Little fish in a big pond…

I apologize for the paucity of photos but my connection in a storm does not allow for much upload. I will catch you up on the next blog.

At home On the Tennessee River Cbay may be a decent sized boat but here in the main shipping channel from Lake Superior to Lake Huron she is just a minnow waiting to be swallowed up if she does not get out of the way. Most of the ships that ply these waters are from 600-1000 feet long. Today we left Sault Ste. Marie on a 40 mile journey to De Tour Harbor, all of which was traveled in the shipping channel.

Luckily we fit right in between two giants. The one ahead was going one mph faster than our cruising speed and the one behind was going about our speed but we got a good lead on it because it was just coming out of Poe Lock when we started this morning. You do not want to have one of those bearing down on you in a narrow section with no place to go.

The weather was blustery but manageable. However the forecast was changing as we progressed. Now they were calling for gale warnings on North Lake Huron. Hey, we are going to North Lake Huron today!!! A squall is one thing but a gale is out of the question. Our plan was to move down to De Tour and hole up until the front passes and then move over to Mackinac( Mackinaw ) Island where the wonderful movie “Somewhere In Time” was filmed. There we will spend three glorious days living in the past.

I say this because no motorized vehicles are allowed except to service the businesses. All else is either horse drawn or pedaled. The Grand Hotel is located there and you are still required to dress for dinner. For the uninitiated that means coat and tie for gentlemen and dresses for the ladies. Don’t like it? Don’t come. Of course we will not be able to have dinner there unless we purchase clothes. I guess lunch or tea in the afternoon is as good as we get. I cannot wait.

Much has happened since I last posted a blog. The town of Sault Ste. Marie was a wonderful stop. No loopers usually go there because it is too far out of the way. Ziggy brought us this far north to get to an entry port with a vet. These photos were taken from the top of the History Tower a vision of one man swimming against the current and a story perhaps to be told another day.

The town is much like many tourist towns that have a genuine attraction such as the Soo Locks. Shops and restaurants accumulate nearby to service all of those who travel to see the attraction. Souvenirs and fudge abounds. We got both; another shot glass from the locks and three blocks of assorted fudge. I wonder if the Admiral is thinking about my life insurance and the diabetes when I buy that stuff? Actually, as our grandson Lucas says about me, I try to limit my intake but sweets have been such an important part of my life that I cannot go cold turkey. I read the other day that Americans consume an average of 130 pounds of sugar per person per year! I carried more than my share of that load for years.

We had some fine meals but the very best was our last night when we grilled ribeye steaks on the marina grill with grilled asparagus, potatoes and grilled whole Vidalia onions. You do not know what that is? Let me tell you as it is my specialty.

Take a medium to large Vidalia onion. To be a true Vidalia it must have been watered with City of Vidalia water in Vidalia, GA. These are sweet onions and you can, if desperate, used those sweet Texas onions. Clean the onion and using a sharp knife cut out of the root end an inverted cone large enough to hold one beef bullion cube. Insert cube and use butter to seal it in the hole. Wrap in foil and place on a 350-400 degree grill on an elevated rack for 45 minutes. It will truly make you slap your mama. We all ate our fill on Cbay’s flybridge.

Earlier in the day I tacked the simple task of changing the generator oil and filter as we will need it on the mighty Mississippi. I say simple because you merely preheat the generator by running it 10 minutes and then using the built in pump you pump the old oil out, pull the filter off and refill with 3.3 quarts of 10W40 synthetic oil. Sounds easy. I went to the NAPA Store first thing where they were having a wonderful sale on synthetic oil as a loss leader. So wonderful that I bought a case and used Dean’s handcart to roll it back.

Then I pumped out the old oil into a container, pulled the filter and got out a new one. So far so good. I had used the last of my Westerbeke filters on the last oil change and got out a new NAPA Gold one. It was too long to fit! The book said it would but it would not clear a bolt head and I was not going to take that particular bolt loose because I could not tell what other problem that might precipitate. So back to NAPA with a whole bag full of filters that I had bought in GUNTERSVILLE, AL for the trip and had no receipt. Oh I actually have a receipt but like everything else in my life I cannot put my hand on it.

Dean was great help. Remember he had shown me how to fix the generator before. Being an engineer type he had already researched every filter known to man that would fit this generator and gave me a list to cross reference.

At the NAPA Store I used the old filter in a plastic baggie and a measuring tape to physically compare filters. The closest we could find was only a quarter inch larger diameter than the factory brand but the same where it counted. No problem mon. Yeah right. First I had to convince the lady general manager to take 7 filters from Alabama with no receipt in exchange. She was a doll. Now how could you doubt my charms with the ladies? I headed back to the boat all smiles.

At the boat it would be a simple process, screw one on and pour in the new oil. NOT! It would not fit because that 1/8 inch on one side would not clear another obstacle! There was a “T” handle on a drain petcock used to drain the engine block for winterizing. It was in the way. Dean and I consulted and I told him I was going to turn that petcock 90 degrees to get clearance, install the filter if I could and turn it back. Sounds easy in theory but that thing had never been opened since the day it was installed 12 years ago and frozen in place. It could break off.

As I worked to turn it with pliers the pliers slipped and hit across two wire and sparks started shooting around my hand. It is only 12 volts and will not hurt you but it scares you when your hand is stuck in a tight place and not easily extracted. Well, to make this long story even longer, it finally worked and then the rest was at last a simple job. Now the next time I have to do this job I will know all this and be able to accomplish the task in a reasonable time of say 30 minutes. This time it was one half day of work. Oh did I tell you that I walked a total of 4 miles to NAPA and back? Got in my cardio.

After all this I took a shower and a long nap and awoke in time for dinner. Delicious and nice fifties music for mood. Who could ask for anything more? And that was also the name of a song.

When we arrived at De Tour old Seabiscuit was there waiting. Pam and Bill had stopped for groceries and were about to depart for Hessel to attend a boat show they were entering. It was a quick reunion and they were gone. By the way Seabatical passed by in the channel on the way to anchor in Lake Huron. Sounds risky to me but to each his own.

We walked to town for a great burger and picked up some grocery items. I do not care if we go to the grocery in the morning, by afternoon we need something. At least it occupies the time.

While at the Post Office we spotted a poster announcing that The Sound of Music would be presented tonight at the local high school. So we decided to attend. More on this later.

By nightfall a gale was brewing out on Huron. The weather charts showed 10 foot waves out there. We sure hope Joe and Tara found a sheltered anchorage. Dean and I were putting out extra lines across to another pier just to take the strain off of ours. I knew it was time to get off the Great Lakes and none too soon. We still have to get through Lake Michigan though.