2014 Lake Huron

Ananda is in her second season back on Lake Huron, berthed at Maitland Valley Marina in Goderich.

My plans for this summer included a trip across Lake Huron to Harbor Beach, Michigan and a trip up the lake to Manitoulan Island and the North Channel.

Here is a synopsis of my adventures on Lake Huron this season:

Lake Huron Ultra-Marathon Swim

In 2013 I had the privilege of being part of a small flotilla of boats that operated in support of Lesley Burton-Zehr, an ultra-marathon swimmer from the Kitchener/Waterloo area. Lesley wanted to undertake a long-distance solo charity swim from Harbor Beach, Michigan to Goderich. She and her group of supporters (Ananda included) made several attempts in August, 2013 to do the crossing but weather and lake (wave) conditions kept preventing this from happening.

Sunset en Route to Harbor Beach, MI

On the evening of July 18th, 2014 a flotilla including Ananda and three other boats with crews supporting Lesley headed off to Harbor Beach. Lesley was already there and preparing to start her swim at 5:00 am the next morning. We had a perfect night for a crossing–no wind for sailing but the passage was smooth and easy.

Lesley entered the water at sunrise on July 19th and swam non-stop until about 7:00 pm that evening. The total crossing distance is about 70 kilometers. Lesley made it almost 40 kilometers before wind and waves and cold water conditions forced her to end her swim. Numerous times during the swim the waves (which were building to almost a meter in height) impeded her progress and the water was so cold that her core body temperature dropped to levels that were of concern to the swim-master – but Lesley’s determination helped her go way beyond what most people could achieve. This was a very unique experience for her entire support crew and I am very glad and proud to have been a part of it.

Slideshow of highlights of the swim

(under construction – will be posted soon)

Attempted Passage To The North Channel

One of my main motivations for bringing Ananda back to Lake Huron was so I could make one or two trips each year to Georgian Bay and the North Channel. This area is famous for its cruising and I wanted to make the most of my relatively close proximity. Unfortunately, the beginning of this summer was not the greatest weather-wise and Ananda was also plagued with minor mechanical and electrical issues. As a result, I was reluctant to leave on a trip until I was certain that Ananda was as trouble-free as could be expected.

After finally resolving some mechanical and electrical issues (those are stories for another posting 🙂 ) my good friend Chris Cavanaugh and I headed north. Our goal was to get up north, circumnavigate Manitoulan Island and be back in Goderich – all within 7 days. Weather permitting, this was an achievable plan because Chris and I could take turns on non-stop passages from Goderich to the North Channel and then again on the trip home. Ananda could make good time, even if there was no wind and Chris had been there many times so there was no learning curve for the places to go, etc.

The wind had been blowing steadily for several days prior to our departure. July 24th, the day we left Goderich, the weather was fine but the lake was still very lumpy, with no pattern to the waves. As a result, the ride was really rough.

We pounded through the waves for several hours and, although we were in no danger, the ride was rough and not really a lot of fun. Eventually we came close to Kincardine and we made the decision to head into their marina for the night. This was a good decision. Amazing what a hot shower, a cold beer and a big steak can do to help you forget what a bad day it was out on the water. There’s always tomorrow.

The next day (July 25th) we set out again – determined to make it to Tobermory. Unfortunately, we were in the same rough water conditions that we had endured the day before. We pounded along until we reached Port Elgin and headed to their marina. Another good decision! There’s always tomorrow!

On day three (July 26th) we set out only to find that lake conditions were no better than they were the first two days. By the time we reached the vicinity of Stokes Bay we had had enough, so we changed course and headed in to Stokes Bay. The marinas in this area are too shallow for Ananda’s draft so we decided to anchor. After checking out a few spots we settled on a nice quiet space in the lee of a small island. The water there was like a mill pond and we had a very restful evening and night. There’s always tomorrow!

On day four (July 27th) we checked the weather forecast and learned that high winds, heavy rains and even tornado warnings were on the menu for various parts of Lake Huron –  so there would be no travelling today. We started looking for another place to anchor as our current location was not suitable for the wind direction forecast. We found another nice spot on the other side of the bay and settled in to wait out the weather. We didn’t encounter a lot of rain but the winds were really strong (consistently over 20 knots) and we sure had a fantastic lightning show! At one point during our vigil a “voice of doom” came blasting over the weather broadcast on our marine VHF radio issuing tornado and evacuation warnings for eastern Michigan – directly across the lake from where we were anchored! We later learned that Grand Bend, Ontario was hit by a tornado on that same day. Fortunately for us, we never experienced anything worse than some nearby lightning strikes and high winds.

On day five (July 28th) we realized that we were not going to make it any further north within our 7-day time frame so we hoisted anchor and headed towards home. Back into the washing machine! The water was still rough, but not quite as bad as on previous days. We pounded our way back to Port Elgin and a comfy dock. At least I was getting to know some “new” marinas! The marinas in Port Elgin and in Kincardine are nice places to stop on a passage. I’ll keep them bookmarked on my charts!

On day six (July 30th), the nicest day of our entire trip, we left Port Elgin and headed for Goderich. The waves were finally starting to settle down (it figures!) and we made good time back to Goderich. All things considered, I don’t have anything to complain about. I had a great week with a best buddy. We ate a lot of good food, shared numerous libations, told a lot of stories, and got some new material for future stories. That’s what I signed up for & there’s always next year!

Slideshow of highlights of the trip

(under construction – will be posted soon)