Donnelly Great Loop Adventure 2017

SV Serenity


On the trip

Recap of the first 100 days on the Loop

Will cover four things:

  1.  Monthly review for our third month on the water
  2. Rules (written and unwritten) that we have developed
  3. Truisms
  4. Cost of the trip (to date)

Continue reading “Recap of the first 100 days on the Loop”

Maintenance: Fridge, Battery Charger, Hatch O-Rings and lower unit oil change

We knew we were going to be in Manitowoc for a couple of days, so a week ago I contacted Gary, the service manager at Manitowoc Marina, to see if he could help us with some maintenance issues. We needed (in no particular order) to get our battery monitor installed, someone to look at our ever running fridge, and haul our boat out of the water so I could change the oil on the outboards engines lower unit. And while we were here, I would replace the O rings on our hatches to see if that would stop the slow leaks we had in both bedrooms. The windows directly above each bed would drip water onto our beds in bad rainstorms. It appeared to be coming from the window handles, so I ordered some O-rings which grandpa Chuck delivered. Continue reading “Maintenance: Fridge, Battery Charger, Hatch O-Rings and lower unit oil change”

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (8/2-8/4/17): 50 degrees, Lambeau Field and Grandpa Chuck joins the show.

Start: Fish Creek, WI 0841
End: CenterPoint Marina, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 1304
Total Distance: 21.9 nm
Time: 4:23
Average Speed: 5.0 kts

Our plan was to get up early and get out and on the water to get some good weather. But we were delayed by the fact we were half way into a well, with a nice monohull behind us. So we waited until they left and then headed out into Green Bay for the run to Sturgeon Bay. Winds and waves were pushing us towards our destination. Which was good because there was plenty of both. Day was cloudy. So good day for travel; what else are we going to do? Continue reading “Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (8/2-8/4/17): 50 degrees, Lambeau Field and Grandpa Chuck joins the show.”

Fish Creek, Wisconsin (8/1/17)

Start: Washington Island Private Dock, 0650
End: Fish Creek, WI, 1125
Total Distance: 22.6 nm
Time: 4:46
Average Speed: 4.7 kts

Lesson Learned (Because we continue to learn lessons every day): If the weather forecast calls for 10-15 mph winds against your direction of travel, think very hard about if you want to go. And if the forecast calls for 1-3 foot waves against your direction of travel, think very, very hard about if you want to go. Continue reading “Fish Creek, Wisconsin (8/1/17)”

We cross through Death’s Door into Wisconsin (7/29/17)

Start: Northport MI Anchorage 0517
End: Washington Island Anchorage (Detroit Island), 1636 central (1736 Eastern)
Total Distance: 71.7 nm ***(new high for our trip)
Time: 12:19 ***(new high for our trip)
Average Speed: 5.82 kts

I had a flashback to my Army days this morning. Specifically Army training and how you start with your tasks done under benign condition to make sure you know how to execute the thing you want done. Then you change the conditions to make it more challenging and to more closely reflect the conditions of combat. Once you have mastered it in the day, then do it at night. Do it when you are tired and at night. Do it when you are tired, at night, down a member of your team. You get the idea. Continue reading “We cross through Death’s Door into Wisconsin (7/29/17)”

A short run to Beaver Island through a washing machine (6/23/17)

Start: Garden Island, middle of the northern part of Lake Michigan, 1234
End: Beaver Island, middle of the northern part of Lake Michigan, 1409
Total Distance: 6.12 nm
Time: 1:35
Average Speed: 3.84 kts

Continue reading “A short run to Beaver Island through a washing machine (6/23/17)”

Good-bye Lake Huron, Hello Lake Michigan!! (Garden Island, 6/22/17)

Start: Mackinaw City Municipal Marina, 0711
End: Garden Island, middle of the northern part of Lake Michigan, 1430
Total Distance: 41.6 nm
Time: 7:11
Average Speed: 5.79 kts

We leave Lake Huron and Enter Lake Michigan at 0730 this morning when we pass under the Mackinac Bridge. If we head straight down, we have only 280 miles to Chicago, Illinois! But little chance of that happening! First stop today is an anchorage at Garden Island. It is part of the Beaver Island archipelago in northern Lake Michigan. It is a five mile (ish) long, uninhabited island. Continue reading “Good-bye Lake Huron, Hello Lake Michigan!! (Garden Island, 6/22/17)”

Drummond Island (7/19/17)

We awoke at the crack of 8am, looked at the cloudy skies, felt the fresh  breeze, knew that we were only getting charged a buck a foot at the marina and made the call to stay another day.  Because why not.  We awoke at the crack of 8am, looked at the cloudy skies, felt the fresh  breeze, knew that we were only getting charged a buck a foot at the marina and made the call to stay another day.  Because why not.


AJ’s first fish.  It was small.  And fast.  It is the blur.  

Turned out to be a good call.  Because AJ got a couple of firsts.  First fish caught.  Finally.  And first set of kids he got to spend the day playing with.  We ran into a Michigan family that we had briefly met in Little Current, Canada.  They are returning from a trip to the Norther Channel and pulled in late yesterday afternoon.  They decided to stay the day here as well.  They have two boys (9,6) and a girl and the boys and AJ got to spend the day fishing and running around the marina.

We did get to explore Drummond Island a bit as well.  If you look at a map, Drummond Island seems to be a strange fit for the State of Michigan, much less a fit for the United States.  It is caught in a pincer from the Northwest and the South East by Canadian Land.  Directly West is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Wisconsin which connects the Island to the mainland via a ferry.  It is named after Gordon Drummond, the first Canadian born to command the military and the government in British Canada.  Population here is just over 1000 people on one of the larges islands in Lake Huron.  It is a wilderness playground.  On the water there are tons of fishing boats, jet skis, pontoon boats, trawlers, sailboats, etc.  Fishing is great (must be great if we are pulling in the IMG_5921finned creatures), water is clear and it is hard to get to, so you have to want to be here.  On land there are jeep and four wheeler trails, hiking and wildlife galore.  Kids are hurtling around on four wheelers like they do on bikes in suburbia.
The people are super friendly; we are still in the land of the wave.  It feels more ‘Canada-friendly’ here, which makes sense since we are basically IN Canada.  We got a courtesy IMG_5906car (see below) from the marina, an d as we drove around or when we went to lunch, lots of waving, lots of people saying hello.  We ate lunch at what was billed as the ‘best Mexican restaurant in the UP,’ which made us wonder if it was the only Mexican restaurant in the UP.  In spite of our doubts, it was excellent.
Rest of the day was spent screwing off.  Because we can.

Courtesy car:  Some marinas provide courtesy cars.  Transportation to get you from the marina to the major provisioning stops, like grocery stores, beer stores or restaurants.  Usually they are provided when there is a good distance between the marina and civilization.  Not every place provides a courtesy car.  It is interesting to see the difference in what is provided and what you have to give in order to get the car.  The spectrum from loosest to most ’strict’ is below:
Some require absolutely nothing.  Dutchman’s marina had a truck of questionable structural integrity. Key was always in the truck.  Rule was if the truck was at front door of the marina, then you got to use the truck.  No limit.  No questions.  No taking personal information.

Some require signing out car for a limited period of time.  Brewerton had a courtesy car, gratis.  Only limitation was that you could only take it for a max of two hours, then had to bring it back.  If no one needed it, you could take it back out.  Required because there wasn’t a darn thing that you could walk to from Brewerton without potentially getting hit by a passing car.

Some require a bit more information when ‘signing out’ the car.  At Wright’s marina, we had to provide drivers license, insurance information and give them a $1 deposit for the key.  If we didn’t bring back the key, we didn’t get our dollar back.

Some have you pay for car, unlimited use.  Drummond Island Yacht basin falls in this category.  For $12 whole United States Dollars, you get a car for the day.  They take your name and boat name and that is it.  Not that you can go far…you are, after all, on an island.  But it is two miles to the grocery store, ice cream shop and the two restaurants on the island.

Some provide you the number to a taxi and tell you to have a nice day.  Or the number to a car rental agency.  Or you pull out your uber/lyft app.

Back in the US of A!

Start: Sanford Island (which we are proposing to rename to ‘Blueberry Island’, 0545
End: Drummond Island Yacht Haven, Drummond, MI, USA! 1430
Total Distance: 45.8 nm
Time: 8:43
Average Speed: 5.2 kts

Did you know that the iPhone alarm, along with sounding off with an annoying ring tone, also causes the phone to vibrate? So much so that the phone, if ignored long enough, will walk its way off of the table and throw itself to the ground in an attempt to either turn itself off or do itself in. Assuming Siri has reached sentience, of course.

The alarm, ignored as long as possible by the two of us, finally got us out of the bed at 0532.

(Digression: There are five living things on this boat, not counting the 1,500 mosquitoes1, 200 spiders, 20 moths, 15 mothions, and 7 worms (waiting to die fruitlessly on a hook). The dog and cat who are awake daily by 0500 waiting for someone to lift the magic floorboard (where their food is kept) and feed them. Jan and I. And AJ. Who can sleep through loud noised, huge seas, fireworks, almost anything. Other than the calling of either his bladder or his stomach. Digression off)

Our day yesterday sucked pretty hard for about three hours 2. We were fighting into the wind and waves on the way to our island anchorage and our idea was to get out really early to beat the said wind/waves for at least a couple of hours since we had an almost 50 mile trip ahead of us. And moving at 4 knots into waves (simple math says 12.5 hours) was NOT what we wanted to do. The weather today is perhaps hopeful at least until noon. The wind is 10 mph from the SW and if we set our course right, we can get a sail up and get some help from the wind to move us along a bit quicker and also help us get through the waves. At 2pm the wind switches to the south so the last eight miles will be straight on our nose and nothing we can do about that.

So that was the analysis we conducted last night as we basked in the sunset with our full bellies. And we set our alarm. And damned if the thing didn’t go off and our little good idea seemed not so good.

Roll out of bed, hop in the dinghy to get the dog to shore so he can do his doodie (think you, please tip your waitress), Jan got the coffee ready and she brought the anchor up and we were on the way. Our anchorage was totally protected last night. There was no wind and our boat bobbed randomly around the anchor. We thought we had outsmarted ourself, but as soon as we rounded the norther point, we had a 10 knot wind that was just far enough off our port bow (45 degrees) that we could get our genoa up and it filled and provided an extra half knot of push. Small waves. We have Andy on pointing at 263 degrees for a 35 mile leg and crossing our fingers that the wind doesn’t change. I probably cursed us by typing that.

(Digression part deux. In case I haven’t made this clear in the past, our autopilot is named Andy. As in Andy the Autopilot. And Andy has a personality, just as Serenity, our boat, has a personality. Andy is good at his job. Put him on a heading and he will keep us going the right way so we can focus on other, more important things. Like coffee. Bathroom. Snacks. Update to blog. Lunch. Picking nose. Whatever. But Andy has a proclivity [word of the day] to turn into any and all aids to navigation. Those red and green markers that can dot the water to help mariners get through a channel. For some reason, and we haven’t figured it out, if there is a aid to navigation anyplace wishing a half mile, Andy will gradually turn to get closer. And closer. Until we hit it. And I’m not the only one that has named our autopilot. Talked to a fine gentlemen who was single handing his boat and named his Otto (or Auto?). Digression part deux off).

We are running across the bay today totally Beverly Hillbilly style. With the rain happening, we have to get our clothes dried out when we have the chance, and on a sunny day, our lifelines sprout clothes and towels like a garden sprouts shoots in the spring. We may (or may not) take them down before we get to the marina.

We crossed into the waters of the good old US of A at about 1220 in the afternoon. We took down the Canadian courtesy flag and put up the yellow ‘quarantine’ flag which stays up until we clear customs at Drummond Island.

Yellow quarantine flag replaces the Canadian courtesy flag… 

We puttered into the marina, docked and customs came to our boat to check us in. Very painless and quick process. Then we huddled and came up with our game plan for the remainder of the afternoon. Basically AJ and I would clean the outside of the boat (and shower) and Jan would clean the inside of the boat, do laundry and shower. We had a little excitement during the cleaning (see tool of the day part 1), but by 5:30 we were done and ready for some dinner (Taco Tuesday) and some Agents of SHIELD.

Tool of the day: I was working on this post as we were motoring/motor-sailing over from Sanford Island to Drummond Island. Realize this was a huge risk with our boat FLYING along at 5mph in a flat, huge, open body of water. On which I saw exactly five boats. Over eight hours. On the trip the tool of the day was determined. But once we got to the dock, I had to adjust based on events at the marina. So Part 1 is the tool of the day, and Part 2 was the tool of the day as we were making our way across. Apologize to any issues or emotional distress this may (or may not) cause the (spoiler alert) fly swatter.

Tool of the day (Part 1): Life lines. We replaced the lifelines on our boats before we left on our trip and did some work rebidding some of the stanchions that were a bit loose. AJ decided today to execute an unannounced test of the lifelines. While were were cleaning the boat, AJ took a step backwards where there was no backwards step. And fell straight down and back. Luckily he was caught by the lifelines and prevented from falling backwards onto his head on the dock. Winner.

Tool of the day (Part 2): We mark off points on the map to which we can escape if weather is bad or something unexpected happens. Today it was the Grant Islands. About halfway to our destination and the last feature before getting to the north shore of Drummond Island. Three of them, west, middle and east. Reviews on Active Captain say that they are never very busy and rather isolated. What they don’t say is that the damn things are infested with flies. And that any boat that passes within a half mile of the island should expect to be boarded by a couple hundred of the little bastard. Which leads to the tool of the day. Naturally the fly swatter. Jan, armed with her weapon, and Lucky, armed with his teeth, took to systematically eradicating the population off of our boat. It was gruesome. Like zombie movie gruesome3. Fortunately AJ was still asleep (at 10am for God sake. He gets that from his mother), so he didn’t have to witness the bloodbath.

1: Got a great reader tip today on how to keep mosquitoes from bothering you. Harley wrote that he had heard that covering ones self in deer poop would keep the mosquitos away. I remember from when I was stationed at Ft. Polk that eating match stick heads was rumored to do the same thing. So I did. Mosquitoes didn’t bother me. Neither did anyone else since my pores were sweating sulfur, or put another way, I smelled like a walking fart. While deer poo is a great idea, think we will stick to the deep woods off.

2: I looked over what I wrote yesterday and barely 16 hours ago, it was 2-3 hours of marginal conditions. Not even bad. Today it is three hours of ‘sucked pretty hard.’ By the time a year will have gone by it will become three days of fighting through a hurricane. Jan up on the mast holding together the torn halves of our shell. I’m strapped to the wheel having been exhausted from the fight against mother nature. And AJ will tell his kids about how when he was young, the engines and rudders on our boat gave out in a horrific storm and he had to throw himself in the water and use his body to steer in the direction that we needed to go.

3: RIP George Romero.

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