michigan. It was a good run across the northern part of Lake Huron and into Mackinaw City but bad weather again delayed our journey into Lake Michigan. We finally got a break in the weather three days later and headed out for Little Traverse Bay. We spent one night there and then headed for Grand Traverse Bay and Northport Harbor. We are still here today, and will be heading out early tomorrow morning for Frankfort Municipal Marina which is 72 miles from here. We were going stop a Leland Township Marina which is about half way to Frankfort but they are booked solid until Saturday because of a sailboat race so we have to try to make Frankfort in one day. That 72 mile run is going to take around 11 hours so we have to get an early start. The weather is supposed to be good although the winds are going to kick up a little from the northeast but the seas are forecast to be two feet or less so it should be a good run hopefully.

I was going to attach some pictures to my last post but didn't have a good enough wifi connection to do so, so here are a few pictures of some of the locks and the rocks.
One of the towers on one of the hydraulic locks

This is the cylinder that lifts the container, water, and your boat up or down.

This is a view from one of the hydraulic locks. You can just make out the channel down below the lock. This is a lock that dropped us down instead of up.

This is a picture of one of the houses sitting on a huge rock on one of the islands.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A lot has happened.

     We made it up the Hudson and across the Erie Canal to Oswego, NY where we had to make the run across Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence river. The crossing couldn't have been better. The seas were almost flat when we reached the St. Lawrence. We only had a short run down the river to Trent, ON and the beginning of the Trent Severn Waterway. If you ever make this trip, you have to go up the Trent Severn Waterway. I have never in my life gone through so many locks. 45 of the in all and many were very unconventional locks. We had double lift locks where we were lifted 30 or 40 feet in the first chamber, and then moved to the second chamber and were lifted another 30 or 40 feet. Very impressive. Then there were the conventional locks that lifted us almost 50 up in one fell swoop. The hydraulic locks were extremely impressive. There are two boxes for lack of a better term and you pulled your boat into one of these huge containers. One was in the up position and the other one was in the down position. Since we were going north, we would pull into the lower chamber and tie off the boat. There was a huge cylinder under the center of each of these two chambers that were connected by some piping under the whole system and they would let a little water out of the lower chamber and let a little water into the upper chamber and the weight of the upper chamber being more than the lower on would cause the lower one to rise and us along with it when they opened the valve in the piping between the two cylinders. The lift I would guess was around 80 or 90 feet. Quite a ride! Finally there was the marine rail where they pulled a cradle under your boat on some railroad type tracks. Then they would lift your boat with slings so you were out of the water. Then they pulled the rail car with you hanging inside it up the hill and back down the other side. Unbelievable but it really worked great even if I was a little worried about that one. We came out of the waterway at Port Severn and into the Georgian bay which is at the northern shore of Lake Huron. This is a beautiful place that they say has over 30,000 islands. These island are just huge rocks sticking out of the water. Some were quite large and were forested with mostly pine trees while others were just plain rocks with little or no vegetation. I would guess 50 percent of the islands we passed had a house our cottage type structure built on them. Some were just sitting on top of one of the huge rocks. I still can't figure out what might be holding those buildings on top of the rocks. I guess maybe they just hope they don't get a really strong wind any time soon, or maybe they have them anchored down somehow, I would hope the latter. We ran into some really rough seas in the Georgian Bay and had to duck into a little anchorage in some islands called the Bustard Islands. We waited there for three days until the weather settled down before we ventured out. On Saturday the 16th of July we headed out for a 35 mile crossing of open water. We made it about three miles form our anchorage and both of our engines just quite. I tried everything I could think of the get them started again to no avail. We were dead in the water and drifting toward some pretty large rocks sticking out of the water. I put out a distress call on the radio and the Canadian Coast Guard answered and rebroadcast our position and request for assistance. They took all of our information and said they would send a boat out to take us off our boat if we were in danger of sinking but couldn't give us a tow to safety. In about a half hour we got a call from some people we had met back in Hastings, ON and they said they were about 12 miles from us and heading our way to help. In the meantime, we were drifting dangerously close to those rocks in around 80 feet of water so I couldn't drop the anchor at that point.The chart showed some shallow water just off the east end of one of these big rocks. We seemed to be drifting generally in that direction so I was really hoping we would hit that little ledge before we hit the rock. Fortunately we did and I was able to drop the anchor to hold us off the rocks until help arrived. In about an hour and a half, the "Bee Haven" the name of the boat of the folks we met earlier arrived and threw us a line and started towing us away from the rocks and into a little town called Killarney, ON which was the start of the North Channel. They dropped us off at the fuel pier of the Sportsman's Inn & Marina where we were hoping to find someone to diagnose our problem and fix it. Since it was Saturday, I couldn't get ahold of anyone and would have to wait until Monday to try again. In the meantime, I started looking for the possible cause of the problem. I knew it was an electrical problem since I didn't have any voltage at my fuel solenoids. I also determined that it was most likely in the ground side of the circuit due to the readings I was getting on my meter. I tore the bridge apart looking for any problems and found nothing so on Sunday I headed for the engine room and started checking all the ground wires on both engines and again found nothing wrong. Just as I was about to leave the engine room and give up I noticed a loose wire on the bus for the grounding plate. This was the wire that was part of my bonding system and connected the engines to the grounding plate which grounded everything metal in the boat to the water under the hull. I cleaned and reconnected the wire and went up into the bridge and tried to start the engines. They both started right up and ran as they should. I shut them down and started them several times in disbelief that a loose wire would cause the problem but that indeed was the case. So, now we are still sitting in Killarney waiting for weather again. I thought we would leave today, Monday, but the winds are blowing 20 to 25 mph with gusts up into the mid to upper 30 mph range. It's supposed to be better on Tuesday so maybe we can get going again then. I was going to add some pictures but with the WiFi connection I have right now I can't seem to do it so I will try again at another time.