09 Lexington, MI To Toledo, OH

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We didn’t know it then, but our idyllic life started to change when we came into Lexington. Appointments, schedules, coordination and other things we had been away from for months came crashing in again. Frankly, we had lost the knack of handling the changing schedules.

Friends from Milwaukee canceled their visit. The computer broke. The UPS strike made getting it fixed complicated, and delayed the repair. Both our parents ended up in the hospital. We worked at keeping our own activities coordinated with friends and family.

Lexington provided a chance to relax from the bumpy rides and the pushing we had been doing. It’s a town that is growing and slowly going upscale. We found a deli that like Harrisville had absolutely outstanding sandwiches. The Rueben sandwich I had was one of the best I’ve had. The town had a small scattering of shops selling upscale items and it was evident that they were doing well. Because of the need to rest after pushing, and then threatening weather we stayed in Lexington 3 days.

Saturday afternoon, just after the end of a sailboat race from Port Huron to Lexington, the thunderstorm hit. We had watched it coming, it didn’t look large and we were secure in a slip with lines well secured. The wind surprised us. It came bow on, pushed the rain up the dodger, through the zippers and sprayed two feet back from the dodger into the cockpit. We learned later that some of the sailboats recorded 60-knot winds on their wind speed indicators.

We took off on Sunday morning with great winds and 3-5 foot seas. We were easily maintaining 8 mhp. We listened as Whisper called the Coast Guard to report a dink adrift. We checked the coordinates they gave and determined the dink was ahead of us. Ruth spotted it and we prepared to attempt to retrieve it. We figure it’s good man overboard practice. I got out the boat hook and laid down along the rail. One hand held a stanchion, the other the boat hook. Ruth’s aim was perfect and I attempted to hook a line as we went past at 8 mhp. As I reached out, our bow wave pushed the dink out of range. With the wind it took some effort to get the jib furled. Then we rounded up and with the engine going went back and took the dink in tow. The Coast Guard was already in transit when we contacted them. They came in astern and once we got things sorted out, released the dink so they could retrieve it.

The St. Clair River starts at Port Huron and has a 3 to 4 knot current. It was an added boost as we headed down stream to the town of St. Clair. We missed the lift bridge opening by 5 minutes and found out how strong the current was as we circled for 25 minutes waiting for the next opening. The harbor was snug and the town delightful. We got a kick out of seeing a good turn out on a rainy Sunday evening to listen to a trio perform in the local shopping center. The trio moved in under one of the overhangs, the people set their lawn chairs under the overhangs opposite and everyone had a good time as the sprinkles came down.

The housing contrasts on the St. Clair River are amazing. Sitting next to the 1,000 square foot cottage is the 6,000 square foot mansion. It was fun to see. The river is deep close to shore so we went by at close range. Mixed in were some up bound freighters. Some were old friends. We had seen them at the Soo. We track freighter sightings and log when and where we see them in a copy of Know Your Ships.

Jefferson Beach Marina holds 850 boats. It’s one of maybe a dozen on Lake St. Clair along what is called the Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores. It’s one of the highest concentrations of boats in the country. We had called for a reservation and threaded our way through the maze to find our slip. Nice marina, but not cheap. A record slip fee for us. It was fun however to see the huge assortment of primarily powerboats and how people spend their money. Covered boat wells for 60 footers and one boat not in a covered well, but with their own lawn area and a special tent to house matching Jaguars was a nice touch.

We became land people back in the big city. Our life changed from walking to the grocery store and post office, to having to use a car to get anywhere. The family visits were fun and enjoyable, but discovered we were glad that we had a life style that didn’t need a car.

We left early Friday heading for the Detroit River and Lake Erie. As we passed the Ren Cen we wave at Steve. We learned later, that he didn’t see us waving, but did see us go past. The day was cloudy and a front was going past. There were wind warnings for Lake Erie and we had a nice reach with 20-knot winds from the west. Coupled with the current in the river, we were flying, The knotmeter showed 8 mhp through the water, but the GPS indicated we were going 9-10 mhp over the ground.

The river was a nostalgia trip for both of us. Trips to Bob-Lo were an annual event for us as kids, and us with  Cindy and Jeff. The ride down on the Bob-Lo boat is one of the fond memories of my childhood. Above the Ambassador Bridge, the skyline of Detroit is very different. Below the bridge, the view is much as it was as a child. Huge steel mills, Zug Island, and heavy industry line the route. The air is cleaner and the water looked cleaner, but the rest remained the same. With the wind and current, we flew through. We did spot the two Bob-Lo Boats rafted off on a channel looking very forlorn. We hope a home other than the scrap yard is found for them.

Down past Fighting Island, I finally had my childhood curiosity fulfilled. The Bob-Lo Boat would turn off the main channel and head for the island entrance across from Amherstburg. I’d always watch hoping that the trip would be different and we would head down the Livingstone Channel and come back around to the island. It never happened. For me it was the thrill of being able to go straight and ride the very narrow channel down into Lake Erie and totally new territory for us.

Halfway down the channel, we realized that even though the water was smooth, the wind was rising and once we hit the Lake Erie we would be in for a rough ride again. We reefed the main in the protection of the narrow confines of the channel.

Lake Erie greeted us with 25-30 knot winds and its famous short steep waves. We were pounding shortly after clearing the channel. The waves rose quickly to 3-5 feet from the wrong direction. We were pounding into them, losing boat speed. Occasionally we caught one just right, rode up and the bow would fall off burying itself in the next wave. The result was solid white water over the deck, over the dodger, through any opening, such as zippers. Checking below, I found that the working of the mast and hull had opened up minor leaks on port frames and chain plates so we had some dampness below. The dorade that was supposed to be sealed was leaking water on the cushions so we had a very damp boat.

We looked at going into an alternate port, but decided to ride it out and go on to Toledo. We were supposed to go in at the Lost Peninsula Marina where Rick and Joan keep their boat, but were a little concerned since we knew there was 6-7 feet of water with 3-5 foot waves. Since we draw 5 feet, we could bottom out. We went on to Toledo for the night.

The next day Rick rode with us and we figured out a route that got us into the Marina cutting the channel short. It was nerve racking since we were traveling in areas that according to the chart, we should ground, but with the high water, we had 2-3 feet of water under the keel.

Rick and Joan took us for a ride up the Maumee River past Toledo. What a contrast in boat speed. Where we think we are flying on our boat at 8 mhp, they cruise at 20 mph. Toledo from the water seems like a city that is trying hard to shake its industrial past along the river and open it up to the parks, recreation, and water attractions that pulls people and vitality back into the heart of the city. They are trying hard, but don’t appear to be totally successful. There were large stretches of park complete with docks that were empty. I hope they keep working on it and are a success.

The Lost Peninsula Marina was in total contrast to Jefferson Beach. It was out in a park like atmoshpere, there were large land areas between each channel, and the atmosphere was country as opposed to city. We liked it a lot. Sat up late the last night we were together with a bonfire until 3 in the morning.

Sunday Rick and I installed the new high output alternator that was supposed to be a one for one replacement for the factory one. A little hammering, a trip to the hardware store for different bolts and a little squeezing and we had it in and running. Makes a big difference on battery recharge time.

It was an interesting change for us when we got to stay at the marina Sunday night and waved goodbye to Rick and Joan as they headed home from their marina and back to work on Monday. We snuggled in for a good rest and a early start on Lake Erie.

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