On May 10, 2013 the Five Stars vessel will depart Jacksonville, Fl. for it’s new home at Tawas Bay Marina on Lake Huron near Tawas City, MI. The 2000 mile journey will go up the Atlantic Intercostal waters to the Hudson River, then through the Erie Canal. From there it will cross Lake Erie, then up the Detroit River to Lake St. Clair. It will continue North up the St. Clair River into Lake Huron. After crossing under the Bluewater Bridge, the vessel will continue North along the Michigan’s sunrise coastline heading North West across Northern Saginaw Bay and home. So we will be taking about 1/3 of The Great Loop. Follow the crew as they chronicle the trip with photos and commentary.
There are many appearance and mechanical systems that are being worked on at the Huckins shipyard prior to our 10 May 2013 departure. The following is a partial list of that work. A thorough survey of the boat is also being done prior to our departure.
So here was the original plan. Fly down Thursday, buy provisions, load boat, stay on boat overnight and leave Friday at daybreak. NOT!
So the head gasket was promised to be here by 8:00 am. Nope. Then it was 10:30. Nope. Then it was 12:30 Nope. Then between 1 and 3. We were losing confidence in the marina personnel by the minute. Jon, the young mechanic who was assigned the task of fixing our generator was stationed by the front gate to intercept the UPS driver when he came by. The UPS folks reminded us that it was Mother’s Day weekend and they were under pressure with all the flowers that had to be delivered that day. By 1:00 we were all convinced that we wouldn’t be leaving until Tuesday. Nobody was going to be working on this thing on Sunday. Finally at 2:00 some good news. The package had arrived! Then even more good news, it was the right part! Alleluia! It time to break open the beer in celebration. Jon gets to work while we start the party. It’ll be smooth sailing from now on we tell ourselves.
In the cab and off to the marina at 6:00am. Captain Ted is there and waiting for us. Just a few minutes later and the engines are running and the lines are in. We push off a little before 7:00. So we’re really going to do this thing. We leave the marina with no fanfare and nobody to send us off but we’re leaving! At the end of the channel, our new friend Bobbo is waving and taking pictures. He’s obviously an early riser.
Got off as scheduled at 6:00 on the button. NOAA weather report calls for 10 mph North winds and 2-4 feet waves. Anyone who does any fishing around the Great Lakes jokes about the accuracy of their reports. Once we got by the last channel marker, things got bumpy. At least 20 mph and coming from the North East (the worse direction). Seas built to about 6-8 footers and the decision was made to get off the ocean and into the “ditch”. So we motored to Georgetown and are now going up the IntraCoastal (ICW).
OK, we’re making progress. We duck out of the ocean at Georgetown and started to clean up the mess we had in the cabin. Things were everywhere but nothing of consequence was broken. Although the coffee maker was on the galley floor and grinds were spread all over the floor, it was not damaged and we were able to enjoy a cup this morning. Thought we’d show you a picture of the shrimp boat that followed us in at Georgetown. Check it out on the left. Just click on it for a larger image. Just kidding girls…it wasn’t really that bad. Mike tells me I need to tone it down a bit so we don’t scare the hell out of wives.
100 miles yesterday from Southport to Moorehead City. All in “the ditch”, the ICW, or the Intracoastal Waterways. Whatever you want to call it. We were supposed to be here on day 2 but we’re making progress. The ride was uneventful, if not boring. Of course from the day before, we learned that boring can be a very good thing. The most exciting event was the low bridge that surprised us a bit. We learned that the boat is taller than 14 foot. We crept up to it and discovered we didn’t have enough clearance. It was a swing bridge so we weren’t going to have any problems making it through but it only opens once on the hours. We had to wait about 25 minutes before it opened. While we waited Steve was able to photograph a baby Osprey in a nest on a channel marker. You can see it in today’s photo gallery.
What an exciting day. 208 statute miles of pure fun. We stayed in the “ditch” all day. At one point the route split. The chart showed “route 1” or “route 2”. After some investigation, we found that route 2 was the Dismal Swamp route. Mike had read up on it and insisted we take that route. That’s when the fun really began. The swamp is basically a narrow river that meanders for about 37 miles. Although it’s narrow, it’s plenty deep enough for our boat so no worries there. There are two locks on the swamp and they both have restricted hours and are only available several times a day. When we projected our arrival time at the first lock, we thought we might make the 1:30 opening if we hustled. The next opening was 3:30. I think we beat the land speed record as we blasted along the narrow, twisty river. The ride was truly remarkable for the excitement and the scenery. It was very desolate with very few houses or boats. It seemed the river got even narrower as we continued deeper into swamp. The trees and kudzu were closing in on us.
We have an appointment for the prop repair at 9:00 so we can sleep in. We leave with plenty of time to spare only to be hung up by a railroad bridge operator who just wouldn’t let us through. There was a train coming so I guess he should have priority. Obviously, the bridge operator didn’t know who we had on board! We’re only 15 minutes late for our appointment and the dock hands see us and come out to help immediately. The name of the place was Chesapeake Yachts. Nice services. Kymberly, VP was quite helpful too. We all loved her heated toilet seat. Maybe things won’t be so bad… We’re under the slings and out of the water in no time. The crew is straining to see what damage has occurred even before the thing is up on dry land. Suddenly we could see the bent tip. Good news! That means that the shaft is probably OK but we won’t know that until we get back in the water and test at full rpm’s. Although most boat owners would be upset with the damage, we’re all happy. It could have been much worse. We do have spare props.