Sep 1 & 2, Days 250 & 251 Coastal Skippin’

Have you ever wondered why the Great Lakes are called the Great Lakes? Maybe you thought it was because they’re big, but that’s not it. It’s because they are HUGE! We are skipping down the west coast of Michigan and there is nothing to see on our starboard side. It’s no different that running down the west coast of the US. We need to be very careful to watch wind speed and direction because we are in a small boat for the types of seas that can kick up.


9-2 water
Yep, it’s a very big body of water!


With all that in mind we checked the weather in Mackinac and decided to head south before the Labor Day crowd. People at the marina lazily gazed at our little Bayliner from the bridges of their parked 40 and 50 footers with nary a thought of venturing out. Hmmm… what did these locals know? In this league, I guess it’s go big and stay at home (or at the marina in this case). Off we went into the Mackinac Straight and on to the little town of Petoskey. Go Bayliner, go Bayliner…. (to the tune of “Speed Racer”)


9-2 rocks
Apparently, Petoskey is home to the “famous” Petoskey Stone. Basically it’s like a wet t-shirt contest… fairly round, smooth and bland; but then you throw a little water on them and your interest is piqued! (Editors note: Just for the record…. that sentence is word for word from B…. the mind reels at her knowledge). The stones above have just been dunked. Prior to dunking they were generic grey rocks. B insists she’ll polish these, but in the meantime we’ve got more weight on board. 


The trip to Petoskey wasn’t too bad. Who knows what those big boys were worried about. We’ve finally just said “that’s enough” on this engine break in stuff and cranked back up to our regular cruise speed and held it there. Motor sounds good and it’s nice to get up on top of the waves. Bye bye 8 knot trawlers!


9-2 zig
B’s mornings generally involve trying to get cute Ziggy shots…..



9-2 dog
…meanwhile walking with N…. whaddya mean the afternoon cannon demo is canceled?!


We have a general plan for getting to Chicago, but only planning one day at a time and playing it by ear.


9-2 charl
We’d hoped to stop in Charlevoix, but docks were full so we pulled in for a peek then headed back out to the lake through this narrow channel (header pic is Charlevoix as well)


Big water notwithstanding, we’ve been astounded by how great the boating is in this part of the world. Seems like every 30 to 40 miles along the coast there is a little town with a great municipal marina, restaurants, breweries and lots else to go visit. The lake itself is crystal clear although it’s a lot colder than it was up North! That seems weird, but it’s probably because the lake is significantly bigger and there aren’t the same rock formations going into the water.

From Petoskey, we went to Leland Harbor. 


9-2 lee 3
Pic from the restaurant we ate at. Tables outside were nice, but we’re outside all day so we like to be inside.



9-2 car
I know it’s a boat trip, but check this out. Super nice GTO convertible parked outside a store in town. Blow up the picture. The keys are in the ignition! Where can you do that?! Leland Harbor, MI I guess.



9-2 lee 2
Here’s another one…. Honor system wood selling and money box not bolted down…. clearly they do not have a meth problem in Leland Harbor!


Now we’ve made it Frankfort. Along the way we’ve passed Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and rocked through 6 to 8-foot seas.


9-2 dune
Really amazing MASSIVE sand dunes in Northern MI. Who knew?



9-2 wave
Normally I would try to level this out, but since you can’t see the waves, this gives you an idea of how hard it was to take a level pic of this mega dune.



9-2 beach
Check it out… this is a beach in MI! We sure were happy to see that lighthouse marking the entrance to Frankfort harbor.


Yeah, the latter was sort of a mistake! We’re going to be a bit more vigilant in future.  


9-2 wave
B took this screen shot while horizontal on the cabin floor below. Her comment… WTF, this NOAA chart says we’re in <2′ seas, what the heck is Trump’s problem with accuracy?!

OK, it’s Saturday night and need to sign off here to allow time to get into town and look for a place where N can better understand B’s whole perspective on Petoskey Stones!


Aug 27-31; Days 245-249 Back, Back, Back in the U.Ssss.-Aaaay!

We walked a mile or so late in the afternoon from the nice marina into and around the little town of Blind River–our last Canadian town.  It was a ghost town with for sale signs and closed-permanently signs on practically every commercial building in the 3 block core. Very few cars and even fewer people were out.   That same experience repeated itself (save for one little grocery store and one diner) at DeTour, Michigan…our first US town.  Sort of sad and anti-climactic!  BUT  we did subsequently learn that, at least with respect to the for sale signs, it is a common test- the -market (aka hope for a rich city- dreamer to stumble in the door???)  at the end-of -the-season phenomena in these small tourist-driven summer-only towns.


2017-8-29 blind river sunrise last
Last Canadian sunrise –for THIS trip.  Clouds and winds blew in well before we departed for our 20 mile open water crossing. Mother Canada must have wanted to try to get us to stay! In fact, due to the weather, we weren’t planning on making the crossing….but as we approached we just decided to get it done and veered southward out of the harbor of another likely ghost town-Thessalon.  So without much acknowledgment to the fact we had just bypassed what was supposed to be our last night in Canada we plowed ahead.

As we hit a big mile marker on our total trip odometer, B and Z rose from their rocking wave refuge on the lower floor and we coincidentally left Canada.  A few fun facts (from our standpoint): We were in Canada from June 16 to August 27; covered a total of 1296 miles locking, docking and zig zagging as we got to know Quebec and Ontario provinces, dipped our bow in Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, St Lawrence River, and uncountable other cities, towns, rivers, lakes, and islands;  51 total days enjoying the sights from land and water of which 35 were actually underway; and 22 days escaped home to visit the new baby and get some boat repairs.

2017-8-30 7000 miles canada border
Wow! 7000 miles since we started this trip…nearly a year ago! US Customs waiting for us on Drummond Island.
2017-8-29 n drummond shopping USA
N couldn’t wait to get off the customs dock and support the local economy! Oh yay!  ANOTHER baseball cap! (ok, ok…at least it doesn’t take up very much room). Oh and by the way, the guy behind N cleared customs right after we did—he declared all the bear meat and skins/fur he had on board after his hunting trip. That was a first to hear at a border!

Customs and shopping was quick and easy so we took a little jump over to quiet DeTour Village, Michigan for our first night back. Michigan DNR has a nice (and relatively inexpensive) collection of marinas which, as of this writing, we have made use of at 3 different spots.  Certainly THE best “deal” at tourist haven Mackinac Island….where rooms range from 300-1500 a night. yikes…give me my Bayliner and a marina in the center of all the action any day!

Mackinac Island can only be reached by boat or ferry (which, ok, i guess a ferry technically IS a boat) (well, actually i think there is a little airport too). OH,,,,and Ok!… in the winter you can take a lamp lit/christmas tree lined “track” by snowmobile over the ice there too.  BUT there are NO motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Everything is on foot–pedaling, walking or horse transport!  It was a really great way to re-enter “civilization” after all those days at anchor on the remote islands.

2017-8-30 night shot mackinac town
Mackinac by night
2017-8-29 hay delivery
You’d probably expect this hay delivery wagon.
2017-8-29 amazon delivery
But would you expect truckloads and truckloads of Amazon Prime!??  I guess Jeff Bezos would!  The horses even pull big loads of construction material and dumpsters of garbage back and forth to the far side of the island for barge pick up off the beach.
2017-8-30 flowers mack
Pretty Victorian houses and seaside cottages with flowers galore everywhere.


2017-8-30 mack main st
The main drag by day. Only about 3 blocks long. Mostly fudge. Yes, we bought some. Yes, it’s almost gone.
2017-8-30 port view fr fort
View from the old fort.  Plenty of empty slips at the marina while we were there.  But it filled up for Labor Day weekend.
2017-8-30 grand hotel longest porch
Hard to tell because it is a panorama shot….but this is THE longest porch in the world! 366 feet long at the Grand Hotel. 
2017-8-30 grand hotel ext
Here’s the exterior of the Grand Hotel—See the length??  The hotel was last remodeled in 1970-something. Edgy, pseudo modern, nauseating, near-gaudy.  But it’s famous and booked solid from June til October. ..when the ice hits.

Although REALLY fun, the problem with renting a tandem bike is that it’s hard to take a picture of the person/dog you are biking with!

2017-8-30 N z tandem
The ONLY state highway that does not allow motorized vehicles!  Really fun…except listening to N complain about horse poop everywhere!


2017-8-30 arch rck N B Z
We biked the 8 miles around.  That was good because if we had taken the criss-crossing roads through the interior, we would have had a hilly route!  A good leg stretch at the really pretty arch.
2017-8-30 arch
Before leaving the last morning, we walked some of the interior roads and trails.  We made it back and up to the top of the arch for the view seaward.
2017-8-30 no hammocking
“No Hammocking”.  I actually did not see one No Loitering sign in the town area.  Is this their version? And who turns nouns into verbs?  And besides, now don’t you just WANT to hammock here…..these trees are perfect!

We probably would have stayed another day on Mackinac Island, but weather is looming and we actually have several days of big exposure as we make our way south along the coast of Lake Michigan to Chicago….so we pushed off in light winds and a little choppy, swelly water.

2017-8-30 mackinaw bridge
As we crossed under the Mackinac Bridge that connects Mackinaw CITY to the more remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it actually felt more like “crossing a border” than our earlier actual entry a few days ago.  NOW I feel like we are in the USA.


Aug 23-26, Days 240-244 Rocks, Rocks and More Rocks

With much trepidation we pulled out of Killarney with our 30 hours old motor and second new (re-built) outdrive. It took thousands of miles to become confident with our original set-up and that was in an environment where if something went wrong we were a stone’s throw from help (not to mention having functioning internet!). This leg of our journey really has us in the outback heading north and west before taking the big left down to Michigan. Blowing the clutch on the first new outdrive did not inspire confidence. If something goes wrong here we are literally up a creek (in a lake actually) without a paddle. Well, we do have a paddle, but we can’t really use it! Anyway, you get the idea.

After five days in Killarney N was going crazy. Three days were due to waiting for our new parts, but the other two were down to weather. At one point N took the dinghy into the bay to judge “just how bad” the water really was.

8-26 waves
Not sure you get the idea from this pic, but just outside relatively protected Killarney it was blowing for days!
8-26 sign
You start to notice small things in a small town when you’re there for 5 days. Not sure what caused this sign, but there are a number of establishments in other towns that could use the same!

Although there are lots of islands up here, there is still tons of huge open water and 20 mph winds can really whip up some waves (the winds caused one 50’ cruiser at the marina to break loose with the finger dock it was tied to!). After much prevaricating, the RioMarLago crew negotiated a settlement to get the “heck outta Dodge” on Wednesday afternoon. We only went three miles, but our destination was a great anchorage called Covered Portage. A small step, but progress and movement was good for the sake of the order.

8-26 cliff
It was a little grey and chilly, but it was good to get underway. See our boat at anchor in Covered Portage.
8-26 liff 2_LI
If you blow up this pic you can see B and Z at the top of the same ridge in the previous picture.


8-26 head
Check out this rock! Can you see the indian face?

The stretch beyond Killarney takes us to the northernmost point of our journey on Lake Huron before we take the big turn south to Michigan. Cruising in this stretch is more and more remote with plenty of anchoring as we travel through the North Channel up to near where Lake Huron meets with Lake Superior. From Covered Portage we went to Baie Fine where we anchored then hiked up a trail to Topaz Lake (pic in header) before having lunch and a swim then heading to Little Current.


8-26 bf
At anchor in Baie Fine.


8-26 toilet
So we’re out traipsing around this lake when lo! A sign we are not the first!
8-26 hroom
…it’s OK Ziggy, those are really good eating!

The latter is the last stop to get any kind of serious kind of provisioning done before getting to the US so we loaded up for the big push to the border.

8-26 lc
It’s still August, but the season is winding down up here as evidenced by all the empty slips at Little Current.
8-26 broad
This guy gives a daily news broadcast then has boat from around Georgian Bay and the North Channel call in their position. He’s had as many as 190 call in. There were 70 the day we were there. OK, so maybe this might seem a little boring, but it was cool to attend (once) and listen. Especially hearing boats radio in that we’d seen all over the place.
8-26 store
This was the “big” store we came across in Kagawong after leaving Little Current! Not much here, but there was a chocolatier next door where B was able to find “provisions”.


8-26 church
Check this out! Full steam ahead to heaven….the pulpit is a converted ships bow and a ship’s anchor wheel more prominently displayed than the cross. 


Anchoring out has been great. It’s amazing to think people will be out ice fishing in these areas in a few months when right now the water temp is perfect for a daily morning swim…. ok “swim” might suggest a level of energy we’re not necessarily achieving, but still, it’s fun to jump in. No need for those marina showers.    


8-26 b2
B took a morning swim to the boat while Ziggy observed from shore. This was a fantastic anchorage in the Benjamin Islands. None of the big boats dared sneak into this little spot so we had it to ourselves.


8-26 rock2
No idea how these trees survive basically living on solid granite, but it makes for some cool walking paths. Very zen.


8-26 rock6
OK, so we smashed up our props/outdrive/motor on rocks a month ago, but you gotta get back up on the hoss! Navigated this channel after first inspecting it by dinghy.

After enjoying our great anchorage in the Benjamin’s we headed out for points west.


8-26 water
Speaking of zen, pretty spectacular scenery when the sun is out!

I think our last days in Canada will be here at Blind River waiting for weather….oh wait, there’s a golf course! Maybe we’ll stay an extra day.


8-26 golf
N found a truly spectacular golf course in the middle of nowhere. Maybe the local uranium mine funded it to keep employees happy….whatever, N’s score was certainly radioactive!

OK…that’s it for now. We are totally looking forward to first world internet in the coming days! RioMarLago, out.






Aug 22; Day 239 Sittin’ in Killarney (proof reading)

Really this post is just to get the yesterday’s post’s completion to trigger! So to see it you may have to scroll down past the home page on the actual  site.    It does have some typos and other issues…primarily  though, it seems to have left off at least one key paragraph:  the one about WHY we were towing the boat!  Here it is because I simply cannot get back into that post to correct and inseert it to the part immediately before the picture of Nick in his green coat in the dinghy::

“Even  the weather cooperated, the Bayliner Beast did not.  About 3 miles shy of our destination, a screaming jolt emitting from the engine area stopped us dead in our tracks…or rather made our wake crash up onto the stern swimstep.  What the —-????   Seriously??  How can this be?  No shallows, no rocks on the chart, new engine gingerly broken in, no crabpots (remember this is a lake afterall). UGH! Ok, well time for ANOTHER first: let’s tow ‘er in.”

In the meantime, here’s a view of Killarney waterfront –a town of 400. It only got its first road to it about 45 years ago so everything along its 3 block length has a dock.  Not only do you pull up to the dock for gas but you also pull up to the liquor store, the grocery store, the icecream store and a variety of restaurants at each of their individual little docks. “Parking” is limited to 30 minutes at most places!  haha

Lots of Loopers passing through. Some we met last Fall way up on the river; others we’ve read about on the Looper forum.

Ok we only have a handful of Canadian towns to pass by on THIS adventure so winding towards Lake Michigan and Chicago on the horizon.  Check back again. We’ll try to post as often as possible. Hope all your retinas are intact after eclipse gazing!

Augusts 14 -21; Days 231-238   Georgian Bay: Epitome of Nature’s  Beauty…. and the Beast Bayliner


Ok, Ok… I know we aren’t posting as often as we should be; but seriously, the internet connectivity is a REAL problem here.  And now that is compounded by multiple nights at anchor in the middle of nowhere which in and of itself has been compounded by a 3 day small craft warning requiring us to hole-up  where we are lucky to get a sporadic half-bar signal a couple of times a day.  That’s where I sit as I start to write this…hopefully we will make it out to a town of 400 by Sunday the 20th and hopefully there will be connectivity there!  We’ll see.

In the meantime, the days are blurring together so perhaps the photos here will not be in exact chronological order (but unless you are omniscient (or have been here) you probably won’t know the difference!)

The bottom line (from this perch that feels like the top of the world) is the soul-fulfilling visual trip caused by the geology formations.  Georgian Bay and the adjoining North Channel, is a mere sub section of Lake Huron –separated from the main body of Lake Huron by the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. Georgian Bay alone is almost as large as Lake Ontario.  The whole area is famously referred to as the Canadian Shield with its igneous and metamorphic bedrock exposed by the passage of time and the last ice age—kinda like a rock yamaka perched on the top of Canada.

2017-8-21 big chart overview
Here’s a big picture of the area we are boating in for a few weeks.


The northern shore is dotted with literally thousands and thousands of solid rock islands and even more wannabe, little islands the size of cars, busses and large houses (some of which are dangerously submerged under merely 6-12inches of water)—hence, the area is called 30,000 Islands.  They are the mere remnants of 39,000 foot mountains that were formed with the accumulations of multiple layers of volcanic molten from over 150 different volcanic belts.  And the shallow waters between all the islands and the mainland are lined with that same solid rock…making anchoring sometimes tricky!

Stunningly beautiful, impossible to capture in a photo, and treacherous if you meander out of the channel for a blink.  (kinda sounds like a teen describing his first crush!) Here is a geologic sampling to give you an idea of what we’ve had in the last week.

2017-8-15 wreck island beach

2017-8-15 wreck i molten rock hardened

2017-8-19 grey peach best


2017-8-17 wreck is
Imagine the hot molten lava swirling down and cooling at water’s edge…or maybe there was no water yet?
2017-8-16 white vein
No,  not a property line…NOR graffiti… just a big long white vein! Looking at the rocks is like going to the granite store for your kitchen counter top…every hue: black, grey, pink, white, red. Some solid others with layers, veins, and warps
2017-8-15 moss etc sandy bay
  And from every crack, crevice and depression a little pocket of accumulated decomposing leaf and sand or thin layer of soil makes a home for bright green moss, muted lichen, grasses and then the occasional tree and bush.
2017-8-21 parry sound
A zoomed in overview of just Parry Sound area– a tiny section from the bigger navigation chart (Parry Sound Harbor is on the right hand side in the first chart above)  Shows the mazes between the islands and the water. Remember there are over 30,000 of these land chunks!
2017-8-16 zig zagging thru hairpin turns
Zig zagging our way through the mazes.  We frequently have to make hairpin turns on this journey! Literally and figuratively it seems!

It is actually impossible to get a feel for all this geology and aura by photo (and certainly even less possible by words alone)…you’ll just have to make the journey.  Georgian Bay is so cool that it actually inspired the second best art work of all of Canada (behind the amazing British Columbia totem poles of the Salish and other Firsts):  The Work of the Group of 7.

2017-8-20 group of 7 4 part art
Around the 1920’s, they famously collectively committed to exploring art through the unique character of the Canadian landscape and, in particular, Georgian Bay, With nationalistic sentiment and a break from the European tradition their work reflects a distinct Canadian identity. Up here you see reference to their work allllll over!

2017-8-20 group of 7 art

And here’s my photographic version of the above:

2017-8-21 phto like group of 7
Just missing the stormy clouds!  But i’ll take those blue skies over what we had a few days later…even at the sacrifice of an artistic pic!

So that’s the geology stuff….here’s a smattering of the rest of the week.  Our highlights have included Beausoleil, Monument Channel (a big hang out for the Group of 7 artists), Wreck Island, Sandy Bay, Strawberry Island in the Bustards.  We’ve also stopped at Killbear Park, Parry Sound (for a harrowing taxi ride to the grocery store and back),and  Ojibway Club for gas and a look around at their nice getaway locale.  Here’s a collection of shots of some of our stops, scenery and beautiful anchorages:

A few pix that got left off from our boating time with the Canadians last week: pancake delivery…..and yes! WITH Canadian maple syrup, double rainbow after a thunderstorm/rain dump; dinghy safari to the rapids.

Sandy Bay:

2017-8-16 sunset pano sandy bay

2017-8-16 sandy bay from high
At anchor ….noone else in sight.


Hers and His Ways to Explore

2017-8-16 sunset sandy favorite
This was perhaps our favorite anchorage during the whole 6800 miles to date.


Although we do see little cabins and large homes  along the shore more frequently than you might expect, often you would be hardpressed to know humans had even passed by.  But here are a few “signs” hard to read: “Site of the original barril denoting safe passage thru turbulent waters” barrel marks ; quintessential island with sign marking towns; and cuter than average arched cairn.


Strawberry Island in the Bustard Islands Group:

2017-8-17 bustards pano strawberry

We took shelter here for 2+ days of a storm/small craft advisory.  It also happened to be N’s birthday (a big one, btw, …just sayin!!)


2017-8-17 sunny bday eve at anchor better
Stern tied and ferried back and forth to shore in motor disturbing the solitude…nor heave ho’s from rowing!


2017-8-17 blueberry crack
Blueberries! Fortunately the rough and ready (and yummily ripe in August!)  blueberry has taken ahold on some of these outcroppings! Just 20 feet from the stern.
2017-8-17 blueberry patch patience
A whole patch on the warm side of the little island: Our backyard!  Wild berry picking is for the patient person….or in the alternative one becomes patient while wild berry picking. Either way, it’s good for the soul!
2017-8-17 blueberry pickins
How handy—a birthday gift for N!   Doesn’t get much better than vine ripened, fresh picked (with love!), wild, organic, non-gmo blueberries!
2017-8-17 bday blow
Happy Birthday! Brownie and yogurt with the blueberries and donut peaches (from Washington)  snatched up at the Parry Sound grocery store!
2017-8-18 rain strawberry
Big storm blows n as i write this but we were tucked into our nice little anchorage where it’s calm….but still wet!

Being holed up for 3 days in one spot on a 28 foot boat under weather watch, with no generator for back-up power, shore excursions onto patches of land the mere size of a double-wide, no “third parties” to interact with could  lead  to ____( I’ll let you fill in the blank!)  But seriously, B was fine with her naps, tiny island explorations, minimal reading, rock yoga and swimming (aka skinny dipping)  while N barely hung in there with a morning swim/shower, ipad solitaire, finishing all his books on his kindle and cleaning non-stop….suffice to say “ I’m going expletive deleted insane” was his mantra. As this is typed, he has actually announced he will simply leave B (and presumably Z) on shore with a tarp and sleeping bag and make the crossing, regardless of condition, and return when the weather is better. With that pronouncement the loons started their wailing, haunting call and lyrical return whistle  that we’ve grown accustomed to.   Not sure what they were communicating to us with but it did sooth!

Well,  after watching the big sailboats that were in the abutting small inlet all scoot out earlier, N managed to hang in there and we sat out the weather watch  for the second night in a row under even bigger winds that attacked us from a different direction than the prior night.  We were fine after adding our second anchor (in addition to our really great and well-set anchor AND the stern tie).  We fared the night well and, in the morning, after checking about 4 websites by holding our arm up in the air to get a one-dot-signal and waiting for downloads of weather, wave and wind info, pulled up anchors and brought in the stern tie and headed out to take a peak and maybe make the 20 mile crossing back to the mainland.

2017-8-19 ready to cross N

2017-8-19 dinghy tow
Here’s N making slow but steady headway pulling the boat into Killarney.   Ok I have to admit that one fun thing about the whole event was that a monarch butterfly  (they are on their way back across the Great Lakes right now to Valle de Bravo, Mexico) flittered and followed N and his lime green rain coat for about 10 minutes and then abruptly turned left and headed southward.  Despite the flitting, it was so intent on its whole purpose and,personally, I thought it was a good omen!
2017-8-19 tow ropes to NVR
Tying up for a more efficient tow
2017-8-19 towed by nvr
Loopers Jim and Jeff from NVR II NAUTI towed us in!  Actually, we think the boat should be re-named: NVR II NAUTI AND NICE ! Thanks for the ride!

Made it to Killarney! It’s cute and one of the last Canadian “towns” for us.  They have some fresh oysters on the half shell flown in here! Yay! Ok not the cheapest on the trip (well, to be honest definitely  the most expensive…) but we indulged after our tough last few days and enjoyed while relishing in how really bad that whole problem could have been.

2017-8-20 dingy ride rescue
We ventured out in the dinghy to explore and take a swim….and ended up rescuing a father/son duo who had flipped in their rented canoe…that was fun!

We now sit, at a nice dock, slooooowllllly downloading and re-uploading to the blog website one pic (REPEATEDLY (btw. this is about my 4th attempt at getting this posted) at a time, wrapping up this writing and (happily) waiting for the mechanics from Orillia (who replaced the engine a few weeks ago) to drive up on Monday.  Phone diagnosis is the clutch and they plan to just fully replace the outdrive to be done with the matter….hmmmmm. ok—it’s all on warranty—yay!

OK you’ve heard of concierge doctors, personal chefs and life coaches, right!  Does this guy look familiar?

As this attempts to upload to the world of Blog,  Supermechanic Kyle (also known as pancake deliveryman (see above photo!)  and his buddy (prbably an even more super mechanic) have just arrived (after a 4 hour drive from Orillia!!)–luckily not quite a personal mechanic but being under warranty is the next best thing!

Let’s see, more on all that later. In the meantime, enjoy that eclipse wherever you are!

Epilogue:  Posting this at 3 am when wifi connectivity is a bit better (but still some tech difficulties…so post isn’t perfect   and ….ok, yes,  I might appear dedicated!  aka obsessed! but the reality is that there is a major lightening and thunder storm right now so might as well do this while i enjoy the scene.  and yes, the boat trial was a success… outdrive slammed in quickly (and under warranty!)…but bad weather for a few days so looks like we’ll be in Killarney even longer! Yikes…need to get off the Great Lakes by the first week of September or the weather will be even more problematic! Cue the thunder rolls outside!

Jul 15 – Aug 13 Days 230-238 (on the water) Where’s Waldo?

Holy smokes, how long has it been?! If you’re going to break something mechanical, there’s no point going for half measures. Turns out in addition to the propellers, we damaged the outdrive and blew the motor. So, we basically had to get brand new everything to continue the journey…. you go Bayliner! The good news is that N finally allowed himself to file an insurance claim for something (that’s why it’s called accident insurance) and the better news was that it was 100% covered! That’s right, one brand new drivetrain coming up.

We left the boat for repairs at a little marina off the Trent Severn Waterway in Orillia, Canada, and headed home. B was perfectly delighted to get her grandma time in early and for longer than planned (we’d always intended to go home in late July for two weeks so with this damage we got an extra week)


8-11 baby
B was happy with her daily grandma routine with young Malcolm!


while N got to get his annual moto trip around WA in and play a lot of golf.


8-11 moto
OK, it’s been a boating blog, but the title includes “by land” so here’s some land action. North Cascades Hwy!



8-11 moto2
WA weather was great for biking! Early morning one hand shot at 70mph!




8-11 marina
Here’s what a motorcycle “marina” looks like! NO, that trike is not N’s!



8-11 moto 3
OK, ok, it’s about boating, but c’mon, tough to beat WA state in the July sunshine. N rode right through here!


8-11 golf
…plenty of time left for golf!


The weather back home was absolutely amazing with sunshine and blue skies every day unlike Canada where the summer has been unseasonably rainy and cool. Oh well!

We were delighted monitoring the marina from afar as they hit every milestone, communicated regularly, and got the work done on-time and at budget. We returned to Canada August 6th to find our RioMarLago peacefully floating at the dock with a beautifully clean bilge filled with a brand new shiny motor. There was some concern about the motor’s performance with our custom 22” props as the boat felt slow to get onto plane and the marina guys simply could not believe she could be that underpowered. Uhmmm…. you go Bayliner price point strategy! Mechanics convinced N to swap to smaller prop to save engine…. more on that later.


Coming out of the water yet again!



8-11 prop
Long prop discussion! Yes, the swim step look grossly stained with tannins, but N has subsequently cleaned it up.


After a careful briefing in which N was told our new motor requires special care during its 20-hour break-in period including no time above 70% throttle and no more than 10 minutes at one constant rpm, we were off. It was good to be underway once more, but OMG…. this engine break-in stuff is tedious.


8-1 pic
Reduce the hairline and remove the beard and you have the Captain of RioMarLargo. 


At least we had the Big Chute and last of the locks to look forward to before finally entering Georgian Bay. We made it from Orillia to the Big Chute in one day, but decided to stay up river and watch how this “lock” operated before simply jumping in. We’re glad we did!


8-11 chute 3
End of the bay, end of the line…. nope, you take this railway contraption up and over!



8-11 chute 2
…it truly is unbelievable. Multiple boats on a “rail car”.



8-11 chute 5
Scene from the helm as we descend.



8-11 chute
Then you’re plopped in the water and you boat away! 


Now we’re in Georgian Bay which is at the top of Lake Huron. This is major “cottage” (Canadian for beach house) country with all sorts of homes scattered across what are seemingly thousands of little rocky islands and inlets.


8-11 island
Check it out! Channel marker smack in middle of island. Which way to go? Notice house on tiny island.


The boating is great, BUT you gotta watch the markers because there’s no sand to hit here, only rocks!


8-11 props
The local grocery store figures it pays out to stock props! Should tell you something. 


We ended up getting invited to a Canadian cruising rendezvous (Canadians are amazingly friendly!) so we took some time out to join their trip (see pic in header).


8-11 riv
Narrow little cut on way to Georgian Bay.



8-11 water
If you’ve gotta go at 25% throttle you ight as well have some nice scenery! Notice N’s standard optical fashion…. 2x’ers over sunglasses!


It was just as well since it afforded N an opportunity to get fully frustrated with the smaller pitch props and conclude we need to go big or go home (or break…again!). The smaller pitch props don’t get the boat going as fast as the 22’s at the same rpms so we burn more gas and go slower…. who does that? Anyway, we’re going to switch back to our 22’ props and fortunately we’re close to a place affiliated with the place we had the initial work done so we’ll swap out. We’ve lost count of how many haul outs we’ve had… you go Bayliner!


8-11 water 2
Whatever the speed there are some awesome little channels and bays to negotiate. 


8-11 water 3
So one guy did jump in and swim this waterfall… we didn’t!




8-11 lake
We’ve also found amazing anchorages. In this case it was a short walk from the boat to this island lake. Wait, it was a lake on an island in a lake! Whoa! 


Speaking of traveling in Canada, we’re learning all sorts of things. For example, when we see a sign that says NO WAKE ZONE, we assume it means slow down and leave no wake, but apparently here in Canada it’s different. Seems there was a universal typo where ALL the signs were meant to read NO, WAKE ZONE! See the comma? So, you’re supposed to leave a HUGE wake whenever you see the sign like as you pass marinas, cottages, etc.…. who would have known!? Also, if someone asked you if you needed “hydro”, whaddya think? Water maybe? Nope, it’s power! Of course, electricians are electricians, but they work on hydro!


8-11 boqt
She’s ALIVE! Here we are powering ahead across Georgian Bay! 


OK, time to get this post posted and pass the baton. RioMarLago out!


July 11-14 ; Days 226-229  On the Precipice

Ok, ok… 16 days since the last post is probably a record. All the usual (and one new one) excuses; bad or non-existent internet/connectivity, boat issues generating frustrating moods, trip home and…… the new grandbaby!

In summary, we flew home a few days earlier than planned so that a repair could take place to the boat (something about the compression of the valves, tulipping, overheating, potential blow outs, etc etc. Who really cares….it’ll get fixed and we’ll keep on movin’! As they say: you can’t take it with you……so just haul out that plastic rectangle from the wallet and get it done! Actually,as this “goes to press” it appears to be an insurance covered repair: YAY! Moods have lightened!

Life begins to really blur together after so many days so I will just post a few pix and captions. In sum, aside from record breaking rain, our Canadian time has been full of pretty scenery and waterways; super friendly locals (despite their own internal views of their president’s occasional missteps, the Canadians should be quite proud of the Rolling Stones cover this week.!); cute little waterside towns;  interesting history tidbits and info about the locks and all of the “one-of –a kind” locks; and, of course, as always on this Loop adventure some surprise or insight when we least expect it.

2017-7-12 made in argentina
Not sure how efficient it is to import garbage cans from another hemisphere. But still fun to see as it reminds me of Malbec wine! (and no!, not because I drank too much and needed one of these!)
2017-7-12 snowmobile trail 75 k
Who knew….well, I certainly didn’t.  In fact, you can ride snowmobiles, x-country ski, ATV, bike over 1800 kilometers just in Ontario on places like this; not to mention more trails connecting Yukon in the west to Newfoundland in the east.
2017-7-12 lift B
Another hydraulic “elevator” lift lock with B filming …waaaay too many accidents waiting to happen here!  Nothing did tho–yay! Let me know if you want the video clip of this!

At N’s insistence, included above are some nerdy (yet dumb-downed) explanations of the engineering involved in that big hydraulic lock.  We have a totally different and new type of lock coming up soon….so stay tuned for that  hopefully by the next post.

2017-7-12 spider lock
Locks can sometimes be scary and full of unknown, not good surprises….this was a surprise we’d not yet run across before.  A first for everything! Right where B’s hand was about to grab as we entered to tie up, but luckily N saw it just in time. It even caught the lockmaster’s attention.
2017-7-12 sunset axis feel
With this western sunset in the exact direction of where we are heading, my internal axis felt automatically aligned.  Very weird feeling when that hit me.

We’ve left the boat at what certainly appears to be a great marina with (what appears to be….time will tell!!) knowledgeable mechanics on the outskirts of Orillia, Ontario on Lake Simcoe an hour or so northwest of Toronto.

2017-7-12 lake couchiching
NOT Lake Simcoe here, but literally abutting it through a little cut right where our marina is located, this is Lake Couchiching.  Really nice lakefront large park with late sun, post afternoon showers and mist provided this soul-filling scene during our leg-stretch outing!

BTW, Lake Simcoe is relatively large:  287 square miles. For comparison for our Washington State readers: Puget Sound is a tad more than 1000 square miles; and Lake Washington is a mere 33 sq miles).   We stopped in the middle of Lake Simcoe and let the boat just drift as we jumped in for a great swim.  About 71 degrees so very pleasant!

As we start down our official path of grandparenthood in our revitalized boat that is, as I write this, being brought back from its near-end, we are on the verge of hitting the much-talked- about-as-the-highlight-amongst-Loopers: Georgian Bay; we’ll wrap up our Great Lakes time; and hit Chicago for the final approach to Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky where we will officially “cross our wake.”  So stay tuned, we’ll be back on board August 6th after a red-eye flight!

Besides lots of family and friend time, hikes at Mt Rainier, motorcycle adventures, yoga and golf, here are a few things greeting us at home:

2017-7-20 b n malcolm
Baby Malcolm: THE most precious little bundle around!

In our absence, the backyard (and front) (YES, we live IN the city limits!!) have been invaded by…..

2017-7-20 coyotes
A family of coyotes (here are 2 of the pups).  Z has had a near death experience and now we have an ugly wire fence up around the perimeter…..(aka more $$ !)

and 2 varieties of owls:  Barred and a family of Great Horned (note the adult in the far bottom left of the picture on the right watching its 2 curious owlettes!)

and typical summer tidal highs and lows:

2017-7-20 tide beach house
17 foot tidal change on Puget Sound can keep you working on your math calculations as you lay awake at anchor. Here a negative 3.3′ low tide which, in 6 hours will be a plus 14′.  We look forward to all our Looper friends visiting us and experiencing this fun (and beautiful) place in the future! Yes, there’s a reason there’s a song called The Bluest Skies are From Seattle!

Stay tuned for more in 10 days (give or take!!)