Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The 2019 Cruising Season That Wasn't!

beautiful sunset from the repair spot we were 'stuck' in!

The 2019 Cruising Season That Wasn’t!!
There are two ways I could approach writing about this past cruising season.  One, write a detailed account of all the mechanical problems we had, where we were, what was done.  Two, just sum up the season and include some nice pictures!  I’m going with option #two! 

We were one of the last boats in the wintering shed in Algonac, Michigan, so of course, we were one of the first boats out.  We got the boat in the water in early April.  Since our plan for the year was to spend most of the time in Canada, we hadn’t planned on leaving home on the boat until late May (waiting for warmer weather!).
You’ve heard the saying “Men make plans, God laughs!”  Well, we had plenty of time in April and May to get some work done on the boat, make some small ‘shake down’ cruises, and to be ready to set out on our planned big trip.  I made a trip to Colorado to visit my sister and my daughter/family.  While I was gone, Dan put a new sink in the boat – I had vigorously complained about the two small round sinks in the galley since day 1.  Dan put in a larger double sink that makes my galley life much better!  He also accomplished a number of other items on his to do list.  We bought a new larger dinghy, that will better accommodate both of us plus our 100 pound pup, Tugboat.  Dan found a suitable outboard that will move it through the water efficiently.  We hope to be able to anchor out on this trip, meaning the dinghy became important.  Traveling with a dog does create some dilemmas.  We plan to try and train the pup to go on the boat, but we are not sure that will be successful.

Late in May, we took Travis and Lisa and the one available grandchild, Isaac, on a brief cruise on the river near Algonac.  Travis and Isaac tried fishing, but this is just not the style boat to make that work very well.  We took an overnight trip to Port Huron.  That town has made great strides in recent years and seems to be doing well.  I got to see Rory Curtis and his step-daughter –I’ve known Rory since he was very young – his dad was my previous husband’s best friend.

Dan had had the fuel injectors for both engines cleaned and reconditioned.  Once we returned from Port Huron, we were dismayed to find that fuel was leaking into the oil crankcase…..a lot!  And, that began the odyssey that lasted all summer and into September!  We never got more than a two hour’s car drive from our home.  We spent time in three marinas on the Detroit River, Kean’s, Milliken State Park and Marina, and Grayhaven Mooring Facility.  Through several attempts at fixing the problem, we were able to keep one of our vehicles at the various marinas, go home frequently, bemoan the passing of the cruising season!  Oddly enough, while we were frustrated and tired of paying for the various repairs, we still enjoyed our time on the boat and with each other.

The first morning we were at Milliken, we looked over and saw a boat, Grumpy.  We recognized the boat name from the looper forum we read each morning.  We introduced ourselves to John and Jessica.  They were from Alabama and had never been to Detroit before.  We took them on a Detroit adventure for the evening.  We ate at Traffic Jam and Snug, the oldest brewery in Detroit, checked out Shinola, a unique Detroit store, and played feather bowling at Cadieux Café in East Detroit.  What a hoot!  Grumpy left the next day – at least they got a good sense of Detroit.
At one point, we hoped the problem had been resolved, so we cruised down to Put In Bay, on Lake Erie.  On the way there, Dan was concerned with the oil pressure on the troublesome port engine.  We cut that engine off, and, while I piloted the boat, with one engine, on into Put In Bay, Dan went below to check out the engine.  Sure enough, the engine room was a mess of oil and fuel.  OK, so we DON’T have the problem fixed!  We spent a pleasant time in Put In Bay (on South Bass Island) for two days.  That place reminds us of Key West in many ways.
We were able to find a good diesel mechanic in Port Clinton, Ohio, not far from Put In Bay.  He works out of a boatyard there, and we docked at the boatyard.  There were none of the usual marina facilities, but they did have a dock with electricity!  Most of our time there, about a month, we were the only boat there.  The property is several acres, surrounded by water and fencing.  Tugboat liked it – he could spend lots of time on and off the boat, chasing geese, sniffing and peeing everywhere.  We did have to be careful that he didn’t drink the lake water- Lake Erie had a serious and deadly algae problem. 
Anyway, after several other attempts at fixing our problem, we found ourselves in mid-September with pretty much the entire boating season gone by!  We cruised to Kelly’s Island for our test run, got stuck there an extra night because of weather, but the engine was finally finally fixed!  Our next stop was Toledo at the National Museum of the Great Lakes.  From there, we cruised back up the Detroit River to Colony Marina, our home for a few weeks before the Kittiwake got put away for the winter.
Now, for some pictures from this cruising season.

Kittiwake coming into Milliken Marina

Dan under the dash, almost all 6'2"of him!

bridge coming into Port Huron

Tug in his safety vest!

One iteration of the fuel pump removed...

The famous "Grumpy" in the marina

John doing his best!

Jessica trying her hand....

nice shot coming into a new marina

Detroit skyline

old Boblo building on the river

marker on the channel  to Detroit
golf carts  in Put In Bay

Put in Bay island fake palm tree!

pretty arbor by the ice cream shop on Put in Bay

at our spot where we spent weeks waiting for repairs/parts

Tug loved roving freely on the grounds!

ramp from boat to dock, sometimes under water!

loved the sunsets!

daily visitor!

beautiful sunsets!

never tired of taking duck pictures!
was able to take my grandson to Mackinac Island!

We had a great time!

before picture...needing work!!

in process.....

final product - what a difference!

Tugboat getting some of his expected loves

even in the unlovely marina....

you find beauty in otherwise unlovely places!

love the birds!

every day....

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