Archives for posts with tag: Boating with Dogs

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 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.

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Tomorrow, Sarnia CAN. Maybe. 🙂