Superior was a great lake in many respects. It was huge. It was beautiful. It was remote. It was wild. The superlatives form a long list. After getting off Lake Superior the other Great Lakes didn’t really compare and simply became miles to cover before getting to the Erie Canal. The St. Claire River, Lake St. Claire, and the Detroit River lie between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. We had about a 3 knot current pushing us down the St. Claire River into Lake St. Claire. Canada to port and the United States to starboard like it had been since the Soo. Lake St. Claire was a much larger version of Polson Bay on Flathead Lake. The entire lake seemed to be less than 20 feet deep and we encountered a steep chop as once again we had the wind directly on the nose for the entire crossing. Lake St. Claire empties into the Detroit River just above Detroit, MI. We considered trying to get into one of the “highbrow” yacht clubs but in the end opted to stay at the state marina in downtown Detroit. We got in kind of late so we didn’t get out of the marina for a walk but it was still interesting watching the city go by from our cockpit.
From Detroit, it was back into the Detroit River for the trip into Lake Erie. The river took on an industrial character south of Detroit and of course we had the company of our freighter friends.
Unfortunately, the weather started acting up almost immediately so we ended up pulling into a marina in Wyandotte, MI that had seen better days. Despite the assurance of the manager that there was plenty of water, we ran aground softly just as we got into our slip. The bottom was thick, soft mud so no harm but still inconvenient.
From Wyandotte we headed downstream to Lake Erie and Put In Bay on Middle Bass Island in Ohio. Put In Bay is major tourist destination for Ohio boaters and we were told not to miss it so we stopped there. Along with the swim up bars, restaurants, and shops, Put In Bay is known for Commodore Perry’s naval victory in the war of 1812. We had a great view of the Perry Monument from our mooring ball in the harbor. The view of the harbor from the top of the monument was even more impressive. We were also treated to an impressive fireworks show over the bay in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. We had the best view in the house as Noodin was front and center in the harbor.
From Put In Bay it was on to Huron, Ohio where we spent a few days waiting on weather before getting a brief weather window to make a 120nm (24 hour) overnight run to Erie, PA.
We spent about a week in Erie waiting on another weather system and had a chance to explore some of the city by foot and public transit. Grocery shopping takes on a whole new dimension when it involves a half mile walk to and from the bus stop and then a half hour bus ride. Just part of living the dream I guess.
From Erie, PA we had two more travel days to get to Tonawanda, NY where we would take the mast down for the Erie Canal trip. The only place to stop in between was Dunkirk, NY. After docking in the crappy (no other word fits) public marina we decided to see if we could move to the nearby Dunkirk Yacht Club. They had an open slip so we moved on over and were greeted by some of the worlds friendliest people. It seemed as though everyone had been out cruising and had experienced the lifestyle that we are beginning. We were treated to a gourmet dinner and great conversation with wonderful people. Truly a wonderful experience.
The next day it was onto Buffalo, NY and the end of Lake Erie. The day after, it was a short jaunt to Tonawanda, NY on the Niagara River and preparation for our trip down the Erie Canal.