Heading South

Heading South

We had been planning on leaving the marina in Penetanguishene in the middle of last week and to head to the Manitoulin island area to take in the fall colours for a few days before starting our journey south, but our furnace went on the fritz the day before we planned to leave.  After taking it all apart and cleaning it, we found it needs a new glow plug and a new burner that will have to ship from Europe as the north american distributors only carry these parts for the newer models.  So with all the frost warnings and people telling us we were cutting it close to go south, we decided to get on the move, and the weather forecast was calling for South west winds that would switch to north on Sunday.  Just enough time to get to Tobermory and then let the cold north winds push us down lake Huron.

So, this past Saturday afternoon we left the marina and started our journey.  We had a nice sunset as we sailed out towards Beckwith and Hope Islands.  By midnight the skies were lighting up all around with lightning as I took my watch.  I watched the squalls approach on the radar and put in the first reef of the mainsail.  As they got closer I put in another and when the first one hit I furled part of the new jib as well.  At least the winds were south west so the driving rains were warmish on the face.


I think the second set of lightning squalls messed up the wind instrument as it switched to reading in m/s instead of knots (as we determined much later) and the direction indicator was nearly  180 degrees off.  No big deal, between the wind on the face and the waves it was easy enough to tell where the winds were coming from.

Chrissy got a bit of a lull on her watch as we rounded cabot head so the motor got a bit of use for a couple of hours.  When I took over again the winds started to fill in from the north.  Good thing we hadn’t waited any longer to leave.  Thanks to Kevin at Bay Moorings for ensuring we cast off.  I think he had half the lines off in the time it took me to start the engine to warm up.

We sailed through the Cape Hurd channel from Tobermory out into lake Huron.  With the strong winds matching the forecast, we dropped the mainsail and sailed across the entire lake with our jib.  Cold, wet and rainy, but the winds kept our speed up.  Reminded me that I’ve heard if you want to know what sailboat racing is like, stand in a cold shower and tear up $100 bills.  Perhaps the same can be said about cruising as well?  About 24 hours later we passed under the Blue water Bridge at the Sarnia-Port Huron border on Monday morning.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos between Beckwith Island and Lake St. Clair.  The current in the St. Clair river is impressive and we made quick progress past the refineries to the approach to Lake St. Clair.  As we entered lake St. Clair the skies were clear and we appreciated some sun.




Magnus was also eager to  catch up on rest.  Evidently it is difficult to keep track of us when we are taking turns sleeping and sailing.


The wind forecast was looking dismal for the next couple of days so instead of motoring on just for the sake of moving, we found a place to anchor at Peche Island Provinicial park in Windsor for the night.  In the morning I couldn’t help but notice the smell of the big D right across the river (Detroit).  After all summer of breathing clean Georgian Bay air, I’m not sure how people can live here.

Tuesday we motored from windsor down the Detroit River.







Would you believe that we have 100′ of clearance between our mast and the Ambassador bridge between Windsor and Detroit?


DSC_0053Appears as though US steel in Detroit is a bit busier than in Hamilton.



Further down stream there are some more eye appealing uses of waterfront land.  I’m scared to look and see what these would go for.


As we entered lake erie there was enough wind to motor sail towards Pelee Island, so we raised the sails.  An hour later, that wind was down to about 3kn….


So we revved up the engine to hold us at 6kn so we could make Pelee Island by night fall.  We didn’t have much time to spare as the sun was setting fast when we were a couple miles away.


We arrived, circled once to check the depth and let the anchor out.  It refused to set so we pulled it up and tried again.  No luck again.  Chrissy was convinced she could hear it dragging across solid rock.  So up it came again and we moved further along the beach.  Thankfully it set as it was now pitch dark out.  Nice clear starry night though.  Can’t say you ever get to see the stars in a city like you do on the water.

This article has 10 comments

  1. Thank you Jeff! I have really enjoyed your writings and pictures! Your humour reminds me of if you were right here! I wish you and Chrissy and Magnus the very best of weather, safety and fun!!! Mac and Linda

  2. The pugs miss meeting Magnus in the parking lot! We are glad to hear that you are on you way. We loved the update. We love photo of the Canadian flag with the sunset. We are looking forward to your updates. Enjoy your adventure! Wendy & Paul (Sapphire Breeze).

  3. Hey guys glad to see you’re on your way. The pugs missed meeting Magnus in the parking lot! We enjoyed your update. We loved the photo of the Canadian flag with the sunset. You guys are covered some ground since Saturday. Be safe enjoy your travels.  We are looking  forward to your next post. 

    Paul & Wendy

    • Magnus definitely misses the pugs too. Not quite the same atmosphere on the dock in Toronto as it is in Penetang and he hasn’t had a chance to meet any boat dogs, but we have met a lot while walking along the waterfront

  4. Looks like you’ve had a great start. I’ll be following your travels!

  5. Jeff and Chrissy
    Glad to hear you are on your way. Looking at your pictures we are envious of your adventures. Brings back many memories of our cruises. We will be following your adventures. We have been missing you guys as neighbours and Magnus. Safe travels

    • I was thinking of you guys the other day when Magnus and I were out for a walk. We found some fake grass along the waterfront that looks pretty darn good. Given how much we both struggled with weeds in our backyards this stuff would look perfect all year long, and of course no need to mow it.

  6. Just letting you know I will join the parade of well-wishers and vicarious travelers! Looks like Erie was more motorsailing that you wished, but I am looking for your update on that leg.

    All the best,


  7. Looks great guys!

  8. Hi guys — looks like things are well underway and I’m looking forward to following this blog as your travels unfold. Great to hear and watch you act on your dreams!