Written Friday, 16 September from home.

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Watching for the next wave

That’s correct; the season is almost finished. Our vacation is over, we are home, came home yesterday, and the boat will be hauled out in less than two weeks.. The weather forecast which had seemed OK at the beginning of our final two weeks, crapped out on us again with winds blowing well into the high 20 kt. Still we had fun. And so did the dogs.

After our first day playing in AbFab, we continued the practice Wednesday-Sunday. We didn’t use San Graal to go anywhere as the forecast couldn’t string together two days in a row where the wind would be favorable for anchoring or passage-making; but the beginning of the second week looked promising.

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This is where they ran. Was covered with water at the beginning of the season

We explored harbors and beaches we hadn’t got to/couldn’t get to with the big boat. There is something to be said for stepping off the boat into knee deep water and walking the anchor in to set it. We took picnic lunches and treats for the dogs. We met other dogs and their owners and the dogs had wonderful puppy play dates. And they got to run. And run. And run. Probably ruined them as hunting dogs now because they spent most of their time flushing and chasing after seagulls and sandpipers.

We tied the RIB to the dock across from the big boat and every time the dogs would come back from shore to San Graal, Ebba would invariably jump into AbFab and look at us expectantly, like, “Come on, let’s go play.” And she just loved the speed and trying to eat the bow waves.

On one occasion, we came back from a burn around the bay and obviously both dogs were desperate to potty because as we came close to the dock, even before we had had time to wrap a rope around a cleat, both dogs jump off on to the dock and side-by-side, they trotted down towards shore, pee’d, and together, trotted back to the boat. And neither Paul nor I had to call them once. It was very funny and rather cute to watch.

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Long tether

As I mentioned, Ebba loves to lean over the side and try to eat the waves. Or at least she barks very loudly at them. I, obviously, have to keep a very tight leash on her otherwise she would be over the side and in the water in her excitement. Initially, I let her have enough slack so that she was able to put her head almost in the water. But then I got to thinking that that was probably not such a good idea. If she fell overboard whilst we were doing 20+kt, the drag would probably rip off her head. So I shortened her leash, much to her annoyance, and reasoned that if she did slip over then at least it would only be her back legs that got dragged.

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Shorter tether

And as if to vilify my reasoning and actions, Paul shared an article published in a boating magazine, Practical Boat Owner, that had done a study on tethers – long vs short – and concluded that although the short tether is more bothersome in that it has to be continually clipped, unclipped and reclipped, it was more likely to prevent you from drowning and/or being bashed against the hull of the boat.

This week, our last week of vacation, we managed to get across to Canada and visited Colchester Harbor – a new port for us. Very tiny, lovely people, dog friendly, a rather weedy beach (but that was probably because they had had strong onshore winds) and town is closed on Mondays – when we were there. The plan was to spend the night there and then mosey on eastwards to Leamington, spend the night there and then come back across to Sandusky. But the wind decided to switch direction and strength earlier than predicted so we left Colchester in an increasing SW wind – bad direction for Colchester’s harbor. Narrow entrance + big waves made for some nerve-wracking moments. We ended up at Middle Bass Island State Park Marina.

On my soap box: all Canadian marinas monitor, I think, CH 16 and 68. US marinas have no consistency in channels monitored. So calling MBISPM on CH 9, then 16, and 68 was met with utter silence. I ended up calling on the phone to make sure there was room for us. When I registered, I asked if they had heard my calling – I always wonder if the radio has malfunctioned – and they said, “No”. Hmm … “don’t you monitor CH 16?” “No, only CH 71.” I thought it was unwritten boating law that everyone listening to marine radio would listen to/dual watch with CH 16, the international distress calling channel because you never know, you might just be the one to pick up the Mayday distress call and need to pass it on to the Coast Guard.  Off my soap box.

I have always had mixed feelings about MBI marina, mainly because of the amount of goose poop that was always lying on the ground. I knew it wouldn’t be a good match for the dogs because if there is one delicacy that my dogs love, it is goose poop. Fresh or old, doesn’t make a difference. However, I was pleasantly surprised this time; there was very little around. Made walking the dogs so much more fun without having to constantly tell them to, “Leave it”. And because the place was virtually empty, they were very lenient about me not putting the dogs on their leashes. I know the staff must have seen the dogs running but they didn’t cause any trouble, the dogs or the staff. And we found a new path through the trees to explore with squirrels and chipmunks and a few geese and lots of ducks. Dog heaven.

One thing that did come out of this forced in-harbor stay was that I managed to get both dogs to run with me while on their leashes. Ebba was already a master at it but Bella was rather a loose cannon when squirrels were darting about. Ebba did a good job of setting the example and Bella is a fast learner and a good mimicker.

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Hard to take a selfie when bouncing along at 20kt

So here we are, at the end of another season, one that was rather shorter than usual due to one thing or another, David and Bekah had a baby and we had to of and visit, we opened our own gym, Anna and Brad got married, Anna qualified for the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games … But it was a good one particularly with respect to the learning curve for both us, Paul and me, and the dogs. Last year, we had Ebba, one dog on board; we really were quite apprehensive at the start of this season as to how the dogs would cope together in such a confined space. And we had similar issues. Ultimately though, all’s well that ends well except we never got them to pee or poop on the boat. But most importantly, the dogs like boating and, we like Boating with Dogs!

Written Wednesday 7 September 2016

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At anchor off Kelleys Island’s State Park campground

Today was the first day of the second part of our ‘holiday’ for this year. We had to take a break from cruising because we had a wedding to attend. And it was a beautiful wedding too. Congratulations to Anna and Brad.

But I digress. Really, yesterday was the first day – very simple, all we had to do was pack the truck with everything except the kitchen sink this time, and head north. That kinda changed though as I had a brilliant idea on my return from my super early workout at T²CrossFit, and as I parked my car in the garage next to AbFab and accumulated junk, “Why don’t we take the RIB with us given that the weather forecast was deteriorating for extended cruising?” “Brilliant”, says Paul and then all hell breaks loose.

You see, it’s just not that simple. It should be but it isn’t – hooking up the trailer and pulling it and the boat out of the garage wasn’t going to happen. Recall I mentioned accumulated junk? Hmmm. There is a lot of it and it is all around and in front of the trailer, along with other stuff that isn’t junk but still needed to be moved.

I still had my packing plan for food etc and had to get that done before I could give a hand with AbFab so Paul had to manage on his own. The dogs tried but even they eventually gave up and came in. Their tender, young ears couldn’t take any more of it.

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Queen of her castle (rock) Puppy Ebba

The boat has been in the garage for a while without being used so needless to say, when Paul tried to lift the engine off the ground in order to move the boat out of the garage, the engine didn’t move. No power in the battery. Plug the battery into the charger; one hour later, no power. This brilliant idea was not necessarily as shiny an idea as it was initially. Fortunately the local Auto Zone had a replacement that fitted perfectly and had charge in it. Zip, up comes the engine, out goes the boat on the trailer…. and then the roofer calls to see if he can come around to look at the roof. The dogs, in the meantime, collapse in an exasperated heap in the house.

There is plenty more but I will spare you the details – they don’t add much more to the picture that I hope I have already painted. Except, the reason I didn’t pack the kitchen sink this time was because my plan was to go shopping when we got to Sandusky; Paul would entertain the dogs while I shopped.

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Zoom, zoom around Sandusky Bay

Upon arrival in Sandusky, our first call was the launch ramp. After reversing the trailer into the water with Paul on board, my next job was to unhook the boat and push it on its way with Paul at the helm. This was going fine when I heard a little doggy squeak right next to my ear. Looked up and there was Ebba on the back cover of the truck. She had climbed out the cab’s little rear window. It was a bit of a squeeze for her but in her frantic excitement of not being left behind, she completely ignored the seat headrest digging into her chest and belly as she wormed her way out. The only way down was for her to squeeze back through; there was no way I was going to lift her down. Both dogs finally were safely aboard with Paul and they set off to meet me at the dock. Oh they were soooooo happy. All three of them.

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Fun times running, playing chase

This was really when I had planned on going to the grocery store but fortunately I didn’t because we had a great afternoon. I left everything in the truck. Paul yelled to grab bathing suits for him and me and climb aboard. My bathing suit (aka sports bra and shorts) was in the truck! So was Paul’s but who cared. The dogs wanted to go swimming and Paul wanted to blast around the Bay. So we did, all of it.

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Not so much room on AbFab as on San Graal

The dogs swam and swam then ran and ran and chased and chased the birds.

We were all so tired when we eventually got back to the dock to say Hi to San Graal. Which we did by giving her a bath. I would hate to see her if we left her for 3 weeks instead of 2. The spiders, webs, dead flies and insect poop were all just disgusting.

That done, the truck unloaded, the onboard fridges packed with the food that I did bring, there was now no way I was going to the grocery store. I’d go tomorrow.

Ha! That didn’t happen either.

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Being responsible : Paul carrying full poop bag back to the boat.

After a walk/run, breakfast and lazy half a morning, the plan was to pack a picnic lunch with tea in our hot mugs, zoom to the north side of Kelleys Island and anchor off the beach and swim, walk, whatever. Which we did. On the way across, at first Ebba and Bella were really excited, barking at and trying to swat the waves. Eventually though, Bella decided that bouncing off one wave to the next was not such a good idea and lay down. Ebba kept swatting though even she succumbed eventually and lay down. I think Ebba, at least, also felt a little queasy but fortunately she wasn’t sick. The beach and swim made up for it.

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Making sure the anchor is set, “Yes, my foot is on it.”

We had our picnic, then rather than heading straight back to the marina, we decided to visit Put-In-Bay. The thought processes behind this were very practical actually. Between Kelleys Island and South Bass Island, the waves would be less because we were in the lee of South Bass Island. And after leaving Put-In-Bay, there is a little dog-leg to the south west around the south west end of the island and then ‘surf the waves all the way home’.

By this time, the temperature on shore ‘felt like 101F’. Why would we go back to the marina and swelter there? So we didn’t. We anchored off the east side of Sandy Point, where we had been yesterday, and let the dogs go again. Today, there was no-one else on the beach so we just let the dogs run and swim, just whatever they wanted to do. Now, needless to say, they are tired.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring. Supposed to be as hot and windier. Guess we’ll just have to go boating with our dogs!

IMG_1609Today we made it home (for the boat). After another early start, left the dock at 06:25, watched the sunrise over the Detroit River Channel and then chugged our way across Lake Erie. The reason we left so early again was to try to beat the forecasted storms and high winds. Even at 09:00am the winds were blowing 12-16mph  (7-8mph more than was forecasted). We had a rather wet ride across the lake. Not because it rained, but because the trajectory of the waves was such that when they hit the boat, spray went everywhere.IMG_1594

This last week has rather been a hurry up and wait event; again because of the wind direction and strength. We ended up having to take advantage of the days when the wind was favorable to take big chunks of mileage out of our trip home. So we have had 10hr, 8hr and 6hr days. The dogs have been real troopers. I just wish I had the same bladder control as they do. (Maybe I wouldn’t pee when I jump rope if I had their bladder strength.)

They are funny though. As soon as I go down to the deck and pick up a rope, they are there on the foredeck with their heads stuck through the rail trying to decide which side we will be tying up, ready to make a quick break for it to the nearest grassy plot.

I forgot to included these next two photos last time.

IMG_1459We were motoring through the islands in the North Channel and came across a lady (in a boat) towing 3 Optimist dinghies, spars, kids, sails and all stowed in the dinghies. In this area, there are no roads; it is all rocky islands so I am not sure to where they were going. But they looked as though they were having fun.

IMG_1446This next picture is really quite bizarre. Three guys on a raft holding a boat supported on stands. I think the distribution of weight on the raft was pretty critical. One backward step and the engine would be underwater.

The majority of the harbors we visited were OK with the dogs. The staff and other boaters were very tolerant and patient especially since Ebba figured out that she could jump off the boat and not be followed by Bella. Bella usually ratted her out though by barking from the foredeck.

IMG_1477At DeTour Village Marina, to walk the dogs, I took them around the other side of the harbour and walked out on the break wall. The dogs had a good time climbing over the rocks and swimming after the ducks.

IMG_1478Whilst they were doing that, I was studying the flora. Peas. Or maybe beans. I haven’t seen peas/beans growing in a ‘hedgerow’ for years. Actually not since we left the UK. And here they were, growing so thickly they were forming a hedge. And the pods were forming too. If we went back in probably 3 weeks, the pods would be ready for plucking.IMG_1469

IMG_1550During our trip we did turn the odometer over at 10,000nm since we have had the boat.

IMG_1554The dogs were duly impressed.

IMG_1611Back in the marina, we were moving stuff to clean and this jumped out. Well not exactly jumped but it did make me jump. And scream a little.  Not sure when it climbed aboard but it has now moved house.

IMG_1612To finish off, it was a beautiful sunset.

Three weeks; 1045 statute miles; 20 different harbors /marinas /anchorages; way too many pounds of fudge; only one dinner of fish and chips; one portion of sweet potato fries (specially sent out for and cooked by the chef at Grosse Isle YC); lost count of the miles I walked with the dogs; lots of swims in water so cold I wouldn’t normally have immersed more than my big toe but the dogs insisted; and finally, countless laughs and frustrations from boating with dogs.

Thanks for reading.

Joanna

San Graal

T²CrossFit

(Written Thursday, 11 and Friday, 12 August 2016)

IMG_1316Can’t remember where I left off with my Boating With Dogs’ blog and as of right now, we are on our way down the St Mary’s River just leaving Lake George and have no signal so I can’t check. So apologies if I repeat myself a little.

We thought we were going to have to spend an extra night at Rogers City because the weather forecast didn’t look too promising. However, as I walked the dogs along the beach in the morning, conditions didn’t look too bad so I text Paul to see if he wanted to push on to Cheboygan. By the time he answered, I was at the furthest point away, “Yes, let’s go, the sooner the better”. So what I had anticipated being leisurely walk turned into a hurry-up-dogs-we-have-to-leave almost run. It turned out that there was a swell more or less on the nose so Paul kept the revs down and I sat down below with the dogs while they lay in their bed baskets feeling sorry for themselves. They were very good. They kept down their breakfasts. Phew. I hate cleaning up barf.

We spent one night in Cheboygan MI and the dogs loved it again. Seems as though so long as there is access to water they are happy. There is a lovely beach right next to the marina and a pier to the lighthouse all of which was just perfect for them. And the marina staff were wonderful too. The dogs were allowed in the office and were given a treat to boot. I think they should have been on a leash but no-one said anything. The dogs behaved themselves and we cleaned up after them.

IMG_1354Cheboygan to Mackinaw City was quiet in contrast to the day before; just windy but the waves were less than 1ft as we made our way up the Mackinaw Straits to Straits State Marina (from a boater’s point of view, Mackinaw City’s best kept secret). The biggest swells we encountered came from the Mackinac Island ferries.

Another boat came into the marina not long after us and tied up which was fine. But then he put on his music … for everyone in the marina and onshore to listen too. I wouldn’t have minded too much if it had been pleasant music but it was awful. Eventually it got too much so I went and asked the marina staff if they would ask him to turn it down. They did speak with him and the next thing we knew, he was gone. He obviously didn’t like the fact that we didn’t all want to listen to his choice of music. I felt bad for the marina because they now have a disgruntled customer but that feeling didn’t last very long. Our afternoon and evening there were much more relaxed than they would have been. Oh, and quieter.

From Mackinaw City we made our way into Les Cheneaux . A beautiful cruising ground again. We called in at Hessel for lunch, well coffee and fudge, and then carried on to an anchorage, Government Bay. There were several other boats in the bay, a couple with dogs so the dogs ended up barking/talking to each other. Quite funny really.

Left there to make our way to the DeTour Passage and up into the North Channel. The wind had been blowing from the SE mainly but during the previous night it blew from the West making for a interesting and sickening wave motion for our trip along the coast (imagine washing machine effect). The dogs looked at us as if to say, “Are you kidding us?”

It was pretty bad. Good job Paul doesn’t get seasick. I took the dogs down into our cabin where normally movement is kept to a minimum but not on this occasion. I put on a ‘seasick’ prevention patch which usually kicks in after about half an hour. But I was too late. I felt nauseous almost immediately after we set off and ended up sleeping for most of the journey across to Drummond Island. Relief came in the calmer waters of DeTour Passage up to Harbor Island.

IMG_1388Harbor Island has a horseshoe shaped anchorage inside the island with a narrow entrance so it is totally sheltered unless it is blowing from the south, which fortunately it wasn’t.

I took the dogs ashore and we went for an explore on the island. Firstly, the dogs disappeared around a little headland and I heard a small scream. Then a woman came back around followed by the dogs. They had just scared her; she was reading a warning notice about bears and saw movement out of the corner of her eye.

I know how she felt because I had had a similar experience back at Government Bay. I was walking the dogs in the forest and saw movement behind to my left. I thought it was Bella because what I saw was black. I called the dogs expecting to find Bella come at me from that direction. But no, she came from in front with Ebba. Hmmm… what had I just seen? I didn’t wait to find out. We retraced our steps and beat a hasty retreat to the dinghy.

Back to Harbor Island. Required clothing for serious island exploring – long boots and a hat. Long boots to protect your lower legs from scratches and stinging plants and hat to prevent tree twigs getting caught in your hair.

Back on the boat, Ebba decided to try to catch dragonflies. She would stand on the swim platform, watch for them to dance by and then launch herself at them. Don’t think she ever caught on but you have to give her 100/100 for perserverance.

IMG_1437Wednesday, we ended up at Sault St Marie MI. Not a very dog friendly place. The marina was OK, clean and quiet. We had to do a 3 mile hike to get to a place where the dogs could run free. And we got to paddle in Lake Superior. Thursday, made our way back to Bruce Mines Marina. Had to check in with Canadian Customs and the officer asked me if we were tied up at the government dock. “I don’t know, we are tied up at the only dock there is.” Fortunately the Harbor Master was there and I asked him. No, the dock is owned by Bruce Mines. I told the Customs officer and this seemed to satisfy him.

Bruce Mines Marina and community – again not really a dog-friendly place. There were notices all over re dogs being kept on a leash. The shoreline is very reedy and we managed to find access to it for the dogs. I set off for the grocery store, Paul had left a few minutes before me to take Ebba and Bella to this little bit of shoreline and as I walked down the road, first I saw 3 geese come flying (literally) out of the reeds, closely followed by a very angry duck and then a brown and a black head bounding through the water, ears flying. They were happy.

This morning before we left, I was walking the dogs off-leash but saw someone coming along the road I had to take and she had her dog on a leash. I called Ebba and Bella and shackled them. As we passed each other, the lady comments, “You have 2 very well trained dogs. (Thank you) Are you just visiting? (Yes) Oh, OK then.” I think I was about to get a mouthful of abuse for not having the dogs on their leashes before. Oh well. We left.

And now we are in Milford Haven, southeast corner of St Joseph’s Island, still in Canadian waters. We had a quick trip ashore for the dogs to run and do their necessary. As we were wandering through the trees and undergrowth, low and behold in amongst the pine and fir trees, there were two apple trees. Just two. And the apples looked like Golden Delicious. Unfortunately they were not yet ripe or there wouldn’t have been any left. It was just a bit bizarre.

Now the dogs want to swim but the water is 67F. I think I’ll take them ashore again.

Thanks for reading.

Joanna

PS: We did go swimming and then because of tomorrow’s forecast, we actually moved on down to DeTour Village Marina.

Yacht: San Graal

T2CrossFit

(Written Friday, 5 August 2016)

IMG_1277Our departure from Presque Isle wasn’t quite so early as the previous few departures had been. We only had around 20 miles to go up the coast to Rogers City. Again we had beautiful conditions; this time though the wind was slightly on the quarter so we had some breeze flowing over the boat to help keep the flies away. Saw this fine vessel on the way.

Pulled into Rogers City and tied up just behind the gas dock. This dock is usually OK; we’ve been there before. But this time we decided to move over to the wall at the other end of the marina – as far away from the park as possible. The city was just setting up for its annual Nautical Festival. The traveling fair rides come into town with the ‘win a goldfish by frightening it to death when your ping pong ball lands in its bowl’, and the ‘pop a balloon and win a little plastic toy or play again to win something bigger’ side shows setting up alongside them. But the main reason we moved was that in the park pavilion each evening there is a band playing live until way past our bedtime. Last night it was Polka. A couple of Polka tunes are quite catchy but 4 hours is just a little too much. Polka, Polka, Polka.

Went grocery shopping to restock the boat’s fridges. The grocery store is 1 mile away, and it was 90F. And it is uphill. In the past, Paul and I have managed, rather precariously, to carry the goods back on our bikes. This year, however, that wasn’t going to happen; two dogs don’t allow for bike riding and grocery shopping carrying. So I called the Family Fare Supermarket before going, to see if there was a delivery service. The lady to whom I spoke was very gracious as she told me that they no longer had an official service. My heart sank. “But,” she continued, “I am sure I can find one of our staff to help you out and take you back to the marina.” My heart soared. And that is just what happened. It was brilliant.

IMG_1292Last night’s walk with the dogs found us on a beach to the south of the city. Even though we have been to Rogers City a few time before, I hadn’t known of its existence. However, it is brilliant for the dogs – long for running, clean (no food papers etc) so no ‘leave it’, not crowded and the lake for swimming  (wasn’t prepared for a swim then). But I was ready for it this morning – went dressed to swim with the dogs.

Paul has a little routine with Ebba that after breakfast he takes her out (in this case off the boat) and throws something for her to fetch and other obedience training. This morning, however, he was trying to finish a couple of emails before taking her but Ebba didn’t understand. She licked him, ‘talked’ to him, put her front paws up on the seat next to him, laid her head in his lap but all to no avail. All she got was the brush off. And tension was building; so I took the dogs for a walk.

Later was time for engine maintenance – change the rest of the fuel filters. Changed them and had just started to prime them when “*x*x*x *x*x*” issued forth from the engine room. The dogs and I just stared at each other. Time for another walk?

The fuel that Paul was using to prime the filters was, he thought, diesel but it didn’t smell like our normal diesel so he concluded it was gas but too late. I sniffed too and came to the same conclusion. Anyway, after a lot of umming and ahhing, and sniff-testing the outboard engine’s fuel (which is gas) we reversed his first conclusion and decided that it was diesel, just not the red stuff they sell at marinas. So that was crisis one for today. Went to look around the local stalls – bought fudge (not paleo) and a couple of books from the library’s book sale.

IMG_1305Crisis two occurred this afternoon. During last winter, Paul reconfigured the Garmin GPS network (you don’t need to understand what that is except that it provides all our wind direction/speed, boat direction/speed, course, temperature etc data) which resulted in one cable being made redundant. Today he decided to remove it. Whilst he was doing the deed, there was an occasional beep from the instruments about which I wondered. Turns out that the beeps were important; the system wouldn’t work after he’d finished. Not at all. Oh bugger. (My comment, not his.) Eventually he called Garmin, in whom he has little faith, and the rep suggested to him that there was no power getting to the system. Ever the skeptic, Paul couldn’t believe it would be that simple. Long story short and much more crawling around in the bridge locker to get to behind the system, i.e. the wires, turns out that somehow he blew a fuse. Changed the fuse and it all worked. Oh. My. Gosh. You have no idea how relieved I was when the first screen popped back to life.

IMG_1310Time for a walk. And a swim. By now the wind is blowing 17mph and gusting over 20mph. The waves have built to at least 3ft and occasionally more. But these minor details didn’t stop the dogs from having a grand old time. And Paul and I had fun too. Now we have a tired puppy.

Not sure what is happening tomorrow. We had hoped that the weather would have calmed down enough for us to make the move up to Cheboygan but it is now 8:45pm and the waves are still crashing against the harbor wall.

Be safe and have a fantastic weekend.

Joanna

T2CrossFit.com

(Written Wednesday 3 August 2016)

IMG_1218.JPGSo my jubilation at both dogs going pee and poop on the boat was both very short lived and misplaced. Since that initial performance, neither dog has repeated the process. Each has plaited her legs and held on to everything. Seven hours today was getting towards the limit though.

Since my last blog, we have navigated the St Clair River, poked our noses into Port Huron but there appeared to be “no room at the inn” so to speak. So we went across the river to Sarnia and spent the night there.

We launched the paddle boards and Paul again rigged up the dogs’ swim ladder/platform so that they could come and ‘save us’ when we were drowning.

From Sarnia back across the border to Port Sanilac where the dogs just had a blast. And I have to say, reporting our return to the US was the briefest and easiest I have ever experienced. Two questions: From where? And who onboard? Oh that it was always that simple.

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Rotten wood for breakfast

Given the forecast for later in the week, our goal is to be up at or passed Rogers City by Friday, in time to shelter from the stronger winds. So yesterday and today we had to do two long days of cruising. Both dogs were brilliant. Good walk before we left and then they basically slept all day while we were cruising. They were quite nuts when we reached land and tied up though; a small price to pay.

Yesterday, we left Port Sanilac around 7am after watching a beautiful sunrise. Our destination was plotted as Port Austin, on the southern tip of Saginaw Bay. However, the conditions were so good and the dogs seemed to be doing so well that we decided to extend our trip to across Saginaw Bay to East Tawas.

Now we have been to East Tawas a few times and although it is satisfactory, it is not one of our favourite harbours. It is quite often very noisy and from where we usually dock, to get ashore, we have to run the gauntlet of several boats’ crews blocking the main dock and there is often at least one really aggressive dog. Makes going ashore a not-so-pleasant venture. But I digress.

Halfway across and I am studying the chart, I asked the question, “Why have we never been to Oscoda?” “I don’t know,” says Paul. Looking at the chart in more detail, it doesn’t look, in a normal year, that it would have enough water for us and in high water years, there is a low bridge under which we probably wouldn’t fit unless we took down our mast. Question answered – too much to do and too much uncertainty.

Cut a long story short: after three course changes between East Tawas and Oscoda, and trying to find a telephone number that worked for any marina in Oscoda, we eventually decided to chance it and kept going up the coast to Oscoda. By going there yesterday, it saved us 2 hours of extra cruising today.

Turns out that the marina we ended up at, Haglunds, isn’t really equipped to cope with ‘bigger’ boats. He freely admitted that his usual customer has a small fishing boat, 16-26ft. Forty-two feet was a challenge for him. But we tied up (and I use that word loosely, literally and metaphorically) alongside his wall, bow line and mid line tied to a wobbly ladder that didn’t appear to be really attached to anything. And the stern line was wrapped around a dinghy cleat which Ron attached while we waited.

You may think this sounds really sketchy and I suppose it was but the well in which we were docked was completely sheltered so we weren’t going anywhere anyway. I would recommend that if anyone else goes in, they make sure they have a couple of big ball fenders with them.

IMG_1234.JPGWe managed to hook up to the 15amp electric so we could boil the kettle – it’s the small things that count. But no other facilities. And SR23 passes about 50yds away from where we were.

So now all the things that Oscoda has going for it. There was plenty of water (water levels are high) and the marina is before the bridge. We didn’t get a chance to explore the town, but everyone we met was extremely friendly and patient with the dogs. There is a wonderful public beach just a stone’s throw away from where we were docked and the dogs loved that. It was sand all the way out; not stones. And the water was clean and clear and relatively warm. SR23 quieted down around 10pm and Haglunds store closed around 9pm so the whole place was really quiet.

Ron Haglund couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. He seemed quite excited to have us dock and was continuously apologizing for the lack of facilities; “it’s in the plan”. I rather think though generally he isn’t really a boater nor too bothered about his marina but he does have a great store – if you are a fisherman, boater or hunter. He has, what appears to be, every type of lure, line, rod, net etc for the fisherman; general replacement equipment including spark plugs (for our outboard engine) etc for the boating fisherman; and then guns. Rifles, shotguns, hand guns old and new, bows, arrows ….. I didn’t look too extensively but Paul spent quite a while in there and came out looking quite wistful.

I would definitely recommend Oscoda to other boaters and Haglunds for a tie-up.

Today started with a sunrise swim, for Ebba and paddle for Bella and me. Then off we went. Basically north, 8.8kt; wind basically behind us, 8.8kt ie no wind on the boat and FLIES! Ugh.

IMG_1259.JPGNo change of destination today; we made it to Presque Isle Marina right on time (7 hrs). Love this place. It, too, has a great beach but also to the east of the east pier, there is a shallow area, a little stony but sandals work, which is great for the dogs.

Have to check the weather forecast for tomorrow but I think Roger City is in our future. Need to restock provisions and then from there … who knows? Actually not telling in case the wind hears.

IMG_1263.JPGHave a great evening. Thank you for taking the time to read.

Joanna

T2CrossFit.com

I am going to start a photo album on Facebook. Here is the link: Boating With Dogs 2016

(Mostly written Friday, 29 July 2016)

Today is the first real day of our 2-part vacation. Long story. However, we left the marina yesterday after loading up the boat with everything and the kitchen sink. I swear we/I brought more stuff for 2 dogs than I ever packed for Anna and David.

Beautiful conditions greeted us as we left Sandusky Bay except that the wind was in the NE – absolutely the worst direction for anchoring/going on a ball at Put-In-Bay. However, there is one spot, the SW corner of Middle Bass Island which is a safe anchorage in NE’ly, so long as you trust the forecast when it says the wind will stay in the NE; which, for last night, it did.

Swimming yesterday evening for the dogs rather than a run ashore and the same again this morning. Both dogs have now peed on the boat, phew and eventually pooped which is a major breakthrough. (Some people are now thinking TMI but when boating with dogs, this is a really big deal.)

IMG_1103.jpgLeft Middle Bass Island just before 7 this morning and set course for Detroit River. Cut the corner of Canadian waters without reporting in so now I begin to get paranoid. (Again, long story – another blog.) As luck would have it, as we were closing in on the river channel, I was keeping tabs on a vessel that seemed to be keeping tabs on us. She (the vessel) was slowly closing the distance between us but following the channel rather than cutting the corner. Judging by the shape of her, her lines and superstructure, I surmised that it was a Coast Guard vessel but couldn’t be sure whether US or Canadian. Turns out it was Canadian and it was going to its base just up the Detroit River. Phew.

But my paranoia did not get a rest. As that vessel docked, another Coast Guard vessel left and followed us all the way up the river. And then, just as we were about to exit into Lake St Clair, a border patrol boat comes tearing up in our wake to about 3 boat lengths away, slows down, looks at our boat name (I assume), hangs there for another few minutes and then takes off. I was so certain that this one was going to board us. But, they didn’t.

IMG_1104.JPGWe did get to practice Man Overboard. No, a dog didn’t jump over or fall in. I had just given them two new toys and as I was about to go back up on to the bridge, I saw float passed, the bright pink squeaky spikey ring I had, literally, 30 seconds ago, given to Ebba. Not sure which one dropped it but both looked a little bewildered, as in, “Where has it gone? Oops.” I was quite vocal, not in an angry way but Paul looked up from steering, caught sight of it and did an about-turn. And within 1 minute we had retrieved it. By then, though, neither dog wanted to play with it. Later maybe. When we eventually docked, I found that the other new toy I had given them was MIA. Nowhere to be found.

IMG_1138.JPGSo now, as I type, we have been going for almost 8 hours and they have both been brilliant. Very placid, sleepy, not anxious. It did get a little bouncy over the first half of Lake St Clair so I brought them down to the main cabin and both disappeared down into the aft cabin and have slept again for most of the way. Ebba, at one point, was doing quite a bit of drooling and licking; thought she was feeling sea sick but she has survived without being physically ill. Couldn’t ask for more.

Made it to South Channel YC a little way up St Clair River – our usual stopping off place before launching ourselves out into Lake Huron. Normally we stay one night and leave early the next day but the wind really built overnight and today so we decided to spend another night here. The dogs loved it. Paul tied their swim ladder to the dock so they had free access to it and that’s what they did. Swim, swim, swim. And a little paddle boarding.

IMG_1157.JPG   IMG_1158.JPG

Tomorrow, Sarnia CAN. Maybe.🙂