Halloween and the Great Lakes seldom appear without a bit of drama. The first sleet, wind and wavy storm hits Lake Huron with gale warnings, shore flood warnings and nine foot waves crashing on the shore. Within days the 39th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmond Fitzgerald remembered
About a year ago the author of this little blog decided it would be kool to try to create a little mobile app. So he did…then promptly forgot about it. Now a year later he was stumbling around in his Google Play account and realized he never published his creation. Its now up and running and available to take up space on your Android.
You can download the App in Google Play at this Link.
It kind of sad an a bit lonely to be one of the last ones out of your slip in the marina. Last year we were one of the diehards with ice beginning to form a weekend or two after we got Trillium out of the water. This year with the schedule tight we decided to get on the hard at the end of September. It was tough. It symbolically ended the opportunity to get out on the water and we knew that the summer was really over. Here is Caseville Harbor the last weekend in September.
Found this video stacked up in our YouTube account collecting time alone and no hits. I thought it worthy of a dust-off. Smile!
Thumbwind is considering development of a matching dollar program offering cottage and homeowners a reduced way of testing their septic system for those near the lakeshore. Stay tuned.
Originally posted on Mr Great Lakes:
For Oct. 3, 2014
1 – A new wind park is spinning in Huron County.
DTE Energy says its Echo Wind Park has reached commercial operation. There are 70 turbines in the park, located in Oliver and Chandler townships in Michigan’s Thumb.
The Echo Wind Park adds 112 megawatts to DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio, or enough to power more than 50,000 homes.
The wind park is sited on nearly 16,000 acres. It’s the fourth to be owned and operated by DTE Energy.
The project is the first to tie into a new 345,000-volt transmission system built to handle all the renewable energy flowing onto the electric grid in the Thumb.
The wind park will be operated and maintained by a team of seven employees. As many as 170 workers were on site during peak construction activity.
With the commissioning of the Echo Wind…
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It’s seldom that I get a chance to really view a sunrise. As we rush to get ready for work, feed the kids and let out the dog, when was the last time you really sat back and watched the sun come up. This was two minutes of bliss with a hot steamy cup of coffee in one hand and a dog sniffing around the beach on an early Saturday in the first days of Fall in Michigan’s Thumb. Notice how the lake purks up when the sun starts to hit it. Enjoy.
For those of us in the cool shelter of our Great Lakes, here is a blogger who literally is on the front lines of a major world event.
Originally posted on chitowntohk:
It’s amazing the amount of love and safe wishes I have gotten this past week from family and friends due to the protests happening in Hong Kong, and as much as I appreciate it, I am not the one who needs it. For those who don’t know, Hong Kong is currently home to a movement called Occupy Central and something more recently labelled the Umbrella Revolution. Now, I don’t claim to know all the sides of this, nor do I claim to be a pro on the topic. I am far from it. What I do know is this. Hong Kong and China exist in something that they call “one country, two systems.” This means that when the UK handed Hong Kong to China, the main government in Beijing allowed Hong Kong to have certain freedoms that are not allowed for mainland Chinese people.
These rights include things such as…
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When you have a sailboat the most common question is where have you gone with it. We have taken Trillium, a 1973 Catalina 27 across the Saginaw Bay to Tawas and took a two week vacation up and back to Mackinaw Island. However we have taken this Good Old Boat on numerous day sails between Caseville and Charity Island. We can get a lazy start after lunch and be back at our cottage in time to make dinner. I love blowing around the Bay on a summer afternoon. I’ve never tired of it. Below is a video we did several years ago of a quick jaunt one August evening.
The morning air was hot, still and you could almost taste the humidity has we headed out on our first cruise with our 33 year old Catalina 27. Our three boys and one of their friends slid between the stays to get to the bow to enjoy a bit of a breeze. It was a fine day and I was grinning from ear to ear as I looked back to see the Caseville harbor break wall slide in and out of the mist.
Before we were married, Melissa and I jotted down a list of life’s goals that we wanted to accomplish. All of those goals had been met except one…owning a boat. For years we had a place in the Upper Thumb of Michigan. The cottage was tucked in the woods and had a nearby beach that we shared with the neighbors. The kids loved to play on the beach and play in the cool waters of Saginaw Bay. This “baby beach” was always in use and we came to know many of our summer neighbors as our kids grew. With a kid in my lap I looked out over the Bay and wondered what it would be like to get out there. I was smitten with the idea but realistic about the responsibility and skill that boat ownership would entail.
The spring of 2006 was unusually warm in Michigan so we headed up to the cottage when ever we had the chance. One evening my wife and I were talking around the campfire when the conversation turned to our collage days when we used to crew for her dad in club races in White Lake on the west side of the state. I had admired her folks 27 Hunter, named Hey Jude, with her wide beam it was pretty comfortable and a great light wind boat. I wondered if Hey Jude was still out plying the waters somewhere on the Great Lakes. We looked at each other then it hit us. Let’s do it! Let’s get a sailboat like those we remember in the 80’s.
We were heading across the bay to Tawas. It was a 25 nm shot that looked like we were going have to motor the whole way. The wind was non existent. The outboard was humming and slipping us north. We were two miles out of Caseville when we noticed a tug pushing a barge full of dredge swale right in our direction. There was a crew that had been out most of the summer dredging an area for a new water inlet for the village. The tug then confirmed its intent to overtake us with two blasts from its massive horns. I gave this working rig a respectable distance to avoid its wake. Then watched the barge dump its cargo with a series of muddy splashes.
The trip across was smooth and uneventful. The water was as calm as it could get and soon the sun was burning off the haze. Our course was to take us by the north side of Charity Island. This wooded gem in the middle of Saginaw Bay is uninhabited, but day sailors and small boats do anchor and explore its interior. Supposedly it was an excellent area to find Flint, a rock that Native Americans were able to shape tools and arrowheads. While we were still about a mile away I could see its restored light house noted that the trees go right up to waters edge. A rare site as much of the Great Lakes shoreline is spotted with cottages and summer homes.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce likes to point out that you are never more then 5 miles away from a lake or stream. What they fail to say it that you pass by at least three boats for sale while getting there. Melissa and I started our boat search on-line. It was a great way to educate ourselves and the various cost ranges. However we ended up heading to the “boat-for-sale” capital of Michigan ….Bay City. With many large marinas to choose from we had no problem finding our next boat sitting proudly on it cradle. After an offer, a sea trial and a survey Melissa and her dad moved our sailboat, now renamed Trillium, up to Caseville for its first season.
Buying an older sailboat has its benefits and challenges. She came to us with lots of goodies. Fully equipped after three owners it was outfitted with a roller furling, new traveler, new outboard and pretty new sails. However the knot meter was flailing away in wild gyrations, the bulk head and teak looked like it was attacked by woodpeckers and the head was Gerry rigged with various cast off parts. It wasn’t long before a complete set of tools and wood filler was on board and I became adept at overhauling the head and the plumping system.
Coming into the Tawas Bay for the first time is a bit intimidating. Much of the shore of the bay is built up with little by the way of unusual land marks except its beautiful white light house near the tip of the curving spit of sand called Ottawa Point. However I did manage to program the GPS with the way point at the mouth East Tawas Harbor. A quick call to the harbor master soon led us to slip 96 and the first cold one of the day.
East Tawas is a charming port town. I released the boys and instructed them to explore and report back on the best place for ice cream and find out what was playing at the cinema. Melissa and I paid our slip fee, $27, (a buck a foot how handy) and met some of the other folks in nearby slips. Looking around we saw ourselves has having the smallest sailboat on the dock. Stretching our legs we walked into town and soon found our two younger boys heading back. We fended off the afternoon heat with slush’s and Boston coolers from an old fashioned soda fountain. After a swim, a grilled dinner and a movie we settled in for the night in our tight quarters.
I’m discovering that harbors never really close. At 4 am I woke to the sound of a nearby hailerd slapping a mast as someone stepped off their boat. I got up, inspected our dock lines and took in the night activities. A lone duck quacked in the dark, a quiet conversation could be heard, and a radio was on. Out of the darkness a sail was coming in under power with its dingy in tow and a kayak lashed to the safety lines. I figured that this one must be coming back from a stint from the famous cruising grounds of the North Channel. The scene was made complete with a large German Shepard keeping watch on the bow.
The next morning continued with being hot and calm. Melissa walked into town to fetch breakfast as the boys and I got Trillium ready for a run back to Caseville. The weather report promised light winds and a chop out on the Bay. Soon we were out of the harbor and headed south. When we hit the big water a fresh breeze was noticeable. We raised the sails and started making good time at about 6 to 7 knots. Melissa and I took turns on the tiller bouncing across the waves in and kicking up a bit of spray. It was a thrill.
About noon the wind turned more south westerly with gusts and with it came 2 to 4 foot waves that had the entire length of the bay to build. With the wind coming from dead ahead we tried our hand at an easterly tack but determined that it would double our travel time. Reluctantly we turned on the iron sail. The trip turned in to what I will call a wallow. Motoring through, or rather up and over the waves resulted in three of the four boys on board to fall back to sleep. While our middle son, Ethan, turned into a true deck ape. He bungeed the main sail and then proceed to sit on the fore hatch and enjoy the wild ride in the building waves.
Owing and being on a sailboat was a new experience for me. When I met my wife she already had eight years of summer sailing experience on Lake Michigan. Her family had owned two boats and cruised several times each summer. For her this experience was like going back home. For me it’s a new adventure with high potential for exploration and experiences. I had intentions of buying a power boat and even took a boaters safety course with the Power Squadron. I’m glad I found this collection of sticks and rags instead.
With about 10 miles to go to Caseville the waves settled down and the wind shifted yet again to a more westerly approach. We had entered in to what I call the archipelago of Saginaw Bay. Composed of Charity and Little Charity islands in the west coupled with the peninsula of Sand Point to the south serve to protect a large area of open water from the prevailing South Westerlys coming up the Bay. With this relative smoothness we kept motoring but opened up a bit of the Genoa to get her running at about 6.5 knots. With smoother waters the boys woke up and fixed lunch. I was handed a sub sandwich loaded with turkey, big chunks of cheese and dripping with dressing. Something about the open water and a light breeze can really get the appetite going. It made a mess on deck but it tasted great.
As we finally entered the Caseville harbor and into our home slip at Port Elizabeth I was filled with the good feelings that come when things go well. Despite our inexperience we crossed a bit of open water and found destination on the other side. Returning we hit a bit of weather, uncomfortable and unforeseen, but it allowed us to face and solve a challenge. My first little cruise was over and our new/old sailboat Trillium had taken us. I no longer viewed our boat as old but as an experienced veteran that will get a fresh look and enjoy many voyages ahead.
Standing on the dune where our cottage sits listening to the surf pound away at the beach. It’s now dark and foreboding. The fetch of the waves is from the big lake coming into the bay and hitting our lee shore. The sound is powerfull yet serene. The air is fresh and smells of the open water and Canada beyond. The stress of the city melts. Tomorrow offers a new chance at an awesome day. You never know what the lake will offer you for a chance to go out and play.
Below is a facinating tale as told by Jay Bazzinotti on Quora. It’s a story that I have closely experienced firsthand on the Great Lakes. In 2008 while sailing into Harrisville on Lake Huron my wife and I encountered a foundering jet ski. After radioing in the situation with the Coast Guard and local sheriff our ending was happy as the PWC operator was found. While cold and shaken the young lady was OK after a day in hospital. The story could have been very different.
What does it feel like to crush the life out of someone?
by Jay Bazzinotti
This was in the summer of 2005 and I was out in Narragansett Bay boating with some friends. My friend Linc owns a 40 foot Osprey and he and our mutual friend Greg had been out sailing for the weekend. We visited the Navy Pier where, to our absolute amazement, three aircraft carriers and the battleship Iowa were tied up awaiting decommission and demolition. The Saratoga and Forrestal sit there rusting away to this day, I think. The ships were huge, even though they were not supercarriers, and their hulks towered above, looking decrepit as they listed at the pier, rust streaking down their sides, their proud numbers prominently painted on the bow. They were roped off with anti-terrorism buoys so we couldn’t get too close, but it was impressive to see them tied up together like that, even in their neglected condition. Later, all the hatches and bulkheads of the Iowa would be welded shut and the interior filled with nitrogen to force out the rust-causing oxygen.
After that, we cruised to Providence to see the Russian missile sub used in the movie “K-19″. It was quite an eye-opening experience to see the weapon the Russians has planned to use to destroy Washington, DC or New York. It was a suicide sub with two huge nuclear missile silos on the side. In the event of war, the sub would surface, raise the silos and fire its missiles, knowing it had less than 15 minutes of life once the missiles were launched. Inside we saw that Russian sailors had it MUCH worse in this 60s-era sub than the Germans did in their WW2 U-boats. There were even bunks directly on top of the diesel motors. If you rolled over in your sleep, the moving valves could easily take your hand right off.
After that we visited Newport, partied in the bars, slept on board and then headed home after a short visit to the abandoned lighthouse and fortress on Dutch Island. In preparation for our return home I had showered and changed from my wet swimsuit to my clean shorts and shirt and was feeling pretty good about our adventures. Lincoln was in the wheelhouse piloting the boat expertly back to the dock and we were about twenty minutes out when suddenly the boat changed course. Standing near the transom, I grabbed the handrail to avoid going over the side. Greg thought Linc was fooling around, but when it came to sailing, Linc was deadly serious and competent — he never cut corners and never took risks. We worked our way into the galley/wheelhouse to see what was going on. Linc had his binoculars and was looking in the distance as the auto-pilot drove the ship.
As we got closer, he brought the engines to the slowest possible speed and we scanned the bay. The jet ski continued to circle round and round. “There!” said Linc, pointing. We all looked where he was pointing and there was a man, face down in the ocean.
“He’s face down,” I said, “That’s a really bad sign.”
Linc maneuvered the boat slowly towards the man. I uncovered the Zodiac lighter and Greg grabbed the gaffe.
“We don’t have time for the boat,” Linc said, as he pushed the button to release the anchor. It hit the ocean with a splash, the chain clanking out from the locker. Suddenly, Greg was in the water. He had jumped in, fully clothed. It was clear he was panicked for the man and I worried if we would have two rescues. I gaffed the man in the water and pulled him towards the boat as Greg finally reached him.
“Turn him over, turn him over,” Linc said. Greg grabbed the man, who was being held up by a tiny life jacket, one that was clearly too small for him. Greg turned him over and put his arm around the man’s neck and pulled him towards the transom. Linc ran back to the wheelhouse and cut the engine. I was taken by the sudden silence. In the urgency of the situation it seemed surreal. Waves slapped at the boat. I got the ladder ready and plugged it into the diving platform and Greg dragged the man towards the stern. He didn’t look good, foam and food constantly streaming from his mouth and nose as Greg towed him.
Linc was on the radio with the Coast Guard and the engines fired up, a cloud of diesel smoke covering us until the wind blew it away. I started to do chest compressions. As I pressed on his chest I heard a sickening crack. I knew I had broken his ribs at that moment. But what could I do? How could I stop? I knew the compressions were keeping his blood flowing. I kept going, hearing additional, smaller cracks with each compression. It tore me up inside but I didn’t know what else to do.
“It looks like they want to come aboard,” he said, “They must know him. Throw over the fenders.”
We fished the blue rubber fenders out and tied them off as the fishing boat came alongside. They made a quick hitch and scrambled onto the deck before the boat even came to stop. The Captain came running forward as well.
“Sam, sam,” they yelled, clearly distraught and shaking their friend. He did not respond. It was clear that they were all very, very drunk. One of the men sank to his knees and started giving mouth-to-mouth while the woman wept helplessly. Through all this a steady stream of foam poured from the man’s nose and mouth.
“You did this,” the Captain said angrily, turning and pointing at us, “You hit him with your boat.” He stood up like he was going to fight. He was really angry, angry and drunk.
He pointed to a beach where fire engines and ambulances were streaming into the parking lot. People were gathering at the beach and pointing at us.
Reluctantly the Captain and his friend backed off onto their own boat. One of them gaffed the jet ski and dragged it the stern.
“This isn’t over,” the Captain shouted, pointing at Linc, “I’m going to get you!”
We untied the hitch and the boat fell astern as Linc pushed the throttle and steered to the beach. We continued heading towards the beach at a faster and faster rate of speed while Greg and I continued our pitiful ministrations on the man. The beach was coming up closer and closer and I yelled to Linc, “What the hell are you doing?”
“It’s not high tide,” Lincoln said calmly, and drove his brand new, $300,000 Osprey right up the beach. The engines screamed at the boat tipped over onto its side, the keel digging into the sand. We grabbed the rail to keep from going over the side or slamming into the wheelhouse. When the boat came to a stop, two firemen waded into the water. One had a long gaffe in his hand. Both of them wore open jackets and no helmets, and cigarettes hung from their lips. They looked bored. My heart was pounding. The stern was still in the surf, but it was a long distance down now, since the boat was on the shore. “We need a ladder,” I yelled to the fireman.
“Nah,” he said, “Just throw him overboard.”
“He was already long dead by the time you got to him,” the fire chief said, ‘When the Coast Guard reported streaming foam from your description, we knew it was too late. That means water in the lungs. There was nothing any of you could do.”
Linc’s boat sustained substantial damage; Greg was traumatized despite his heroic act of jumping into the water to retrieve the man, and me… I crushed a man’s chest in a fruitless attempt to save his life. I’ve thought about these events often since then and re-learned a lesson the ocean teaches over and over again – the margin for error on the water is always much, much slimmer than any of us realize, and the ocean rarely, if ever shows mercy.
Originally posted on iter97.com:
1. Since 2009, travelers of all nationalities will need a passport to travel between the USA and Canada.
2. If traveling during summer, book in advance. August is high season around the Great Lakes and nearly every campground close to the lakes will be full. The same goes for hotels/hostels in Chicago, Toronto, etc. Make reservations!
3. Gas prices vary considerably by state, but gas anywhere in Canada will be more expensive than the USA.
4. Camping is extremely popular around the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, that means it is expensive as well. Even basic tent sites can run 30-40 USD a night! However, this is still the way to go if traveling on a budget–especially if you can split the cost with a friend.
5. In general, most Americans agree that driving 10mph over the speed limit or less will be slow enough to avoid a run in with…
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Originally posted on Wide-Eyed MichAGAINian:
Although summer may be officially over, the weather still promises to accommodate some outdoor adventure in Pure Michigan. I recently checked off one of my Michigan “bucket list” items and kayaked to Turnip Rock.
Turnip Rock is a rock formation on the waters of Lake Huron in “The Thumb”. You can only get there by boat and being that the water around it is somewhat shallow, kayaks and canoes are ideal.
We rented kayaks in Port Austin and the tour company gave us a map and good directions to get there. They estimate it to be about a 2-hour paddle, but the time really depends on you, along with the wind and the waves. It was a bit choppy the day we went but it still only took us about 45 minutes to reach Turnip Rock. It is a lovely paddle along the lake’s shoreline with pristine nature…
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Originally posted on Windsor Star:
Water levels in the Great Lakes basin continued to rise in August — in most cases reaching their highest mark since the late 1990s.
Heavy rainfall has spearheaded a dramatic turnaround from two years ago when levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron reached record lows, said Jacob Bruxer, regulation representative for the The International Lake Superior Board of Control which tracks levels.
“It’s the precipitation,” he said. “There has been a lot of wet weather, especially on the upper lakes, so that’s what caused the rebound in water levels.”
The monthly mean water level of Lake Michigan-Huron in August was 176.48 m. That is seven centimetres below the long-term (1918-2013) August average, but the highest August level since 1998.
The level of Lake Michigan-Huron rose four centimetres last month, while on average the lake declines by four centimetres in August.
The level is 42 centimetres higher than it was…
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Originally posted on The Buffalo Chronicle:
If he is reelected to the New York State Senate, retired Senator Alfred Coppola is pledging to introduce the “Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act” (GLERA) to address several ongoing threats to the Great Lakes’ ecosystem.
“There is no greater natural resource on this continent than the Great Lakes. In the absence of a bold, bi-national strategy that addresses runoff contamination and non-point source pollution in a serious way, then we must provide that leadership at the State level,” Senator Coppola says. “So today, I’m pledging to introduce legislation that takes the decisive action that this situation demands.”
“We can’t wait for other States to act. We need to take the first move, and then drag them along,” he insists.
Coppola’s pledge comes months after pollution near Toledo, OH shut down that city’s drinking water infrastructure for several days. Algae plums have consumed the Western corner of the Lake. Agricultural chemicals, from pesticides to livestock feces, are to…
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The Michigan Farm Bureau is organizing a consolidated effort to shield it’s members from being held accountable for pollution in the Great Lakes. This summers total shutdown of the Toledo water system due to farm and sewer runoff has put the issue front and center in the minds of lawmakers and consumers. The Environmental Protection Agency is stepping in to expand its scope to include the rivers and inlets that lead to United States waters, including the Great Lakes. The prospect of this new accountability has factory farms and the Farm Bureau scrambling for cover as farm activities has been clearly identified as the prime contributor of the cause of the deadly blue-green algae that shut down Toledo’s water system.
Michigan’s Candice Miller threw her support to the Farm Bureau on the issue and publicly stated that she thinks the EPA is overreaching. However she has no answers as to what do do to prevent a similar catastrophe, like what happened in Toledo, from affecting Michigan’s Great Lakes. Lake Huron supplies fresh water to Detroit, Flint, Bay City and Saginaw regions. It could be a public health nightmare should this regions water supply suffer the same fate as Toledo.
Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay was identified as a Region for Concern by the EPA. Toxic algae blooms were visible from Noaa satellites in space.
This author is virtually touring Michigan with a county by county review. Today he stopped in Huron.
Originally posted on Every County:
Huron County (pop. 33,118), on the Thumb of Michigan, has the waters of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay on three sides. The only other Huron counties are in Ohio and Ontario.
With 90 miles of shoreline, Huron County is popular with summer tourists.
The Thumb Fire of 1881 burned more than a million acres in one day, killing 282 people in Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, and Lapeer counties.
The county seat of Huron County is the city of Bad Axe (pop. 3,462), which was named for a badly damaged axe that was found by surveyors at the site where the city was to be built.
The sports teams at Bad Axe High School are known as the Hatchets.
Bad Axe has the nation’s only Bad Axe Theatre; it is still showing first-run movies.
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This activity is often overlooked, taken for granted, and hardly reported. Yet the outcomes of these surveys impact the fishing industry and tourism throughout the Great Lakes region.
Originally posted on Dr. Derek H. Ogle:
The St. Paul Pioneer Press recently ran an article about the use of lake surveys for management purposes in Minnesota. The short article gives some insight into the importance of such common place efforts. There is also a nice slide show from a lake survey on a St. Paul metro lake. The article is here.