The crew awakes to a clear, hot, and sunny morning in Sarnia with Dan pumping out delicious cold air into the cabin. Rick had been out to Timmy’s and set up morning breakfast on the dock with coffee, muffins, doughnuts, and Bailey’s for good measure. After enjoying a leisurely coffee on the dock, I took my leaking fuel filter out of the boat, disassembled it, and discovered that two of the fittings were the wrong size and had shredded the threads, which was the obvious culprit for the leak. I took it over to the chandlery shop at the marina and they hooked me up with new fittings and a few other spare parts for the boat and I was able to reassemble the filter, prime it, run the engine for a while and confirm it was finally fixed. Great joy!
We pulled away from the dock around 1:30 and motored out into the raging water of the St. Clair River. As we passed under the Bluewater Bridge, the current was charging through at 5 to 6 knots, stopping our progress to a slow crawl, but we eventually made it through and out into the big lake. And Lake Huron is a big lake indeed and behaves and looks much more like an ocean. We are so incredibly fortunate to live near these amazing Great Lakes and I often think about how many Canadians have only ever experienced them by seeing them on a map. I really think they are our country’s greatest asset and one of the best places in the world to sail and explore.
21 degrees is our heading on the compass as we lock in the autopilot and kick back to enjoy the ride 150 miles northward to Tobermory. After an hour or two of sailing we pull in the sails, slowly glide to a halt, and jump in for the morning shower. The water is a surprisingly warm 26 degrees and with a mask I’m able to see the bottom fifty feet down. As we’re swimming Stella says, “Magnus, what’s that black thing floating around by you?” I see it and swim over as Magnus is craning his neck around trying to figure out what she’s talking about. It looks like a piece of fabric so I reach out and grab it. It’s a ladies’ g-string! And it looks to have floated up from Magnus’ shorts. I lift it up out of the water and say, “Magnus, is there something you want to tell us? Have you met somebody special?” Then I realize they are Ana’s and must have gotten tangled up in his shorts during the dry cycle. I fling them up onto the boat and Ana pins them onto the lifeline to dry, happy to have not lost a pair of fine undies.
We goof around in the water for quite a while then get back underway. The wind is blowing directly from the south, which is pretty good for sailing, but leaves us with very little apparent wind on the boat, making it hot and sticky. I pull out the heavy-duty trolling rod that my buddy Pat loaned to me and drop a line. To make it feel more like fishing I crack a beer and a cigar and prop myself on one of the stern overhang seats and enjoy that beautiful sun. I’m not even too bothered when I don’t get a bite after an hour.
VHF radios have channels for continuous marine weather broadcasts so we monitor that as the hours pass by and we make our way north. There are wind and squall warnings on northern Lake Huron but we hope they will pass by the time we get there. As darkness falls the seas get rougher and rougher and the forecast deteriorates. I head down below for a sleep and when I wake up for my shift just after midnight, there are sheet lightning flashes around us and the crew has seen some lightening hits towards the shoreline. Ana and I listen to the weather and make the decision to cut northeast to find shelter at Kincardine, the closest harbour, but still four hours away. Once we are on course and the sails are set, Ana heads down below to sleep and I stay on watch. It is a moonless night and completely dark except for the stars peeking out from the increasing density of cloud. The winds are strong, but not overpowering, and we still have a bumpy ride and everything gets tossed around inside the boat, including the people.
The last few miles are a killer (they always are in bad weather) but we finally arrive at the entrance to the Kincardine channel and it is small, dark and rough as hell as the river pouring out collides with the waves being pushed in, creating big standing waves. Ana perches on the bow of the boat and helps guide me into the boiling water and we get through it okay and find a dock inside the nicely protected harbour and get the boat securely tied. The 5 am sunlight is starting to pour in, so we jump into bed to catch a few hours of sleep.