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2010.08.06 Vacation Cruise

The Vacation cruise will happen August 6 through August 15.  Our stops are: Algonac, MI; Lexington, MI; Sarnia, ON; Crystal Bay, ON; Bois Blanc Island, ON; and Leamington, ON.

2010 Vacation Cruise Pictures

We are back from the cruise and had a wonderful time!  Different vessels attended at different times during the cruise.  The following is a complete listing of all the vessels:

Steve & Anne Marie Adamson - Tranquility Base
Tom & Mike (son) Butler - Nansea
George & Joyce Davalla - Georgio
John & Charlotte Morar - Dun Sailin'
Bob & Stephanie Mueller - Funautical
Dave & Eileen Rickard - I-lean
Dan & Jan Stein - Blue Chip

6 August 2010
Our first stop was Algonac, MI.  This small town is just at the mouth of the St. Clair River, where it hits Lake St. Clair.  The first day of the trip, we had to cross Lake Erie, go up the Detroit River and cross Lake St. Clair.  Blue Chip, Nansea, Georgio, and Dun Sailin' left early in the morning and had a very nice and calm lake crossing.  Tranquiity Base and Funautical left later in the day and had a rougher crossing.  Once we all got in the rivers, the waves subsided and we all had a very nice ride!  The Algonac Harbour Club is really nice and the bathrooms were exceptionally clean. They have a good restaurant and really nice pool/hot tub.  Blue Chip had a small mechanical problem that was repaired very quickly by the staff at Algonac Harbour.  The members that arrived earlier spent the afternoon lounging by the pool and we all made it in time to have dinner at the Algonac Harbour Club Restaurant.

7 August 2010
The next day we walked into town and did some very light shopping.  We saw many nice houses and walked along a boardwalk along the river.  It always amazes me how blue the water is in this area.  Anne Marie Adamson swears that they dye the water that color.  After a few of us got lunch at Coney Island, we lounged by the pool the rest of the day.  After lounging by the pool we had a docktail party before dinner.  We ate dinner at a place called the Galley.  The Galley pays homage to Chris Craft boats.  Chris Craft was founded in Algonac, MI and Algonac was once known as the Speed Capital of the world for gas powered boats.  The restaurant had lots of Chris Craft parphenalia.  Including parts from boats attached to the walls.  It was a perfect setting for our dinner.  After dinner we got in the Hot Tub and enjoyed a soak until the hot tub closed at 11pm.

8 August 2010
On Sunday, we traveled from Algonac to Lexington, Mi.  Lexington is the first port in Lake Huron outside the St. Clair River. Just about everyone had to stop at the Algonac Harbour fuel dock before departure.  We cast off Dun Sailin' and Georgio first, as they were the slower boats.  The St. Clair River was a little bit rough with boat wake that afternoon as there were many, many boats headed Southbound.  We had a pretty stiff breeze from the West and I was concerned that Lake Huron might be a little bit choppy.  When we got to the lake, the lake was calm.  Luckily we had the East Coast (West Shore) of Michigan to give us a lee and we were able to run close enough to the shore so that we had a very nice ride.  The slower boats had left early enough that they arrived first at Lexington.  When they arrived the stiff breeze was still blowing from the West.  The wind provided some excitement while docking but eventually the boats were properly secured to the docks.  By the time the faster boats had arrived, the wind had died down. 

There was an Art Show that lasted until 5pm.  A few of the Ladies ran up to hit the art show before it closed.  After the Art Show, we had a docktail party while people showered and got ready for dinner.  A couple of us helped Tom Butler wrestle his Segway off the boat.  We had dinner at a place called the Cadillac House.  This Restaurant / Inn was started in 1860, the year that Abraham Lincoln was president!  We all had a very good dinner and then retired for the evening.

9 August 2010
Lexington is a great place for shopping!  There are many interesting shops with a large variety of options.  After shopping and lunch, we decided to hit the beach.  The water was very clear!  You could easily see the bottom in 6' - 7' of water.  Steve Adamson and I donned snorkels and snorkeled the entire breakwater that protects the Harbor.  Steve found a lost (and soggy) cell phone and a golf ball.  Others walked up the beach. The beach was a mix of sand and very rounded stones.  Members collected unique looking stones and Beach Glass while walking the beach.  After the beach we had a docktail party while people showered and dressed for dinner.  Dinner was at a Golf Course called Lakeview Hills CC.  The owner came and picked us up in a van.  He had to make two trips, but it was not that far.  We were slightly concerned because we were the only people in the restaurant all evening!  The waitress explained that Mondays are usually slow for the golf course.  Most in the group thought the food was excellent, while a few others were slightly less excited.  We retired to our boats after the owner took us back to the Marina.

10 August 2010
We were supposed to travel to Sarnia, ON this morning, but a heavy fog had rolled in overnight.  The fog was forecast to lift a little after noon.  A few people wanted to travel to Sarnia as soon as the fog lifted, while a few others were enjoying Lexington very much and wanted to stay another night.  They felt that by the time we got to Sarnia and got the boats tied up, it would be too late in the day to do much in Sarnia.  The group consensus was to stay at Lexington an extra day and skip Sarnia.  Tom Butler had a warning light for water in his fuel.  He had already arranged for a mechanic to look at his boat in Sarnia, so he left for Sarnia.  We ate lunch and spent the day at the beach again.  Most of the group went for a walk up the beach.  You could walk for a couple miles.  The sand was quite soft however, which gave you a pretty good workout while walking.  Stephanie went hunting for Beach Glass again.  She came away from Lexington with quite a large collection!  Steve Adamson and I went snorkeling again.  This time we ventured out much further.  The sun was out better this day and we were amazed by the water clarity.  We got out into 15' water depth and you could easily see the sandy bottom.  It was very pretty seeing the sunlight refract through the lake ripples and then reflect off the sandy bottom.  Steve had remarked that it was like the Bahamas!  We had heard about a shipwreck 0.9nm off the entrance to Lexington Harbor.  We wanted to take one of the boats over to the wreck to snorkel it.  We were not certain if the wreck was marked, and if we would be able to find it.  So we declined to untie a boat and search for the wreck.

We had another docktail party while people showered and got ready for dinner.  Tonight we dined at Steis's Village Inn.  This seemed like the locals favorite place as it was busier then the other two places we ate at.  We celebrated Joyce Davalla's birthday, and the restaurant bought her a complimentary shot for her birthday.  She decided on a "Dirty Girl Scout."  We all had a very good dinner and retired for the evening.

11 August 2010
Since we were skipping Sarnia, we were proceeding directly to the Anchor Out from Lexington.  Morar's had planned to leave us on this day, to join the other cruise up at Maumee Bay.  Davalla's had planned to stay with us, but they did not have I-68's and forgot to bring their passports.  They were nervous about the new reporting requirements, and decided to play it safe and travel with Davalla's to Maumee Bay so they never had to enter Canada.  So we cast off Dun Sailin' and Georgio and said our goodbye's.  Blue Chip, Tranquility Base and Funautical headed to the Anchor Out.  We had what was probably my most glorious lake crossing ever.  The lake was glassy smooth.  I decided to head over and see if I could find that wreck.  I immediately regretted not taking a boat out yesterday.  The wreck was very clearly marked with a mooring buoy that we could have tied a boat up to.  Not only that, the wreck was easily visible from the surface.  In 24' of water, we could easily make out ribs and spars of the hull.  Oh well, next year maybe we will give it a try!  The trip across Lake Huron was about as good as it gets and we were making very good time.  We entered the St. Clair River and then crossed back into Lake St. Clair.

While we were crossing Lake St. Clair, I decided to check the weather for the over night anchor out.  If the weather looked too bad for an Anchor Out we had planned to stay two nights (instead of one) at Boblo Island.  While checking the weather, I discovered a severe thunderstorm coming out of the West.  The Coast Guard had announced on VHF 16 that the storm was producing 40 mph winds!  We had planned to stop for fuel at Harbor Hill Marina.  We estimated that we would beat the storm there, so we proceeded to Harbor Hill in Downtown Detroit.  Harbor Hill graciously allowed us to stay at their marina for a couple hours while the storm passed overhead.  So we tied the boats up temporarily to ride out the storm.  The storm was a whole bunch of nothing where we were located.  It drizzled for a little bit and there was almost no wind.  I was watching it on the radar though.  The severe parts missed us to the South.  I am glad that we stopped, otherwise we would have been running through the worst of it!  Most of us took a nap during the stop.  After everything had passed we checked the weather once more before proceeding to the anchor out in Crystal Bay. 

The location of the Anchor out was Crystal Bay, in the Detroit River.  There are many weeds in the bay, and it can be difficult to get your anchor to bite really well through all the weeds.  Its fine if the winds are calm, but not the best place to ride out a storm.  There were more storms forecast to move through the area overnight, so we decided to skip the anchor out and proceed directly to Boblo Island Resort.  When we arrived at BobLo Island Resort, it was very quiet.  We hailed on the radio on VHF 68 a few times, but no one answered.  Luckily they had emailed our dock assignments to us in advance, so we tied ourselves up to our appropriate docks.  We got off the boats and walked around for a little bit.  The island is very quiet and very natural.  Lots of trees and well manicured grass.  There was an old amusement park (now abandoned) on the island.  We explored some dilapidated old buildings and structures as we walked down a well maintained path.  They have a restaurant on the island, but it is only open Thursday - Sunday.  The restaurant has a very pretty paver patio that overlooks Lake Erie and the river.  It had beautiful hanging flower pots from a pergula that covered the tables and chairs.  We had provisioned for our anchor out, so for dinner we decided to cook the food we planned to eat at the anchor out.  Since the restaurant was closed, we decided to haul the grill and food up and use their beautiful patio.  After dinner and clean up, we had a few drinks before retiring to the boats for the evening.

12 August 2010
We awoke the next morning and found dockmaster Harlan on duty.  After we paid for our docks, we were given a wristband that allowed us unlimited rides on the ferry over to the town of Amherstberg, Ontario on the Mainland.  We learned that the ferry runs every 20 minutes.  Stephanie and I went for a bike ride around the North end of the island.  There were many fine homes built on the island around the north end, along with a mid rise condo building.  I had assumed that these homes were all summer vacation homes, but I later learned different!  The majority of homes are full time residences.  Its kind of like living in a gated community, but you have a ferry to take across to the mainland instead of a gate!

We had planned to cook blueberry pancakes and some sausage links for breakfast at the anchor out, so that is what we made for everyone for breakfast that morning.  After breakfast, we rode the ferry into town for some shopping.  The town is really cute and very old.  This is where the British assembled their ships for the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.  There is a fort with some great explanation of the battle, although the explanation differs slightly from the explanation at Put-In-Bay.  After shopping we travelled back on the ferry to the island.  I asked if I could peek my head in the pilothouse of the ferry, and the pilot invited me up to the pilothouse!  Here it was Harlan, the dockmaster driving the boat.  He had his cell phone and a laptop up in the pilothouse so he could take marina reservations while he was docked and the cars were loading/unloading.  He does it all!  He explained the controls to me, which were very unusual.  It is a double ended boat.  It has two engines that face each other, with a prop at each end of the boat.  The boat never turns around.  At night, everytime he docks the boat to let the cars off, he flips a switch that reverses the red and green nav lights.  So they read properly for his direction of travel.  I also learned that the ferry runs 365 days a year, even on Christmas and New Years!  They have to break the ice in the winter.  I asked if the ice ever gets to thick to run the ferry.  He said that it does occasionally, but they have a contract with a tug in town that comes out to break the ice up for them.  The longest wait they have had to get off the island is a couple hours.  We got off the ferry and headed for a late lunch at the Marina restaurant.  We all had a very wonderful lunch that afternoon, as the food was excellent!  A few of us then went to enjoy the pool at the Marina, while a few others took an afternoon nap.  The pool was very nice and very warm.  The water was exceptionally clean.  Although no sign stipulated adults only, I don't think many kids use this pool.  After our swim, we showered up and took the ferry back into town for dinner.  We ate at a very fine Italian restaurant.  We enjoyed some fine wine and good company.

13 August 2010
That morning, Stephanie and I got up early for a bike ride.  The southern end of the island has more remnants of the amusement park and is very quiet and natural.  There are many trees and fields and well maintained paths.  We rode down to the southern tip of the island and found an abandoned light house and a nice beach.  The beach was a provincial park, and seemed very well maintained.  There was a volleyball net set up, along with really extensive jungle gym for the kids and horseshoe pits for the adults.

After we returned from our bike ride and made breakfast.  After breakfast we made preparations for departure.  Blue Chip had a Stein family function and was not able to make it to Leamington with us.  So we said our goodbyes and cast them off.  Tranquility Base and Funautical cast off shortly after and headed to Leamington.  Our trip across Lake Erie to Leamington was uneventful.  The lake was slightly rough.  A contrast to the smoothness of the rivers.  Once we got to Leamington, we met up with I-lean.  Dave & Eileen Rickard were not able to join us for the week cruise, but they joined us for the weekend at Leamington.

We had planned to pile on one of the boats and go to Pelee Island that afternoon.  But shortly after we tied up at Leamington, the winds started to pick up.  We thought it might be better to wait until tomorrow.  We decided to take the public bus into downtown Leamington for some shopping.  There are not a whole lot of shops downtown.  We walked up and down Talbot Street for a bit before catching the bus back to the Marina.  After we got back we walked over to Seacliff to get dinner and then retired to bed.

14 August 2010
The next day, the winds were still blowing pretty good.  We could have made it over to Pelee Island, but decided against it.  Instead of going over to Pelee Island on the boat, we decided to check out the Pelee Island Winery on the mainland.  All the grapes for Pelee Island Winery are grown on the island, then transported to the mainland.  The mainland facility then converts the grapes into wine.  I had done the tour of the Island facility to learn about the growing of the grapes a few years ago.  It was fun to get the rest of the story and do the tour here on the mainland.  The tour included 6 wine tastings, which we accepted all of them!  There were two weddings going on at the same time, so their normal tasting rooms were closed off to the public.  All their corporate offices are located at this facility, so the staff opened up their board room and allowed us to purchase a couple of bottles to drink in the board room.  It was a fun experience as the room was surrounded with bottles of wine that had won various awards and were put away in a special box.  We had to promise the staff that we would not open any of these collections!

After the winery tour we returned to the Marina.  The Shriners were doing a steak roast as a fundraiser at the Marina.  We decided to join their fundraiser and had a great time with them!  After dinner, we stayed up late on the boats.  Having a few drinks and good conversation and the end to a good vacation. 

15 August 2010
The next morning we shoved off from Leamington and headed home.  It was a very uneventful lake crossing.  Not too rough, but not perfectly smooth.  We had some wind from the Southwest that kept us alert, but without any pounding.  We were able to get into the lee of Pelee Island to smooth things out really nice.  Once we got off the Southern tip of Pelee Island, things got a little bit more bouncy again.  But not for long, before we started to get in the lee of Marblehead and Catawba.

I thank everyone that attended this cruise with us.  We had a really great time!  I look forward to doing it again!