To whither ye go, and whence ye come

May 9th, 2009 0600 underway from my shallow water anchorage for the American Locks at Sault St. Marie, MI.  Yesterdays wind was just too strong to attempt a downwind landing in a new situation.  The lock attendant passed me one line and down we went, all that water just to drop me 21 feet to the level of the next lake.  Well, better than shooting the rapids.

May 10th, 2009.  1130 underway for Mackinaw MI with a nice down river wind.  The river, St. Mary’s, is interesting and fun to navigate.  There are lots of islands, coves, marshes and waterfowl.  Not wanting to spend another night in a town, I anchor in a large shallow cove above DeTour, MI. at Lat. 46° 06.102’N ~ Long. 084° 03.551’in 9 feet of water having traveled 818 nm to date. The wind is stout and strums her music in the rigging, CAP’N dances.    I enjoy the seclusion of this place, feeling warm and secure down below.  The sunset is clear and promising of good weather for my first venture into Lake Huron.

May 11th, 2009 I raise the main to a ¾ reef in anticipation of the wind on the lake, then sail out the anchor getting underway for Lake Huron.  The morning ages with the passing landscape and I come abeam of De Tour Lighthouse to starboard.  The open lake brings a change in the wind and with it, a change in destinations.  The west wind is a good decision maker.  It blows away my desire to brag about sailing all the big lakes, so I save Lake Michigan for another time or another life.  I confess it was only an ego thing anyway to go so far to sail under the Mackinaw Bridge then turn around to come back for the sake of saying I had sail Lake Michigan.  The wind knows me better than I know myself.

I set the sail for a broad reach then look to where that will take me.  Rogers City.  He must have been a fine fellow, this Roger, to own a whole city in name, like this.  I shake out the reef and raise the mainsail full.  10 knots of wind put a “bone in the teeth” of the CAP’N LEM and we clip along at a steady 7 knots over the bottom most of the afternoon.  The warmth of the day tires the wind and we’re left with a glassy sea and only 2.5 knots.  The good CAP’N can find some wind even when Tommy can’t.

I’m met by a friendly gentleman on the dock, a fellow boat owner, offering advice on where to tie and assistance with the lines.  I fight of the urge to say “no, I’ll handle it,” remembering it is good to feel useful to a stranger and so many have helped me this far. I’m blessed to be washed in such good will.  I approach the dock slowly and ask him to take the bow line.  Moored now, we chat a bit.  He points out his boat, a nice new twin outboard.   We talk of whither and whence.  I do pass on his offer of a ride,though.  I need the walk.

And the walk is good.  No place in particular, up past the City Hall, the Police Station, the Dollar Store, the bank and back.  Roger keeps his city very tidy, very tidy indeed.  No trash in the streets, the park is clean and well kept, even an outdoor theater for summer music.  I like this place but I’ll be moving out to anchor anyway.

Outside the breakwater, I anchor in 12’ of water on a rocky muddy bottom, (the bottom is clearly visible at Lat. 45° 25318N ~ Long 083° 48.501W having traveled 46 nm to day, and 864 nm to date.





Leaving the locks


8 Responses to “To whither ye go, and whence ye come”

  1. Pat says:

    Farewell and fair winds Captain. I’m glad you started your journey here on our inland sea. I hope all your memories of Lake Superior are fond ones and that you find joy in your journey onward. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. John says:

    Cap. Tommy:
    You bypassed the lock named for Edgar Allen Poe.
    Polish sailors are always proud to transit the Poe Lock.
    Rogers City recently commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the loss of the Carl D. Bradley in Lake Michigan with all but two deck hands going to the bottom. Folks there remember every detail of the breaking story just as most of us can recall when and where we learned of JFK’s assassination, or similar events. Essentially everyone in Rogers City knew someone whose dad, son, brother, or cousin was lost on the Bradley. We assume you saw the WORLD’s LARGEST LIMESTONE QUARRY.

    Fair Winds!

  3. Mark from Two Harbors says:

    Hey Cap, I’m still with you every day as I will be for the rest of the journey no matter where it takes you. So glad you were able to experience the magic of the “Big Lake”. Take as much time as you can in the North Channal and Georgian Bay they are truely magical as well.

    Stay strong my brother,

    Mark from Two Harbors

  4. unstranger says:

    Very good post Capn. Tommy. Roger must have indeed been special, and it’s still neat and tidy! As for the wind, you know it well it seems.

  5. Jerome Dixon says:

    I was sent a message from Good Old Boat about your trip and you are doing a trip I have dreem about for all my life. please be carefull and I will be here watching and wishing I was with you.. The north west passage is a damp cold, that chills from with in. I have sailed to Toulie Greenland, so please take lotts of hot tea. try Red Rose tea. it is only sold in Canada. it is what keeped me warm.. Fresh water is all over the place there as the groulers desend from Glasiers. great for tea and drink… Gods speed and I will be back later

  6. tommy says:

    Thank you for your well wishes. I would like to hear more about your trip to Toulie. A month on Lake Superior with its ice and cold was a good starting ground to learn what works in the cold. I still have some ideas to try, like the “irish oven” I’ve used sailing Puget Sound in the winters. An old Warrant Bos’n, Jim Story, a true downeaster and small boat sailor, in the Coast Guard showed it to me many years ago. The helmsman wraps a leather skirt, or in my case a wool blanket, around his midsection to the deck and holds a storm lantern between his feet. The heat from the small flame is captured.

  7. Bumbazer says:

    Captain Tommy, I think I found you a good contact in the Arctic. This is the guy who crossed in the 80’s and now has a radio net in Nunavut and keeps in close contact to all who passes through the NW passage. His name is Peter Semotiuk and lives in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada. He crossed in 1988 on Belvedere.

    Here is a link for an article on him. I hope this helps you.

    Joe Evans