“You can loop all you want, many do, but the experience will never be like the first.“
From the log book on Monday August 28, 2017. Written by the XO.
8:20 AM Left Sandusky Bay anchorage. Winds SE 5-15k, chance of showers, maybe thunderstorms. Waves 1-3, decreasing to 1′ or less.
3:30 PM At the Lake Erie Metro Park Marina, in Brownstown, MI.
1016 to 1069=53 miles
All loopers have a comfort zone. It’s a distance and time factor based on either the speed of your vessel or the speed your are allowed to go, and the amount of time you’re willing to stand behind the wheel. As you can see, 53 miles took us over 7 hours, way above our comfort zone.
What was our reward for travelling so far and traversing the shallowest entrance channel we’ve encountered so far on the trip? Muddy props and a very bewildered Dock Master.
“Why are you here?” he said. “I have nothing available for a boat your size.”
Our relatively small cruiser looked like a behemoth among all the runabouts.
“Well, because I called and made a reservation. ‘Bout two hours ago. I was told to come on in!”
“I just started my shift. Who told you that?”
“A woman’s voice on the phone is all I got. I didn’t get a name.”
“Aw man,” he said, shaking his head.
I got the distinct impression someone was in trouble.
Well, okay,” he rubbed his chin. “What’s your beam?”
“Thirteen,” I answered.
“That’s what we got in the Travelift bay. See if you can get her in.”
I squeezed her in there all right. Bet your ass I did. The next available port was another five hours away, and the weather sucked . Fortunately, the small Travelift bay had low walls, and Ginger Lee’s max beam is measured at the rub rail, four or five feet above the waterline, and tapers in from there. I figure I had less than a foot on each side. Just enough for the fenders.
From the log book on Tuesday August 29 2017. Written by the XO.
8:45 AM Slowly and carefully left Lake Erie Metro Park Marina. Forecast is for showers off and on, possibly thunderstorms.
Sometime around 2 or 2:30 we stopped on the wall of Millikan State Park under the lighthouse because of a tremendous thunderstorm.
Later, Keans Marina after getting slammed against the wall.
We said our goodbyes to our old friend Mister Lake Erie. From Buffalo, NY to Brownstown, MI, there were some great memories.
We began our northward climb around the mitten as the Michiganites say. Our destination was Keans Marina in Detroit, but on the way there, as the XO wrote in the log, the early afternoon rain got too heavy for our wipers to clear away. When the thunder and lightning started crashing all around us, we got spooked and quickly tied up to the wall along Milliken State Park and waited until conditions got better.
We thought we were so fortunate to find a wall to tie up to.
“Let’s stay the night. It’s nice here,” I said.
Then it started happening. Rude boaters repeatedly slammed us against the wall with their uncaring wakes. Welcome to Detroit! We decided to move on and take the slip we reserved.
The Keans Marina is so huge they didn’t know we were there. Yup, we could have stayed for free. They had no record of us being there, nobody remembered taking our reservation, or assigning us a slip.
From the log book on Wednesday August 30 2017. Written by then XO.
10:50 AM Late start; had to wait for the fog to clear; fueled up and pumped out.
2:40 PM On D dock at the South Channel Yacht Club.
1095 to 1123=28 miles.
After the fog cleared we left busy Detroit and crossed Lake St. Clair: the lonely lake, forgotten amongst the greats.
We followed our GPS and the nav. aids straight across to the South Channel, and Harsens Island, a most wonderful and unusual place.
Harsons Island is one of those places that just made me feel good. I’m not sure why. It’s an inner thing, a warm glow. If dreams do come true, I imagined they came true there. I’m not the only one who felt it. Every single person I talked to said the same thing: I arrived here, fell in love with it, and never left.
This made me rethink where I belong. Who wouldn’t want to call this place home? I’m jealous. Good God! The allure of Harsens Island had captivated me too!
We’re always cruising, always moving on, never in one place for very long, like American Gypsies on the water. It’s just incredible.
“How did I get here?” I asked myself.
The answer was sitting right next to me. It’s through the Herculean efforts of my wife. Simply put, she knew I dreamed of doing The Great Loop, and so she made it come true for me. I’m a fortunate man to have her in my life.
On a beautiful island in southern Michigan, where the miles gone by under our keel could be counted in thousands, and the miles of waterways ahead of us could be as well, I promised myself to always remember one thing: home isn’t a location, it’s a person.