June 2024 Return to the Great Lakes

We woke up on June first at Lock E 21 on the Erie Canal. We had tied up there for the night next to another boat from Michigan. It was nice chatting with some fellow Michiganders. This couple was completing the Great Loop, moving the boat for a few weeks then going back to Michigan to work, they have been looping since 2021!

We are seeing many more boats this time through the canal, mostly large power boats that are doing the Great Loop. It got even busier as we went across Lake Oneida, tons of pontoon boats and other boaters out enjoying their weekend passed us as we went along.

We made it to Baldwinsville where we tied up for the night. We didn’t stop at this little town our our way through in the fall. It was a cute little place to walk around. We got dinner at a BBQ restaurant right near the boat. It was actually some of the best BBQ we have had and we are tough critics as Ryan makes some really good smoked food when we are home. We ran into another young cruiser, taking his boat through part of the canal then heading north through the St Lawrence seaway. It is always nice to talk to fellow sailers who are traveling on their boats.

We were up early the next morning to make some miles to Newark. It was a long day, we went 54 miles on the canal. We made it into Newark and settled in to relax. Shortly after we arrived We saw another sailboat, Sacagawea arrive into town. We had met them on Eleuthera where they told us that the would be cruising the Great Lakes for the summer. They started cruising in the Seattle area and have been living on the boat for 4 years now. We went out for a beer with them and talked all things cruising. We told them some of our favorite Great Lakes destinations and swapped stories from our time in the Bahamas this year.

Our next stop was only 18 miles away in the town of Fairport. This is a popular stop on the canal and we didn’t visit in the fall because the wall space was full. We were able to grab a spot this time around. The town is super cute, plenty of shops and restaurants nearby. We enjoyed wandering around and walking some of the bike/walking path that goes along the canal. We enjoyed lunch at one of the nearby restaurants then spent the rest of the day relaxing on the boat.

From here we have only a few more days on the canal. While the long days of motoring can be tiring we are enjoying the simplicity of life on the canal. There is always a wall to tie to, no large waves or swell to deal with or the worry of finding a protected anchorage. It is easy to get to shore without needing to drop the dinghy. And there is much less worry about the weather, unless the wind is really bad we can always move through the canal with little difficulty. For now we will soak it up before we head back out into the larger waters of the Great Lakes.

The following day we made it to Holly. We had stopped there for lunch on our way through in the fall. The nearby park and waterfall are lovely. This time we spent the night. This is a really nice stop. The waterfall and park are really close. There is a nice wood wall along the canal with power and water available for free. We had the place to ourselves for the night.

We decided the following day to push all the way to Tonawanda which is the end of the Erie Canal. We made it through the rest of the lift bridges and locks and arrived to the wall across from Wardell’s boatyard around dinner time.

The next day Wardell’s was able to get our mast back up and we then got to work re-rigging and getting all the sails back up. Finally we were a sailboat again! We pushed hard in the canal, getting through it in 8 days of moving but now the weather was not cooperating so we had several days of down-time in Tonawanda.

Thankfully the wall we were on was very well protected and free. There was a grocery store very close by and a very nice walking trail along the canal/river. We spent the next several days taking walks along the trail and through town, stocking up on groceries and doing several boat chores.

We had hoped to push from Tonawanda to Erie PA but the wind didn’t shift quite as north as we hoped the day we left. It was coming right out of the west, where we wanted to go. After getting to Buffalo we decided it would be a rough day beating directly into waves and wind so we stayed in Buffalo for the day. Buffalo has a nice wall right in town with water and electricity for $35 a night. This was more protected and much nicer then the anchorages nearby so we took full advantage. We also caught up with Sacagawea once again.

Very early the next morning, we headed off into Lake Erie. We motored through the calm weather all the way to Erie PA. It was a long day but we arrived at dinner time and enjoyed a quite evening on anchor. The following day we headed off early again, with Cleveland as our destination for the night. We got a fantastic sunrise and we were actually able to sail with the motor off for several hours before the wind died!

We anchored in Cleveland, arriving late evening and relaxed for the night. The following day we took the dinghy to shore and walked around the nearby park and city while waiting out some higher winds and storms. Cleveland is a busy port, we also got to watch many freighters come and go throughout the day. We got a fantastic sunset that night in our anchorage. It was finally starting to feel like we were back in the Great Lakes, enjoying summer boating season.

The following day we headed towards Put in Bay and Middle Bass Island. We had several hours of great sailing in calm seas before the wind died and we motor sailed the rest of the way. We had planned to anchor at Middle Bass Island to be protected from some stronger northeast wind in the evening. We read there was good holding but we tried 4 times and found nothing but rocky bottom that our anchor wouldn’t hold in. We ended up grabbing a mooring ball at Put in Bay for the night. The mooring ball includes a water taxi to take you to/from the island. We enjoyed walking around and grabbing a drink before heading back to the boat.

The wind did pick up, making it uncomfortable for most of the night but we made it through and by morning it was calm once again. We took a slow morning, enjoying our breakfast, coffee and yoga before setting off once again.

We had a marina reservation in Detroit to see family but we couldn’t get a slip until Sunday so we found a nice anchorage off the Detroit river, about 16 miles from the marina to stay the night. We had officially made it back to Mi waters!

The next day we continued up the river into downtown Detroit! We went right under the new Gordie Howe International bridge which was connected just the day or so before.We stayed at the same marina, in the same slip we had been at on our way through in the fall. The boat next door remembered us and it was nice to chat with them about our adventure. We had a day of catching up with family and the cats were spoiled with new toys and treats!

Our final day before leaving the marina, we caught up on some chores, grocery shopped and then we were off. We headed up the river and decided to check into Canada in Sarnia so that we could go up the Canadian side of the lake, on our way to the North Channel.

We arrived to our marina and got all checked into the country with no trouble. We were happily surprised that some friends we met last summer in Lake Superior, Brianna and Mike were in town for the evening. They are planning to head out the St. Lawrence seaway and down to the Bahamas this year. It was great to catch up with them and share some of our lessons learned. We were super thankful to Steve and Felicia on Kasablanca for all the help they gave us before we left. It felt good to return the favor to some new cruisers before they leave the Great Lakes.

The following morning we headed into Lake Huron. We were super excited for a couple of reasons: there was a heat wave in Detroit beginning the day we arrived. We got record high temps that were in the 90s. Who would have thought the hottest temps on this entire trip would be in Detroit Mi! The excessive heat warning was in effect for the surrounding area for the rest of the week. Getting out of the rivers and into Lake Huron meant cooler temperatures which was very welcome! It also meant that we had finished going up the final river for this trip. No more going against the currents. From now on we can just cruise Lake Huron and Lake Michigan until we finally make it back home to Muskegon.

We made it up the lake about 55 miles to Godrich. We stayed the night at the small marina there. We wandered through the cute town and fueled up the boat. The next morning we were up super early, we headed north up to Dorcas Bay, near Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. The water in the bay was just as clear as in the Bahamas. We watched our anchor go to the bottom and dig into the sand. It was a nice, quiet evening. We had made it nearly all the way up Lake Huron.

The following day we headed to Club Island in the Georgian Bay. The island was super pretty and we had the place to ourselves. Finally we were getting back into cruising mode! We were into the good stuff that we wanted to explore in the Great Lakes.

One more day of moving, but not so many miles. The next morning we headed into the north channel. We made it to Covered Portage Cove. It is one of our favorite anchorages. The place is stunning! We arrived in the rain and had the place to ourselves!

The next afternoon, the sun came out and we got off the boat for a hike up the hills. We got amazing views of the anchorage and Resande down below. We found a small handful of blueberries on our hike, perfect for blueberry pancakes the following morning.

After a few days of enjoying the anchorage and not moving the boat everyday for a change, we headed off again. We headed up into Baie Fine, a freshwater fjord nearby. We anchored in Mary Ann Cove, finding a perfect spot to stern-tie.

The cove is another one of our favorite stops in the North Channel. The nearby hike is beautiful and gives fantastic views when you get to the top of the hills.

We found a ton of blueberries in the area and several edible mushrooms. We were a bit nervous about foraging for mushrooms but with alot of research we felt confident enough to try the mushrooms we found. We were very happily surprised- they were delicious!

Our next stop was continuing up the fjord to The Pool, an anchorage at the top of the fjord. The trip up the fjord is stunning and the anchorage doesn’t disappoint either.

We arrived to the anchorage to find only one other boat tucked way in the back. We had a quick lunch and went off on a hike. The hiking here is really pretty. The anchorage is located in Killarney Provincial Park so there are plenty of trails. We hiked to Topaz Lake and then to the top of the hills surrounding the anchorage for great views of the boat down below.

When we got back from our hike, the anchorage had filled in with a few more sailboats. We chatted with the other cruisers then headed back to the boat. We stayed at The Pool two nights, taking time to paddle around the anchorage and hike all the nearby trails.

Leaving The Pool we headed out of the fjord and to the town of Little Current. After about a week in the North Channel we had some errands to run. We stocked up on groceries, emptied trash, got fuel for the boat and enjoyed some great fish and chips in town.

We decided to stay the night in town as it was down-pouring when we arrived so we waited until that had passed before beginning our errands. It ended up being quite a windy night! Once the wind dies off a bit and the sun comes out this morning, we plan to head off towards the Benjamin Island group. We still have plenty more beautiful North Channel anchorages to explore before we have to continue on into Lake Michigan.

Today, June 30th also marks our official 1 year living on the boat full-time!

May 2024 Leaving the East Coast

July 2024 Our Final Month Full-Time Cruising

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